RIBZ Front Pack 2012
lb (89.40 kg)
in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have
backpacked in all seasons and conditions. I prefer trips on
rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously
strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me.
I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not
including consumables, to under 30 lbs (14 kg).
Regular – Capacity: 700+Cu In (11.5 L) Waist: 32-44 in (81-112
cm) Weight: 11.1 oz (314.7 g)
Small - Capacity: 500+Cu In (8.2 L) Waist: 26-36 in (66-91
cm) Weight: 11.1 oz (314.7 g)
|11.45 oz (324.6 g)|
courtesy of RIBZWEAR
are advertised as a front pack to be used alone or in conjunction with
a traditional backpack. The intent is to provide easy access to
commonly used items and help better distribute the wearers load,
providing “increased comfort, better balance and function.”
Mar 11 2012
received one RIBZ front pack in the Alpine Green color and size
“Regular”. As of the writing of this the packs are available in 3
colors [Alpine Green, Stealth Black, and CAMO]. The black and green are
available in two sizes and the CAMO is available in one (the Regular).
is a good name for this product. While it is described by the
manufacturer as a “front pack”, from looking at it and trying it on I
find “rib” pack to be a better description. The pack consists of two
main sections that are basically mirror images of each other (here
after referred to as pouches). They connect in the front with a zipper,
in the back with an adjustable strap that has an elastic section in the
middle, and at the top with suspender like shoulder straps. The straps
look to be the basic 1” (2.5cm) nylon straps that are common for many
packs and outdoor gear. The pouches are made from "210d water resistant
ripstop nylon" material similar to what I have seen in lightweight
packs and tents.
The shoulder straps are suspender like straps.
Each attaches to the front of one pouch and the back of the other
pouch. On the front end of the shoulder strap is an adjustable buckle,
and the end of the strap is finished with a finger loop to make pulling
the strap to tighten it easier. Each shoulder strap has a shoulder pad
that can be positioned along the strap as needed. The two straps cross
in the back and are held together with a loop of webbing.
rear strap connects to both pouches with an adjustable buckle at both
ends. In the middle of the strap is an elastic band sewn into the strap
such that when not stretched it shortens the strap. This is a nice way
to maintain the strength of a solid web strap while also allowing the
strap to stretch as needed.
worn the two pouches are attached in front with a zipper. At the top of
the zipper there is a hook-n-loop closure that is intended to prevent
the weight of the pack when filled from causing the zipper to come
open. When trying on the pack without using the hook-n-loop closure I
did notice the zipper had a tendency to unzip slightly as the
mentioned above the pouches are basically mirror images of each other.
Each pouch consists of two zippered compartments. The outer/smaller
compartment has a simple zipper on the top. The larger compartment has
a zipper that starts in the front just below the top and extends over
the top of the pouch about ¾ of the way to the back. Inside of the
larger compartment there are two mesh pockets. Attached to the inside
(body side) of the compartment with the rear of these open across the
top, and the front one opening at an angle. There is also an elastic
loop inside the large compartment, stitched to the outer (away from the
wearer’s body) side of the compartment. I am not entirely sure what
intent of this strap is, but I can see how it could be useful. All of
the zippers except for the one in front that attach the two pouches
together have cord pull tabs, while the front zipper has a standard
metal zipper pull.
pack arrived inside a small stuff sack made of the same material as the
pack. In the stuff sack along with the pack was a simple (6 step)
illustrated instruction sheet.
I examined the product. All of
the stitching looks tight, the straps and zippers look like they are
firmly attached and I could find no indications of defects or problems.
website shows a basic warranty: “RIBZ guarantee all products we
manufacture to be free from any defects in material or craftsmanship
for a period of one year from the date of purchase. Our warranty is
limited to the original purchaser of the product and is not
transferable.” The web site also recommends hand washing and air
drying, but says that while not recommended, the pack can be washed in
a washer using the gentle cycle.
initially trying the pack on I placed a few items in the pockets of the
RIBZ pack, adjusted the straps such that the bottom of the pouches and
the back strap were about belt level. But when I put on one of my day
packs I realized this was incorrect as in this configuration the RIBZ
pack would interfere with the hip belt of the back pack. I adjusted the
shoulder straps so the bottom of the front pack was above the
backpack’s hip belt and the two packs seemed to not interfere with each
other. I performed a similar test with my primary mluti-day backpack
and found the RIBZ did not seem to interfere with its use. When I
looked in a mirror I noticed that the shoulder pads were not in place,
one was way forward on the strap so that it was on my chest while the
other was almost on my back. I found them easy to adjust to their
proper location, but I will need to remember to check their positioning
when I put the pack on.
The instructions suggest filling the
pack before putting it on and adjusting the fit. After trying it on a
few times, this seems advisable as the adjustments were different
depending on how full the pouches were, but it seems like it might be
easier to fill and organize the contents of the pouches while wearing
it. I intend to try it both ways during my testing and see what works
best for me.
Of note is the stuff sack that the pack came in.
Not only does this give me a convenient way to store the pack when not
in use, it provides another way to help organize items in the pack.
initial impressions are of a sturdy but lightweight pack, which could
really come in handy to help give me access to frequently needed items
without having to remove my backpack, as well as provide additional
pack volume to my existing packs.
|May 15 2012
- Nordic skiing with the Ski Patrol in the central Cascades Washington State – Two days
day (two nights) backpacking trip Umtanum Creek Central Washington
State- Short spring shake down trip with long day hike exploring the
ridge and side gullies
- Day hike Umtanum ridge
used the pack for two days of skiing while training with the Nordic ski
patrol. On the first day I wore it under my jacket. The only problem
with this configuration was that it made me look fat. [Yes, vanity
raises its ugly head] The second day I wore it over my jacket and this
was just as comfortable as the previous day and allowed me freer access
to the pack. In the pack I kept only a few basic items such as snacks,
a trail map, spare gloves and hat, camera, and a few other small items.
I was wearing my hydration pack as Nordic skiing can be thirsty
business, and so really did not need the carrying capacity of both
packs. However I did like that I had immediate access to the items in
the RIBZ pack. For example I don’t take as many photos as I would like
as often my camera is in my backpack, but with it in the RIBZ pack I
could quickly access it any time I wanted, even while still on the move.
my backpacking trip along Umtanum creek, we ended up having awesome
weather. It was warm and calm all weekend with day temperatures topping
out just over 70F 21C (first time this year!). This trip was kind of a
spring shakedown, a short relaxing trip to get my gear out and see what
needs to be repaired/replaced. I spent the day Saturday climbing up the
sides of the canyon collecting some petrified wood and trying to see if
I can locate some new sources (no luck). I was dressed for cooler
weather and worked up a bit of a sweat, especially under my backpack
and under the RIBZ packs. When I got back to my camp I removed the
packs and the backside of the RIBZ packs were damp but it did not soak
through and dried quickly. Again having quick access to basic items
(snacks, camera, lip balm, etc) was appreciated as was having a convenient
place to stash the bits of petrified wood I collected (the edges can be
quite sharp and I learned the hard way that putting them in my pants
pockets can have bad results). Aside from the sweat, another problem I
ran into was that I did not bring along a day pack so during my day
trips I was wearing only the RIBZ pack. As a result carrying water was
a problem. I had a 1L water bottle with a mini carabineer and clipped
it to one of the straps where it connected to the back of the pack.
This was not an ideal solution as I found the location made it
difficult to clip/unclip the water bottle and at one point the mini
carabineer got bent and the water bottle fell off. Luckily this was
during a stretch that I had to backtrack and I found the bottle on my
way back. Another thing I noticed was that the hook-n-loop strip to keep
the zipper closed would come loose sometimes when I twisted or bent
over. But I did not have any trouble with the zipper coming down.
look of the pack is significantly different from a backpack and I found
myself a bit self-conscious when wearing it. Not helping matters are my
teen daughter’s comments about how ‘geeky’ I look when wearing it. I
believe this is more a function of it being a very different look than
anything else, and I will hold off on judgment of this until the end of
the testing period.
Learning the best way to fill/organize the
pack has been a challenge. The instructions mention filling the pack
before putting it on and adjusting it, but I found it difficult to
organize and arrange the items before putting it on. Once on and full,
and as the contents change, I find it advantageous to readjust the straps
in order to maintain a good fit.
The zipper arrangement for
the large pocket has both advantages and disadvantages. Since it wraps
over the front corner of the pocket, when open it provides better
access to the interior than if the zipper did not wrap around the
corner. However I find I often need to use two hands to zip it closed
again. This does not seem like that much of an inconvenience except
that it can be a pain when my other hand is holding both my trekking
poles and/or whatever I just removed from the pack.
zipper is also a quandary for me. Since the pack has few attachment
points I considered attaching my whistle or micro light to the zipper
pull but feared it might make the zipper more likely to work its way
open. I really wish the pack had some additional attachment points and
wonder if installing the zipper upside-down might not function better.
That said, as mentioned above I have yet to have any difficulty with
the zipper so this may be an unwarranted concern.
opinion so far is that this being very different to anything I have
ever used it is taking some time to get used to it and figure out how
best to find how to change what I carry and how to best utilize it.
Also, it is looking like this pack may be better suited for me in cold
weather when heat will not be as much of a problem and when pack volume
is more of a concern. With the use I have had so far, my view is that I
appreciate the ease of access to items, and I can see how the extra
pack volume could really come in handy. I am looking forward to
continuing using the pack over the remaining 2 months of testing (in my
area summer is rapidly arriving).
|July 26 2011
- William O Douglas (WOD) trail
- Mt Adams
to the opening of the official opening of the William O Douglas trail I
decided to hike the entire 26 miles (42 km) from the trail head to the
end of the portion we were officially opening (and the first area open
for camping), camp, and then hike back to the nearest road where I was
picked up. Given that this was about twice the distance I normally
travel in a day when backpacking I knew it would be a good opportunity
to test some gear and if there was any rubbing, chafing, or discomfort
this should make it apparent. And despite our reputation for 300+ days
of sun a year, it started raining soon after I got started, rained off
and on throughout much of the day and so I spent most of the trip wet.
testing till now suggested that where this product would be of most use
to me would be when additional pack volume and easy/immediate access to
some of my gear was important. Along those lines the best example of
that I could think of during the summer months was to climb Mt Adams
(something I try to do at least once a year).
my long trek on the WOD, I was expecting blisters and chafing, and when
it started raining I was all but certain that this would be the case. I
fully expected at least some discomfort in places where my backpack
straps and the front pack straps crossed or overlapped, but to my
surprise the front pack caused me no discomfort at all. As experienced
previously, I did sweat quite a bit under the pack in the warm weather,
but since it was raining I was already wet so that did not matter much,
if anything the pack helped keep the chill off when there was wind.
Mt Adams the front pack really shined. It was all that I expected it to
be. Having the additional pack volume allowed me to better organize my
gear, especially the smaller items, and I found having easy/immediate
access to key items really nice. I really enjoyed having direct access
to my camera, sun screen (reapplying sun screen often is a must on this
trip), lip balm, and spotting scope. I am really glad I had this item
as it made the trip easier and more enjoyable. And I am glad I was able
to include this trip in the testing because I was kind of on the fence
about how I would end up using this item in the future, but this trip
really clarified it for me.
looking into how I expect to use the pack after the testing is over I
doubt I will use it much for warm weather trips. It does not allow
enough ventilation so perspiration is an issue and since I normally
don’t need the additional pack volume I don’t see it as adding much
value to my existing packs. However for trips like Mt Adams and winter
backpacking/snowshoeing, I fully expect this pack will be a standard
part of my equipment list. And if I can come up with a way to add the
ability to carry water in or attached to this pack I could see it being
the only thing I carry for some quick/light day hikes. Along those
lines I am going to start looking at some of the smaller hydration
pouches that area available to see if maybe I can find a pair that will
work in the pouches.
- Easy to put on
- Provides easy/quick access to content
- Having to adjust the shoulder pads
- No external attachment points
- No hydration compatibility
I would like to thank the folks at RIBZWEAR
for the opportunity to test this pack.