Dana Design is no longer in business, and the Yellowstone has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best expedition packs for 2020.
An excellent pack, simply designed and rugged in construction. It had one lifetime before reaching me and, despite my best efforts, is only now starting to show wear 30+ years after manufacture. Much like an old car—every part can be repaired, replaced, or modified as necessary.
- Adjustable load distribution
- Superb material quality
- Mythic quality
- Size constraints
- Lack of enduring warranty
- Obsolete components
I obtained my Dana Design Yellowstone pack as a gift from a blind man who used it for close to two decades in his visually-gifted youth. It has served me well on over a dozen weekend to week-long trips across one decade. My chronic over-packing has resulted in little more than single tears in the fabric and minimal distress to the straps. It wears the dirt well and I intend to extract another 10 years from its patient fabric.
The pack is rated as a size Large. I am 2M tall and 90Kg. Adjusting this pack to my frame is a struggle, but I'm pleased to say that it can be done with almost any load. I have successfully carried over 30Kg with only mild discomfort and no lasting aches. Loads under 20Kg are featherweight when adjusted properly.
Hip belt and shoulder straps sit a bit high, but when properly balanced this pack is comfortable on all terrain except steep inclines. The back-padding has long since rotted away, but a folded towel replaces this comfort while adding an often overlooked amenity. The hard plastic backing has a few cracks, but this had not impaired performance so far.
Capacity is massive. Lighter loads are easily cinched down, but with the straps loosened, numerous small spaces emerge to cram "just in case" items. The two outer tube pockets conform well to the main body storage and their contents can often surpass the weight of the main compartment. The topper is spacious, but not segmented, so as a compartment it's only really suited towards loose odds and ends that jumble around.
The four compartments are easily accessible, although the outer tube pockets require some unstrapping to properly access. A second zipper on the base is very useful, with a flimsy cloth separation from the main body. Stuffing gear down through the main chamber restricts this access, but the material flexes in a way to allow any necessary shifting.
Weight distribution can be shifted from upper, lower, or middle with relative ease. The internal frame hugs one's back while traveling uphill, but a straight posture on level or downhill terrain provides adequate venting. A full bag is noticeably heavy, but I've never woken up sore the next morning. Any awkward fit can usually be solved by adjusting straps and repositioning contents.
It will be hard to match the quality of this backpack when I replace it and I doubt the longevity will be comparable. Every inch has notable care and effort put into its construction, even after the ravages of time have taken their toll.
Source: received it as a personal gift
The Yellowstone was one of the many excellent packs that were made by Dana Design. Since it has been discontinued, I would highly recommend latching on to one if you could find it. The adjustable frame is perfect for a person who is still growing, but old enough for a bigger load.
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 40
Height of Owner: 5'11