REPOST #2 : Application - Marmot Terraplane Pack - Andrew Buskov
- REPOST #2 : Application - Marmot Terraplane Pack - Andrew Buskov
I've changed numerous grammatical errors, added information to the test
plan, and changed some field information. I have also tried to make some of
the information easier to read and less cryptic.
Once again I pray to the BGT Gods to let Brown Santa bestow this most
wonderful piece of backpacking gear to me.
Marmot Terraplane Pack
Please accept my application to test the Marmot Terraplane Pack. I have read
the entire BackpackGearTest.org bylaws v. 0609 including, but not limited
to, Chapter 5. I agree to follow all requirements. My Tester Agreement is on
file. If chosen for this test I would need a size L shoulder strap and size
XL hip belt. I would prefer the color Admiral / Asphalt, but would be more
than happy to test either color.
Tester Biographical Information:
Name: Andrew Buskov
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight: 218 lbs (99 kg)
Torso Length: 21 in (53 cm)
Chest: 44 in (112 cm)
Waist: 38 in (97 cm)
Hips: 44 in (112 cm)
City, State, Country: Madisonville, Kentucky USA
Date: November 6, 2006
I started backpacking when I was 8 and quickly became hooked on the
outdoors. During the fall of my sophomore year I took a trip to Mt. Katahdin
where I realized I enjoyed the colder weather and solitude of deep
backcountry hiking more than I thought.
I have hiked a lot of different environments ranging from the lush green
mountains of the Appalachians to the dry, barren desert of Arizona. Although
I have hiked various locations, I have found that my ideal hiking season
starts late in the year. My prime time begins late August or early September
and runs through early June..
I'm usually a moderate weight hiker. I don't mind carrying the weight for my
own comfort. As an Emergency Medical Technician I've been trained to be
prepared. Because of this my pack weight tends to be between 30 to 45 lbs
(14 and 20 kg) when I'm with another group, and up to 65 lbs (29 kg) when
leading or soloing.
This is exactly what I was looking to come down the pike this winter. As
I've said in a number of previous applications and above, winter is my
primary backpacking and hiking time. One of the issues that I run into
during this season though is space. When you go talking about week long
trips with temperatures almost constantly in the teens, space becomes a
prime commodity. With the colder weather comes greater risk, and with
greater risk comes a greater need for preparedness. Because of this I
usually end up packing way more than I'll need; things like extra fuel and
extra clothing in case my stuff becomes wet; we all know that clothing won't
dry as easily in colder weather. I also find myself packing items that
usually aren't needed during my fall and spring trips; crampons, gaiters,
etc. Everything boils down to space.
As space is one of the main concerns, comfort is surely a close second.
Having 70 lbs (32 kg) of gear on my back for a 7 day trip would surely be
miserable with my current setup. My pack just isn't designed to carry that
kind of weight. The Terraplane was designed with this in mind though, and
the comfort level I anticipate it providing will make me yearn for another
long trip instead of dreading it.
My current pack setup is a Granite Gear Stratus Latitude. This pack weighs 4
lbs 14 oz (2.21 kg) and is rated to hold 4800 in^3 (79 L). When taking short
weekend trips, or even longer 3-4 day trips with others, I can usually cram
all I need into this pack. The problem arises when I'm forced to carry much
more gear than I usually do when joined up with a group. Because the Stratus
Latitude has a limited number of places to lash items to the pack, it
doesn't easily accommodate all I need to carry.
The other thing that definitely appeals to me about the Terraplane is the
number of pockets and pouches in which I can stash stuff. The Stratus
Latitude has two pouches on the side of the pack that are virtually unusable
due to the material they are made of. Anything you stick in the pouches will
be compressed because of the neoprene style stretch material. This means
that any food now becomes crumbs of its former self, and using the pouch for
a water bottle holder is only possible if the pack isn't stuffed to
In addition, the Stratus Latitude only has one set of zippers running the
entire length of the pack. This means that everything in the pack is located
in one central compartment. There is virtually no way to separate medical
supplies or often used equipment into easily reachable areas. In order to
get to any of these items, the entire contents of the pack must be exposed
which often leads to items falling out or getting wet during adverse
As an Emergency Medical Tech this has been especially cumbersome for me a
number of times. Because I carry a bit more medical gear than usually found
in a typical first aid pack, I've had to find various solutions to easily
access my equipment. My current setup involves 1 or 2 Nalgene bottles
stuffed with everything I'll need to handle a backwoods emergency. As the
layout of the Stratus Latitude prevents compartmentalizing necessary
equipment, these 2 Nalgene bottles usually end up at the bottom of the pack
surrounded by other equipment. I have literally had to almost dump my pack
to get to these bottles before; not a good situation if it's raining.
I've been looking to get a larger pack for some time now simply because I
need the space, but have been quite reluctant to plop down $300+ without
being able to try out a variety of packs to see what will suit my needs.
It's because of these shortcomings, the extreme number of features on the
Terraplane, and the upcoming trips I have planed that I apply to test this
pack. This would be an awesome pack to test for a number of reasons.
I already have a number of trips scheduled for the next 4 months. The first
big trip that this pack will see is a jaunt through the GSMNP with Coy in
January. Around the 14th we will be starting at Newfound Gap and heading
west back along the Appalachian Trail to Cades Cove. This trip will be
approximately 5 days depending on how long we can stretch it out. I expect
the temperatures to cold with the high at Clingmans Dome, an elevation of
6,643 ft (2025 m), being around freezing and the low being around 18 F (-8
C). The temperature will gradually rise 10 -15 F (5.5 - 8.3 C) warmer as we
get to Cades Cove at 1,800 ft (549).
Although our starting date is set in stone, our ending date is up for
debate. I plan on taking at least 1 day worth of extra food. This could
potentially lead to packing 8 days worth of food for this one trip. I could
probably get away with the pack that I have, but I am pretty sure I wouldn't
be able to haul that much food in addition to the cold weather sleeping bag
that will be needed. Having the extra space from the Terraplane would not
only allow us to have a safer trip, but would also facilitate a much happier
trip experience since I wouldn't constantly be dumping equipment out of the
pack to find what I need.
I've also talked my wife into letting me solo for 3-4 nights in February as
a birthday present to myself and some needed time away after some recent
unfortunate family instances. She absolutely hates when I solo because she
can't contact me when I'm away and is always worrying if I will come back to
her safe and sound. This pack would help me out greatly during this trip as
I will be able to pack all the gear I need for soloing safely and still be
able to enjoy my time outdoors. My trip will be in the Savage Gulf area of
the South Cumberland Trail Recreational Area. It will start at an elevation
of roughly 1900 ft (579 m) and drop to an elevation around 1000 ft (305 m).
The temperatures in February range from a high of 54 F (12 C) to a low
around 33 F (.5 C). The average precipitation is 4.85 inches. Last year,
during the end of January, I took a trip to this same location with some
friends. I woke up the first morning with 4 inches of snow at the higher
elevations. There was no snow during the second night at lower elevations,
but the temperature when I woke up was around 15 F (-9 C). Needless to say,
with temperatures like that, I'll be layering quite a bit and the extra
space from this pack would be extremely helpful. I'd rather not have to find
a way to lash my coat to the pack like last year simply because I didn't
have enough room to properly stow it.
I will also be taking at least 1 multi-night trip per month throughout the
testing period. Due to my work schedule, and my wife's plans, these trips
are hardly ever planned more than 2-3 days in advance. Usually, I throw my
gear in a pack and head out for a hike. Most of my camping is in the Land
Between the Lakes Recreational Area that crosses the Kentucky-Tennessee
border on their western edges. The land is fairly flat with an elevation
range for this area around 400 ft (122 m) above sea level. Elevation change
throughout the park is less than 100 ft (30 m), but terrain can be quite
challenging. The average temperature for the months of December and February
is a high of 47 F (8 C) during the days with the low during the night being
31 F (-.5 C). January temperatures drop down slightly with an average high
of 43 F (6 C) to a low of 27 (-3 C). The record low for the area was -12 F
(-24.5 C) set in January1985. The average precipitation low for this time
period is 3.29 in (8.36 cm) in January with the average high being 4.15 in
(10.54 cm) during December. Most of this precipitation is in the form of
rain, although it is not uncommon to see snow in the winter months.
I will be using this item a minimum of 3 additional nights during each test
phase in addition to the week long GSMNP trip and Savage Gulf trips I have
planned. I feel I will have more than enough field experience to adequately
test this pack.
During the testing period I will answer the following questions:
. Fit and function are the two most important aspects of any backpack.
How will this item fit when completely stuffed with gear for a week long
outing? Will I be able to stuff all the gear I feel necessary into this pack
with relative ease?
. As this packs shoulder and hip straps are customizable, will the
manufacturers' measurement ratings give me the best possible fit?
. Are the shoulder straps wide enough to allow maximum comfort when
carrying 50-60 lbs (23-27 kg) of gear? Will there be enough strap cushion to
prevent chafing along the neckline?
. I usually get numb on my right hip when hauling a large load due to
nerve issues. Will the cushioning along the hip belt be thick enough to
alleviate this issue? Will the buckle on the hip belt cut into my waist?
Will any of the seams on the straps be sewn in such a way to cause blisters?
Will the belt loosen after wearing a while?
. Throughout the day, I often change the distribution of weight from
my hips to my shoulders and back again to give each area some time to rest.
How easy will it be to do this with the Terraplane? Will the straps be easy
enough to operate, or will I dread readjusting this pack?
. How is the strap setup? On my GG Stratus Latitude there are 6-8
straps that allow for complete readjustment of the pack to get a closer fit
to both my back and my shoulders. From looking at the diagrams online it
appears the Terraplane will have the same features, but there may not be as
many. Will there be enough straps to adequately adjust ride quality? Will
the straps be long enough to adjust without contorting myself while wearing
the pack? Some of the straps look to pull backwards (ex. the Shoulder Load
Lifter Web). Naturally it is easier to pull forward than back. Will this
pose a problem when trying to fit the pack correctly after donning?
. Will the HD Poly framesheet have enough flex when tackling difficult
trails? Will it be rigid enough to support the pack weight for a 10 hour day
of hiking? Are the aluminum stays bendable to back shape? How quiet is the
pack? Will the rubbing along the framesheet be noisy? Does the back padding
wick perspiration away? Will the perspiration in the back padding turn into
a sheet of ice after a night of cold temperatures?
. How much weight will be a comfortable weight? If I need to pack 75
lbs (34 kg) of gear for a solo trip, or while guiding, will this pack have
enough support that I'm not in pain by the end of the day?
. I've had to exchange shoulder and hip belts before due to improper
pack fit at the store. How easy is it to change the strap configuration if a
different size is needed? Does Marmot have a "swap policy" that will allow
the swapping of unused straps for only a shipping and handling charge?
. The pack is obviously tall enough to ride above my head. Will I
experience straps from the integrated fanny pack slapping me in the face
while walking? When fitting this pack as tight as possible to my back, will
I have enough room to move my head around or will I hit the pack if I look
up? Will the head space cutaway in the framesheet allow the pack to slump
towards my head?
. Is there a map pouch on the pack? Will I be able to readily access
it while wearing the pack? If the pack is overstuffed, will the map pouch
even be usable?
. Are all the seams sewn nice and tight? When overstuffing the pack,
will the seams be able to take a little extra pressure, or will they start
to stretch after time? Will this affect the DWR of the pack?
. Are the zippers sewn in tight enough that they won't stretch out or
get zipper disease when stuffing the pack to capacity? Do the zippers have
any sort of protective flap on the backside to ease operation or will I
constantly be catching on gear inside the pack?
. This appears to be a top load pack. Is there a bottom access point
to the main pack? In past hikes this has lead to removal of the entire
contents to find something at the bottom. Are there enough pockets and
pouches that I can compartmentalize properly, or will I still find myself
rifling through the pack to find something at the bottom? Do items stay in
relatively the same spot where I put them, or will they wander throughout
the pack? Are there any internal compression straps to help compress gear
already inside the pack?
. Are the side pouches usable for trail food, water, and other
necessities? Will my trail bars be crumbs after a few hours due to the
constant compression of the pouch? Can I easily remove water bottles without
taking off the pack?
. I see this pack isn't hydration compatible. Will I be able to use
the removable fanny pack area to place a CamelBak bladder, or will I be
forced to use bottles for all trips that I take with this pack.
. Is the sleeping bag compartment large enough to hold my 15 F (-9 C)
synthetic (aka: Completely Uncompressible!) sleeping bag? Will I be able to
stuff anything else in the sleeping bag compartment? Can I fill the top
compartment first, or will I have to place the sleeping bag before anything
else? How much room will I lose in the top compartment from the bag area
being fully stuffed?
. How easy is it to remove the fanny pack top? Will I need to worry
about this coming off during normal hiking when the pack is fairly stuffed?
Will this come off easily when hitting branches or tree limbs? How
comfortable is this when worn by itself? Does it have any sort of padding on
the straps? How easy will it be to remove gear from the fanny pack while
integrated with the main pack? Will removing items from the fanny pack
expose the interior of the main compartment to water during foul weather?
. How usable will the "ladder" be for lashing stuff to the pack? It
seems to be placed between to large exterior pockets; will it be useful to
lash items like a sleeping pad or large coat to? Will I be able to lash my
tent to the back or bottom of the pack?
. How water resistant is this pack? To test this I plan on stuffing
the entire pack with wads of newspaper and dousing it with a garden hose. I
understand that to fully waterproof a pack, a cover should be used, but will
any of the newspaper in the internal compartments be wet? Will the water
seep through the zippers on the external compartments?
. Will the fabric rip or snag any throughout the life of the test?
Will the stitching around the strap pulls stretch over the test period?
Being as how the bottom of the pack sees the most abrasion, will I have to
worry about wearing holes through the bottom?
. Is it possible to completely disassemble this pack without special
tools? Can I completely remove all fabric from the framesheet for washing?
Will the pack stain or hold dirt? How easy will it be to clean this pack? My
GG Stratus Latitude came with extra screws for the hip belt and extra quick
clips. Are there any extra parts shipped with this bag?
In addition to the above specific questions I will also describe my
experiences with the pack, any problems I had, positive aspects I found
about the pack, and things I feel could be improved for the end user.
Here is a link to my previous BGT reports.
Items I'm currently testing:
Red Ledge Covert Action Fleece Jacket (Hasn't shipped yet)
GoLite Men's DriMove Top
BD Alpine CF Poles (Hasn't shipped yet)
Patagonia Down Sweater
Additional applications I have submitted listed by preference:
(Whatever works best for the team)
Marmot Terraplane Pack
Wigwam INgenius Hiker
Wigwam Merino Wool/Silk Hiker
Items I am currently monitoring:
MontBell Alpine Light Down Jacket
Thank you for considering my application to test the Marmot Terraplane Pack.
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