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[APPLICATION] Osprey Atmos 65 -- Greg McDonald

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  • Greg
    G day Ralph, Had to amend this application really quickly... I seem to have forgotten that I turned 22 on March 20th. Happy Birthday to me right? Of course
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2009
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      G'day Ralph,

      Had to amend this application really quickly... I seem to have forgotten that I turned 22 on March 20th. Happy Birthday to me right? Of course nobody here got me a cake... but you can make it up to me by selecting me for this test <Grin>.

      Usually I'm pretty quick on getting early applications in on gear... but Ryan was all over this one. So here's another one for your pile.

      I've gotta give a shout out to Osprey on this one. I haven't been here very long but they really give us a ton of really nice packs to test... they get some serious props for that.

      Greg M


      Application to Test: Osprey Atmos 65
      Date: 04/01/2009

      Please accept my amended application to test the Osprey Atmos 65. I have read the BGT By-Laws (v. 0609) including Chapter 5 and will comply with all testing requirements. My signed tester agreement is on file, acknowledged by Chuck Carnes on April 16, 2008.

      Personal Information:
      Name: Greg McDonald
      Age: 22
      Height: 6' 0" (1.83 m)
      Weight: 225 lb (102.00 kg)
      Requested Pack Size: Medium
      Requested Pack Color: Graphite Grey (If unavailable, preference is Green Apple.)
      E-Mail: gdm320 AT yahoo DOT com
      Location: Boynton Beach, Florida, United States

      Backpacking Background:
      I have been camping for 16 years, 11 of them have included hiking in the backcountry. I earned the rank of Eagle Scout and completed a 10-day, 100+ mile (160+ km) trek at the Philmont Scout Ranch in the mountains of New Mexico. The majority of my hikes are between 1 and 3 nights, mostly on the Florida Trail. I consider myself a lightweight but comfortably equipped hiker with a loaded pack including food and water between 25 and 30 lb (11 and 14 kg).

      Testing Locations, Conditions, and Activities:
      • Myakka State Park, Ocala National Forest, Lake Okeechobee, and The Florida Trail (Florida, United States) – Approximately Sea Level elevation with very little variation, a few hundred feet at the most. The summer months are particularly hot, with daytime temperatures averaging between 75 and 100 Fahrenheit (23 and 38 Celsius). Of course, rain is pretty much a daily occurrence and can range between a weekend-long drizzle to a half hour raging monsoon with the most rain in June where I could see up to 8 in (20 cm). Trips will range from overnighters to simple day hikes covering anywhere from 3 to 10 mi (5 – 16 km) per day.
      • Appalachian Trail (North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, United States) – Likely elevations ranging between 1450 and 3800 ft (450 and 1200 m) with temperatures varying by elevation, generally averaging between 50 and 85 Fahrenheit (10 and 30 Celsius) over the course of the testing period, but colder temperatures are much more common in the higher elevations. Precipitation also varies by elevation; with the higher elevations becoming increasingly wet but the entire region is prone to drastic weather changes and rapidly developing storms.
      • Southern and Central Maine and Northern Massachusetts – My summer trip will be taking me to Maine and Massachusetts this year. The exact details are still being hammered out so it is unknown at this time whether my hiking in Maine will take me through the southern part of the state, up and around Mt. Katahdin as I missed out on last year, or around Acadia National Park… but at least one of the three is definite. I'll also be checking out some of the lesser-known trails outside of Boston and into Northern Mass. These trips would range between sea level and 1000 ft (305 m) (up to 5270 ft [1606 m] if I end up summiting Katahdin) and would see likely temperature lows around 45 Fahrenheit (7 Celsius) and highs around 70 Fahrenheit (21 Celsius) with average monthly precipitation around 4 in (10 cm). That being said… I've had some crazy experiences with the weather in New England with unseasonably hot and cold temperatures.

      Testing Strategy:
      I'm pretty excited about this test. I've become an admirer of Osprey packs over the last year or so. I've seen so many positive things about their packs and have been very anxious to try one that is in the volume range that I need from a pack. The fact that this pack in the size I am requesting only weighs in at 3 lb 9 oz (1.6 kg) really seals the deal. There are a lot of features that I'm very anxious to try out and lots of questions that need to be answered, some of which I have outlined below:
      • Comfort – How comfortable is the pack to wear for a full day on the trail? Do any spots on the "waffle foam" harness (hip belt, shoulder straps, chest strap, etc) rub or chafe over time? Is the padding on the harness soft yet dense to avoid flattening out like a pancake over time? Does the AirSpeed suspension help cool my back in the sweltering Florida heat? Will I be happy lugging the Atmos around all day?
      • Load Bearing – Osprey rates the backpack as being "optimal" between around 35 and 50 lb (16 and 23 kg), how accurate is this rating? I tend to find packs uncomfortable near the top end of the rating scale, and 35 lb (16 kg) is around my top end weight for longer treks. I'd like to see if Osprey is a bit overzealous in their rating, which can happen from time to time.
      • Adjustability – How much can I adjust the pack to fit? Can I adjust it to fit comfortably depending on how many layers of clothing I am wearing? Are the compression straps useful to get the size down if I am not carrying a full load? Can I easily adjust the compression and various components of the suspension while I have the pack on, including while both stopped and moving?
      • Suspension System – The Atmos suspension system is the one that has attracted me the most, the AirSpeed suspension. The system seems similar to the JetStream suspension that Gregory is using and I'm testing with the Z25 in that it uses a mesh backpanel, with a tensioned bar, on a crescent shape to allow airflow between the pack and my back. This is a big deal for me in Florida during the summer since it gets HOT HOT HOT during the day. One side effect that is possible is that moving the weight of the pack away from my body a bit could throw off my center of gravity and my balance. I'll be curious to see what sort of balance that Osprey has achieved with their design. Does the pack throw off my center of gravity more or less compared to other packs I have used? Does the pack transfer the load to my shoulders or to my hips (I understand there are two different main schools of thought on the subject of what part of the body should bear the load)? Does the pack have load lifters on the shoulder straps to transfer weight to the harness?
      • Pockets – Are there hip belt pockets on both sides? What sorts of things can I comfortably store in them? Are the pockets well positioned and intuitive to use? From the pictures I think there is a stretch pocket on the front of the pack to stow a jacket or something of that sort. Are the water bottle pockets big and sturdy enough to securely hold my Nalgene bottles? I like the idea of Osprey's InsideOut compression straps. Even though I've never used it, I'm pretty sure the idea there is not to loose access to the water bottle pockets – which is very important to me – when compressing the bag down a little. What can I stow in the removable top lid? Does the Atmos support integrated hydration systems? A nice feature about the Atmos is the zippered sleeping bag pocket with the divider in the bottom of the pack. Will both of my sleeping bags (individually of course) fit in the compartment? Is there any particular additional weatherproofing to this sleeping bag pocket to protect my down bag?
      • External Straps and Loops – There are lots of really cool external features on Osprey packs. Unless I hit the lottery I won't have anything to do with an ice axe during the test period, although it might see a lightweight camp stool strapped through the tool attachments. However, I am VERY interested in the Stow-On-The-Go Trekking Pole Attachment. I often encounter situations where I need to stow my poles and these look pretty promising. Is this system easy to use without removing the pack? Can I quickly get the poles in and out based on my needs? Are my poles secured? Will they get in the way so they will either be dangerous or at risk of being damaged? I've heard some rave reviews about the trekking pole attachment and would love to try it out. I like that the pack comes with removable sleeping pad straps. In warmer weather I only carry a Big Agnes Insulated Air core pad that I'd never strap to the outside, but I'm curious to see what else I can use the straps for if need be.
      • Accessibility – How easily accessible are the storage compartments on the Atmos? There are two parts to having gear accessible when it is needed on the trail. The first is packing wisely but the second is dependent on the pack. Can I rummage through the Atmos without having to remove everything on top and sprawl it all over the trail? How many access points are there to the main compartment? I can see from the Atmos feature list that the pack has dual vertical zippers on the front, I'm assuming that these give access to the main compartment from the front. I also assume from the photos that the pack is primarily designed as a top loader. Is the pack easy to load and unload?
      • Quality of Construction and Materials and Durability – How well is the bag put together? Are the seams double stitched? Is there any loose stitching? Are the snaps (if any) strong and secure? Are the zippers the appropriate size to support the load and stress that will be put on them? It appears from the pictures that Osprey uses several different fabrics in the design of the Atmos but the website isn't specific as to what they are. Are these materials all appropriately used and protective of critical areas of the pack? How is the long term durability of the pack? If any rips or tears form, do they stop? Does any of the stitching start to come apart under heavy use?
      • Degree of Weatherproof – To what degree is the pack weatherproof on its own? Is the pack at all water resistant? If the pack does get wet how long does it take to dry?
      • Packability – Can the Atmos be packed down for easy shipment? Can it be packed down or compressed to make it less bulky as a day-trek-leader pack? What are the dimensions? What is the empty weight as delivered? Can it be used as a carry-on pack when flying?
      • Care – How easy is the Atmos to clean? Are the materials resistant to stains and dirt? Does the pack start to smell in the areas that contact my body and come into contact with sweat? Can I take the pack outside and simply hit it with the hose to clean it up?

      Work Load:
      I don't really have a whole heck of a lot going on right now compared to my usual load. I'll be wrapping up my test on the Atlas in two weeks or so and will be entering the LTR phase of the Z25 day pack test by next week. My test plans for the Z25 and Atmos 65 do not conflict at all since the former is a daypack and the latter won't be used for that purpose.
      1. Merrell Atlas Jacket (LTR Stage)
      2. Gregory Z25 Day Pack (FR Stage)
      3. MSR Hyperflow Microfilter (FR Stage)
      4. Princeton Tec Amp 1.0 (FR Stage)
      • Drafting Owner Review: Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina 45 Sleeping Bag

      My reviews are available here: http://www.backpackgeartest.org/tester_reviews/gdm320
      All of my reports are up to date and have been on time and complete.

      I would like to thank the involved call managers, monitors, moderators, and Osprey for your careful consideration of my application to test the Osprey Atmos 65. I look forward to the selections!
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