An awesome pack! I feel justified with this description after two years of use. First, the pack is extremely comfortable (should be expected of a custom build), I would say the best hipbelt and best load lifter design on the market. Heavy loads have taken their toll on my feet and knees, but never my back, hip bones or shoulders.
Second, this model is actually larger than I need. I graduated up from my Kelty Radial Sherpa which was rated at 6000 cu.in. too, but the Inex is much bigger (perhaps the extension collar is included in the Kelty's volume and not the McHale's?). Anyway, I have plenty of space to play family sherpa or carry my own on 2 week trips without the need for resupply (trust me, resupply if you can and avoid the weight). Yet even only partially full, the compression straps easily take up all the bulk and the load remains stable.
Third the side pockets. These are actually a useful size with an attachment scheme that helps to compress/stabilize the load.
Fourth, no frame sheet. The McHale has 2 stiff aluminum stays with an additional cross member below the hipbelt. There is no need for a framesheet which seems to help breathability.
Fifth, the top pocket/flap. Removable and large enough to be practical as fanny pack for those side trips. With a built in hip belt of it's own it gets used almost every trip and many of my dayhikes in between.
Last of all, this pack is built to last. Two years of rough use, all it has to show are a few dirty spots.
Lots of money, yes. But if you are in the dough enough or in the use enough to afford or demand a Dana (for instance), the custom fit, the construction, and the load carrying ability definitely make the McHale worth it.
Size: 6000 in3
Number of Pockets: 2
Max. Load Carried: 75 lbs
Height of Owner: 6' 2"
Price Paid: $550
I just got back from McKinley. The McHale pack performed flawlessly. I put a lot of time and effort into looking for a pack for this trip. My original goal was to find a large, really light pack (under 5 lbs). I only found one and it was NOT comfortable @ over 70 lbs. My main concern with the McHale (other than the price) was its weight (over 8 lbs). My worries were completely unfounded. The McHale carries big loads better than any pack around (I looked at many different options). It has room for EVERYTHING and then some I was always able to fit in that last item of group gear. I went with the large side pockets (they come in two sizes). They are HUGE! I was able to fit a three man (wild country) tent into one pocket. The suspension system work as advertised, like a dream. You can place all the weight on your hips or on a combination of hips and shoulders. I wore this pack for over 15 hours on summit day and hardly even knew I had it on. If you are in the market for a BIG, STURDY and above all else COMFORTABLE pack, you cannot go wrong with the McHale. It costs a bit more, but it is worth it.
Number of Pockets: 2 + 2 Sides & 1 Top
Max. Load Carried: 105 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'0"
Price Paid: $554
This is the best pack I have ever seen. It compresses to a 3500 cubic inch daypack that I used for Tuckerman Ravine in early May. I carried 60 lbs (I am not one of those guys who lies about weight, I actually weighed the pack at the base of Mt. Washington) without the two aluminum stays in the pack and I was very comfortable. Very versatile pack, the fanny pack makes a good daypack. The suspension system holds a lot of weight. I have no idea how much it can carry. However, the suspension takes a while to get used to, due to the unique system.
There are a lot of little extras on the pack that you can't get anywhere else, such as a foam padding on the pack that turns into a nice seat, and twin buckles on the hip belt. I felt no weight on my shoulder, it all was transferred to my hips. McHale is in a class of its own.
Size: 6500-7500 (Huge)
Number of Pockets: 2
Max. Load Carried: 65lb.
Height of Owner: 5'10"
Price Paid: $475 (on sale 100$)
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Reviewers Paid: $475.00-$554.00