Initial Report for Equinox Katahdin Pack - Michael Lissner
- Well, at long last, I have done the following:
1. Graduated from college.
2. Trained for work.
3. Conquered my viris problem.
4. Moved to Berkeley
5. Gotten my new computer set up.
6. Written my Initial Review.
That's right, I finally wrote the initial review. I'll admit, it still
lacks a couple of numbers (namely, the measured weight) but those will
be done in a couple of days, and I figured we could get editing on it
before then. Anyway, here she be:
PS I already found a typo - the darned alternate text for the first
picture is spelled incorrectly. I'll get on it...
In the Very Short Hand:
In the Short Hand:
And in the Long Hand:
Initial Review of
Equinox Katahdin Backpack
By Michael Jay Lissner
1 June 2004
Contents of Review:
1. Tester Biographical Information
2. Backpacking Background
3. Product Information
4. Product Description
5. Initial Impressions
6. Plans for Further Testing
7. Current Conclusions
1. Tester Biographical Information:
Name: Michael Jay Lissner
Height: 198 cm (6' 6")
Torso Length: 51 cm (20 in)
Weight: 86 kg (185 lb)
Email Address: yourmothership at hotmail dot com
City of Current Residence: Berkeley, California (near the San
Francisco Bay area)
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2. Backpacking Background:
I was first introduced to backpacking through the Boy Scouts of
America, and it was my love of backpacking that made me stick all the
way through and get my Eagle. After becoming too old to continue with
the Boy Scouts, I had trouble motivating myself to plan my own trips,
and did not go backpacking for a number of years, until I realized
that I should thru-hike the PCT. I am currently in a multiyear
training program, practicing techniques, studying backpacking
literature, getting in shape, planning the many wee details and
perhaps most importantly, converting my ultra-heavy Boy Scout
techniques into ones more well suited to ultralight thru-hiking. My
current style is a very minimalist one relying more predominantly on
intelligence and slight discomfort and less on safety gear and toys.
At this point, I feel safe saying that my 5.5 kg (12 lb) summer base
load weight makes me a budding ultra-light hiker. I tend to prefer
mountains to deserts, and rivers to streams, and my backpacking
destinations all around northern California reflect that.
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3. Product Information:
Manufacturer: Equinox Ltd.
Manufacturer's URL: http://www.equinoxltd.com
Product's Name: The Katahdin
Color Tested: Blue/Black
Year of Manufacture: Presumably, 2004
Suggested Retail Price: 120.00 USD
Advertised Weight: 264 g (22 oz)*
Measured Weight: ?????????????????**
Advertised Volume: 55 L (3350 cu in)
Measured Volume: 57 L (3461 cu in)***
*The advertised weight has come to be a bit of a recluse number. On
the Equinox web-site, the weight is not given. On the Campmor
web-site, the weight is given as 709 g (25 oz). On
backcountrygear.com, it's given as 567 g (20 oz). The weight I have
listed above is what Equinox put on their hang tag which came with the
**The weight of the pack was measured by taking it to a supermarket
and using their checkout scales, which are accurate in ounces to three
decimal places (sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do).
***The volume of the pack was measured by filling all of the pack's
pockets with packaging peanuts, and then dumping them into a box. By
then measuring the inside dimensions of the box, and the height of the
peanuts in it, the volume of the pack was determined.
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4. Product Description:
Generally: The pack is designed as a frameless ultralight pack. It has
five pockets in all: One central pocket that opens at the top with a
drawstring for dumping all of your big items into; two zippered side
pockets that are useful for smaller items such as bug repellent; and
two mesh pockets that are intentioned by Equinox for water bottles,
but can be used for anything that will not slide through mesh.
Specifically: This pack integrates many interesting features. Below, I
will go through them one by one, describing them, and giving my
initial impression of them.
Materials: From what I can tell, this pack is made from four different
fabrics. The back panel is made from a stiff nylon mesh material that
kind of resembles the mesh that can be found on American "Trucker
Hats." I called Equinox to get more information about this material,
but without doing some research (which I didn't want to ask them to
do) they weren't able to tell me much more about this material than
the fact that it is nylon, and that so far they have not had a single
return because of it. I find it to be a pretty unusual material
choice, but I am interested to see how well it helps to ventilate my
back. To me, it seems plenty strong for the job, so long as a rip in
it doesn't get started. Hopefully, I won't actually get to see what
happens when it gets ripped.
The main body of the pack is made from 38 g/m2 (1.1 oz/yd2) silicone
impregnated ripstop nylon (also known as silnylon). This material is a
semi-transparent slippery material that is actually kind of crinkly
like a thick trash bag. If you look at the left picture above, you can
see some stripes showing in the material. This is my bed pillow that
I stuffed in it to fill it out a bit for the picture, but it helps to
illustrate the way that you can see items inside the pack, through the
material. Interestingly, the blue color of this pack exactly matches
the blue color of the silnylon that I used to make some stuff sacks
and my tarp. For once (out of sheer coincidence) I am traveling in
style. In my experiences with the tarp and stuff sacks, this material
is very hard to work with, but very strong and surprisingly durable. I
know it looks thin and weak, but in all of my experiences with it, it
has proved to be a pretty amazing material. My other pack, the Granite
Gear Vapor Trail is made from a heavier weight of the material, and it
has held up beautifully, even when I was thrashing through some pretty
The third material that the pack is made from is 70 denier 38 g/m2
(1.1 oz/yd2) urethane coated ripstop nylon. This material is used on
the bottom (see picture at right) and sides exclusively, and Equinox
tells me it is pretty waterproof, but that the urethane coating that
is put on it is rather thin (in order to save weight), and that under
pressure, it is capable of leaking a little bit.
At the bottom of the backside of the pack, in the lumbar region, there
is a thin pad, that Equinox tells me is made from 6.4 mm (1/4 in)
closed cell foam enveloped in polyester Coolmax fabric (see picture
above). However, at the top of the lumbar pad, the edge of this
material is left raw rather than hemmed (perhaps to avoid creating an
uncomfortable ridge in the wearer's back), and from what I can tell,
this material looks like much thinner foam, more approximately 1.6 mm
(1/16 in) thick. In addition to covering the lumbar region, the
Coolmax material is also on the inside surface of the hipbelt. This is
a very soft material, and until I actually talked with an Equinox
representative, I was actually concerned that for some reason Equinox
had decided that cotton was the best material for this area. This
material also seems kind of unusual to me, but, having never had an
ultralight pack before, it could just be something I have never seen.
I am interested in seeing just how well it wicks the sweat off my
back, as well as how well it holds up.
The other three materials that this pack is made from are nylon strap
(here there and everywhere), flexible nylon mesh for the water bottle
pockets, and nylon plastic for all of the buckles and cinches. One
interesting thing that I noticed about the plastic buckles is that all
excess material in them has been left out during the injection molding
process. If you look at the picture at left of the hip buckle, you
will see what I mean. I can't be sure whether it is intentional or
not, but rather than choosing buckles that are filled in like in
almost all other packs I have seen, Equinox has chosen buckles that
shave some excess weight.
Main Compartment: As with many packs, the main compartment of this
pack runs vertically down the center of it from top to bottom. At the
top, it is closed as in a stuff stuff sack, forming a pucker of sorts
(see picture at left). In the picture, if you look closely, you will
see that my hydration tube is coming out of the pucker. This is
because in order to use a hydration bladder with this pack, it must be
placed directly inside the main compartment itself. One thing about
the main compartment that I have noticed is that it is by no means
waterproof. In addition to having the opening at the top, it also has
the mesh back panel that allows both my sweat, and any water that hits
it from the sky to pass right through.
Zippered Pockets: The two zippered pockets in the pack are on either
side of the main compartment at the top of the urethane coated ripstop
nylon that runs up and down the sides. Their openings start at the top
of the pack and run down the pocket 19 cm (7.5 in), opening from top
to bottom (see picture at left). Because the pockets go from the top
of the pack to the middle compression strap, a distance of 29 cm (11.5
in), and the zippers are not this long, if the zipper becomes
accidentally unzipped, most of the items in the pockets probably will
not fall out (immediately anyway). The one problem I have already
encountered with this pockets is that because the top compression
straps are attached to them halfway down, they cannot hold items that
are very thick without squishing them when the strap is tightened. For
example, if I fill them up with a bottle of DEET, my plastic compass
and some stakes and then tighten the strap, the stakes will get
smashed into the DEET and the compass, potentially creating all kinds
of navigational and messy problems.
Something that is pretty interesting about these pockets though is
that the top strap runs under them, and is attached to them halfway
down with a bar tack. In this configuration, a 12.7 cm (5 in) loop is
created under the pocket. I have yet to devise a clever way to put
this to use, but I have a feeling that I will come up with something
once I get this pack on the trail.
Mesh Pockets: The two mesh pockets on this pack are located below the
center compression strap, and are big enough to fit a 1 L (32 fl oz)
Nalgene bottle pretty nicely. At their top, they have an elastic cinch
strap that is used to keep whatever the wearer puts in them from
falling out. In my initial loading of them, I have found them to be
rather convenient holders for my little stuff sack of miscellanea on
one side, and for my fuel bottle and a small water bottle on the other
(see the left photo at top). One word of warning about them though: If
you put small or skinny things in them, these items will fall out
through the mesh.
The Straps: This pack has quite an assortment of straps. As can be
seen in the photo at top, there are three straps that run around the
pack in order to compress it as much as possible. Each of these is
attached at the back panel of the pack, and runs all the way around
it, with a clip in the middle that can be cinched down. The bottom two
go over the urethane coated nylon sides, but the top one actually goes
under them so that it does not interfere with the zippered pockets.
The shoulder straps are made from a combination of the urethane coated
nylon on the outside, and the Coolmax lined foam padding on the
inside. They are about 2 cm (.5 in) thick, and seem pretty comfy from
the get go. They have the standard "S Curve" design, and are attached
to the mesh with 2.64 cm (1 in) strap, which I can only assume helps
to divide the load on the stitching so that it does not pull out.
Going down the front side of the shoulder straps is a length of strap,
onto which is laced the sternum strap. Something that I feel they are
missing is the D-ring that is usually there. I usually use this to
keep the tube of my hydration system at hand, but without them, I have
to strap the tube with a small hook and loop strap (see the right hand
The hip stabilizer straps are quite a pleasure. Rather than the usual
straps that run directly from the waist belt to the pack, this pack
has a system in which by tightening one strap, the wearer is able to
bring the pack much closer to their back, and especially their lumbar
region (see picture at right). With past packs, I have always noticed
that the hip stabilizer strap just didn't seem to do all that much,
but at this point, I am amazed with this pack's system. When I tighten
it up, I can feel the pack getting closer to my back, and I can
actually feel the lumbar region becoming more comfortable. With it
adjusted properly, I feel that I will actually be able to take more
weight on my hips than I could with other internally framed packs.
The hip belt of the pack slides under the lumbar bad, and attaches
with hook and loop fasteners. Thus, it is an optional hip belt, that
can be adjusted vertically to create accomodate a range of torso
lengths. With my giant torso, I have it adjusted down as far as it
will go, creating a distance of 44.5 cm (17.5 in) between its vertical
center and where the shoulder straps attach to the pack (the minimum
this measurement could be is 38.1 cm [15 in]). The hip belt is
constructed much like the shoulder straps with the Coolmax lining on
the inside and the urethane coated nylon towards the outside. The big
difference in construction is that the hip belt is made from thicker
foam, which Equinox tells me are two different densities.
The Seams and Overall Construction: At this point, I feel confident in
saying that the seams and construction of this pack are sturdy. Many
of the seams are doubled up for strength, and in many places,
strapping has been sewn down to spread the load of the stitching over
a wider area. On the other hand, many of the materials out of which
this pack is constructed have been chosen with weight in mind, meaning
that many of them are not the strongest options, but rather ones that
are intended merely to be strong enough. Testing will be the judge of
how well these materials hold up.
[back to top]
5. Initial Impressions:
When this pack arrived in my PO box, I was quite elated. Not only was
this my first big BGT test, but it was also my first ultralight pack,
and boy was it pretty. Once I got it home, I filled it up with a bunch
of gear and tried it on. The fit was awesome, but admittedly, I didn't
have much weight in it, and these things can be quite deceptive when
you're comfortably at home playing with gear vs. when you are out on
the trail all day. My field report will definitely report on this
subject in more depth.
One thing I did notice while I had the pack on was that it seemed to
interfere a little bit with my arm motion. It could well have been the
way that I had the pack loaded, but it seemed to be a rather wide pack
compared with the other ones that I have. I am very interested in
seeing if it is something that annoys me in the future, or if it was
just something that I noticed, but that I'll get used to without too
Something that has already annoyed me is that I cannot reach the
zippered pockets while the pack is on. Because I almost never take of
my pack while hiking, if that is the case, this severely limits the
usability of the pockets to holding only those things that I will need
in camp, but not while on the trail. I can however, reach the mesh
pockets, so I can put anything I need on the trail into them.
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6. Plans for Further Testing:
There are a number of things that interest me about this pack that I
want to get more information about during testing. There are two
things in particular that really raise red flags in my mind. The first
is the near lack of padding on the back of the pack. I have heard a
couple of different schools of thought on how to load ultralight
frameless packs comfortably, and I want to see which one works best
for me. Of the two that I had heard the first was to load it up with a
Z-Rest sleeping pad along the back of it to form a pad as well as a
frame, and then to load the rest of the pack and strap it down into a
cylinder. The second way was to take a rollable sleeping pad, and form
a tube inside the pack into which all the other gear is thrown. Once
it is in there, again, you strap it down, creating a structured pack
of sorts. I have already tried the first of these two methods with
this pack, and it proved to be very comfortable in the living room. I
want to try out each of these, and see how well they work in the
field. Also, in addition to those two loading methods, I'd like to see
how comfortable the pack is without the hip belt altogether. On one of
my upcoming trips, I plan on removing the belt and hiking along to see
how well it works. I have never tried this, and I feel like my
shoulders will probably crumble if I do, but time will tell.
The second thing that is raising a red flag in my mind is ease with
which water can enter this pack. Every other pack I have ever seen has
some level of impermeability to water, but this one has mesh panels
that are exposed to the rain as well as a hole in the top that opens
up to them. I usually use waterproof stuff sacks inside my pack in
case it leaks, but I'd rather not have to rely on them too much.
Something else that I have noticed about this pack is that it lacks an
ice ax loop and D rings on the shoudler straps. It seems like there
must be a way to attach an ice ax to a pack without it puncturing the
pack or falling off, but I cannot immediately figure this out on this
pack. I am going to see what I can do though. There must be some way
to do it.
[back to top]
7. Current Conclusions:
My current conclusions about this pack can be summed up by the word
"interest." I am interested in seeing how comfortable it can be, and I
am interested in seeing how waterproof it is. I am interested in if it
will hold up to regular use, and I am interested in seeing how best to
load it. Never have I had such an experimental pack. The field testing
should prove to be very interesting.
[back to top]
> Well, at long last, I have done the following:Cool. What's next? Are you gonna cure cancer? ;)
> 1. Graduated from college.
> 2. Trained for work.
> 3. Conquered my viris problem.
> 4. Moved to Berkeley
> 5. Gotten my new computer set up.
> 6. Written my Initial Review.
- --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "Shane Steinkamp"
> > Well, at long last, I have done the following:###
> > 1. Graduated from college.
> > 2. Trained for work.
> > 3. Conquered my viris problem.
> > 4. Moved to Berkeley
> > 5. Gotten my new computer set up.
> > AND
> > 6. Written my Initial Review.
> Cool. What's next? Are you gonna cure cancer? ;)
Only time will tell...I probably need to do some studying before then...
- Thanks, Mike.
I am glad things are finally working out and settling
down for you. I hope Berkeley is treating you well.
It seems like you've done a lot of great research for
this IR, good work. My Edits and Comments follow.
> Advertised Weight: 264 g (22 oz)*Edit: 22 oz is not 264 g
> Measured Weight: ?????????????????**Edit: Please actually put a weight here for upload :)
> the Equinox web-site, the weight is not given. OnComment: BGT tends to try to stay away from mentioning
> the Campmor
> web-site, the weight is given as 709 g (25 oz). On
> backcountrygear.com, it's given as 567 g (20 oz).
> The weight I have
> listed above is what Equinox put on their hang tag
> which came with the
vendors in this way. Equinox shouldn't need to be
held accountable for the errors of their retailers,
and so just putting the advertised weight on the hang
tag would be sufficient.
> five pockets in all: One central pocket that opensEdit: Bringing the style over from owner review
> at the top with a
> drawstring for dumping all of your big items into;
editing, the word "you" and all derivatives should not
be used in reviews. It has been viewed to be
equivalent to projecting. You can simply replace all
the uses of it with "me", "my" and derivatives. Of
course, when you are telling your reader to look at
pictures and whatnot, it's fine; just avoid it in
telling the reader what they should/n't do with gear.
> My otherComment: This is getting sort of close to a shoot-out.
> pack, the Granite
> Gear Vapor Trail is made from a heavier weight of
> the material, and it
> has held up beautifully,
Perhaps consider saying simply that you have another
pack with similar, heavier material and that it has
> material also seems kind of unusual to me, but,Comment: Just a note (don't want to impinge on style),
> having never had an
> ultralight pack before, it could just be something I
> have never seen.
but you just mentioned above that you use the Vapor
Trail, which is pretty lightweight. I sure did a
double take when you said you never owned such a pack.
> and some stakes and then tighten the strap, theComment: I didn't quite catch this... did you
> stakes will get
> smashed into the DEET and the compass, potentially
> creating all kinds
> of navigational and messy problems.
actually experiment with DEET and stakes, or are you
> about them though: IfEdit: Another case of the dreaded "you"...
> you put small or skinny things in them, these items
> will fall out
> through the mesh.
> can be adjusted vertically to create accomodate aEdit: ...accommodate...
> ice ax loop and D rings on the shoudler straps. ItEdit: ...shoulder...
- See responses below...
--- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, Cora <cahhmc@y...> wrote:
> Thanks, Mike.
> I am glad things are finally working out and settling
> down for you. I hope Berkeley is treating you well.
####It is indeed. Very well in fact. I do love the summertime.
> It seems like you've done a lot of great research for
> this IR, good work. My Edits and Comments follow.
> > Advertised Weight: 264 g (22 oz)*
> Edit: 22 oz is not 264 g
> > Measured Weight: ?????????????????**
> Edit: Please actually put a weight here for upload :)
> > the Equinox web-site, the weight is not given. On
> > the Campmor
> > web-site, the weight is given as 709 g (25 oz). On
> > backcountrygear.com, it's given as 567 g (20 oz).
> > The weight I have
> > listed above is what Equinox put on their hang tag
> > which came with the
> > pack.
> Comment: BGT tends to try to stay away from mentioning
> vendors in this way. Equinox shouldn't need to be
> held accountable for the errors of their retailers,
> and so just putting the advertised weight on the hang
> tag would be sufficient.
####I wondered about this when I included it. It's fixed in the new
> > five pockets in all: One central pocket that opens
> > at the top with a
> > drawstring for dumping all of your big items into;
> Edit: Bringing the style over from owner review
> editing, the word "you" and all derivatives should not
> be used in reviews. It has been viewed to be
> equivalent to projecting. You can simply replace all
> the uses of it with "me", "my" and derivatives. Of
> course, when you are telling your reader to look at
> pictures and whatnot, it's fine; just avoid it in
> telling the reader what they should/n't do with gear.
###After having written a few owner reviews, I have the you/your fears
well engrained in my mind, so I knew I was breaking rules when I wrote
this. I thought I might be able to get away with it since it is so far
removed from real projecting. Ah well. It's been fixed.
> > My other
> > pack, the Granite
> > Gear Vapor Trail is made from a heavier weight of
> > the material, and it
> > has held up beautifully,
> Comment: This is getting sort of close to a shoot-out.
> Perhaps consider saying simply that you have another
> pack with similar, heavier material and that it has
> done fine?
> > material also seems kind of unusual to me, but,
> > having never had an
> > ultralight pack before, it could just be something I
> > have never seen.
> Comment: Just a note (don't want to impinge on style),
> but you just mentioned above that you use the Vapor
> Trail, which is pretty lightweight. I sure did a
> double take when you said you never owned such a pack.
###Since I no longer say that my other pack is a GG Vapor Trail (b/c
of the comment you made above), this isn't as much of a problem, but
from what I understand, an ultralight pack usually weighs in at closer
to one pound, whereas the Vapor Trail weighs in at 2, a lightweight pack.
> > and some stakes and then tighten the strap, the
> > stakes will get
> > smashed into the DEET and the compass, potentially
> > creating all kinds
> > of navigational and messy problems.
> Comment: I didn't quite catch this... did you
> actually experiment with DEET and stakes, or are you
###I guess I am projecting, but only in so much as I would do if I
were to say that a knife can cut the material. I'll make it more
> > about them though: If
> > you put small or skinny things in them, these items
> > will fall out
> > through the mesh.
> Edit: Another case of the dreaded "you"...
> > can be adjusted vertically to create accomodate a
> Edit: ...accommodate...
> > ice ax loop and D rings on the shoudler straps. It
> Edit: ...shoulder..
Thanks for the edits. I am glad they got to me tonight, as tomorrow I
am headed out to test the pack. The file should be uploaded tomorrow,
once I have weighed the pack.