High Sierra Explorer 55
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $85
The Explorer 55 is the perfect weekend pack in my opinion. It has a roomy main compartment and a separate sleeping bag compartment that will hold an average size light-weight bag. It can be adjusted in all areas so that it fits comfortably for a medium to xxl framed person.
- Not enough attachment points / loops
- Top Cover is kind of 'floppy'
I am pretty large (2xl) and I was able to adjust the pack to fit my frame (wide shoulders and 38" waist). The hip pads are in the perfect location to take up the strain and distribute the load correctly at any adjustment setting. The pack interior is typical, a roomy central compartment with a separate section for a Camelbak (more on that later).
The sleeping bag compartment at the bottom of the pack is pretty large and I was able to get my Kelty 30 degree in there without much trouble. There are 2 mesh pockets just behind the hip pads that are large enough to hold a military style canteen. The way they are placed, I did not even notice the additional weight of the full canteens.
The hydration pouch is kind of generic. I'd assume that Camelbak has patents on the bag holder, so others just have to make-do. I used the hanging hook in the compartment and a piece of 550 cord to make a loop that held the Camelbak brand bag in place. I know this sounds like jerry-rigging, but there are no packs that I could find (except Camelbak brand) that had the correct holder for my hydration system.
I have used this bag several times with a 30 - 45 pound load, and it has performed well. Once I got everything adjusted, all I needed to do was cinch up the load straps and the pack felt great. The pack material is durable and the stitching has held up well. So far, no issues with any of the plastic buckles. I have not had an opportunity to us the rain cover yet, but when I fitted it, it seems like it will do the job.
- The top cover seems a little bit like an afterthought. It does not cinch down as well as i would like, and it seems a little 'floppy' if the pack is not 100% full.
- There are not many gear loops on the pack. THere are some, but more would be nice.
Overall this is a great pack for the price, it is durable, lightweight, fits well and roomy.
Price Paid: $56
Bought this for my girlfriend as a beginners backpack (was really cheap new at ebags.com). Has lots of features you find on more expensive bags: compression straps, sleeping bag compartment, convenient water bottle holsters, hole for Camelbak tube, and probably most impressive of all, comes with a rain cover by default! My Osprey Aether was much pricier and didn't even come with a rain cover (sold separately).
Constructed of quality materials although a little on the heavy side (2-3lbs heavier while empty than my Aether, if that's a concern for you).
My girlfriend is 5'0" and slender and seems to adjust well down to her size, which tends to be a problem with most gear for girls of her size, with more adjustments for us to explore (like a torso adjuster which changes where the shoulder straps are anchored on the pack.
In summary, not a fancy pack, but has everything you'd need for a week-long backpacking trip. 65 Liter model is ~$10 more and fits taller folks. Heavier than some pricier models but such a good deal.
Design: Top-loading internal frame
Size: 55 liters
Number of Pockets: 2 side, 1 in front, 1 in hood
Max. Load Carried: 30 lbs
Height of Owner: 4'9"
Price Paid: $89
My son asked for a backpack and backpacking trip for his 10th birthday last Nov. In searching for a pack that would adjust down to fit him properly, and adjust up to allow some growing room (a tall order I assure you) I came across this pack on REI outlet. It seemed to fit the bill so I took a chance and ordered it.
I have never been so surprised with how well a product that I had bought from specs alone has worked. My son usually carries 25 lbs of gear on a backpacking trip. He finds his pack so comfortable that he doesn't even complain on the trail. He likes everything about it.
The pack is not overburdened with pockets, but has enough. Also, once adjusted the pack stays in place. And the good thing is the capacity will work for trips of up to a week and as little as one night. And it will adjust to fit all the way to adulthood. And as well made as it is, it may just last that long.
The drawbacks on the pack that I see are that it is kinda heavy (due to being made well, but still over 5lbs) and the sleeping bag compartment does make it where you lose some capacity, but you can remove the divider to open it to a single compartment.
All in all, I would recommend this pack to any one of any age.
Design: Top Loader
Size: 55 L
Max. Load Carried: 45 lbs
Height of Owner: 6' 3"
Price Paid: $90
The pack is pretty nice overall, with the pull out rain cover a nice little addition.
The main complaint I have with it is that unless you have it packed as full as it will go, the top pouch will wobble around and fall off center. The straps also tend to work their ways loose as you continue to hike, so you very frequently have to pull them tight again. And there are no external pockets other than the front flap pocket.
It does have a lot to offer though, with a ton of lashings, daisy chains, an electronics pouch, and gear loops. For the money though, not a bad pack at all.
Design: top-loading internal frame, hydration compatible, adjustable shoulder harness, attached rainfly, sleeping bag compartment
Size: 55 liters
Number of Pockets: 2 + sleeping bag + front flap
Max. Load Carried: 30 lbs
Height of Owner: 5' 7"
Price Paid: $75
This is a pretty awesome pack. It has all the room and support required to carry 30-40 lbs. of gear up and down the hill. The adjustable shoulder harness is an advantage but you have to ensure it's correctly adjusted before you set out. I liked the sleeping bag compartment and the attached rain fly protected my gear in a light thundershower in the Sierras. It's hydration compatible too. The only real disadvantage is the weight - 5 lbs - but that's OK if you're not looking to go ultralight.