User Review: REI Morning Star 75 Pack
Design: internal frame
Number of Pockets: all of them
Max. Load Carried: 60
Height of Owner: 6 feet 1 inch
Price Paid: forgot, but not much
I used this pack on a May trip to the backcountry of Yosemite for 11 days and grew to like it more and more. Started out with an ungodly weight - I was afraid to check but probably upwards of 60 lbs - packed tight plus a day pack on the front for another 2,000 cubic inches. Those bear boxes weigh a lot but fit perfectly into the sleeping back compartment.
The weight includes X-country skis and boots. The boots fit into the main top compartment or stuffed in along the sides of the main bag. Yes it was too much to take, no I didn't use it all. Half the food, a full bear canister, was left at the end, though I started with enough food for 5,000 calories per day.
I could have fiddled with the straps and belt adjustments to tweak the fit but it was good enough anyway. I am probably just a bit too tall for it to rest heavily on my hips with a long torso at 6'1". It sort of sat back on the shoulder straps a bit too much for comfort but then again that was way too much weight for man or pack.
I also used my hands to hold the straps away now and then. Overall it was a pretty good balance between shoulders and hips for mostly cross country hiking and some snow. By the end of a week, however, both of us trekked up the steepest trail like we were on steroids. It was really just power bars and turkey jerkey.
Interestingly the pack looked just like most of the landscape, blending with pine needles on the forest floor nicely. Away from base camp, it worked fine as an oversized day pack with only the essentials. Still wondering what it really weighs by itself, I will go check, but it is sturdy as can be.
The sleeping back can be strapped under the compartment on the bottom of the pack using the four bottom strap holders - not just two or it will swing and bother you. Skis go under the compression straps on either side (not both sides...put the skis together). Even when the skis break... Poles are useful to carry and balance that weight.
Oh, the reason I took it was because my lighter and much bigger 6,000+ cubic inch custom external frame mountain pack had a torn pocket, but now I will use the versatile and reliable REI most of the time. It is about the perfect size for the average weeklong summer trip, and must be creatively adapted to use for all that bulky winter clothing and excessive food supply for a 10 day trip.
It does have the flexibility though. For example, a tarp fly, coat, or bivy bag can go in each side's mesh water bottle pocket to increase volume; a pad can be strapped vertically into the corner between the pocket and the body; crampons can go into the pad bag too.