FR- COLEMAN CHINKAPIN X 65 BACKPACK- RALPH DITTON
- Hello Kathy,
I submit my FR on the Coleman Chinkapin X 65 Backpack for your edits.
The test folder can be accessed through the following link:
Date: 3rd January, 2008
I have been on two field backpacking trips since the Initial Report.
The first trip was an overnighter on the Coastal Plain Trail in mid
November and the second was a five day, four night backpacking trip in
the Nuyts Wilderness. For the Coastal Plain Trail the daytime
temperatures ranged over the two days from 33 C (91 F) to 24 C (75 F)
with the wind at an average of 4.3 km/h (2.6 mph). Relative Humidity was
37% and Barometric Pressure at 1007 and steady. In short, it was hot and
uncomfortable. Elevation ranged from sea level to 71 m (262 ft) and the
terrain underfoot was very dry loose sand.
For the Nuyts Wilderness, the terrain ranged from sea level to 53 m (174
ft) with temperatures ranging from a low of 12 C (53 F) to a high of 33
C (91 F). The sea breeze was from the SSW and averaged 39 km/h (24 mph).
Relative Humidity during the four days fluctuated around the 80% mark.
This was only a short walk of around 11 km (6.8 mi) and the pack weighed
14 kg (31 lb) which included food and water. What surprised me is how
much gear the pack can swallow, then I had the added bonus of the
organizer in the kangaroo pouch. The two stretchy mesh pockets can store
a lot of gear also. I put my fly spray, toiletries, pack cover, rain
coat, camera, weather meter and Steripen in there. I did not put much
gear in the top pocket, just the map and compass. I did not use the
hydration bladder pocket inside the pack but I did have water bottles
placed in the two side pockets. When walking with the pack, the shoulder
straps did not dig into my shoulders but I did have to lean slightly
forward for balance. One thing became obvious was when I was rummaging
through the pack, I needed a light to see what was where. The black
interior makes it very difficult to find things. Perhaps a lighter
inside colour would go some way to alleviate this problem.
For this first small exploratory trip I was very happy with the pack and
how it performed. I certainly had to be ruthless with which gear that I
had to leave behind. If the gear could not have two or more uses it was
left out. I have never been on an overnighter with a pack weight of 14
kg (31 lb) before.
As mentioned above, this was a five day, four night trip in a wilderness
location. My total pack weight was 20 kg (44 lb) which included 5.5 lt
(11.6 pints) of water for the first day. On this day we had a number of
sections of beach walking, then rock hopping, scrambling and climbing
around the various points. We had to wear gloves because the limestone
was very daggered. On one of these scrambling exercises the pack caught
on the limestone and it tore a hole in the left external mesh pocket. I
only discovered it at a rest stop. Also the stitching on the elastic at
the top of the pocket is fraying. I suspect it is from the rubbing
against the rocks.
hole in pocket
hole in pocket
The second day we went part on track and the rest off track doing bush
bashing on a compass bearing through very scratchy and prickly bushes
interspersed with strands of peppermint trees. Every fly in creation
hitched a ride on our packs. No further damage was sustained by the
pack. Pushing our way into a valley through coastal heath that was head
high we made camp at Thompson Cove where we stayed for two nights. It
was during our stay at this campsite that I converted the top pocket
into a day pack for our exploration of the area. I will deal with this
as a separate heading.
rest at Little Long Point
rest at Little Long Point
My final day was all on track back to where the cars were left from a
car shuttle. I estimate that the pack weight at the start of the trip
was hovering around 15 kg (33 lb) and this included 3 litres of water
which weigh 3 kg (6.6 lb). By the time we reached the cars I had drunk
2 litres of water as it was quite warm, so the pack weight was
approximately 13 kg (28.6 lb).
Performance of the pack
I used the day pack set up for two of the days when we camped at
Thompson Cove and explored the area and enjoyed a swim in the ocean. I
found that the volume to carry things was limited. Inside the hood I
placed my swimming togs, microfiber pocket towel, sunscreen bottle, some
trail mix, camera and a 600 ml (20 oz) water bottle and it was full. The
camera is small, a Panasonic DMC-TZ1. There is definitely a case for
making the top pocket much larger in volume especially for a larger
flexible water bottle of say 1 litre to 2 litres. As the track down to
the bay was very overgrown and we had to tunnel our way through
sections, I found that the outside base of the hood/day pack collected a
lot of leaf litter and twigs and remained there until I took the pack
off and shook them out. It was no big deal, just excess and unauthorized
weight which stuck into my back. I had no difficulty in removing the hip
belt from the main pack. All I had to do was to ensure that I had one of
my hands working its way through the hook and loop patch and keep them
separated so that I could extract the hip belt. Before doing so and this
is where I made the initial mistake, I forgot to undo the stabilizer
straps on the hip belt that attach to the pack, so the hip belt was
going nowhere. Note to self, undo the straps first. The straps fed out
of the buckles easily and they were easy to feed back into the buckles
when I had finished with the day pack setup.
How did the various straps perform?
The straps that were not subject to stress did their job very well, such
as the top compression strap that goes over the throat of the pack. The
straps that pull the hood down tight on the front of the pack worked
very well and the two grey straps on the base of the pack that strapped
my tent on were good also. My main worry here is that they may be a tad
short for a larger tent such as a two man tent made from conventional
materials and not silnylon. As there is very little weight in the strap
I would recommend that they be longer to cope with a bigger girth of a
tent because there was not much strap left to play with when I put my
The side compression straps did their job also, even so far as to help
in holding my water bottles in, especially the more rigid ones. My
flexible 2 litre water bottle was kept in the pocket but the top took a
nasty lean over the compression strap when I was rock hopping,
scrambling and rock climbing. This caused the bottle to bang against the
back of my arm.
Now for the remaining straps, hip belt and sternum.
The hip belt fits my size very well, (waist 94 cm [37 in]). What I found
was that the belt would work itself a little bit loose through the
buckle and I had to keep tightening it up so that my hips kept
supporting the weight of the pack and not my shoulders. The intervals
were usually around about a half hour before I needed to tighten the hip
belt. Admittedly, I was doing a lot of twisting when rock climbing and
scrambling and bush bashing which caused a lot of high stepping. The
slippage was not major in terms of distance the belt travelled through
the buckle, only about 1 cm (0.4 in) but it did transfer the dynamics of
the weight of the pack from my hips to my shoulders. One other aspect
that I experienced with the hip belt that frustrated me was when using
it in the day pack mode, I experienced difficulty in trying to tighten
the hip belt around my waist. When I tried to tighten it, the whole
arrangement wanted to slip around my waist without any tightening taking
place. The only way that I got around it was to take the day pack off
and adjust the belt as close as possible by sticking the pack between my
knees and feeding the belt through the buckle to where I thought it
should be then putting it back on. With the hip belt slipping through
the buckle, I got very sore shoulders, not on top, but near the top but
in front. I had a definite mark on both shoulders.
The sternum strap. The positive. The strap moves very freely along the
sternum strap slides. In fact it has a mind of its own. When I put the
loaded pack on, I move the sternum strap to the position that I want it
so that I can feel a nice tightness across my chest and know that the
shoulder straps are pulled into position. That is around half way. What
happens is that within minutes the straps move freely up to the top
position nearest my chin causing slackness in tension for my shoulder
straps. It is pointless in adjusting the sternum strap because at the
halfway point it is at the right distance for the buckles to meet. Any
shorter they would not join together. I gave up with it and let it do
its own thing. About the only useful purpose I found for the sternum
strap was to use it as a bracket for the end of my hydration hose.
I took a big gamble and used the hydration pocket for the first time in
a very long time due to the disasters that I have had previously with
leaking bladders inside my pack. The small hydration exit hole at the
top on the right hand side is a tad too small. I had great difficulty in
feeding my mouthpiece and cap through the hole. I had to do them
separately with much angling and tugging. It is a Camel back with a
mouthpiece and cover that has a height diameter of 28 mm (1.1 in). It is
oval in shape with the width diameter of 24 mm (0.9 in). By enlarging
the triangular hole in the pack by bringing the anchor points stitching
back 5 mm (0.2 in) this would overcome the problem that I encountered.
What to do with the hose once it is out of the pack? It just swings
about or hangs without any anchor points on the pack. My hose does not
have any clip attached to it. What I propose is that the manufacturer
adds a clip/bracket on the shoulder strap so that a hose can be stowed
out of the way. This is when I put the sternum strap to a use it was not
designed for but did it very well. It kept the mouthpiece stable in an
easily obtainable position when I wanted it.
Pocket on hip belt
I did not use it as it is too small for any practical use. What I did
notice was that the zipper came undone very easily after I had been
through very tight bush that was pulling and scraping at the pack. If it
cannot be made bigger to take a proper topography map then the
manufacturer should consider deleting it as a feature. I couldn't even
put any trail mix in there as the softer material was too taunt to
stretch too far.
The harness system is a very simple system. There are no moving parts
(excluding the ability to remove the hip belt). The frame sheet did its
job of giving shape to the pack and keeping objects inside the pack from
sticking into my back. There is some flex in the hip belt where it is
attached to the pack through the hook and loop system. It wriggles. This
allowed the pack to move slightly with my hips when I was in very rough
terrain and rock scrambling, rock hopping and rock climbing. I was never
thrown off balance by my pack weight doing these activities. This was a
The fabric stood up very well to the scratchy and prickly vegetation and
the limestone cliffs that I climbed. The only casualty was the mesh
pocket when it got snagged on limestone. The rest of the pack looks very
good as I can see no further damage to it. The material did not become
grimy or dirty from being laid down on beach sand, rocks, black sand and
moist dark dirt.
Lifting 20 kg (44 lb) onto my shoulders was not an easy task. First I
had to try and get it onto the top part of my leg then heave it from
there onto a shoulder and then work the other arm through the other
strap. I would suggest an extra haulage loop on each side, say down
towards the base of the pack. My favourite side is to put the pack on
from my right leg, so an extra haulage loop on the left hand side plus
the existing haulage loop would give me greater control in getting the
pack onto my back. I was thrown off balance a few times trying to get
the pack on. It did cause a bit of an ungainly dance to regain my
balance much to the amusement of my fellow walkers.
Things I like
* Pack is lightweight and has a slim profile for tight bush.
* Can swallow a lot of gear.
* Fabric, apart from mesh pocket stood up to the scratchy vegetation.
Things I dislike
* Sternum strap not staying in place.
* No anchor points for a hydration hose.
* Slipping hip belt through the buckles.
* Unable to properly tighten the hip belt when using the hood as a
Overall, despite a few minor gripes, I am very happy with the pack. It
has certainly forced me to have a rethink on what I can take and leave
behind. After my last trip I will still be rethinking some items as they
had either no use or very minimal, so I should get the pack weight down
a bit further. It will only be a shaving of close to a kilo (2.2 lb). My
weight can blow out with water depending on the weather conditions and
the camp destination, e.g. will it be dry?
The pack performed reasonably well when rock climbing, hopping and
scrambling. My balance was not thrown off when I had to lean at awkward
angles looking for propping support or hand holds. Nothing fell out of
the pack and no gear was ripped off the outside of the pack. I would
have loved to stow away the tent inside the pack but there was no room
left for it.
I did not experience any rain so I did not get a chance to test for
water repelling ability of the fabric. The closest was ocean spray drift
that wet the fabric lightly. However, the wind and sun dried it off in a
matter of moments.
This concludes my Field Report. The Long-Term Report should be completed
by the 19th February, 2008. Please check back then for further information.
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