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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > MindShift Gear rotation180 Panorama > Test Report by Andrea Murland
Field Report - June 8, 2015
Long Term Report - August 6, 2015
I began hiking frequently in 2006 and have since hiked in Western Canada, Australia, and spent 2 months backpacking in the Alps. I spend most weekends either day-hiking or on 2-3 day backpacking trips, with some longer trips when I can manage them. I also snowshoe and ski in the winter, but don’t have a lot of experience with winter in the backcountry yet. Elevation is typically 500-3,000 m (1,600-10,000 ft), in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirk, Purcell, and Monashee ranges. I try for a light pack, but I don’t consider myself a lightweight backpacker.
I would not call myself a photographer, but I do use a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The camera body measures 4.5 in x 3.5 in x 2 in (11.4 cm x 8.9 cm x 5.1 cm) and the pancake lens that I use extends just over 1 in (2.5 cm).
Description & Initial ImpressionsThe MindShift Gear rotation180° Panorama Backpack is a hiking backpack with some integrated photographer-friendly features. The main unique feature of the Panorama is that it is basically two packs – a backpack and a beltpack. More on the details of those later. The manufacturer lists quite a bit of general information about the pack. It is specified to have a total volume of 22 L (1342 cu in), with 16.6 L (1013 cu in) in the main backpack and 5.4 L (329 cu in) in the beltpack. Most of the pack exterior is constructed from 420 denier nylon with a durable-water repellent (DWR) coating and a polyurethane coating on the underside. The website also lists the specifications of the lining materials, foam, mesh pockets, and thread, but I will leave the reader to peruse those if they are interested.
First of all, let me talk about the features that I would expect to look at in any pack. If I look closely at the inside of the backpack, I find a stiff plastic sheet against the back panel and a single moulded aluminum stay which runs vertically down the centre of the pack, and is removable with some effort (I needed pliers to grip it). On the exterior of the back panel there is mesh-covered foam in three areas, roughly the lumbar, mid-back, and upper back areas. The shoulder straps are contoured and padded with the same mesh-covered foam. There are load lifter straps at the top of the shoulder straps, a sternum strap which slides on rails on the shoulder straps, and the shoulder straps are adjustable in length at the bottom. At the top of the back panel is a sewn-in haul loop.
Now, let’s get into all the interesting features of this pack. The main one is the construction of the Panorama from what is basically two separate packs. The main pocket of the backpack only extends halfway down from the top of the pack, and the space below that is taken up by the beltpack. The beltpack, attached to the waistbelt, can be rotated around my waist while I am wearing the pack so that I can access the contents. Here are the details...
First of all, the daypack part. Above the back panel two zippers run across the pack and around the sides. The top one accesses a small pocket which contains a key clip. The lower one accesses the main compartment by flipping that whole top “lid” away from the back panel. This compartment extends down only about 10 in (25 cm), to a foam-filled nylon panel, which acts as the base of the compartment. The foam can be removed from the panel and/or the panel flipped up by undoing a large amount of hook-and-loop fasteners along three sides of the panel, but it cannot be completely removed. I’m not sure why I would want to remove this panel, as underneath it is open to atmosphere, but I’ll try and think of a reason during the test. Also inside this main compartment is a mesh pocket with an elastic top which sits against the back panel, and a small tab with a hook-and-loop closure which looks like it could be used to suspend something inside the pack. Back on the exterior, along the wearer’s left side of the pack, and extending all the way down, is a pocket which the manufacturer describes as a hydration bladder pocket. It has a vertical zipper, a small drain hole at the bottom, and a hose port at the top. The manufacturer specifies that it holds up to a 2 L (68 fl oz) reservoir. Also on this side of the pack is an external water bottle sleeve. A compression strap runs across each side of the pack near the top of the pack. On the front of the pack, on the wearer’s left, are an ice axe loop at the bottom and an elastic with cord-lock near the top. Also on the front is one of the photographer-friendly features: a tripod attachment system. At the same level as the compartment zippers is a small tab which when pulled releases a hook-and-loop fastener to allow a strap and buckle to fall from a small space where they tuck away. At the bottom of the pack, near a small tripod symbol, a matching tab and fastener release to reveal a matching strap and buckle and also a small pouch for putting the legs of the tripod in.
The waist belt itself is fairly normal, with mesh covered foam at the hips and a 1.5 in (3.8 cm) wide strap and buckle fastening at the front. It tightens by pulling forward on the strap ends. At the end of the padded part of the hip belt, on both sides, is a loop which is oriented to point forward. This loop seems to be, in addition to a gear loop, a great handle to help pull the beltpack to the front and then back towards the stowed position. The top of the beltpack itself has a grab loop and a zipper which runs around three sides, allowing the top of the pack to flip away from me. The bottom of the lid has a mesh pocket with hook-and-loop closure running along the length of the opening. Inside the beltpack, along the side closest to my body (which sits against the back panel of the daypack) is a narrow compartment that the manufacturer indicates is sized for a tablet. The inside of the beltpack is lined with a fuzzy material, so the rest of the beltpack can be divided into compartments with five foam dividers which are provided and have the hook side of a hook-and-loop closure on them. I have seen similar features in camera cases. The beltpack walls are a stiff foam, so the pack holds its shape and hopefully also provides some protection to the contents.
Trying It OutAfter exploring all of the features of the Panorama and watching the videos on the MindShift Gear website, I was ready to load up the pack. I packed it as if I was going on a spring or summer day hike. I started with the beltpack, and was able to comfortable fit my camera, GPS, phone, a hat, a neck gaiter, some light gloves, and a few little things like sunscreen, lip balm, a pen, an energy bar, and a knife in it, with room to spare. I put a first aid kit, a light insulating layer, and a rain jacket in the main compartment, and there was room for lunch. Very little got put in the smallest compartment at the top. I certainly have some fine tuning to do on my packing method, but it looks like there is plenty of space for my usual items, and I will have to adjust to having items in the beltpack instead of the lid pocket or hip belt pockets of a pack.
I next tried the hydration pocket. I have a 3 L (100 fl oz) hydration bladder, and it wasn’t even close to fitting. My 1.5 L (50 fl oz) bladder fit, but it was not completely full. This is the size that I often carry, so hopefully it will be sufficient.
Once loaded I tried the pack on and found it fairly comfortable. The straps on the waistbelt are very long on me, but I still have plenty of adjustment room. I did notice that the hipbelt padding sits quite far back, ending before my iliac crests. One of the plastic pieces of buckle sits on top of the crest on each side and I hope that won’t be uncomfortable. The shoulder straps feel a bit wide on my shoulders, but time will tell whether they are comfortable over long periods. I found that the Panorama felt a bit lopsided with water in only one side of the pack.
Rotating the belt pack around to the front was quite intuitive. Releasing the magnetic buckle is easy with one hand and without looking. I did have to loosen the waist belt slightly to rotate the beltpack, but rotating just took a strong pull on the convenient grab handle to get the beltpack moving. Accessing everything inside the beltpack was easy and I could see everything. Rotating the beltpack back to its stowed position was easy, but I found that the magnetic buckle took a bit of fiddling to get closed. Although it only has to get close to engage, I seemed to have the angle all wrong. Practice makes perfect!
The raincover was easy to put on once I watched the video on the website.
SummaryThe MindShift Gear rotation180° Panorama backpack appears to be a functional daypack with an assortment of interesting features that look useful for both a photographer and a hiker. I'm looking forward to testing the rotation and the beltpack in the field!
Field ConditionsI have used the Panorama backpack on all of my day hikes this spring. That totals seven days of hiking, ranging from 4 km (2.5 mi) in length to about 20 km (12.4 mi) in length. Temperatures ranged from around freezing to about 20 C (68 F). On one of the hikes I encountered blowing snow (more like frozen ice chunks!) with light rain as I descended, but did not use the rain cover. On another hike, it was raining steadily through the hike, except at higher elevations where it was snowing, and I did use the cover. A third day, with wet snow falling lightly, I did not use the rain cover. The rest of the days were dry. I also used the Panorama around town when I was taking pictures during an event. I have used the backpack while wearing short-sleeves, long-sleeves, or a big pile of layers and jackets while hiking. Around town I have used it with a tanktop.
ObservationsGeneral Function & Capacity:
I have really enjoyed using the rotation180° Panorama pack! The first day hike that I took the pack on was in early season conditions and I was able to fit an extra layer and my rain jacket into the daypack, along with my first aid kit and lunch. I had a few little odds and ends in the small top pocket. Inside the beltpack were my camera, toque, gloves, sunscreen, knife, GPS receiver, and some random bits and pieces like my cellphone, a pen, and a snack bar. I have kept this general packing arrangement (the same one as in the Initial Report, actually) through all of my hikes. I have found that on days where I anticipate needing a range of layers, getting a long-sleeve shirt, a mid-layer, and a shell jacket in the daypack with my first aid kit and lunch is a struggle and takes a bit of squishing. I have never been unable to get it all in, though.
I got a new hydration bladder during the Field Testing stage, with a capacity of 1.5 L (50 fl oz). I also discovered that inside the hydration bladder pocket is a small tab with a hook-and-loop closure which can be used to hang the bladder. I tried that with my new bladder, and it helped it stay in position without sagging as it emptied. I also found that with the full bladder hanging from the tab, it was a bit hard to do up the zipper to the main compartment if that compartment was also full, as the weight of the bladder dragged the zipper out of alignment a bit. It just took a bit of fiddling to get everything all zipped up properly. The hydration bladder pocket is quite small though, as I can’t quite completely fill the 1.5 L (50 fl oz) bladder and even then I have to wrestle the zipper on the bladder pocket closed. There isn’t really any extra space to stuff excess hose inside, though I continue to try.
The only gripe I really have is that to use the holder that I have for bearspray, I have to slide it onto the waistbelt, which means that it falls off when I undo the waistbelt, and likes to migrate to the front as I walk. That’s not really the fault of the pack though…I just need a different style of holster!
Using the Beltpack:
Using the beltpack was fairly intuitive. I found that I quickly started reaching for the magnetic buckle instead of my usual camera case. I’m not sure it’s any faster to get my camera out of the beltpack than a regular camera case on my waistbelt. It is nice to have everything in that pocket easily accessible and also to have it all in front of me if I’m fiddling with the camera or using the pen or something. I love that I don’t have to take the pack off and dig in the lid pocket to get to those items. It does take a strong pull and a bit of wiggling to get the belt pack rotating, and then it rotates around with no problem. It’s tighter with the rain covers on, but still not too much of a problem. The process of rotating the beltpack around and undoing the zipper isn’t very quiet though! Not good for sneaking up on wildlife!
I seem to have figured out the trick to using the magnetic buckle, and I get it closed on the first or second try every time now, usually without looking.
I have found the backpack to be comfortable overall. It does feel a bit lopsided with the water on one side of the pack, but it didn’t bother me much, as the pack is fairly small and therefore light overall. I haven’t spent any time hiking in a tank top yet this summer, so I hope to comment on the comfort of the fabric against skin in the Long Term Report. I haven’t encountered any discomfort from the buckles on the waistbelt, as I had been concerned about in the Initial Report.
Waterproofing & the Rain Cover:
On the very first hike I went on with the Panorama, I encountered blowing snow/ice at high elevation, and then light rain as I descended. I didn’t have much hiking time left when I hit rain, so I decided to just see how the pack’s waterproofing performed. Water beaded well on the exterior and in that brief period nothing on the inside got wet.
On a later hike, I started hiking in fairly heavy rain, which eventually turned to snow up higher. I used the rain cover for this hike, over the beltpack and the daypack. I found that it was hard to access the beltpack interior without taking off the raincover. I tried to just take off the part covering the opening but it would then slide off the rest of the beltpack. I also found that I had to be careful not to cover part of the magnetic buckle with the raincover. The daypack cover was a bit fiddly to get on in a hurry in the rain, but once on it stayed in place. I did find that some of my daypack contents were wet. I’m not sure if this is due to water soaking through the back panel of the pack or from rain coming in around or through the raincover. The exterior of the pack appeared dry so I suspect that the raincover did its job where it was covering.
So far the Panorama looks as good as new. It’s not even too dirty yet!
SummaryI am really enjoying using the rotation180° Panorama Backpack in the field! I like the easy access to many items offered by the rotating beltpack. Overall so far it seems like the pack is very functional and easy to carry, though I still have mixed thoughts about the hydration bladder pocket and how well it works.
Field ConditionsSadly, I’ve been laid up with a foot injury since just before I submitted my Field Report. I have only managed two short walks, each about 3 km (1.9 mi) long, since then. Both of those walks were in mild conditions, around 20 C (68 F), where I was just wearing a t-shirt. I also used the pack on a 15 km (9 mi) bike ride at about 20 C (68 F), wearing a t-shirt. I used the rain cover on the bike ride, but didn’t put it on until things were already quite damp.
ObservationsMy impressions of the MindShift Gear rotation180° Panorama Backpack have not really changed since I wrote my Field Report. I still really like having quick access to all of the gear in my beltpack.
I still find that the pocket for the hydration pack is very small, and struggle to get my full 1.5 L (50 fl oz) inside the pocket and everything zipped up. I like using the tab inside to hang the bladder, but have continued to struggle to zip up the main compartment with the heavy water bladder hanging from it. I think the water carrying system on this pack could use some modifications to be fully functional for long day hikes, especially in hot conditions, as 1.5 L (50 fl oz) is not very much water!
I had the opportunity to use the rain cover during a squall that came through while I was biking. I didn’t put it on right away, so the pack was already pretty damp by the time I did. I found that needing to get the hook-and-loop tabs around the door took time and was a bit fiddly when standing in the pouring rain and trying to rush.
SummaryI really enjoyed using the rotation180° Panorama for what hiking I was able to do this summer. I found the pack comfortable and easy to use. There are a couple of items that aren’t perfect, but I like the beltpack access. I plan for it to be my day hiking pack for the future!
Easy access to camera and other items in the beltpack
Intuitive to use
Hydration bladder pocket very small
Pack contents wet even with rain cover on
Rain cover takes some time and fiddling to get on
Thanks to MindShift Gear and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test the rotation180° Panorama Backpack! Once I am able to walk again I will add any further impressions to this report.
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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > MindShift Gear rotation180 Panorama > Test Report by Andrea Murland