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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > REI Venturi > Test Report by Ralph DittonREI VENTURI 40 PACK
TEST SERIES BY RALPH DITTON
INITIAL REPORT DATE: 26th June, 2008
FIELD REPORT DATE: 31st August, 2008
LONG TERM REPORT: 15th October, 2008
(Photo courtesy of REI)
Name: Ralph Ditton
Height: 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
Chest: 100 cm (39 in)
Weight: 71 kg (156 lb)
Email: rdassetts at optusnet dot com dot au
Location: Perth, Western Australia
I have been bushwalking for over eight years. My playgrounds are the Darling Range, Bibbulmun Track and the Coastal Plain Trail. I aim to become an end-to-end walker of the Bibbulmun Track. I am nearly there as it is 964 km (603 mi) long. Just on 200 km (124 mi) to go. My pack weight including food and water tends to hover around 18 kg (40 lb) but I am trying to get lighter. My trips range from overnighters to five days duration. My shelter of choice is a tent.
Manufacturer: Recreational Equipment, Inc.
Year of manufacturer: 2008.
Made in: Vietnam.
Quality Control tag: No.
Manufacturer's URL: http://www.rei.com
Model Style.: 2702.
Item No.: 762501.
Torso fit range: 43 - 48 cm (17 - 19 in) [From the 7th vertebrae (the bony protrusion at the base of the neck) to the top of the iliac crest (hip)].
Adjustable torso: No.
Listed weight: 1.25 kg (2 lb 12 oz).
Measured weight: 1.23 kg (2 lb 12 oz) on my electronic Salter scales.
Volume: 40 L (2,441 cu. in).
Material: nylon diamond ripstop.
nylon cloth base.
stretch mesh pockets.
Frame type: Internal.
Hydration compatible: Yes.
MSRP: USD 129.00
REI Guarantee: Yes. Item can be returned for a replacement or refund as they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
According to the blurb on the manufacturer's web site, the REI Venturi 40 Day Pack (hereinafter known as the pack) is a lightweight, top-loading, highly organized and a weather resistant backpack. The material is nylon.
The floating lid has two zipper openings. One is directly behind the head and the zipper track is the welded, water-repellent variety. This pocket has a volume of approximately 2.5 litres (153 cu in). The manufacturer states that this is where a map, headlamp, spare batteries and other small equipment can be stored.
On the underside of the floating lid is another zipped pocket that is not waterproof. Inside it there is a nylon dog clip attached to a length of ribbon. This dog clip is handy to attach a bunch of keys or a little LED key chain torch. The volume is about 0.5 litres (31 cu in). Small items can be placed in there.
The top of the floating lid features four webbed loops sewn along the edge. There are two on each side. See the photo above. They are grey in colour. These loops can be used to anchor an item such as a closed cell sleeping mat that is very light.
The floating lid is able to be adjusted to fit snugly over the top of the main compartment. There are adjusting straps behind the head area and two straps on either side of the front pocket. See above photo for the last mentioned. Also, by undoing these clips and removing the straps from the buckles behind the head, the floating lid can be removed from the pack.
There is no facility to turn this floating lid into a bum bag as the hip belt is not removable and the clips have nothing to marry to.
Top Loading Main Compartment.
For the medium size pack, the manufacturer states that it has a volume of 40 litre (2,441 cu in). I filled my 20 litre (1,220 cu in) and 13 litre (793 cu in) stuff sacks and placed them inside the main compartment. I estimated that the space available up to the start of the throat extension collar to be around the 6 litre (366 cu in), so it is getting close to the advertised mark.
The compartment is closed off by a drawcord and locked into place by a spring loaded toggle. There is no over the top compression strap.
The height of the throat extension collar of the compartment measures 12 cm (4.75 in) and this would increase the compartment's volume by about 4 litres (244 cu in).
Overall, this would give a maximum main compartment volume of around the 43 to 44 litre (2,624 to 2,685 cu in) mark.
Looking inside the main compartment there are two dog clips either side of a small webbed loop. They are against the top horizontal frame bar. The loop can be used to hold the hydration bladder's tube by feeding it through it. Directly under these is another zipper. This opening has exactly the same two dog clips and small webbed loop directly under each other. This opening leads to the cavity between the pack's main compartment and the free flow tensioned mesh back panel. There are no instructions as to what use this open space can be put to. Probably hang a wet item of clothing to dry whilst walking or camp sandals are a possibility.
Against the wall of the pack closest to a wearers back, and just below the zippered opening mentioned above, is a hydration-compatible reservoir pocket. It easily accommodates my 2 litre bladder. Immediately above the top webbed loop mentioned above, is an exit port for the hose of a hydration bladder. It is a very tight fit for my CamelBak mouthpiece to pass through. I had to remove the cap off the bite tube end and pass it through first then feed the hose through it.
To remove the tube from the exit port I had to repeat the above process. The cover of the exit port is elasticized and has a blue rain drop on it to identify what it is. The problem with the small opening is not with the elastic covering but the actual slit in the fabric of the pack. It is too small at 33 mm (1.3 in).
This is a single compartment pack so there is no facility for a shelf to make it into a two compartment bag with a bottom entry point.
There is a horizontal upper stash zip pocket that is above the main front pocket. It is a handy pocket to grab a camera out of and trail nibblies.
The main front pocket has a vertical welded, water-repellent zip. It is 30 cm (11.8 in) long. I estimate that the volume is about 3 litres (183 cu in).
Patched on either side of the outside of the pocket are two bungee lash straps and below the pocket directly under the bungee lashes, some 34 cm (14 in) away are two tool loops. This combination allows a hiker to lash trekking poles to the outside of the pack according to the manufacturer.
On either side of the pack are two elastic pockets that can carry water bottles and/or water flexi flask bladders. The weave is a little bit open that allows for the material to breathe.
The manufacturer states that the hip belt matches ones anatomy for non binding comfort.
The hip belt wings are certainly not stiff. I can push my thumbs deep into the wings very easily. This indicated that there is no stiff thin plastic plates laminated to the outside of the foam inserts material. I can see on the inside of the hip belt through the mesh a sponge like material with a series of holes in it. This must be the perforated foam padding.
Behind the back of the hip belt where it is stitched to the pack, there is a wedge inserted between the hip belt and main compartment to help keep the pack away from the mesh back panel.
On the outside of the wings are two mesh zip pockets that can store a GPS, small camera, compass and/or sunscreen. The pockets are certainly not limited to the items mentioned. They certainly are not waterproof due to the open weave.
The hip belt buckle arrangement is the usual arrangement of a male and female component that lock together with either belt being able to be adjusted for the correct tension and comfort around the waist. The buckle is 37 mm (1.5 in) wide.
Mesh Back Panel.
This panel stretches from the top of the hip belt to underneath the top of the shoulder harness straps. It is 38 cm (15 in) long. It has a slightly hour glass shape width wise. At its widest at the shoulder area it is 23.5 cm (9.25 in). The small of the back is the narrowest at 15.5 cm (6 in) and at the hips 21 cm (8.25 in).
The mesh panel is reasonably tensioned with a bit of give when pushed against it. There is a deep space between the mesh panel and the back of the pack. At its deepest it is 8 cm (3 in). This is why the manufacturer states that this panel provides uninhibited breathability and alleviates common pressure points. This suspension from the pack allows warm air to escape and fresh air to circulate between the pack and back.
Again, I can push my thumbs deep into the padding and meet no real resistance. It is the same material as in the hip belt with the perforations.
They are pre-curved and have stabilizing straps that can pull the pack closer to my back and minimize sideways movement when climbing over rocks and logs.
Attached to the shoulder straps is a chest strap that can slide up and down for comfort. It is also adjustable. The buckle of this strap has an inbuilt whistle that when blown is quite loud.
Just above the shoulder straps and in the centre of the pack is the haulage loop. The part that fits into my hand is doubled over and stitched together. It forms a very comfortable handle to hold onto when lifting the pack.
The frame is made of a lightweight aluminium tube. It is an external, single continuous perimetric (forms a boundary around the pack) that curves inwards along the vertical to mimic the mesh panel hour glass figure.
This arrangement gives the pack its rigidity and shape.
The tube has a diameter of 6 mm (0.2 in).
When I took the pack out of the box I was immediately impressed with how light it was. I quickly looked it over and noticed that it had the usual compression straps, side pockets, floating lid, front pocket and pockets on the hip belt. It reminded me of a miniature version of my large backpack. It had all of the usual features.
I had a nice surprise to see the stretched mesh panel and how far away it was from the pack. The web page gave no indication of this. All that was mentioned was that there was a mesh panel. Further surprises were in store when I opened the pack up. I discovered a pocket on the underside of the floating lid and another above the front pocket. I did not expect these although the web page did state six pockets. I did not look at the photo on the web page and try to count them as the photo would not show them all due to the profile presented.
What was different from the web page photo is the pocket above the front pocket. It does not show on the photo and it is only just above the grey panel of the front pocket and well below the bottom edge of the floating lid.
I had a quick hunt for the exit port for my water bladder. I identified it very easily as it has a big blue rain drop covering it. When I was trying to feed the bite valve through the exit port, I was worried that I might tear the material trying to get it through the tight opening. There was absolutely no give in the fabric.
I was at a bit of a loss when I unzipped the zipper inside the main compartment and apart from the two dog clips and loop there was no pocket, just an open space between the pack and mesh panel. Maybe some use can be made of this space as mentioned above under the heading of "Top Loading Main Compartment". I will explore this during the test period.
My little three legged folding stool fits easily inside the pack so I am excited about that as I like to use my stool instead of getting a wet bottom. It is our wet season.
With all of the pockets, this pack has a potential carrying volume of about the 43 to 44 litre (2,624 to 2,685 cu in) mark. It is verging on being an overnight pack for say one night. I will certainly be taking the pack on an overnighter to try out.
As I tend to carry a moderate weight in my backpacks, irrespective of size, around 14 to17 kg (30 to 37 lb) for an overnight trip, I am a little concerned about the ability of the shoulder straps and hip belt to work efficiently and not cause me pain. This will be explored during the test period.
One other thing that I looked for was the amount of stitching and what type of thread was used. I could not find any heavy duty thread for the anchor points of straps and the bungee lash straps. They only had two rows of the common size stitching but some strap anchor points have a ziz-zag pattern of twelve stitch bartack also of the same size. A 42 stitch zig-zag pattern bartack is much stronger for the stress points.
Bibbulmun Track: Sea level to 585 metres elevation (0 to 1,920 ft). Within this region I backpack along old forestry roads, sandy tracks, and purpose built walking tracks.
Daytime temperatures will range during the testing period, from a minimum 16 C to 20 C (61 F to 68 F) during June to September, 2008. Overnight temperatures on average during autumn to mid winter range from -1 C to 8 C (30 F to 46 F).
Prickly Bark campsite on the Coastal Plain Trail is roughly 80 m (262 ft) elevation. The trail from the eastern terminus to the campsite is a sandy track that is mostly flat with a steep climb up a sand dune over the last half a kilometre (0.31 mi) to the campsite.
Daytime temperatures can range from 9 C to 20 C (48 F to 68 F) during June to September, 2008. Overnight temperatures on average during autumn to mid winter range from -1C to 8 C (30 F to 46 F).
At both of the above, the minimum can get as low as -5C (23 F) on occasions. Usually only for a few days before reverting back to the normal average range.
The Bibbulmun Track passes through the Darling Range, so apart from camping along the track, I use the Darling Range for mainly day walks with my walking club. This is where the bulk of my testing will be done. Rain is frequent as this is our wet season, averaging 450 mm (17.7 in) over the four month period. The mean average number of wet days over the test period is 33.
Snow does not occur in the areas that I hike, just heavy frost with occasional fog with low dew points causing condensation.
The areas that I hike in have kangaroo ticks, huntsmen spiders, various species of snakes and many prickly bushes that shed leaves with needle like spikes such as the Parrot Bush (Drydrandra sessilis).
A sweep of the ground before pitching my tent and laying my sleeping pad and sleeping bag down is a must to avoid obvious puncture objects.
Other locations will present themselves with the Perth Bushwalking Club as they put out a monthly activity list and I will be participating in daytime and overnight bushwalks with them as I am now a member.
This appears on the face of it a very well thought out design with lots of pockets. I do love an organised backpack with lots of pockets. I would have loved to have seen a couple of mesh internal organiser pockets inside the front pocket so that items would not fall out when the pocket is opened. Items would then have a place. Yes, I can be a bit pedantic in which pockets I place items and I do like order when looking for an item.
The stitching looks like a potential a weak point with the majority of the stitching being only being a single row of stitching and no heavy duty thread.
DATE: 31st August, 2008
My first field test took place on the Eagle View Trail in the John Forrest National Park. The distance walked overall was 16 km (10 mi) as there was a short section leading to the start of the walk not shown on the cross section below. The weather was overcast with occasional rain. The temperature during the walk ranged from 8 C to 15 C (46 F to 59 F). Elevations fluctuated between 90 m to 280 m (295 ft to 919 ft). It was quite hilly.
As I was the Walk's Leader, I had extra gear in the day pack such as a large First Aid Kit, GPS, mobile phone, extra water for people in the group who might run out (one did) and extra toilet paper and trowel. All up, the weight of the pack plus all of my food and gear, on my back was 11 kg (24.25 lb).
This was a good first up test, heavy weight and rain with slippery rocks and mud on the track.
When I first put the pack on at home to weigh myself I felt the base of the hipbelt stick into the small of my back where the wedge is located behind the hip belt. I thought to myself that this is going to be interesting.
My group started at the 18 point (see above) and we went in an anti-clock wise direction so I hit a steep climb almost immediately (point 15). This took my mind off the pack and the feeling in the small of my back. During the whole trip I was not aware of the sensation at all. Perhaps the sponge inside the wedge softened up from my body heat, who knows, but the pack was comfortable to wear.
There were frequent stops for photo shoots and I had my camera in the horizontal pocket above the vertical front pocket. I had no difficulty in opening and closing this pocket. My rain poncho was in the front pocket and I took it out a number of times when the rain started up. The welded, water-repellent zipper worked well and no moisture gained entry through it.
I used my water bladder in the hydration sleeve with the bladder hanging off the top loop by using the hook on the water bladder. This took the pressure off the base of the hydration sleeve. I managed to get the hose through the exit port but it is a very tight fit and I had to take the cap off the bite end piece the get it through the hole.
I used the pockets on the hip belt for trail nibblies that were in clip lock bags as the sides are mesh and got wet from the rain and wet vegetation that I pushed through as it was overgrown over the track.
The mesh back panel worked very well. At no stage did my shirt feel wet from perspiration because the pack body was not against my body. I kept feeling my back whilst walking to see if it was getting wet. I put my hand in between the mesh back panel and my back for a feel. Most impressed.
I carried a water bottle in one of the side pockets. I found that I had to take the pack off to get it out of the pocket and to replace it. When I tried to do it whilst wearing the pack, my arm was bent backwards with my elbow sticking above the horizontal and my hand just about tucked into my arm pit trying to reach for the cap of the water bottle. I was not successful and it was an awkward feel in my shoulder joint.
The top of the floating lid became wet from the rain and wet vegetation but the contents inside the pocket did not get damp. When the rain got heavy I threw my poncho over the pack as well for protection.
The base of the pack, not unsurprisingly, got a bit muddy from being rested on the wet ground at various stops we did. The dirt cleaned off easily at home with a damp sponge and warm water only.
I found that the shoulder harness worked well and that I was able to pull the top of the pack close to my neck by using the top adjusting straps.
All in all, it was a good day out and I was very happy with the performance of the pack. I did not develop any sore spots from wearing the pack.
The next outing was a day walk out of base camp on the Coastal Plain Trail. Elevations ranged from 20 m to 60 m (65 ft to 197 ft). The temperature during the walk averaged 16 C (61 F). My back did not get wet from perspiration at all.
This time the weight of the pack was around 3 kilos (6.6 lb). I carried a map, rain jacket/poncho, camera and water. The terrain underfoot was blackish sand that was very loose in parts as it had been churned up by Quad bikes. The two children with me ended up putting their water bottles in the side pockets of the pack thereby freeing up their hands apart from their bag of lollies which they hung onto. The two children's water bottles can be seen in the one side pocket facing the camera.
I had no issue with the pack at all. The zips worked well and believe me, I had the pack on and off to retrieve my camera many times so that I could take photos. The fabric stood up to the scratchy vegetation that brushed against it and I noted no damage.
The only thing was that the base got dirty from the damp sand. It cleaned up beautifully when I got home.
For two weekends, one after the other, I hiked in the Mundaring Weir region as the recent rains have filled the creeks and the waterfalls are a sight for sore eyes after a few years of below average rainfall.
The first weekend was wet, on and off. The temperature over the two days of walks was on average 9 C (48 F). Elevation fluctuated between 100 m to 240 m (328 ft to 787 ft). My walks were of a short duration, some 40 minutes at a time. Although the pack got wet from the light rain, no water entered the pack. I did not use a pack cover.
The weight averaged around 4 kg (9 lb). 2 kg (4.5 lb) of that was water. Perth Bushwalking Club policy is that 2 litres (2 quart) of water must be carried at the start of a club walk. I carried the water in a flexi flask container that sat in a side pocket on the pack.
The subsequent walk in the above area was a 16 km (10 mi) circuit walk on track. The weather was fine with temperatures during the walk averaging 12 C (54 F). We walked further than the published walk as we wanted to look at further running creeks and waterfalls. My pack weight was around 7 kg (15 lb) as I carried a jacket for when we stopped for a rest and meal break and a poncho in case it rained.
Below is a cross section of most of the walk.
We did finish up back at the Mundaring Weir Hotel to discuss the days walk.
When I got home and started to unpack the day pack I noticed that the black elastic cover for the hydration hose outlet had torn part of the way from the pack. I put this down to the very tight fit in trying to feed the mouthpiece through the gap and stretch past the elastic. Below is a photo of the damage.
The pack was very comfortable to wear over such undulating ground and my back did not get wet from perspiration due to the mesh resting against my back from the pack. I normally sweat on my back when a backpack is up against my back.
During the testing period I have used the day pack a total of four times whilst undertaking lengthy day walks in undulating country.
I especially like the fact that my back does not get wet from perspiration as per the norm with other packs that I have used. I have even had comments from other club members who spotted the mesh back as to how impressed they were with the set up and wished that they had something similar.
I am at the limit of the torso fit of 48.5 cm (19 in) as stipulated by the manufacturer for the medium size, and I have found that the pack is very comfortable to wear. I have had no issues with aching between my shoulder blades, sore shoulders or hips.
The two front pockets have become my gear organizers for the small items that I want to get to in a hurry such as a camera, insect repellent, rain poncho, pack cover, GPS and trail nibblies. There are a few other odds and ends that end up there also.
The main compartment is for my food, thermos, jacket, toiletries, first aid kit, water bladder and rubbish bag.
The top pocket is used for my map and track notes and the underside pocket mainly for my little 1 litre ultra-sil stuff sack that I carry my money in.
With regards to the two zip pockets on the hip belt, I tend to use just one for the storage of my compass which is close at hand when I need it.
To date I have not noticed any seams becoming undone, or any loose stitching. The pack fabric is standing up to the scratchy bush that I traverse. The only issue is what I have mentioned above about the elastic panel in front of the hydration hose port starting to tear away.
The Bonzer and Rhubarb points are still the same as in the Initial Report, more so with the exit port for the hydration hose due to the damage being suffered by the elastic covering.
This concludes my Field Report. The Long -Term Report should be completed by the 28th October, 2008. Please check back then for further information.
DATE: 15th October, 2008
LONG TERM REPORT
I was a helper for an Introductory Walk for people wanting to learn and experience off-track bushwalking and I used the pack on this trip. My pack weight was around six kilos (13 lb) because we have to carry extra water and toiletries for the new chums who may run out of water or did not bring toilet paper or a trowel and a bit extra first aid items. A lot of the new chums had never been out in the bush before and we get a lot of migrants who have settled here and want to experience the Australian bush.
Elevations fluctuated between 250 m and 480 m (820 ft and 1,575 ft). A cross section of the walk is below.
We went the opposite direction as set out on the above cross section, starting at the "End" and finishing at the "Start".
Temperatures on this Eagle Hill walk fluctuated between 21 C and 24 C (70 F and 75 F). There was no rain and the ground was very dry even though there had been good heavy rains a few weeks ago.
The group travelled through very scratchy vegetation and the pack stood up to the treatment. I did not use a hydration bladder this time due to the damage to the cover over the hydration port as mentioned in the Field Report. I used a flexi- flask as my personal water supply which I carried in a side pocket.
Morning tea break. Pack on the right
I led a club walk that had a combination of off-track and on-track over Mt. Cooke. The distance was just over 9 km (5.6 mi) but reached an elevation of 582 metres (1,909 ft).
Temperatures fluctuated between 12 C to 22 C (54 F to 72 F). On top of Mt. Cooke the wind chill factor lowered the actual temperature to around 8 C (46 F) so when the group stopped to admire the view, I got cold along with the rest.
My pack starting weight was 8 kg (17.6 lb) because I was the walk's leader and had extra first aid gear in case of an emergency plus toiletries as people tend to leave it behind. In addition, I carried extra water inside a 1 litre water bottle that was inside the pack.
3D of Mt. Cooke with walk trail in red
The pack performed well on the walk and I did not develop any sore spots on the pressure points from the hip belt or shoulder straps. Also, it stood up to the scratchy vegetation that I pushed through making a trail for the others to follow in the off-track section.
That was from the "Start" position on the above map, heading towards the 2 o'clock position to join up with the Bibbulmun Track.
There is one aspect of the pack that I have noticed over the walks that I have done with it and it is this: if I put all of these items such as a camera, poncho, insect repellent and a pack cover into the front pocket before anything into the main compartment, there is a narrowing of the opening at the spot where the metal bars are at the top of the arch away from my back. The bulge from the front pocket intrudes into the main compartment space. I find it difficult to get the bulky items down past this spot so that they are at the bottom of the pack.
The side compression straps are loosened right off so that they don't cause any restriction.
Conversely, when I am at a morning tea or lunch break, I have the same problems when I go to retrieve my food containers and then replace them after use.
It is even made worse when I use an internal water bladder.
What to do about it?
Apart from putting gear into the front pocket last, which wll only get around the initial problem but not at meal breaks or any other rest break when I need to take something out.
I see a need to perhaps, during the manufacture, make the grey side panels wider, especially at the peak of the metal arches by say an extra 5 cm (2 in). This would go a long way in overcoming the problem.
It is just through habit that I load up the front pocket first. Always have done on all of my packs. I have my set procedure as I mentally tick off the items that I need for the trip.
My last three trips have been to Kitty's Gorge, 65 km (40 mi) south of Perth in the Jarrahdale-Serpentine Regional Park. The first trip was a reconnaissance as I was to lead a walk in the area.
This day was quite wet and cool. The temperature was on average 14 C (57 F) and the rain during my hike totaled 6 mm (0.2 in).
The terrain is very hilly with elevations of between 70 m to 290 m (230 ft to 951 ft).
I did not have a rain cover for my pack on this occasion. However, when the rain got heavier I put my poncho on and it covered the pack. No moisture entered the pack through any zip or the fabric. The only time moisture got in was when I opened the pack up to get my camera or food out. It was very minimal and easily wiped off. My pack weight was around 3 kg (6.5 lb).
The next walk was as an assistant (Tail-end Charlie) to a group of potential bushwalking club members undertaking their Introductory Walk.
The only variable to this walk compared to my reconnaissance was the amount of rain and temperature. Rainfall was constant for four hours and I estimate that 25 mm (1 in) fell and the temperature plunged to around 8 C (46 F) and the wind chill factor brought it down to about 4 C (39 F) when the wind caught us. There were times when the group was in the shelter of trees.
My pack weight was around 8 kg (17 lb) as I was carrying extra gear in case one of the new potential club members had forgotten their toiletries, first aid or misjudged their food requirements. As it turned out, I had to break into my first aid kit to tape up a participant's shoe as the sole fell off.
As it was raining when we commenced the 16 km (10 mi) I put a pack cover over the pack. I did not want to take any risk in getting my camera, mobile phone and GPS wet inside the pack.
When we stopped briefly in the rain for a little break to have some food and a drink, the pack got dumped on the wet, muddy ground. Some dirt got on the base of the pack. However, it cleaned up very well when I cleaned it at home with plain warm water.
3D of Kitty's Gorge with walk trail in red
The pack will not sit on its base when I place it on the ground. It wants to topple over onto the front pocket because of the weight of gear in the pocket. This is where I carry my camera, trail snack food such as scroggin (a mixture of dried fruits, nuts and chocolate pieces etc.) and lollies, mobile phone and GPS.
Although the hip belt and shoulder straps got wet, they did not take too long at home to dry out. Probably around a day hanging off the under cover clothes line in the garage.
My last trip into Kitty's Gorge was to explore further up into its reaches. Our group walked about 16 km (10 mi), return trip, to look at the Serpentine Falls. The above topographical map shows the exact route that we walked in red. The other two walks had slight variations from this walk, exploring different aspects within the gorge.
The weather was for a change fine. Temperatures averaged around 17 C (63 F).
My pack weight was about 5 kg (11lb) as the group was an experienced walking group so I did not have to carry any extra water, food or first aid equipment.
This time I made the conscious decision to load up the main compartment first so that I could get my gear in without any difficulty.
I then loaded up the front pocket.
I ran into the same problem when I went to retrieve my lunch box that was at the base of the pack. I had difficulty in withdrawing it past the bulge of the front pocket. I had to remove my camera from that pocket to make room for my lunch box to pass by.
Whilst on my walks the pack squeaks when walking on any terrain, be it flat or undulating. With each step I get a squeak emanating from the pack. I have learnt to block it out but some fellow walkers comment that it is a noisy pack when they are behind me. The noise has not diminished through use.
The pack is very comfortable to wear and at no time did I develop any sore spots on my shoulders or hips. I have not noticed any fraying of the fabric and the stitching is still in good shape with no loose treads.
The only sad note to report is that my dog found the pack where it is always stored at home and took a liking to the chest buckle and chewed it, breaking off one of the locking pins. Fortunately he did it after my last field test mentioned above.
Fellow walkers have been very impressed by the look of the pack and have asked me questions about it. They really like the netting idea that keeps the back dry when using it but not too keen on the noise the pack makes. The noise can get a bit annoying.
The only additions to the Rhubarb heading in the Initial Report would be the noise factor of the pack and the narrowing of the opening of the main compartment when the front pocket is being used.
This report concludes the series of reports and I thank REI for the opportunity to test this pack.
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