LTR - Mountainsmith Boundary Pack - Kurt Papke
- Uploaded to test folder here:
LTR text follows:
Long Term Report
August 4, 2008
During months three and four most of my pack use was during my July
month-long trip to Oregon. Locations include: Columbia River Gorge,
foothills of Mt Adams and Mt Hood, Oregon Coastal Range (mostly in the
Tillamook State Forest), the Wallowa Mountains, and Theodore Roosevelt
National Park in North Dakota. Elevations ranged from 200 ft (60 m)
to approximately 8400 ft (2560 m), temperatures ranged from lows at
night about 35 F (2 C), to daily highs around 85 F (30 C), and peaked
out in the low 90's F (32 C). Much of the use was car camping and
dayhiking, but also included several 2-3 day backpacking trips. The
terrain was mostly mountainous including some very steep trails (Elk
Mountain), nicely switchbacked trails (PCT), and some very arid
conditions in Roosevelt NP. Most areas were heavily forested with the
exception of Roosevelt.
Pack weights during the LTR period were much lighter: approximately 30
lb (14 kg), as I was carrying only 2-3 days of food, and I had no need
for raingear during July in Oregon. One weighty exception was an
overnight in Roosevelt NP, where I was carrying 5 quarts (5 L) of
water which boosted my pack weight to about 35 lb (16 kg).
My dayhikes gave me ample opportunity to use and test the removable
packlid as a lumbar pack on several day-long hikes and a few shorter
trips as well. Detaching the packlid is quite easy using the two
buckles, though they can be a little hard to reach if the straps have
been tightened down too much "hiding" the buckles behind the pack back
foam panel. Once detached, the hip straps are easily extracted from
behind the map pocket. I found that when re-attaching the packlid,
the best way to repack the straps was to roll them up around the belt
buckle and push the roll back into the slot.
The packlid/lumbar pack was appropriately sized for a day trip. I
could easily carry a 1 qt/L water bottle, snacks or lunch, camera,
GPS, plus a light fleece. Access to the pack contents from the dual
zippers was convenient.
The lumbar pack was very comfortable and rode well on my hips with no
interference from the pack attachment buckles. The only discomfort I
experienced was on warmer days the plastic map pocket was right
against the small of my back which would perspire due to my skin's
inability to breathe.
One item of note: using the packlid as a lumbar daypack meant I had to
jockey contents, stashing the items I normally carry in the packlid
into the pack and re-packing the items for the daytrip, then reversing
the process at the end of the day. This is the price one pays for
multi-tasking the gear.
During the LTR period I did use the hydration sleeve with my Platypus
gear: 1L bottle with the hose. The 1L bottle fit nicely in the
sleeve, the hose was easily threaded through one of the two pack
ports, and the bite valve clipped conveniently to a shoulder strap. I
did manage to spill a bunch of water when hooking this all up, which
promptly drained through the sleeve to the bottom of my pack - the
sleeve is clearly not waterproof. The system worked fine overall, but
I was a little frustrated that my 3L Platy did not fit into the sleeve
and could not be easily used (see comments/photo in the Initial
Report). However, I was desperate for water capacity during my
overnight in Roosevelt NP and did use my 3L Platy in the sleeve on
this one occasion. It can be made to work as long as sufficient gear
is stacked in front of the reservoir to support it and prevent the
packlid from collapsing it. In this configuration I was able to
comfortably carry 5L/qt of water: 3L/qt in the sleeve, and 1L/qt in
each of the side pockets.
I did find the perfect water container for the pack side pockets: a 1
qt (946 ml) Gatorade bottle. It is wide enough to use most of the
bottle sleeve diameter, short enough to fit under the side pockets,
and reasonably high capacity. Once I started using the Gatorade
bottles I stopped using my 1L Platy's with the pack. The Gatorade
bottles were easily removed from and restored to the sleeve while
wearing the pack as along as I didn't overtighten the sleeve elastics.
Their rigidity made them easier to replace in the side pockets after
As I was doing a lot of car camping, I found I was loading and
unloading the pack from my trunk on a daily basis as I camped mostly
in walk-in sites that required up to a 1/4 mile (0.4 km) walk from my
car to the campsite. My trekking poles often fell off the pack during
loading/unloading from the car due to the short hook-and-loop straps,
and my sleeping pad fell off several times as well. The latter is
packed in a Cordura dry pack which is quite slippery, but I was a
little frustrated that it kept popping off.
During the LTR test period I often carried Chaco sandals as my camp
shoes. These fit nicely into the pack back elastics (I didn't carry
rain gear in Oregon), though they were a little hard to get in/out as
the straps and treads would catch on the cords.
I found I had no need to alter my packing strategy during the LTR
period, though I was able to pack my hammock in the bottom of the pack
instead of under the packlid as I was never overloading the pack with
I did use my tent once during the LTR period in Roosevelt NP as there
are no trees there to hang a hammock, and I did find that the
pass-thru pockets are in fact ideal for tent pole storage. The poles
extend down into the side pockets, and were the same height as the
pack so they were well-protected in the pass-thru's.
Durability: after four months, not a scratch, not a frayed strap, no
zipper problems, no failures whatsoever. This despite the abuse of my
Boundary Waters trip and dozens of times being thrown into or yanked
out of my car trunk.
Things I liked:
* Roominess and flexibility of space use. I liked not having to
struggle to cram my gear into my pack, and despite the large loads my
gear was always easy to access, even with lots of gear strapped to the
front as in the above photo.
* Durability: the pack held up remarkably well.
* Comfort: the shoulder and hipbelt padding are good for week-long
hikes with large loads.
Areas for improvement:
* The map pocket is not really useful for that purpose, and causes
perspiration in the low back when using the packlid as a lumbar pack.
* Better accommodation of larger (taller/narrower) Platy hydration
reservoirs in the sleeve.
* Add hipbelt pockets - I really found the shoulder strap
accessory sac a pain to use for camera, GPS, etc.
* Move the sleeping pad straps slightly closer together to
minimize possibility of the pad escaping the straps, and make the
trekking pole hook-and-loop straps longer.
Many thanks to Mountainsmith and BackpackGearTest.org for the
opportunity to test this product.