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73564IR - High Sierra Titan 65 backpack - Kerri Larkin

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  • Kerri Larkin
    Aug 2, 2012
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      Hi James,

      Please find following my IR for the High Sierra Sport Company Titan 65 backpack. The HTML version can be found here: Titan-65

      Thanks in advance for your edits, and hope you don't get eyestrain from such a long report!

      Kind Regards,

      Kerri

      HIGH SIERRA TITAN 65 LITER BACKPACK


      TEST SERIES BY KERRI LARKIN

      INITIAL REPORT - 1 AUGUST 2012

      TESTER INFORMATION

      NAME: Kerri Larkin
      EMAIL: kerrilarkin AT yahoo DOT com
      AGE: 51
      LOCATION: Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia
      GENDER: Female
      HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
      WEIGHT: 253 lb (113 kg)

      I've been a car-camper and bushwalker for thirty years. Mostly I do day hikes as my passion is photography, which means I walk very slowly! I've returned to walking after some years away due to injuries and I'm learning to use Ultralight gear (and my hammock!). I've traveled most of eastern Australia, walking in landscapes as diverse as tropical rainforest, snow fields, beaches and deserts. My fortieth birthday was spent trekking in Nepal which was a truly life changing experience.


      INITIAL REPORT

      PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

      Manufacturer:
      High Sierra Sport Company
      Year of Manufacture: 2012
      Manufacturer's Website: http://www.hssc.com
      MSRP: Not Listed


      Titan 65 Measurements

      Manufacturer Specified
      Capacity: 65 L (3965 cu in)
      Weight: 2.54g (5.62 lb)
      Fit: Regular: 35-50 cm (14-20 in) torso
      Height Range: 172-182 cm (68-72 in)
      Waist: 76 cm (30 in) and up
      Materials: Nylon Mini-Diamond Ripstop, Duralite® Nylon, 840D Nylon (bottom)
      Colour choices:
      229: Cliff, Rock, Auburn, Charcoal (basically gray/brown)
      453: Pacific, Nebula, Ash, Charcoal (blue/gray)
      640: Amazon, Pine, Leaf, Charcoal (green/gray)
      Warranty: Limited Lifetime


      INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

      My Titan 65 arrived in a large cardboard box, in perfect condition. Three things struck me immediately I opened the box: firstly, this pack will not be easy to lose in the bush - it's very bright. Secondly, it sure is big! Thirdly, this is way heavier than my normal 35 lire (2135 cu in) pack. Now, none of these things are bad, I'm just not used to such a voluminous pack. For the last couple of years I've been trying to lighten my load by using more light weight and ultralight equipment. My big problem was that I needed extra gear to be warm enough in my hammock in winter, and there was simply no room in my tiny pack. Enter the Titan 65 (hereafter referred to as the Titan). This is a pack designed to swallow all my gear and more besides.

      I was immediately struck by how sturdy the materials are - this is no flimsy whimsy. Many of the packs I've been using recently require a certain level of care, attention, and yes, even love, if they are going to last more than a single trip. The Titan, by contrast, looks as if it could deal with everything an airport baggage handler could throw at it and simply laugh it off. Third World buses? This pack looks like it would be right at home being thrown up on the roof.

      The other thing that amazed me was just how many nifty features this pack has, so let's break it down...

      The High Sierra Titan 65 is a top-loading pack with an internal frame. The main part of the pack is 55 litres in volume (3356 cu in) and accessed through a gusseted drawstring closure. The closure opens pretty much to the full circumference of the bag, making it very easy to insert bulkier gear. An adjustable strap goes from the centre front of the pack (at the base of the gusset) to the centre rear (again at the base of the gusset) allowing a very positive lock of the top and some compression if the load is large.

      A non-removable lid fits over the drawstring closure to give some weatherproofing, and contains a zip accessed pocket for storage of small, easy to lose, items. On top of the lid are four loops - one at each corner - which could be used to bungee wet weather gear or a fleece on top of the pack. Inside the lid is another zipper accessible pocket for more secure storage of small items like car keys or travel documents. One nifty feature inside the lid is a sewn-in patch listing the "12 Survival Essentials", which is a great memory prompt and is important information for inexperienced hikers. Although the lid is sewn to the pack, there is plenty of room for adjustment via two straps at the back of the lid, and two at the front. This gives a compression sack effect allowing me to crank down the lid for a good, close, fit.
      Survival Essentials small
      Inside the main compartment, at the rear, is a sleeve with an elasticised top suited for storing an hydration bladder. Support for the bladder comes from two hook-and-loop tabs sewn in at the junction of the gusseted neck and the body of the pack. There are two options to exit the hose for the hydration bladder, one on each side of the pack, so lefties and righties are well catered for. There is also a small, but sturdy, plastic clip at the top left rear of the pack which could keep those car keys from disappearing into the bowels of this pack.

      Further down there is a divider between the main compartment and the lower sleeping bag compartment. The divider can be opened with a zip, thus allowing the space to be used as a single 65 litre (3965 cu in) pack rather than a 55 litre (3356 cu in) main compartment and a smaller 10 litre (610 cu in) sleeping bag space. The smaller compartment is also accessible from the outside of the pack via a zipper running horizontally across the pack.

      Externally, there are straps, pockets and pouches galore. The front of the pack has an expanding, hinged pocket with gusseted sides. The instruction booklet states this space is ideal for storing climbing ropes or other gear. I'm no climber, but it looks like a top spot to stow a rain jacket or a wet tarp. This hinged area is closed with two adjustable webbing straps which can also supply some compression forces. The front pocket itself opens with a sturdy looking zip to reveal a useful amount of room for a light jacket, spare clothing or nibbles. On the front of this pocket are two sturdy hook-and-loop tabs which would be perfect for storing an ice axe or walking poles. These two tabs can be moved to any of the four daisy chain links for greater versatility - I love those kind of thoughtful touches!

      On each side of the pack is a very sturdy grab handle - a useful inclusion for those airport carousel melees, or the bus roof scenario. Personally, I find these side handles easier to use, and less painful on the hands than the standard thin strap at the top of the pack. The strap at the top of the pack looks good for hanging the pack in a wardrobe, but these two side handles look way sturdier and perfect for someone helping to get the pack on or off. Using them also means carrying the pack horizontally, which I find far more natural for my arm length, rather than having to hold my arm unnaturally high when the pack is vertical.

      The grab handles are also where the compression straps meet - one goes upward to secure the top lid, one goes downward to compress the sleeping bag, and the last gives side compression to the pack. The bottom strap can also be repositioned to hold a sleeping pad across the bottom of the pack too. Two strong loops are located at the front, bottom, of the pack and could hold an ice axe or be used for lashing the pack to a kayak or raft.

      Each side of the pack has an elasticised pocket at the bottom which is big enough to hold a one litre (33 fl oz) bottle of beverage. I found these pockets are a perfect fit for my JetBoil stove too, so one less thing to cram inside!

      One feature I especially like is a zip on the right side of the pack which allows access to the lower part of the top compartment so I don't need to completely empty the pack to reach something I've stored down low and now suddenly need.

      On the bottom of the pack is a slit which is held closed by hook-and-loop. Opening the slit reveals a small pouch which holds the rain cover for the pack. This is no flimsy sheet of plastic: it's well tailored and robust. High Sierra have even thought to attach the rain cover with a strap to the base of the pack - no more lost (or stolen) rain covers! The cover has an elastic bungee to cinch it down over the top of the pack. With a fairly empty pack, the rain cover was long enough to cover the pack and my head as well - a High Sierra hoodie!

      Regardless of how many pockets, pouches and straps a pack has, the key element is, of course, the carrying system: waist belt, shoulder straps and other bits and pieces that steady and support the load. The Titan doesn't seem to be wanting in this department either: there are plenty of adjustments possible. The hip belts are adjustable (of course) but the fantastic thing is they fit my somewhat ample hips with some adjustment left over. That's a rare thing I've found. Thank you High Sierra. The belts are padded with VAPEL® mesh and my initial trial suggests this will be quite comfortable. There is a reasonably large zip pocket on each belt and these seem to be quite well located. So often I've tried on a pack to find the belt pockets half way around my back, or too small to hold anything more than a single cashew. Not so the Titan. They will easily hold something about the size of a sandwich. The pockets open wide too, so no scrounging around trying to wriggle two fingers into a tight little pouch.

      The back of the pack is an interesting shape: It almost looks like a cobra standing up. This is all a part of the AIRFLOW® system which is made of high density foam. According to the instruction booklet, this is to help keep the pack away from my back so I don't get so hot and sweaty. It looks as though there is a 'Y' shaped groove down the centre back of the pack and I could see this acting like a bellows to pump air in and out of the space. If it does work this way, it certainly would help keep my back nice and cool and dry.

      The shoulder straps are attached with the proprietary ERGO-FIT® 'S' shaped harness and load lifters. The ERGO-FIT system is very simple to adjust for different torso lengths: simply lift a hook-and-loop tab, slide the harness out of the daisy chain webbing and relocate it to an appropriate height. It seems simple, efficient, and very user-friendly. The shoulder harness also appears to be covered in the same VAPEL® mesh as the hip belt. Load lifter webbing straps attach the pack to the shoulder harness and work well. There's a 'D' ring sewn to each shoulder strap to allow bits and pieces to be clipped to the straps. The left-side shoulder strap has a removable "Media Pocket" which attaches to two webbing daisy chains with hook-and-loop fastener. The pocket is a reasonable size and appears as if it would take most smart phones, a GPS, or an ELB (there's a small slot in the top to allow an antenna to poke through). I found it to be a perfect size for my monocular and allows fast access, assuming the sound of ripping the hook-and-loop closure open doesn't scare off what I want to observe. This pocket is not waterproof though.

      Attached to the shoulder straps is a sternum strap which can be slid up or down to provide an infinitely variable position, so it should suit almost everyone. The Sternum strap webbing attaches to what looks like a sail track system, which is what allows it to slide for adjustment. The main part of the strap has a bungee section to allow some give without over-stretching the strap, which looks like it will make moving and chest expansion much more comfortable than a standard strap.

      READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

      A small eight page instruction and care book was attached to the pack and gives a great visual clue as to what all the functions of the pack are. One page is devoted to measuring the torso and a choosing a pack size, and there is a very useful page on how to adjust the pack to fit properly. The instructions are clear, easy to understand, and don't appear to have been translated from another language, as is so often the case nowadays. There is also a page dedicated to how to load the pack and how to clean it. The back page details the High Sierra Limited Lifetime Warranty.

      The recommendation for minor marks is to spot clean using a sponge, warm water and mild detergent. For a complete clean, the recommendation is to fill a tub with warm water, add mild detergent until the water bubbles, then submerse the pack. Give it a bit of a gentle shake while it's under water, rinse and hang on a clothes line to dry. Simple really.

      TRYING IT OUT

      So having given the pack a thorough inspection, it was time to try it on. I loaded everything I normally take on a weekend away and found I'd barely half-filled the Titan. This pack holds a lot! Of course, the temptation is to take extra gear to fill the pack, but I try to be fairly ruthless in culling the unnecessary. After all, what seems like a good idea in the comfort of my home seems just plain heavy after a day's walk.

      Swinging the pack up on to my back was pretty much the same as for any other pack, but I noticed right away how well padded the hip belt seems to be, and that it will comfortably circumnavigate my hips.

      Hooray! I'm not a size six and never will be. It's great that High Sierra recognises that larger people do hike, and sometimes that's what they do to lose weight, sometimes they just hike because they love it.

      With the hip belt cinched down, the pack felt quite stable on my back, especially after adjusting the shoulder straps and lifters.

      One common problem I have with packs is with the shoulder straps digging in to my underarm area. So far, the Titan feels like it won't do that.

      Despite the pack's size, it didn't protrude much beyond the top of my head, making judging clearances a bit simpler.

      As far as build quality goes, I haven't seen any loose threads or poor sewing on my pack - it all looks first rate.

      SUMMARY

      I'm looking forward to my first outing with the pack to see if it performs anywhere near as good as it looks. Despite being heavier than my previous pack, the load feels well distributed and supported from the short trial I did around my home. I'm really excited about this pack and can't wait to get to know it better!

      Please check back in around two months for my Field Report

      This concludes my Initial Report on the High Sierra Titan 65 backpack. I'd like to thank both High Sierra Sport Company and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this item.



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