Dana Design is no longer in business, and the Sphinx has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best overnight packs for 2020.
Reviewers Paid: $100.00-$185.00
Overall I think that this is great pack. I have used it for light 4-day trips as well as just for day hiking. My only problem is that I don't really like the way that the lid attaches to the main pack, the straps are threaded throught two different buckles and is difficult to adjust. However, the pack carries very well and I would otherwise recommend it.
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 40 lbs
Height of Owner: 5'10"
Price Paid: $100
*Dana Design Sphinx* 41 liter (2500cu")
I've had this pack since spring 2001. I've owned many different daypacks (including Danas) so I do have others to compare it to. I received this pack as a replacement directly from Dana Design. It is a 'bigger', in pumpkin color. Weighs about 3.75 lbs. I used it extensively during the summer months for up to 5 day trips. It will handle up to about 30-35 lbs when packed properly*. 25-30 is optimal, for me.
I thought that daypacks I had in the past were comfortable until I 'wore' this one. After shaping the stay it fits near perfectly. The backpad is comfy, and the framesheet complements this. The floating lid works well with the extension collar. This collar gives another 6-8 liters. All straps are very long on the pack so you can slip a pad under them. If the pack is almost empty the straps seem too long, but at least this gives you the option of trimming them. The LTD pack material is a type of proprietary ripstop. It seems quite thin, but has shown no wear after extended abuse, and the waterproofing of the material is still like new. I had a Dana Design with the D2 fabric which was very thick stuff, but the LTD is tough enough for a daypack, with the bonus of being lighter.
The bottom of the bag is sloped upward to prevent any sagging of the load (good touch).
The shovel pocket will fit a backcountry-sized shovel nicely, and there is an adjustable loop at the top to secure the shovel. This pocket comes with its own daisy chains, and compression straps and is totally removable from the pack body.
Inside this pack there is a hydration pocket which fits my 2-liter platy. The internal, vertical compression strap helps keep down any overstuffing, or secures the rope coil.
This pack came with the 'C-curve' shoulder pads. I swapped them for the 'Silouette?' style, contoured pads and they offer no sore-spots. The hip belt is the Killer-B Over-Sized-Load style, (which is the same as the one on the larger Bomb Pack 3200cu" and even larger Bridger 4000cu" version), and gives excellent support and weight transfer. This OSL padding can be removed, but I prefer to leave it. I've tried it without the padding but the pack is definitely overkill for small, light loads. Pad can be moved slightly for different torso lengths. I haven't used the ski slots but they seem first rate.
Pack has double ice axe loops, but you'll have to secure the axe shaft somehow.
Also featured is a superfluous 'Cranium Rod' but I don't understand how it is supposed to help me! The top stabilizer straps were strangely routed thru the pack-lid. This proved very awkward, and I've since moved them.
I've also added a bungy-cord to the 'roof' for hat, gloves. A wand pocket would be thoughtful for tent poles. I ordered this pack in Pumpkin color (I call it 'Rescue Orange') as it contrasts well with leaves, snow (whiteouts), rocks.
Although this is a Mexican Dana I have yet to find any flaws/probs. I have had other, older Danas and the Sphinx doesn't lack quality in any way.
This pack is well-stitched and is well-thought out. It offers what I like in a daypack, with enough room for lightweight, 3-season trips. Very comfortable, but it should be for the $185 MRSP tag.
Customer service... This was a replacement pack for a 'BigSky' model.
The ArcAltitude frame-rod had come loose and skewered a hole thru the bottom of the pack. I sent it for repair but it was replaced, with no questions, or time wasted. This is part of why they have a solid reputation, and I will continue to purchase from them.
Design: Top Loading
Size: 2500 41 liter
Number of Pockets: lid, hydration, shovel
Max. Load Carried: 35 lbs is pushing it
Height of Owner: 5'11
Price Paid: $185