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new member OWNER REVIEW Dana Designs ArcFlex Alpine LTW Internal Frame Backpack

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  • Eliza Cava
    Name: Eliza Cava Age: 20 Gender: Female Height: 5 3 (1.6 m) Weight: 120 lbs (54 kg) Email address: cava@snappydsl.net City, State, Country: currently
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 1, 2006
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      Name: Eliza Cava
      Age: 20
      Gender: Female
      Height: 5' 3" (1.6 m)
      Weight: 120 lbs (54 kg)
      Email address: cava@...
      City, State, Country: currently Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
      Date: 2/1/2006

      Backpacking Background: I grew up in Miami, FL, from where I went on lots
      of canoeing and kayaking trips up to a week long with my parents throughout
      the Everglades and the Southeast US. I didn't get into backpacking until
      five years ago, when I began by taking a number of short (3-5 day),
      traditionally loaded (40+ lbs) group treks in the southern Appalachians of
      North Carolina. Since then I have backpacked in the eastern US on a dozen
      or so 1-3 night outings and a few longer ones, including on the Florida
      Trail, in my new home in Pennsylvania, back to the mountains of the
      Appalachians, and in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains. I have also gone on a NOLS
      (National Outdoor Leadership School) semester course in northwest Australia,
      where I spent 6 weeks canoeing down the remote Drysdale River and 3 weeks
      expedition-style (50+ lbs load) backpacking in the Kimberley region. I am
      currently gearing up for a southbound through-hike of the Appalachian Trail
      this summer with my brother after I graduate from college, and am looking to
      significantly lighten my load for the trip. I am a wilderness EMT-B and
      carry a great deal of medical and safety gear.

      Item being tested: Dana Designs ArcFlex Alpine LTW Internal Frame Backpack
      Date of Review: February 1, 2006
      Manufacturer: Dana Designs
      Year of manufacture: 2001
      URL of manufacturer: http://www.danadesign.com
      Specifications (thanks to Bob Wardecker's review):
      Pack Size - Weight - Capacity
      XS - 5lb 15oz/ 2.69 kg - 4590 cu.in./75 L
      S - 6lb. 3oz./2.81 kg - 4700 cu.in/77 L
      M - 6lb. 7oz./2.92 kg - 5000 cu.in./82 L
      L - 6lb.11oz./3.03 kg - 5250 cu.in./86 L
      XL - 6lb. 15oz./3.15 kg - 5400 cu.in./88 L
      Weight as delivered: 5lb 3 oz. (size S) This weight is approximate, and I
      did not weigh the pack until just now. I don't know what explains the pound
      weight difference from the manufacturer's specs, except that my scale is
      much tinier than the pack and may also be inaccurate.

      Product Description:
      The Alpine LTW is an internal-frame top-loading pack "designed for
      mountaineering´┐Ż[and] employs unparalleled versatility for expedition to
      weekend adventures." The manufacturer's web site lists the pack in its Arc
      series, which is intended to be heavy-duty, capacious, and capable of
      carrying heavy loads. The pack's features include a women's cupped,
      full-support hipbelt, a zippered HipLid on top that can be taken off and
      attached to the hipbelt as a fanny pack, a beavertail compression Shovit
      that can accommodate a snowboard or just extra stuff, a retractable
      horizontally-zippered bottom for sleeping bag storage, a fully customizable
      vertical aluminum stay that runs along the wearer's spine, and diagonal
      carbon-fiber stays for load support. There are lots of details, too, like
      horizontal, vertical, and diagonal compression straps, shoulder lifter
      straps, many many reinforced lash and strap points, an extension collar, an
      internal load stabilizer strap, and a mesh-padded lower back. My pack is a
      women's size Small, and has contoured shoulder straps (as well as the cupped
      hipbelt) for hugging the outside of the chest. There is an adjustable
      sternum strap, and water bottle pockets are attached on either side. The
      hipbelt slides into a vertical slit in the lower back area of the pack,
      where it is firmly secured with Velcro, and as such can be moved higher or
      lower to effectively change the torso length of the pack. My pack is blue
      and black, and it also comes in a "cayenne pepper"-like orange and red

      Field Information:
      I have used my Alpine LTW on numerous trips in the past five years, from
      clear overnights in flat swampland to rainy early spring trips in the
      southern Appalachians to a three-week trek in Australia's northwest
      Kimberley wilderness region in the dry season to international
      hostel-hopping by plane and train. My pack and I have run the gamut of
      weather conditions and terrains, although I have never gone above tree line
      or snow camping (I'm a Florida girl at heart). Generally my trips have been
      heavy ones, with 40+ lb expedition loads and lots of heavy-duty group gear.
      My pack has been exposed to prolonged sunshine, repeated soaking in fresh
      water, multiple airline trips, and lengthy off-trail bushwhacking. It has
      carried my heavy loads with aplomb, and is so comfortable that with light
      loads I barely notice its presence on my back. I would rightly call this a
      "Cadillac" of packs.

      With heavy loads (50-60 lbs including multiple liters of water), the pack's
      many comfort features (as described above) make for a less-painful walk than
      it might otherwise be. I especially like the cupped hipbelt that curves
      around my prominent hipbones and prevents them from getting bruised by
      supporting all the pack's weight on their points, and the diagonal
      compression straps that pull the weight down and in to the hipbelt so it
      doesn't sway on my shoulders. The tallness of the pack is also a plus, as
      it allows the shoulder lifter straps to be effective and actually lift the
      weight away from my shoulders and into the packframe. While I wouldn't say
      that the pack is comfy when it's loaded so heavily, its many adjustment
      points do allow me to shift the weight around throughout the day so that,
      for instance, I don't have to carry the whole thing on my shoulders for 15
      miles in a go.

      The Alpine LTW is water-resistant, but with so much use the interior coating
      has worn away and I now carry a pack cover full-time to prevent the fabric
      from soaking through. Despite all the abuse I have inflicted upon my pack,
      the loss of waterproofing may be the only major casualty it's suffered. The
      only other damage I can find is that a line of stitching on the diagonal
      compression straps has come unraveled (the lines run down the middle, along
      the length of the straps, so they must be for reinforcing, but they don't
      seem to attach to anything) and that both of the male buckles clipping the
      bottom of the beavertail down to the pack have broken off over time (I've
      replaced them with carabiners in the fabric loops still there, and haven't
      noticed the problem since). Other than being dirty, the fabric shows no
      signs of wear, all the drawcords are intact, and all the other buckles
      work. This is truly a heavy-duty pack.
      My only gripe may be just that: my pack is too heavy. While I know that I
      wouldn't have the comfort of a Cadillac in a less-featured pack, I also
      wouldn't be able to fill a smaller pack up with so much heavy stuff, and
      wouldn't have to lug around 6 pounds of pure backpack weight! My Alpine LTW
      has been a wonderful expedition pack and has helped me transition into the
      world of backpacking in comfort (oh-so-important to a teenager or small
      woman who wants to help carry her share of the group weight!), but I'm
      preparing to leave it behind on my AT through-hike this summer in favor of a
      smaller, lighter, much-less-featured GoLite Gust.

      The Dana Designs Alpine LTW is a great choice for comfort and
      load-carrying capability for long trips, especially for a small woman like
      myself. It is extremely rugged and can withstand a great deal of abuse, and
      will hold everything and the kitchen sink. It is quite heavy, as an
      expedition pack should be, and will be the first thing to go for anyone
      seeking to lighten their load´┐Żbut they, like me, will probably miss it.

      Things I like:
      Expedition-level carrying capacity
      Extremely adjustable

      Things I don't like:
      Cost (but worth it for its purpose)
      Expedition-level carrying capacity

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • chcoa
      PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT! Thanks for your Owner s Review. It has been added to the Owner Review Queue and will be picked up by an
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 1, 2006
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