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LTR - Six Moon Designs Comet - Colleen

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  • Emma Eyeball
    Brian, here it is. i m so tired i can t see straight, but my spellchecker says i m good to go. thank you x 100 for the extension. today is the first time in
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2005
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      Brian, here it is. i'm so tired i can't see straight, but my
      spellchecker says i'm good to go. thank you x 100 for the
      extension. today is the first time in 11 days that i have felt like
      a human being and not some sick, sad beast. thanks for any edits &
      suggestions.

      +++++++++++++++++
      Long Term Report
      Six Moon Designs Comet Pack
      November 30, 2005

      Manufacturer: Six Moon Designs
      URL: http://www.sixmoondesigns.com
      MSRP: $180 US (with optional stays)
      Year Model: 2005
      Listed Weight: 27 ounces/765 grams, with optional stays (included for
      this test)
      Tested Weight: pack with stays: 26.7 ounces/757 grams
      pack w/out stays: 22.1 ounces/627 grams
      stays alone: 4.6 ounces/130 grams
      detachable hipbelt: 4.5 ounces/128 grams
      pack w/out stays or hipbelt: 17.6
      ounces/499 grams
      Capacity: main packbag 2600 cubic inches/42.5 liters
      extension collar 450 cubic inches/7 liters
      external mesh pockets 650 cubic inches/10.5 liters
      total capacity 3700 cubic inches/61 liters

      Tester Name: Colleen Porter
      Gender: female
      Age: 30
      Height: 5'8"/1.73 m
      Weight: 140 lb/62 kg
      Email address: tarbubble at yahoo dot com
      Location: Orange County, CA
      Backpacking Experience: I have been hiking for fifteen years,
      backpacking for nine. I've only been serious about it in the last
      four years. I mostly hike on established trails – bushwhacking is
      rarely planned. I like gear to be simple and light, and I do make
      some of my own equipment. On my own I pack pretty light (about
      thirteen lb/6 kg base weight) and am always trying to get lighter,
      but I am often on family trips with my two young sons and the weight
      usually doubles or triples. My three-season backpacking haunts are
      the San Gabriels, the Sierra Nevada, and the Grand Canyon, and
      winters find me in the Mojave and Colorado deserts.

      Product Description: A semi-frameless, top-loading, lightweight
      backpack. A folded sleeping pad can be placed in a specially
      designed interior pocket in order to provide a rudimentary
      framesheet. The Comet's frame/suspension/harness can be altered to
      suit the user's desire - the stays and the hipbelt are removeable.
      The exterior features three large mesh pockets, two ice axe/tool
      attachment loops, and a drybag-style closure. Please see my Initial
      Report for a much more detailed description of the Comet's features.

      Field Information: Testing has taken place excluisvely in southern
      California. I have used the Comet at elevations ranging from sea
      level to over 8000 feet/2438 meters. Weather has ranged from cool,
      cloudy, and damp, to hot and dry. Trails have ranged from smooth &
      maintained to eroded and rocky. Temperatures have been well over 100
      F/56 C and down around the high 30's F/21 C. The Comet was used as a
      daypack and as luggage on a week-long campout on the California
      coast, exposed to the blazing sun every day and the damp ocean fog
      every night. It has been used backpacking on two separate trips
      along the Pacific Crest Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains, on a trip
      into the Mecca Hills (in the Colorado Desert), and again as luggage
      and a daypack in Joshua Tree National Park. It has also been used on
      dozens of short local day hikes, with loads ranging from fifteen
      pounds (6.8 kg) to over thirty-five pounds (15.8 kg), in varying
      suspension configurations. One of these day hikes was a partial
      bushwhack through a local slot canyon, where I had the chance to use
      the Comet in waist-deep water with a drybag as a pack liner.

      Performance: I can, with total confidence, say that I have pushed
      this pack to its limit. I have used it in every configuration
      available, with four different sleeping pads acting as the framesheet
      at different times. Those pads were a six-section Z-Rest, a Bozeman
      Mountain Works Torsolite pad, a Therm-A-Rest Prolite 3 Short, and a
      Therm-A-Rest LE Short (a discontinued model that is 2 in/5 cm
      thick). I have carried pathetically light loads in it, and I have
      overloaded it to the point that the waistbelt left marks and my
      collarbones were sore for two days. Most of my loads were in between
      these two extremes. I'm going to list important features of the
      pack, as well as overall considerations, and go over them
      individually.

      The Pad Pocket/Pad-Based Frame. This is a good feature, but on its
      own it absolutely does not replace a framesheet. It is a great
      improvement over other frameless rucksacks I have tried, in that it
      contains the pad and makes it into something much closer to a frame
      than it would be otherwise. I wish the webbing strap that closes
      over the top of the pocket was just a little longer - I tried folding
      my pads creatively and liked the results, but the strap was too short
      to close over some of these arrangements. In conjunction with the
      hipbelt and stays, the Pad Pocket suspension is almost as good as a
      framesheet, but the overall suspension of the Comet is definitely,
      absolutely unsuitable for loads of 40 lb/18 kg, and those weights are
      well over Six Moon's recommended limit of 35 lb/15.8 kg. When I
      pushed the Comet to 40 lb/18 kg on our last family trip (at one point
      carrying 3 days' worth of food and over 2 gallons/7.5 liters of
      water), the pack was incredibly uncomfortable. Even with loads as
      light as 20 pounds/9 kilograms, I always preferred to at least use
      the belt, as the Comet did an excellent job of transferring most of
      the weight onto my hips. I don't think I'm quite cut out for
      beltless packs, as my shoulders invariably start to hurt if I carry
      anything approaching 15 pounds/6.8 kilograms in a beltless pack.
      Adding the stays prevented the load from bending the pack as the
      weight pulled down. My favorite way to use the Comet was with the
      full suspension in place - pad in the pocket, belt on, and stays in.
      As I said in my Field Report, I'll happily pay the penalty of
      carrying an extra 9.1 ounces/258 grams in exchange for the tremendous
      improvement in comfort that those features provide.

      Adjustable Torso Length. This is an area that could do with some
      improvement. Making the adjustments is easy and intuitive enough,
      but there are some irritations and side effects to the
      adjustability. The irritation is that the webbing which feeds
      through the slider is just brely long enough to feed through so that
      the sewn-over end of the webbing catches on the slider in order to
      stay in place. This makes it maddening to try and feed through -
      every time I did, I gruted and struggled to get the webbing fed
      through just one millimeter more, so that the webbing end would catch
      and stay in place. If I gave up and didn't get the end of the
      webbing fed all the way through, the webbing would invariably slip
      out when my gait became a bit bouncy (for example, on steep
      downhills), and then the pack would slump down and all the weight
      would shift most uncomfortably onto the tops of my shoulders. My
      other complaint about the adjustment system is that when I wore the
      Comet over just a sport bra, the adjustment system rubbed against my
      skin and began irritating me. I never got much more than sore red
      marks, my skin never broke, but I never had to hike in just a bra for
      more than an hour or so. I have no doubt that if I had let it go on
      longer, I would have ended up with abraded skin on my back. However,
      the adjustment system never presented a problem when I wore a shirt.

      Drybag Closure. I have mixed feelings about it. Since the Comet
      does not have a top lid of any kind, I like that the pack has a more
      secure closure than just a simple drawstring with a cordlock. But
      the Velcro can sometimes be difficult to line up properly, and any
      even vaguely fuzzy items will snag on it as I'm loading the pack. I
      definitely think the drybag closure is an improvement over simpler
      closures, but I'm still not entirely crazy about it. Maybe I'm just
      too hung up on pack lids. I wish the top strap, the webbing strap
      that snaps over the top of the closure, was just a little bit longer -
      an inch or two.

      Hydration. When I used the Comet as a daypack, that is to say when
      it wasn't packed full and tightly, I preferred to carry water in
      bottles that I placed in the side pockets. Having a heavy water
      bottle slumped at the bottom of the pack became bothersome, as the
      weight was too low and threw off my balance just a little bit. When
      I had the Comet packed full and tightly, this ceased to be a problem,
      as I could simply wait to add the bladder until I had the pack
      halfway full - the items that were already in the pack prevented the
      bladder from slumping down to the bottom. I always placed bladders
      in the Pad Pocket. The ports for the hydration tube are too small.
      Feeding the mouthpiece through the ports was always frustrating, and
      you can forget about using a mouthpiece cover of any kind - it won't
      fit.

      Exterior Mesh Pockets. Great. Fantastic. Love 'em. I can jam them
      full of stuff when I need to, and when I don't need them they lay
      reasonably flat. If I really overstuff them, any small items near
      the top can wiggle out, but it was a rare time when I needed to stuff
      them THAT full. My only irritation is that the compression straps
      have to run over the center pocket, but there's nothing that can be
      done about that and it simply has to be worked around.

      Lumbar Pad. Six Moon says the lumbar pad will "enhance back
      ventilation." I never felt overly hot while using the Comet (well,
      nothing that stripping off my shirt didn't solve), so it seems to
      ventilate well. Certainly better than any other ultralight
      (frameless) pack I have used, and this is absolutely due to using the
      Pad Pocket in conjunction with the lumbar pad. Even when I used the
      Comet without stays or belt, it didn't cling to my back as much as my
      other frameless packs.

      As a Daypack. Not ideal, but serviceable. Loads with some bulk
      carry better, even with the compression straps tightened up. Unless
      packed tightly, I can't recommend using a bladder system. I
      preferred water bottles in the side pockets. The problem with using
      it as a daypack out of a base camp is that it carries poorly unless
      you use the sleeping pad as a frame, which is only a problem if
      you're lazy like me and don't like the fuss of folding and unfolding
      your pad every day.

      Small Details/Miscellaneous. I never carried an ice axe. I used the
      axe loops to carry hiking poles and a Golite Dome umbrella. I simply
      twisted the loops to the appropriate tightness, placed the item in
      the loop, and then secured it with the additional Velcro strap. I
      like the little interior pocket - very handy for car keys and other
      tiny items.

      Durability. The Comet has held up very well over the last six
      months. As I noted in my Field Report, some of the stitching has
      come undone where the extension collar and the packbag are sewn
      together, but this hasn't progressed significantly. I can find no
      major signs of wear or tear - no fraying, unraveling, rips or snags.

      Summary. I like the Comet a lot. It has definitely taken first
      place amongst my lightweight packs. I have packs that weigh less,
      but they're nowhere near as comfortable as the Comet. I have a
      number of fiddly complaints, but this is a new model and none of my
      complaints affect the overal usefulness of the Comet. My biggest
      concern is the torso adjustment system irritating my skin when I'm
      shirtless. It's not a perfect pack, but it has a lot of good
      features, carries comfortably as long as it's not overloaded, and
      weighs one pound eleven ounces (757 grams)!

      Things I Like

      Versatility - from overnight pack to ultralight week-long loads
      Capacity - the exterior pockets are deceptively large
      Drybag closure is more secure than a drawstring closure
      Exterior mesh pockets - durable and VERY useful
      Pad Pocket fits most pads
      "Key pocket" inside packbag
      Compression straps are thin but effective
      It's a dang fine-looking pack


      Things I Don't Like So Much

      Drybag closure - fuzzy items catch on the Velcro
      No hydration bladder pocket - bladder slumps to the bottom of the pack
      Pad Pocket closure strap is too short - it won't close over certain
      pads
      Torso length adjustment webbing is barely long enough
      If hiking shirtless or in a bra, torso length adjustment hardware
      will rub and irritate skin
      Sternum straps slip down too easily when opened
      Shoulder strap webbing is very difficult to adjust while hiking -
      loosening or tightening
      Ports for hydration tube are too small - difficult to get mouthpiece
      through
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