Mountainsmith Approach II - Men's
So REI calls this a woman's backpack? Ha ha...news…
Design: Day and 1/2 hydration compatible pack
Size: 2500 ci
Number of Pockets: like 8, counting mesh and sides
Max. Load Carried: 45 lbs
Height of Owner: 5'10"
Price Paid: 65 bucks
So REI calls this a woman's backpack? Ha ha...news to me. None of the tags or anything else seem to confirm this. That being said...this pack has some awesome points and some frustrating ones as well. Overall it's a great pack.
Here's my brief history of this pack:
-bought it for a summer car-camp, dayhike bag...I am a fat guy...5'10 and 195 lbs...the pack has great padded hip belt and mesh padded back. Once I got the compression straps in order and my load straightened, it rode quite nicely (for a guy with NO WAIST/HIPS). pockets galore. I had to keep my loading systematic so I would remember where I put everything. The "shovel pocket" is great for wet clothes or a poncho or rain cover, as the straps let you expand it large enough to fit anything...and oxygen bottle, wet boots, tent footprint, or even a volleyball (assuming the main pack isn't jammed full).
After this weekend jaunt, I decided to step it up and use it for some ultralight backpacking (the pack itself is not TOO light; I was PACKING LIGHT. SO it made it to Blanca Peak, CO, a 14'er that requires the most treacherous approach to base camp up 12 miles of Colorado's most demanding jeep trail. Baby head boulders the whole way...and the bag remained stable enough to get me there and back without a broken ankle. As a summit bag it couldn't have been better. The bladder sleeve is a life saver...I am SO DONE WITH liter bottles as my main hydration source (except for measuring, mixing, carrying and sport drinks).
Since those trips, it has been a bookbag and laptop pack for fire academy and EMT school.
Here are my gripes.
The cinch straps that hold the main compartment to the from compartment (shovel pocket between) drive me crazy...having to clip or unclip them to keep the pack from opening like a clamshell.I usually carry books and notebooks in the main, BP cuff and stethoscope in the shovel pocket, and snacks, pens, wallet, etc. in the small compartment. If I don't use the two top buckles, the pack hangs open like a cub scout dragging a half rolled sleeping bag from his external frame rig. But again, the hip and shoulder pads are great, especially for a day.5 pack. And the safety whistle on the sternum strap? Just too cool. One less item in my emergency kit.
I should also add that the lateral pockets are cool, as they are EXTERNALLY mounted to the pack, so BEHIND them forms PASS THROUGH pockets for carrying things like tent poles. Also, jackets can be lashed to the bungee on the front.