74930FR - Outdoor Products- Amphibian Defense Pack - Derek Hansen
- Jan 8, 2013Richard,
Thank you for your edits and clarity of focus. I look forward to your edits.
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8 Jan 2013
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Oct 26-27: Kachina Trail, Arizona. I went on a 13 mi (21 km) backpacking trip with my troop on the San Francisco Peaks. The high temperature was around 50*F (10*C) and the overnight low was 30*F (-1*C). Elevation was 9,200 ft (2,800 m).
Nov 2-3: Upper Lake Mary, Arizona. I joined the older boy scouts on a short 4 mi (10 km) "backpacking" trip near Lake Mary. The high temperature was around 50*F (10*C) and the overnight low was 35*F (2*C). Elevation was 7,000 ft (2,00 m).
Nov 12: Buffalo Park, Flagstaff, Arizona. I went on a 6 mi (10 km) day hike with my family. The temperature was in the 40s*F (~5*C). Elevation was 7,000 ft (2,00 m).
Nov 24: Picture Canyon, Flagstaff, Arizona. I went on a 4 mi (10 km) day hike with my kids. The temperature was in the 50s*F (~10*C). Elevation was 7,000 ft (2,00 m).
Dec 7: Old Caves Crater, Flagstaff, Arizona. I went on a 2 mi (3 km) day hike around the cinder cone. The temperature was in the 50s*F (~10*C). Elevation was 7,000 ft (2,00 m).
Dec 13: Near Old Caves Crater, Flagstaff, Arizona. I decided to play hooky and go trail running to bag some cinder cone peaks near my home, totaling 5 mi (8 km). The temperature was in the 50s*F (~10*C). Elevation was 7,000 ft (2,00 m).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I have really enjoyed using the Amphibian pack, especially when I pushed it's limits on a backpacking trip with my Boy Scout troop in October. I really wanted to test this bag's capacity and comfort on a multi-day trip when I could safely carry enough gear to be warm before the temperature dropped too much. On this trip, I carried my gear listed earlier in this report, but I brought along two top quilts just to be safe as it was predicted to get as low as 15*F (-10*C) overnight. Most of the parents were worried the scouts would be too cold, but ironically, it was my second adult leader who forgot his sleeping bag! Thankfully he brought extra coats to share with the scouts in case they forgot theirs (!), and I loaned him my second top quilt. I was thankful the pack was able to carry all the gear I (we) needed that night, for in a twist of fate, the temperatures inverted and we stayed warmer on the mountain than parents fared down in town.
For the most part, the pack rode fine on my back and simple adjustments to the shoulder straps would eleviate any discomfort. I brought along a small hip pack where I stored some of my extra clothing and this added some "hip lift" to the pack. I also had to carry an extra bag for my water, which I didn't want to carry inside the waterproof bag.
I also packed the pack to its limit on another backpacking trip in November. Instead of two sleeping bags, I brought along one thicker one. The roll-top enclosure on the backpack really helps to expand or collapse the pack to meet the requirements of the contents.
In fact, on a day hike to Picture Canyon, I carried only minimal gear, to include a hammock, first aid, and snacks (along with other odds and ends). The frame sheet really helps keep the pack from wrinkling up.
I don't mean to repeat myself, but my biggest complaint is still the lack of pockets or support for water storage. On nearly all my hikes and trips I have brought along a separate bag to hold my water. On one trip in December, I was trail running and I wanted the pack to be as close and snug to me as possible, so I opted to leave the extra pouch at home and keep my water bottle inside the pack. Besides the risk of water spilling, the only inconvenience is the need to stop, remove the pack, and dig around to get the water.
The other thing I noticed on this trail run is that the sternum strap is at its maximum expansion and I could feel my chest tightening when I was breathing. The sternum strap really helped the shoulder straps to stay on my shoulders, but the tightness was annoying. And with only a thumb length left on the strap, there was little to hold to make any adjustments.
The side pockets are small and tight. I store my hammock straps on one pocket, typically, and a few stakes in the other. A headlamp often finds its way in the small, center mesh pocket. It's nice to have some organization options, even for just the little gear items.
I've used the keeper straps for my trekking poles on numerous occasions and I really like the toggle and elastic cord combination. My poles have stayed attached without any jiggling when running or hiking.
FIELD USE SUMMARY
I like the pack's looks, compression, and sturdy frame sheet that helps balance the load and prevent the pack from barreling out with full loads. The capacity has been just fine for ultralight backpacking, and more than adequate for trail runs and day hiking.
I think the only thing really missing are some expanded exterior pockets, particularly for a water bottle.
Please check back in approximately two months for my final report.
I would like to thank Outdoor Products and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.