Jack Wolfskin Pingora III
I've used the Pingora III for over eight years and still love it. This pack is simple and straightforward with no bells and whistles. The Pingora III is comfortable for a pack this size in the $200 range. I used it extensively throughout Arizona; from canyoneering around Flagstaff to cross-country hiking through the Kofa Mountains, this pack is durable! With the exception of a broken buckle this pack has handled everything I threw at it.
Bottom line, it's a big, tough, simple pack. There are more comfortable packs available, but you will pay twice as much for them. If you can still find this pack then get it.
Price Paid: $200
I have used this pack for a few 2 week trips and have become less and less impressed at its ability to comfortably handle a increasingly heavey loads. The fact that you have to take the pack off to get your nalgene bottle sucks, too. I definately will not buy another of these packs and will fork out the dough for a custom fit deal. Don't be a cheap skate like I was, or you will learn the hard way too.
Number of Pockets: 5
Max. Load Carried: 70lbs
Height of Owner: 5'11"
Price Paid: $199.99
I found this pack, at a close-out price, in a shop outside of Toronto last winter and it turned out to be one of the best deals i've ever picked up. So far, i've used it for two week long trips and several more 2-3 day outings. It is by far the most comfortable pack i've ever worn, even with loads over 50lbs.
The floating top pocket lets you overstuff, if necessary, and detaches to convert to a fanny pack. The two main compartments are separated by a spindrift collar that expands to fit even the bulkiest of winter bags into the bottom compartment. The heavy-duty horse-shoe zipper on the sleeping bag compartment make packing any sleeping bag a snap. I am able to fit both my 3 season bag and my therma-rest (3/4) pad into this bottom compartment. The 2 side pockets are bellows style and can be loaded so that they stick out from the main compartment for maximum capacity or pushed in and secured with the side compression straps when a slimmer profile is needed for bushwacking or climbing. The dual daisey chains down the front are very handy for securing a z-rest pad, sandals or even wet laundry. The only thing that i have added are 2 EMS water bottle holsters to the bottom compression straps on each side that are positioned so I can reach them without having to remove the pack.
To date, the pack is showing very little signs of wear and i am looking forward to getting many more years of service out of it. It really is a shame that the Jack Wolfskin name didn't catch on here in the States, because they really do make some quality equipment. Fortunatly, JW is still owned by JWA (Johnson Worldwide Associates), the parent company to Eureka and i can only hope they will continue to adopt and/or incorporate Jack Wolfskin concepts into the Eureka line, like they did with their Black Widow pack, a Jack Wolfskin pack in "97", a Eureka pack in "98."
Number of Pockets: 5
Max. Load Carried: 50+
Height of Owner: 5' 10''
Price Paid: $199, Can.
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Reviewers Paid: $199.99-$200.00