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REVISED OWNER REVIEW - REI Mars Backpack - Scott Taylor

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  • thetaylorgirls3
    Made a couple of minor verbage changes. REI MARS PACK BY SCOTT TAYLOR OR August 27, 2007 TESTER INFORMATION NAME: Scott Taylor EMAIL: scullster@gmail.com AGE:
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2007
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      Made a couple of minor verbage changes.

      August 27, 2007


      NAME: Scott Taylor
      EMAIL: scullster@...
      AGE: 37
      LOCATION: Mount Vernon Washington USA
      GENDER: M
      HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
      WEIGHT: 220 lb (99.80 kg)

      I've just started getting into hiking and backpacking this year
      (2007). I've car camped as a youth and now take my family car
      camping. I've been researching equipment and methods of
      hiking/backpacking for a few months and have done 2 backpack trips, 1
      9mi (14.49 km) overnight and 1 9mi (14.49 km) extended backpacking
      trip. I've really enjoyed getting out the two times I have so far and
      have 2 more backpack trips on the books for this year! I hope to do
      some PCT section hikes by 2009.


      Manufacturer: Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI)
      Year of Manufacture: 2007
      Manufacturer's Website: <<HYPERLINK GOES HERE - "http://www.rei.com"
      LINK TEXT = "REI">>
      Product: Mars Pack
      MSRP: $195.00 (US)
      Listed Weight: 5lb 11oz (2.58kg)
      Volume: 5100cu in (84 L)
      Fits Torso: 17-20 in (43.18 - 51 cm)
      Color: Green and Grey (see photo)
      Material: Nylon

      Manufacturer Product Description

      Dual access to pack: top loading plus a horseshoe-zipper front panel
      opening, like a duffel, gives complete view of contents

      With a new ''rip-and-stick'' torso adjustment, shoulder strap system
      easily slides on pack's frame to fit torsos of varying lengths

      Removable top lid pocket lets you stash some essentials to bring into
      tent, so pack can stay outside or in vestibule
      = "Pack Loaded and ready to go">>
      Zippered pocket under lid stores maps and keys, spare batteries and
      other small essentials
      Front panel features an oversized zippered pocket protected with a
      waterproof zipper for storing often-used gear

      EVA Soft Edge shoulder straps move seams away from you body with
      cushioned edges for non-binding comfort on and off the trail

      Durable molded foam backpanel has channels for air circulation,
      increasing ventilation to keep your back cool and dry

      Pre-curved waistbelt with a Delrin® hoop is designed to cradle hip
      bones for a more natural fit and distribution of pack weight without

      V-pull waistbelt allows you to use a natural forward pulling motion
      for quick, easy cinching and precise adjustment

      Internal sleeping-bag compartment is created by a zippered divider,
      separating it from gear and clothes in the main compartment

      Utilizing four buckles, the pack's streamlined compression system
      lets you cinch and strap down loads for jostle-free carrying

      Concave head pod at the top of pack gives your head freedom of
      movement--no more staring at the ground
      External mesh side pockets hold water bottles, energy bars and other
      essentials you want close at hand

      Behind mesh pockets both sides feature zippered accessory pockets
      that are sized to fit gloves, hat, energy gels and more

      Hydration-compatible design features an internal reservoir sleeve and
      dual exit ports for drinking tube

      User Product Description

      There are a lot of features to this pack so this description may be
      quite lengthy.
      Suspension, Front, U-Panel open revealing inside">>
      While the manufacturer website says the material is nylon. It looks
      to me as though it is a combination of rip stop nylon and nylon. I
      make this assumption based on the raised square grid pattern on some
      of the nylon material used throughout the pack. The Manufacturers
      website also has a 360 degree view of the pack, which is a nice
      feature to check out this pack.
      <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Lid attachment detail" IMAGE CAPTION
      = "Lid attachment detail">>
      Starting at the top of the pack the lid is completely removable and
      is held in place by 2 straps and can be further secured by 2 black
      flaps of rubberized material with snaps that snap around the load
      lifting straps. When closed the front (part away from the suspension)
      of the lid is attached with 2 compression straps that go down to just
      below the middle on each side. The topside of the lid has a zipper
      that is offset from the back edge so you can reach back and gain
      access to the large pouch inside. The under side of the lid has
      another zipper compartment with a hook for keys. This compartment is
      also water proof for storage of maps and such items you don't want to
      get wet.

      Continuing down the back side of the pack(the suspension side) there
      is a handle for hoisting the pack. There are two hydration tube
      ports on either side of the pack body. Next are load lifting straps
      located at the top of the frame and connecting to the upper part of
      the shoulder straps. The top of the pack body is concaved to allow
      your head to lean back. Below and to the sides of the concave you can
      see part of the 2 aluminum stays.

      The shoulder straps are contoured and made of 3/8" (0.95 cm) thick
      dense foam. They have an elastic strap for running a hydration tube
      through. As well as a stronger strap behind the elastic strap for
      clipping accessories on. There is a sliding chest strap that is on a
      5 ½ inch (13.97 cm) slide for easy adjustment. Out of my 3 packs,
      Mountainsmith, Gregory and REI, the REI strap is the best engineered
      one I've seen or used. The shoulder straps are attached to the top of
      the molded back panel and sewn to the backside of the hip belt and
      are very sturdy and comfortable.

      The back panel is made of molded foam that is channeled on the
      outsides for ventilation. The center is lower than the sides thus
      creating a large central channel and is made of a heavy black
      material that attaches to the outside molded foam. The back panel is
      adjustable by sliding up or down the stays for varying torso lengths
      16-20 inches (43.18 – 51 cm). The back of the back panel is covered
      with Velcro. The backside of the pack body is covered with the mate
      of the Velcro. To adjust torso length push a hand between the back
      panel and the pack body separating the Velcro and slide it up or down
      to your desired position. Then press the Velcro back together. This
      feature works really well. There is an adjustable strap that connects
      from the top center of the back panel to the frame.
      <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "REI MARS Adjusting Shoulder Straps"
      IMAGE CAPTION = "REI MARS Adjusting Shoulder Straps">>
      The hip belt is made of dense foam and has shaped delrin inside to
      keep the shape and to prevent sagging. The hip belt adjustment is
      also my favorite of the three packs I own. It is easy and smooth to
      adjust the load on the hips by pulling forward on the adjusting
      straps to tighten or pulling the strap brackets to loosen. The hip
      belt is 5 ½ in (13.97 cm) wide at the back of the hips and contours
      slowly toward the front. It is 1/2 in (1.27 cm) thick. There is a
      square lumbar pad made of dense foam, but in my opinion could be a
      bit thicker. There is a strap for connecting accessories on either
      side of the hip belt and it connects at the front with a large snap
      clip. The hip belt is really comfortable.

      Right behind the hip belt is a zippered pocket on either side of the
      pack body. In front of both pockets is a strap for pulling the lower
      part of the pack closer to your body. On the pockets there is a long
      rubber zipper pull on the zipper which makes it fairly easy to grab.
      They are decent sized pockets that fit munchies and small items. I
      put my bug spray, whistle, compass, and other essentials in one and
      my munchies in the other. These are through pockets, meaning they are
      attached to the pack at the front and back of the pocket, but not at
      the top and bottom so you can slide things through behind them if you
      like. At the front (non-suspension side) of these pockets is the
      lower set of compression straps which snap clip to the bottom of the
      U-shaped panel (more on this later). On the outside of both these
      pockets are medium mesh style pockets with elastic tops. These fit a
      water bottle or other small items.

      Moving to the top of the pack body just below the hydration hose
      ports there are lashing points made of black rubberized material on
      either side. Just below the middle of the pack is where the final 2
      sets of compression straps are anchored. One set snap clip connects
      to the lid and the other to the middle of the U-shaped panel.

      The front of the pack is a large U-shaped zipper panel. It is
      connected at the top with the rest of the pack body. There is a flap
      that covers the zipper all the way around. There are two zippers that
      allow control of how much of the U-panel you open, so opening one
      side of the U-panel or just the bottom of the U-panel is possible.
      This is a great feature for accessing gear anywhere in the pack while
      making as small an opening as possible. There is a large pocket in
      the center of the U-panel with a weather proof zipper running
      vertical down the center from top to bottom. I'm amazed at how much
      can be stored in this pocket. On each side of the pocket on the U-
      panel is a 15 in (38.10 cm) long webbing lash points. One the flaps
      of the U-panel are 4 clips for compression straps to connect. 2 at
      the bottom and 2 in the middle.

      On the lower front of the pack are two ice axe loops. This wraps up
      the outside of the pack.
      The inside of the pack features a bladder pocket big enough to fit a
      2 liter MSR bladder. The top opening is large and easy to fit all my
      gear into. The sleeping bag compartment consists of a zippered flap
      of nylon sewn to the back of the pack. It fits a compressed +20 down
      bag easily. A standard Coleman bag you would take car camping will
      not fit with the zipper closed.


      I've used this pack on two hikes:
      The first trip was into the North Cascades National Forest for an
      over night trip in the month of June. The trip was 9 miles (14.49
      km). The camp site was at 3600 feet (1097 meters). The temperatures
      were in the mid 60's to 70's Fahrenheit( 15.56 - 21.11 Celsius)
      during the hike. I did not have a working scale at the time so I can
      not give a exact pack weight but it contained a minimum of 30 lbs. (
      13.61 kg) based on published weights of items carried. To give you a
      close estimate I will briefly list the what I carried in the pack.
      My clothes, Tent, 2 mummy bags, 2 sleeping pads, water filter, water
      bottle, 2 liter hydration bladder (full), cooking set, 2 cups, 2
      bowls, eating utensils, 6 2 person Mountain house meals, stove, 2
      butane canisters, stool, and other misc gear. I stored the sleeping
      pads, tarp, tent poles and stool on the outside of the pack.

      The second trip was on the Washington coast for a 3 night stay at
      Cape Alava. This trip was in the beginning of August. The trip was 9
      miles (14.49km) of mostly boardwalk trail with little elevation gain
      or loss. The temperatures ranged from the mid 50's to the mid 70's
      (10 - 21 Celsius) with several heavy fog, sprinkles mixed in. I did
      not have a working scale for this trip as well. The brief list of my
      pack contents:
      My clothes, Tent, 2 Mummy Bags, 1 sleeping pad, Chair, water filter,
      water bottle, 2 liter hydration bladder (full), cooking set, 4cups,
      4bowls, eating utensils, Food , stove, 2 butane canisters, and other
      misc gear.


      As I am new to backpacking I will try to stick to the review and not
      delve to much into my experience as a newbie in general. All I will
      say is the first hike I did was the hardest thing I've done in my
      life, physically and mentally. All but one of our group were new to
      the sport and later mentioned the fact that there were times toward
      the end of the climb that they wanted to cry. :) Kudos to you veteran
      <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Hiking down 4th of July trail" IMAGE
      CAPTION = "Hiking down 4th of July trail">>
      On my first hike in the North Cascades the pack was comfortable and
      easy to adjust as the day went on. It is very easy to fine tune the
      load to meet the demands of the terrain. By this I mean when starting
      the hike it was relatively flat with minor ups and downs. Mid-way
      into the hike we started gaining a lot of elevation and as the day
      wore on I was able to make minor adjustments that made the pack fit
      more comfortable. During the hike I did not feel out of balance. In
      fact the combination of compression straps and balancing straps made
      the pack feel tight to my body. Once at camp as we began to unload
      our packs a friend on the hike who was the veteran of the group was
      amazed at how much gear I was able to fit inside the pack.

      On the second hike to the coast we experienced a light misting rain
      on the inbound hike. When we got to camp nothing in my pack was wet.
      The pack was very comfortable during the hike in and easy to adjust
      when needed. The hip belt on the MARS is a lot smoother adjusting
      than either my Moutainsmith Maverick or my Gregory Z55. This being
      my second hike with this pack there were a lot fewer adjustments
      needed during the hiking. At camp once again I got comments on how
      much stuff was able to fit inside my pack.


      In conclusion I love this pack. It performs as the manufacturer
      claims. Having 3 young kids knowing I will be packing some of their
      gear the volume of the pack is awesome. It is really comfortable,
      easy to adjust and balance the load. The compressions straps keep
      everything in nice and tight. Yet aren't overwhelming (the Gregory
      Z55 has a lot of straps). The U-Panel make it nice to access gear
      anywhere inside the pack. The pockets are all in good locations, the
      only change I would make is maybe having the side pockets a little
      bigger. The top lid is removable but doesn't convert to a lumbar pack
      which would be nice. I would highly recommend this pack to anyone
      looking for a large volume pack.


      Amount of compression straps
      Ease of use of all features.


      Top lid should have a way to convert to fanny or lumbar pack for
      short day hikes.

      This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
      Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
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