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FR - Mountainsmith Boundary Backpack - Tim Tessier

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  • Tim Tessier
    Following please find my FR for the Mountainsmith Boundary Backpack. The html version is in the test folder at:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2008
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      Following please find my FR for the Mountainsmith Boundary Backpack.

      The html version is in the test folder at:
      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/TESTS/FR%20-%20Mountainsmit\
      h%20Boundary%20Backpack/
      <http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/TESTS/FR%20-%20Mountainsmi\
      th%20Boundary%20Backpack/>

      The text version of the FR portion only follows:

      Field Report - May 30, 2008

      To date I have used the Mountainsmith Boundary for six days of hiking on
      2 three-day, two-night trips. The first trip was to Mt. Rogers National
      Recreation Area on a cold, foggy, rainy weekend in early April. We
      hiked approximately 5 miles (8.5 km) into an Appalachian Trail shelter
      on a Friday, then on Sunday we hiked out again. This was not a
      tremendous number of miles but certainly a good "shakedown cruise" for a
      new pack.

      The second trip was in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Memorial
      Day weekend. This trip involved 32 miles (52 km) of hiking in three
      long days, approximately 10 stream crossings, and roughly a 1.5 mile
      (2.42 km) total elevation change.

      As stated earlier, this pack is smaller than what I am used to carrying.
      For the past few years I have carried a 5600 cu. in. (92 L) pack. This
      pack has a maximum capacity of 4800 cu. in. (79 L). What would have to
      stay at home to make it all work? What changes would I have to make?

      The Mt. Rogers trip was actually a better test of this than the Smokies
      trip. First it was cold, nasty, weather. I needed cold weather
      clothes, yet still needed to carry my tent as I didn't know if the
      shelter would be available. As the weather was predicted to be wet, it
      was imperative that I carry rain jacket, rain pants, and pack cover. At
      40 F (4.4 C) I wanted to carry a warm sleeping bag. Warm shirt, long
      underwear to sleep in, water filter, cookset, well... you get the idea.

      I was able to get everything I needed into the pack, though I used every
      cubic inch of space. I put the sleeping bag in the sleeping bag
      compartment. Then I put the cookset , sleep mat, and other large items
      in the main body of the pack. I then stuffed dry socks, and various
      items of clothing into corners, shoving them down with my fingers until
      the main pack body was pretty well stretched to its limit. I then took
      my headlight, thin nylon rope, personal care items, etc. and put in one
      side pocket. I put my water filter and gaiters in the other side
      pocket. I put my map and compass in the internal "map compartment"
      underneath the lid and put my first aid kit and some snacks inside the
      lid itself. Finally, I attached the tent, in its stuff sack, to the
      outside of the pack via the sleeping bag compression straps.

      Thus loaded, the pack weighed just over 30 lbs (13.6 kg) and I was ready
      to go. You will notice, however, that there is no mention of food. I
      hike with my son. He carries the food. (I carry the tent, he carries
      the food, that's our deal.) Had I been going solo, I would have had to
      make some hard choices, probably involving simple, less bulky food, and
      a simpler, less bulky cookset. Based on my experience this pack was
      sufficient for a weekend in cold weather but would have been absolutely
      insufficient from my perspective, for a longer period in cold weather.

      I do want to take a moment to mention the hydration sleeve. There is a
      sleeve on the inside of the pack that is large enough for a 2 liter
      hydration bladder. There are two hydration ports, one on either side,
      to allow me to pull the hose through and clip it onto a strap for
      convenience. The sleeve allowed me to put my hydration bladder in "head
      down" so that it would fully empty as it is being used. This operation,
      however, needs to be completed before the pack is fully loaded. Once
      loaded I found it nearly impossible to get the hydration bladder in. As
      a matter of fact, I pulled a number of items out of the pack, put the
      bladder in, then reloaded the pack in order to accomplish this task.

      We arrived at Mt. Rogers in cool blustery weather for a 5 mile (8.5 km)
      hike into our shelter. When I first put the pack on I immediately
      noticed that it rode higher on my hips than my other pack. In all
      honesty, it didn't feel worse, just different. As I walked with a 32
      lb. (14.5 kg) load I noticed that the suspension system on this pack was
      fully up to the job. The pack was very stable on my back. The hip
      belt, though it does ride higher than I was used to, fully transferred
      the weight to my legs. I found that I was well-balanced and able to
      walk fully upright throughout our climb to the shelter.

      All of the belts and straps stayed adjusted throughout. I was struck by
      the utter lack of "fiddling" required. Once you adjust your help belt,
      it stays adjusted. Same with all others. On the hip belt there is a
      loop of fabric through which the belt slides for adjustment. As I carry
      my digital camera in a case, suspended by a carabiner I found this to be
      an ideal place to hang my camera case. It is completely out of the way,
      yet ready to hand whenever I need it.

      I did not feel any discomfort from the shoulder straps being farther out
      on my shoulders than I am accustomed to. Again, once adjusted they
      stayed adjusted for this short hike.

      The trip to the Smokies gave me a much greater chance to test this pack
      over some long days. This trip was in warm weather. This allowed me to
      lighten my load considerably. Also, since the forecast was for a 20%
      chance of rain showers or thunderstorms, we left the rain pants, and
      pack covers at home. I was able to get the single-wall tent we took
      inside the pack, rather than having to load it on the outside. My load,
      before we left, was 20 lbs. (9.07 kg) exclusive of water. With a full
      water bladder and a 1 liter Nalgene bottle full of Gatorade it was
      probably closer to 24 lbs. (10.9 kg).

      Again, when we first started hiking I noticed that the pack felt
      different to me. However, as we got into hour number 2 then 3, this
      difference completely melted away. Instead, I noticed how solid it
      felt. I appreciated the fact that it didn't creak at all as I walked.
      When we came to stream crossings, at times up to mid-thigh in rushing
      water, I appreciated how stable this pack is.

      On the second day, when we climbed over 3,000 feet (914 m) in hot
      weather, I noticed that the back panel seems to ventilate very well.
      Of course I was sweating, but with my old pack the sweat used to run
      down my back to the point that my belt would be soaked through. On this
      day, that never happened.

      I also appreciated the barrel lock fasteners on the mesh "water bottle
      pockets" on the outside bottom of the pack (just above the hip belt).
      These fasteners meant that I could tighten the pocket around my Nalgene
      bottle on one side, and around a cup that I always carry with my GPS
      inside it, on the other side. This gave me a convenient place to carry
      my GPS, antenna up, where I could reach around and easily grab it at any
      time. This also gave me a high degree of confidence that if I slipped
      and fell while crossing a stream I would still have everything when I
      recovered my balance. Over time, packs without this feature tend to get
      loose around water bottles as the elastic stretches out of place.

      One other note... earlier I stated that I could not find the safety
      whistle that was supposed to be included. a backpackgeartest.com reader
      sent me a note suggesting that I look on the buckle of the sternum
      strap. Sure enough, there it is, molded into the male end of the
      buckle. The whistle gives a satisfying piercing cry that would be
      easily detectable for quite a distance.



      Summary

      All in all, it is my feeling that for a summer long-weekend trip, this
      pack is ideal. It is large enough without being too large. It is
      stable. It is very well designed. It suited my needs very well. For
      winter use, I am afraid that its utility would be limited by its size.
      I am, admittedly, not an ultra-light packer. However, I found it to be
      a challenge to stow all I needed for a cold weather weekend.

      I have not discussed the "planet saving" aspects of this product on
      purpose. My feeling is that if you can get a product that has
      first-rate functionality that is also "green" that is a plus. However,
      if it doesn't perform then the "green" aspect is moot because no one is
      going to use it anyway. The fabric needs to stand up to use, and so
      far, this one has. That being said, I'm testing the performance
      aspects. The environmental savings are for someone else to judge.

      Things I like about this product:
      1 - The suspension system that keeps the pack stable, yet allows it to
      breathe.
      2 - The hydration system pocket that will accommodate a 2-litre water
      bladder
      3 - The barrel lock fasteners on the water bottle pockets.

      Things I don't like about this product:
      1 - The manufacturer should do a better job of helping you get started
      with inclusion of some directions etc.
      2 - The size is somewhat limiting, particularly in cold weather
      3 - The hip belt rides higher on your hips than others and takes some
      getting used to.




      I just realized that I need to add a sentence to check back in August
      for my Long Term Report. I will incorporate with your other edits.



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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