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FR - HSSC Long Trail 90 Backpack - Kurt Papke

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  • Kurt Papke
    This FR is two days early, but I figger the monitors are getting bored after that long holiday break and are looking for something to do ;-) Uploaded:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 4, 2009
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      This FR is two days early, but I figger the monitors are getting bored
      after that long holiday break and are looking for something to do ;-)

      Uploaded:
      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/TESTS/FR%20-%20HSSC%20Long%20Trail%2090%20Backpack%20-%20Kurt%20Papke/

      Tinyized: http://tinyurl.com/8uqf3u

      The FR portion text is pasted below:

      Field Report
      Field Locations/Conditions
      During the Field Report period my first use of the backpack was on a
      4-day backpacking trip along the Southern end of the Superior Hiking
      trail in Northern Minnesota from October 13-16. This trail section
      varies in altitude from 650 to 1200 ft (200 to 365 m). The terrain is
      forested with granite outcroppings. Temperatures ranged from a high
      of 60 F (16 C) to a low of 28 F (-2 C) at night. My starting total
      weight was 50.7 lbs (23 kg) including 3 qts (3 l) of water.

      The photo at left shows the pack at a rest break on the Pine Ridge
      overlook. The remarkable aspect of the photo for me is there is
      nothing tied to the back of the pack! On all my backpacking trips I
      have my sleeping pad, camp shoes and rain jacket/pants strapped to the
      back of my pack. I was able to put all of my gear in the pack without
      even having to extend the collar to fit. The only items on the
      outside of the pack are the things I want there: water, and my
      knife/thermometer dangling from the zipper in the back.

      Second use was December 8-10, 2008, a 3-day trip to the Superior
      Hiking Trail along the Beaver Bay to Penn Creek section. Beginning
      pack weight was 46.8 lb (21.25 kg) including 7.8 lb (3.5 kg) of food
      and 3 qt (3 l) water. Temperatures ranged from a low of -2F (-19 C)
      to a high of 15F (-9 C). Elevation ranged from 750 to 1250 ft (230 to
      380 m). This was clearly a winter camping outing (see photo at
      right), and I was happy for the capacity of the pack. Even with its
      copious capacity, I still ended up strapping my camp boots and
      snowshoes to the back of the pack.

      I was pleased that my 0F (-18 C) synthetic fill sleeping bag fit in
      the proper compartment of the pack. However, it took some cramming to
      get it in there, and unlike with my 3-season down bag my Hennessey
      SuperShelter open cell foam pad would not fit into the sleeping bag
      compartment as well. It had to go into the main compartment. The
      good news is the main compartment of this pack is so large it
      swallowed the pad with aplomb.

      Observations

      * The pack fit me very well - I was able to carry virtually all
      the weight comfortably on my hips.
      * There are a lot of nooks and crannies, hooks and loops to store
      things in this pack. One of my challenges was remembering where I put
      things.
      * The side pockets are small. They are large enough to be useful,
      but only about 60% of the size of the side pockets on another pack I
      have. They are too small for a 1 l (1 qt) insulated Platypus bottle.
      I did find them useful for storing hats, gloves, mittens and other
      items I needed to access on hiking breaks without opening the pack or
      accessing the front pockets which had gear strapped over the top of
      them.
      * The small vertical front pocket in the picture above (with the
      knife & thermometer dangling from the zipper) is very small (thin).
      About all I could fit in there was a package of cigars, and it was
      good they were small cigars.
      * The hydration sleeve is huge. It is so deep, that once I forgot
      to hang my reservoir on the hook, and it slid to the bottom of the
      pack. The result was the drinking tube was so shortened (reaching to
      the bottom of the deep pack) that I could hardly get it in my mouth.
      * Some of the zippers required substantial effort to work,
      particularly on the side and front pockets. They never snagged, but
      they required a lot of force to open or close. They worked well in
      frigid weather, and never froze up on me during winter.
      * The adjustment for the right shoulder strap started to slip
      after the second day on the trail. By the end of the 4-day trip just
      moderate bouncing caused it to loosen more than I would have liked.
      By the second trip both shoulder straps slipped constantly, which
      annoyed me greatly and caused the pack to tilt backwards.
      * The shoulder strap padding was not as comfortable as I expected
      given the weight carried in the pack. The sparse padding plus the
      slippage mentioned in the previous point resulted in some pretty sore
      shoulders.
      * The pack felt and looked a bit top-heavy. It was odd to twist
      my neck, look behind me and see the pack cover looming behind me.
      Once I got used to carrying it, the weight distribution seemed fine,
      but it definitely took some getting used to.
      * There are two zippered pockets in the pack lid. I cannot figure
      out why the top one (the smaller pocket) is felt lined. I intend to
      use it for goggles and sunglasses on my next trip, as the liner
      should protect the lenses.
      * I found a use for the media pocket: two energy/protein bars fit
      very nicely in there. I appreciated being able to grab a snack
      without putting the pack down.
      * The pack fabric seems really durable. I was slinging it down on
      granite outcroppings without a care, and so far it has suffered no ill
      effects.
      * The extension collar has a draw cord around the base and the
      top. I never used the one at the bottom, but the one at the top
      worked well and allowed me to corral my gear in the main compartment.
      The top compression strap was effective in squeezing my gear down.
      * I found the pack cover to be most useful at night. I enjoyed
      being able to just pull the cover up and over the top and not worry
      about my gear getting wet or full of snow. It was large enough that I
      could stash boots and other gear under the cover. Nice!

      Big Pack Syndrome (BPS)
      Me at the grocery store before the trip: "Yeah, another bag of Peanut
      M&M's, that'd be good. Ooooh, let's throw a jar of Nutella in there
      too." When packing a 90 l pack, I found I had little or no
      self-restraint. For me to have a pack that weighed that much for a
      4-day trip is a bit of an embarrassment. This is not the fault of the
      High Sierra Long Trail pack - it did not hypnotize me into loading up
      like that. I just have to learn that its OK to use the compression
      straps on the pack to tighten it up when its not full.
      Busted
      Busted hydration sleeve hookIn preparation for my December backpacking
      trip I was stowing my hydration reservoir in the sleeve and heard a
      "pop". As can be seen in the photo at left, it was the sound of the
      reservoir hook breaking.

      The good news is that the reservoir I was using is large enough to sit
      in the sleeve with no support needed from the hook. To prevent any
      further damage from sharp edges, I snipped off the hook with a
      diagonal cutters.


      Summary
      Likes:

      * I liked having the integral rain cover, which I mostly used to
      cover the pack at night. As a hammock camper I do not have a
      vestibule to store my pack, and I appreciated the self-protecting
      design.
      * The hipbelt padding was very comfortable, and effective at
      transferring the load directly to my hips.
      * The main compartment, sleeping bag compartment and pack lid are
      all huge and can swallow lots of gear.
      * I appreciated the neat look of having all my gear inside the
      pack instead of hanging off the front.
      * The combination of draw cords and compression straps on the
      extension collar, combined with the adjustable straps for the pack lid
      made a very effective system to configure the pack for varying amounts
      of gear.
      * There are few packs that can accommodate strapping snowshoes to
      the back. This one can.
      * This is a durable pack. I don't coddle my packs, and the Long
      Trail 90 looks brand-new (except for the broken hydration hook) after
      all my field use.

      Areas for improvement:

      * No pack should have shoulder strap buckles that slip and loosen up.
      * The very front pocket and side pockets could be bigger to make
      them more useful.
      * The hydration sleeve is perhaps too big. Reservoirs just don't
      come that size, and things can get lost in there. This issue is
      compounded by the sole hydration reservoir hanger, which in my case
      broke off. That meant my reservoir sunk to the bottom of the sleeve,
      which goes all the way down to the bottom of the pack.
      * The zippers require excessive effort to operate.
      * The hipbelt padding wrapped around to the front of my abdomen
      more than it needed to. My stomach is already sufficiently padded on
      its own that having padding on the belt pressing against it seemed
      overkill, and could prevent someone with a smaller waist from
      completely tightening it.
      * The hipbelt webbing straps are too long. The previous point
      about the length of the padding contributes to this. As a result, I
      had to tuck the excess straps behind the padding to keep them from
      flopping around in front of me.

      This concludes my Field Report for the High Sierra Long Trail 90 Pack.
      The Long Term Report will follow in approximately two months. Many
      thanks to High Sierra Sports and BackpackGearTest.org for the
      opportunity to test this product.
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