User Review: Dana Design Astralplane
Design: Top and slash zippers
Number of Pockets: 3 main and 2 wand
Max. Load Carried: 60 lbs
Height of Owner: 5'10"
Price Paid: $175
I was recently in Atlanta and went to the REI there to browse. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the classifieds board and saw a Bozeman Montana made Astralplane in my size (M frame harness and belt) for $175! I crossed my fingers and called my new best friend to see if it was still available. It was, but the owner lived in Warner Robbins, Ga, which is about 2 hours south of Atlanta. Luckily I was going to Florida in a couple of days and would pass right through WR. I showed up, money was exchanged and I ended up with a brand new pack and rainfly for $175. It was bigger than I imagined, but I figured with the compression system I could shrink a big pack down to fit my stuff. I put all of my backpacking gear, plus an inflatable kayak, paddles and PFD (60 lbs total) inside and starting playing with the suspension.
Over the course of the next four days I traveled to Ocala National Forest and Anclote state rec. area constantly adjusting the pack. I must have bent the stay a total of 20 times trying to get it just right. After much adjusting of the stay and the hipbelt I got a good fit. The key for me was that the hipbelt had to go at the very bottom of the pack and then ride relatively high on my hip-bones. I don't know why but with this arrangement and the stay shaped to trace the curve of my strangely formed back it fits very nicely. The pockets on the front are great and the top lid (HUGE!) with the hip-belt makes one of the most comfortable lumbar systems I have ever worn. I was absolutely stunned at how comforably this thing carried a heavy load.
Interestingly, I have owned several Dana's previously (most recently an Alpine LTW from Northern Mountain Supply) and ended up getting rid of each one b/c of fit issues (hurt my back). I guess my stubborness with this one finally paid off. I was determined to make it work because of the great price. This coupled with my recent purchase of a Jack Wolfskin Mistral 2 tent ($100) are the best gear purchases I have made. I think I might be set for life.