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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > Outdoor Products Amphibian Weather > Test Report by Michael Pearl

OUTDOOR PRODUCTS AMPHIBIAN WEATHER DEFENSE PACK
TEST SERIES BY MIKE PEARL

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LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - October 28, 2012
FIELD REPORT - January 08, 2012
LONG TERM REPORT - March 05, 2013

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mike Pearl
EMAIL: mikepearl36ATyahooDOTcom
AGE: 39
LOCATION: Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 155 lb (70.30 kg)

I have a great appreciation for the outdoors and get out at every opportunity. I am a three-season backpacker and year round hiker. Currently, my trips are two to three days long as well as an annual week-long trip. I utilize the abundant trail shelters in my locale and pack a backup tarp-tent. I like to cover big distances while still taking in the views. I have lightweight leanings but function and reliability are the priority. I mostly travel woodland mountain terrain but enjoy hiking beautiful trails anywhere.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

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Manufacturer: Outdoor Products
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: www.outdoorproducts.com

Note: The manufacturer's website is currently being updated. All Listed product information was sourced from a press release posted at BackpackGearTesters.

MSRP: Not Listed
Listed Weight: Not Listed
Measured Weight: 27.65 oz (784 g)
Listed Dimensions: 23 x 9.5 x 7.5 in (58.4 x 24.1 x 19.1 cm)
Measured Dimensions: 26 x 14.5 x 7 in (66 x 36.8 x 17.75 cm) with top unrolled
Listed Pack Volume: 19.9 L (1212 cu in)
Colors Available: Black and Blue
Color Tested: Blue


INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

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Right out of the box the Amphibian Weather Defense Pack has a clean streamlined look. The blue is a bright eye-catching color. The shape and smooth lines strangely enough remind me of a frog. Throw in the color and Poison Blue Dart Frog is an inescapable image for me.

The Amphibian Pack is a single compartment top loading backpack. The body of the pack is made of 420
Denier fabric with TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) coating. The TPU coating is what the manufacturer says puts the Weather Defense into the Amphibian Pack and makes it waterproof. The coating appears to be on the interior surface as it is shiny and smooth. The fabric feels sturdy yet pliable, all seams are welded and taped. I notice a small imperfection on one of the seams near the opening of the pack. (picture below)

The Amphibian closure differs from backpacks I have used before. The fairly large 8-in (20 cm) lid folds over on itself and connects with side release buckles at the back of the pack. Each side of the pack has a 10 x 4.5 in (25 x 11 cm) tear-shaped pocket with a 6-in (15 cm) waterproof zipper. The side pockets are flat decreasing their cargo space. The front has a 8 x 10, tapering to 6-in (20 x 25, tapering to 15 cm) mesh pocket with a 7-in (18 cm) waterproof zipper. Directly above the zipper and to the left is a 7-in (18 cm)
length of shock cord with a toggle lock for securing gear. At the bottom of the pack are two gear attachment IMAGE 4loops. Between the loops is a 2.25 x 1 in (6 x 2.5 cm) piece of reflective material.

The shoulder straps are curved and padded with 3D mesh. On the front side of each strap is a 5-in (13 cm) piece of nylon webbing forming handles. Below this is the sternum strap with an adjustable range of 7-in (18 cm) head to toe. 3D mesh is used again to pad the back of the pack. Providing some support and shape is a 16 x 7 in (40.5 x 18 cm) thin semirigid sheet under the padding. At the top of the padding is a rubber coated nylon webbing carry handle. The handle comfortably conforms to my hand and provides excellent grip.
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TRYING IT OUT

My first opportunity to use the Amphibian Pack was carrying stuff to a charity run. I packed running clothes, water bottles and snacks for myself and my two children. The clothes were held in a plastic grocery bag. The Amphibian Pack held this small load easily. The plastic bag however went in with some resistance. The interior surface of the pack felt very tacky when in contact with the plastic bag. No biggie, no need for a plastic bag inside a waterproof pack anyway.

Without even thinking about it I folded the closure once over the front of the pack. Clicking the buckles I remembered reading "roll top" closure in the product description. The whole way to the race I thought about folding versus rolling the closure. Then my thoughts went to which direction to close toward the front versus toward the back. Maybe after a hike or two I'll figure it out.

After adjusting the shoulder straps the Amphibian Pack fit comfortably. While adjusting the sternum strap to fit better it slid right off the shoulder strap. I was disappointed thinking I broke something before even logging any field use. But I managed to slide the sternum strap back onto the shoulder strap and adjust its location. I buckled the sternum strap only to find out it's not long enough to fit comfortably where I want to wear it. So knowing that I can remove the sternum strap might be a good thing. The other option is to wear it higher on my chest than I usually do. The two large pads on the back of the Amphibian provide a good amount of cushion and feel nice. They rest just below my shoulder blades and run down the muscles along the spine.

After changing into running clothes I put the extra clothes into the Amphibian. I also put my cell phone in a side pocket, my wallet in the other side pocket and car keys in the front pocket. The front worked well but the side pockets were less accommodating. At 7/8 in (2.25 cm) thick my cell phone just fit.

Out of simple force of habit each time I shouldered the Amphibian I reached for a hip belt. On this short outing with very light load I didn't miss or feel the need for a hip belt. Again I will wait for field testing before I decide.

SUMMARY

The Amphibian Weather Defense Pack is a neat little pack. This is a clever approach to protecting gear from the elements. I also like the flexibility provided by the closure to accommodate variable size loads. While having a minimalistic look the Amphibian Pack has the making of good day pack. Other than one minor imperfection the pack is solid and well constructed. I am eager to hop out into some wet weather with the Amphibian. Lucky for me, just in time for the late season hurricane churning up the east coast.





FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

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Velvet Rocks, New Hampshire - 5.2 mi (8 km) to 1243 ft (379 m) on the Appalachian Trail, 66 F (19 C) mostly sunny, Pack weight - 8 lb (3.6 kg)

Camels Hump, Vermont - 18 mi (29 km) to 4081 ft (1244 m) with 3963 ft (1208 m) gained in 5.1 mi (8 km), 60 F (15.5 C) mostly cloudy with a few breaks of sunshine, Pack weight - 14 lb (6.4 kg) *photo to the right*

Moose Mountain (South Peak), New Hampshire - 10 mi (16 km) to 2300 ft (701 m), 32 warming to 36 F (0 to 2.2 C) with mixed precipitation changing to all rain, Pack weight - 15 lb (6.8 kg)

Pine Park / Girl Brook, New Hampshire - 6 mi (9.5 km) 600 to 400 ft (180 to 120 m), 25 F (-4 C) with a dusting of snow and windy, Pack weight - 15 lb (6.8 kg)

Farnum Hill, New Hampshire - 8 mi (13 km) to 1336 ft (407 m), 30 F (-1 C) periods of light snow, Pack weight - 15 lb (6.8 kg)

Moose Mountain (Ridge Trail), New Hampshire - 12 mi (19 km) to 1800 ft (550 m), 28 F warming to 35 F (-2.2 to 1.7 C) snow turning to rain with gusting winds, Pack weight - 15 lb (6.8 kg)

Mt. Ascutney, Vermont - 6 mi (9.5 km) to 3144 ft (958 m), 30 F (-1 C) very sunny and windy where exposed, Pack weight - 15 lb (6.8 kg)

Pine Park / Girl Brook, New Hampshire - 10 mi (16 km) 600 to 400 ft (180 to 120 m), 30 F (-1 C) and snowing, Pack weight - 10 lb (4.5 kg)

Pine Park / Girl Brook, New Hampshire - 5 mi (8 km) 600 to 400 ft (180 to 120 m), 18 F (-8 C) with gusty winds and sunshine, Pack weight - 10 lb (4.5 kg)

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The first hike with the Amphibian was short and the weather warm. This made for a small and light load. I was hiking with my wife and kids. I carried for the four of us rain jackets, snack bars, fruit and water. As well as a cell phone and camera. The load being small left a fair amount of unused space. The excess is easily managed by rolling the closure down. This effectively decreases the pack size. It feels smaller and holds the load securely in place.
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On subsequent hikes the load grew. The Amphibian held a small tarp-tent, first aid/emergency gear, rain jacket and pants, wool baselayer pants and shirt, socks, gloves, fleece hat, gaiters, 1.5 L water bottle, camera, sandwich and apple. One side pocket held my wallet and keys. The other side pocket my cell phone. The front pocket held a map, mini-tripod and snack bars.

When temperatures moved into the freezing range my load change slightly. I swapped the rain jacket for a synthetic insulated jacket and the fleece hat for a balaclava. I added a pair of ice cleats and insulating cozy to the water bottle.

The Amphibian graciously accepted items in the main compartment. Now when closing the pack I was able to get two or three rolls on the closure. Even stuffed full getting an item at the bottom is easy. When the pack is open extra material is unrolled. The pack temporally rises above the contents and the opening widens. This creates space to rummage without removing things. I find stuffing the Amphibian has a downside though. It compresses the front and side pockets. This limits what they can hold and makes getting things in and out difficult.
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The first full load with the Amphibian revealed the importance of load distribution. After about a mile (1.6 km) I felt the framesheet hitting the top of my left hip. A half mile (0.8 km) after that it became painful. I tried to adjust the shoulder straps and change where the pack sat. A few steps more and the problem returned. I then stopped to check the map and had some water. This changed where things were inside the pack. The bottom left corner no longer bulged and the framesheet stopped striking my hip. However now the water bottle was at the top of the pack. This caused the pack to pull slightly left to right as I hiked. A minor repack with the heaviest item at center of the pack closest to my back and neither problem has returned.

I have found double use for a couple of features. When it's not raining or snowing I've used the roll top to hold a jacket. By rolling the jacket into the closure it is secured to the outside of the pack. No capacity is lost inside the pack and the jacket is very accessible. I have also used the shock cord to attach gear to the Amphibian. Hiking poles hold nicely when the tips are in one of the gear loops. The shock cord has also served are a "clothes line" to secure a sweated out T-shirt. After a windy summit and hike down, it was dry.

The waterproofing has been flawless on all hikes. When the exterior is saturated the fabric becomes a darker shade of blue. Water and snow have accumulated on the exterior but never penetrate the interior. I trust it enough to set it almost anywhere. When the ground was either wet or covered in snow I used the Amphibian as a seat during snack breaks.

The last two outings during Field Testing were on cross-country skis. This is where I thought I would miss a hip belt most. But with the shoulder and sternum straps adjusted correctly I had no complaints. I learned early as long as the load is balanced the Amphibian stays in place.

SUMMARY

At the end of this round of testing I like the Amphibian Weather Defense Pack. It has done an excellent job keeping things dry. The next best thing is the quick and convenient roll top closure. The wide opening makes locating gear easy. When packed right the fit is good and secure. I like being able to match the pack size to the load by adjusting the number of rolls in the closure. Unfortunately when at capacity the side and front pockets become less useful. The Amphibian has been great in the milder and wet weather. Now I want to see how it handles the colder temps and deeper snowfalls.




LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Balch Hill, New Hampshire - 5 mi (8 km) to 950 ft (290 m), 18 F (-8 C) with winds gusting to 30 mph (48 km/h), hard packed snow and ice covered rocky trails, Pack weight - 15 lb (6.8 kg)

Burnt Mountain at Boston Lot Lake, New Hampshire - 10 mi (16 km) to 1000 ft (300 m), 25 F (-4 C) and cloudy, rocky and rooted trails through mostly pine forest covered with 6 in (15 cm) of snow, Pack weight - 15 lb (6.8 kg)

Moose Mountain (North Peak), New Hampshire - 8 mi (13 km) to 2300 ft (700 m), 17 F (-8 C) and windy gusts of 35 mph (56 km/h), hard-packed snow covered trail with some areas of 6 in (15 cm) drift or ice covered rock. Pack weight - 20 lb (9 kg) with snowshoes carried externally.

The Pogue, Vermont - 10 mi (16 km) to 1600 ft (480 m), 28 F (-2 C) and calm, cross country skiing on 3 in (8 cm) of fresh snow through hard and soft wood forest. Pack weight - 15 lb (6.8 kg).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Amphibian has maintained its level of performance. I have comfortably carried loads up to 20 lbs (9 kg) under a variety of conditions and over a variety of terrain. Under all conditions experienced the items held in the Amphibian always stayed dry. When in direct contact with the wet or snow-covered ground and even when I sat on top of the Amphibian remained waterproof. IMAGE 2

I continue to like all aspects of the pack that I liked during Field Testing. I continue to be frustrated with the limited level of use the exterior pockets provide. I was also disappointed to find the adjustable gear loop did not accommodate my snowshoes.

Unsure of snow levels on the Moose Mountain hike I brought along snowshoes. The two gear loops at the bottom of the pack held the tail of each shoe nicely. However the adjustable loop at the top was not large enough to secure both shoes. I used a piece of nylon webbing (not part of the Amphibian) to lash the shoes to the body of the pack. After this fix the snowshoes fit securely to pack and stayed in place the entire hike.

Shortly after Field Testing began I became concerned with one thing. The effect cold temperatures would have on the waterproof TPU-coated roll top closure. I envisioned it cracking or not rolling. At temperatures below 20 F (-7 C) the material became slightly harder to roll and did not roll as tight. The coldest temperature I used the pack in was 17 F (-8 C) with a windchill factor of -4 F (-20 C).

Though I never felt a hip belt was needed, even moving at my fastest pace over rough terrain or falling to the ground while cross-country skiing. I cannot stop thinking if a small hipbelt would benefit the Amphibian.

Post-hike examination of the Amphibian following the last outing of the Long-Term period reveals no defects or damage. The minor flaw in the waterproof coating noted in the Initial Report shows no change.

SUMMARY

The final round of testing brings me to same conclusion. I enjoy hiking with the Amphibian Weather Defense Pack. The few complaints I can list do not outweigh the compliments. The materials and construction stood up to the time on the trails without a flaw. I had no trouble fitting all that I needed with some room to spare (excluding winter travel) into the Amphibian. The Amphibian is a solid little weatherproof pack. Oh and Oscar likes the pack too, he likes when we match.

CONTINUED USE

I will reach for the Amphibian Pack when day hiking and cross-country skiing. I am also considering it for an overnight trip during the warmer months if rain is in the forecast.

This completes my Long-Term Report. My thanks to Outdoor Products and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

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