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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > RIBZ Sportswear RIBZ front pack 2012 > Test Report by Michael Pearl

RIBZ FRONT PACK 2012
TEST SERIES BY MIKE PEARL
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - March 11, 2012
FIELD REPORT - May 15, 2012
LONG TERM REPORT - July 18, 2012

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mike Pearl
EMAIL: mikepearl36ATyahooDOTcom
AGE: 38
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

Manufacturer: RIBZWEAR
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: www.ribzwear.com
MSRP: US$ 59.95
IMAGE 1
Sizes Available: Small - 500 cu in (8200 cc) and Regular - 700 cu in (11,500 cc)
Listed Weight: Small - 11.1 oz (315 g) and Regular - 11.7 oz (332 g)
Colors Available: Alpine Green, Stealth Black and Camo (Regular only)

Small fits waist sizes 26-32 in (66-81 cm), Regular fits waist sizes 32-44 in (81-112 cm)

Material: 100% 210 Denier water resistant nylon

Size and Color Tested: Small/Stealth Black
Measured Weight: Pack -10.7 oz (303 g), Stuff Sack - 1 oz (27 g)

The RIBZ Front Pack just as its name suggests is a pack made to carry loads on the front of the body. While designed to be worn in addition to a pack carried on the back it can be worn on its own. The idea of the Front Pack is to move commonly used or essential gear to a more accessible location. The Front Pack can carry loads up to 10 lbs (4.5 kg).
The benefits of the Front Pack listed on the RIBZ company website are;

- "first and foremost" easy access of equipment without pack removal
-better weight distribution and balance
-reduced shoulder and back stress
-increased comfort, mobility and balance
-illusion of a lighter load
-increased functionality of existing backpack

Care/Cleaning: Hand washing and air drying is recommended. Gentle cycle machine wash is possible but unfavorable.

Warranty: Quoted from product instructions.
"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. During the warranty period, RIBZ will either repair or replace, at its option, only the defective part of the pack. RIBZ will not repair or replace any pack that has been torn as a result of accidents or misuse."

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The RIBZ arrived in a plastic sleeve hang tag. The sleeve displays the RIBZ size, color, capacity and weight. Also shown is the RIBZ being worn along with brief instructions and benefits of using it.
IMAGE 2

A stuff sack with the RIBZ company logo on it housed the pack. I was surprised how small the RIBZ was when folded up. In the photo the stuff sack looks larger than the Nalgene bottle. But there is some dead space within the sack. The RIBZ can be further compressed to a smaller size slightly smaller than the bottle.

Upon removing the RIBZ from the stuff sack I found a set of instructions. The instructions are explained in more detail in the next section. The RIBZ unrolls to two 8x12 in (20x31 cm) pockets attached to a pair of shoulder straps and a waist strap.

Inside each pocket on the side closest to the body are two mesh dividers. On the opposite surface is a 1.5x2 in (4x6 cm) elastic loop. On each pocket there is a 4x7 in (11x17 cm) external pocket with the RIBZ logo on it. The zippers on all four pockets have textured pulls and the RIBZ logo which provide a nice grip. The two pockets are joined together by a 7 in (18 cm) zipper.

The straps are 1 in (2.5 cm) nylon webbing. A 2.5x11.5 in (6x29 cm) mesh pad can be slid along the shoulder straps to desired fit. The length of the shoulder strap is adjusted by a ladder lock. The pull at the end of the strap is a loop of different color webbing. This makes it easy to see and get a hold of when adjusting. The waist strap connecting the pockets around the back are adjusted in the same manner. The waist strap has the addition of an elastic tension piece to it. All straps have elastic loop end keepers.

After examining the RIBZ Front Pack I find no defects in materials or workmanship. It looks like a well designed and made pack. I like the idea behind its design. I find removing my pack while hiking to retrieve a needed item it a mild nusaince.

IMAGE 3


READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The instructions are clear and easy to read with illustrative photographs. In six steps the RIBZ is ready for the trail, with the sixth being my favorite.

1. Place the RIBZ on a flat surface and make sure none of the straps are twisted.
2. A recommendation, to achieve better fit pre-load the RIBZ. Pack in order of degree of use, more often
used toward the front and less often toward the back of pockets.
3. Put RIBZ Front Pack on and zip the two pockets together. Adjust the four pull tabs, shoulders and
waist straps, to desired fit.
4. Wear loose for casual use or tighten for higher degree of activity.
5. RIBZ should fit around the ribcage without interfering with backpack shoulder straps or hip belt.
6. "Now get out there and enjoy!"

The RIBZ warranty is also found on the instruction sheet.

TRYING IT OUT

So as with most things, after reading the instructions (which is not always guaranteed to occur) I threw the RIBZ on without heeding a word. I was able to get it on, zip it and load it. But it didn't feel right. One strap was twisted and load did not sit right.

So I removed it and this time followed the instruction. Not too surprising this made a big difference. The RIBZ now felt comfortable and was compatible with my 20 L and 65 L packs. The RIBZ easily held 4.5 lb (2 kg) of stuff with room to spare. This was some random stuff from my "gear box" and pockets. Items included in no particular order a bandanna, small binoculars, two Clif Bars, sunglasses in hard case, 3 in (7.5 cm) fixed blade knife in sheath, pen flashlight, 3 AA batteries, two carabiners, small multi-tool, 15 ft (4.5 m) of cord, lighter and fire starter kit, small first aid kit, signaling mirror, 30 US gal (114 L) plastic trash bag, cell phone, wallet and car keys. Geez, did I forget something? The RIBZ still has more room!

I walked around the house with the RIBZ loaded, with and without a backpack on. Both ways were comfortable and I had no trouble getting my backpack on or off. I did notice my arms sometimes brushed or bumped against the RIBZ. I wonder how this will play out in the field. Will the addition of hiking poles and "trail pace" make any difference?

After removing the backpack and still wearing the RIBZ I sat down on the couch. I was pleased to find I could still sit comfortably and the RIBZ even made for nice arm rest.

SUMMARY

The RIBZ Front Pack is a creative solution to storing frequently used items while hiking. It comfortably holds a good amount of gear. It is easy to use and compatible with both of the backpacks I use. I am very curious to see what impact using the RIBZ has on the way I load my backpack.

Compliments

-access to gear
-capacity
-comfort

Concerns

-possible interference with arm swing


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During this stage of testing I used the Ribz Front Pack on six outings for a total 58.5 mi (94 km). Three outings were day hikes, two with a pack and one with a ERGO child carrier. A fourth day hike to conduct trail maintenance. As well as an overnight trip I dubbed "four-two's". This was a two night, two day trip that involved hiking (ascending and descending) the same mountain two times. All testing took place in the Green Mountains of Central Vermont.

Date / Location - March 11 / The Pogue Pond trails
Distance / Elevation - 10 mi (16 km) / 1440 ft (439 m)
Conditions - 35 F (2 C) sunny with light breeze IMAGE 1
Pack Weights - Ribz 8 lbs (3.5 kg), 20.5 L (1250 cu in) pack 10 lbs (4.5 kg)

Date / Location - April 1 / Mt. Peg
Distance / Elevation - 4.5 mi (7 km) / 1100 ft (335 m)
Conditions - 45 F (7 C) sunny and windy
Pack Weights - Ribz 8 lbs (3.5 kg) / pack(ERGO child carrier) 22 lbs (10 kg)

Date / Location - April 8 / Mt. Tom
Distance / Elevation - 12 mi (19 km) / 1350 ft (411 m)
Conditions - 40 F (4 C) windy with spits of snow/rain
Pack Weights - Ribz 8 lbs (3.5 kg) / 20.5 L (1250 cu in) pack 10 lbs (4.5 kg)

Date / Location - April 13-15 / Mt Ascutney
Distance / Elevation - 20 mi (32 km) / 3144 ft (958 m)
Conditions - Daytime highs 63 and 75 F (17 and 24 C), sunny and very windy at the summit Nighttime lows 29 and 32 F (-2 and 0 C) clear skies
Pack Weights - Ribz 10 lbs (4.5 kg) / 65 L (4000 cu in) pack 25 lbs (11 kg)

Date / Location - April 29 / Trail work day on the Appalachian Trail
Distance / Elevation - 6 mi (9.5 km) / 775 - 1295 ft (236 - 395 m)
Conditions - 50 F (10 C) sunny and windy with 30 mph (48 kph) gust
Pack Weights - Ribz 8 lbs (3.5 kg) / 20.5 L (1250 cu in) pack 6 lbs (2.75 kg).

Date / Location - May 13 / Mt Ascutney
Distance / Elevation - 10 mi (16 km) / 3144 ft (958 m)
Conditions - 75 F (24 C) sunny and breezey at the summit
Pack Weights - Ribz 8 lbs (3.5 kg) / 65 L (4000 cu in) pack 20 lbs (9 kg)

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I have become more accustomed to the RIBZ Front Pack during this period of testing. I needed time to adapt to a couple things, such as what items to put in the RIBZ and where, and shaking the feeling of looking like a paratrooper. Wearing the RIBZ does not provoke the image of the traditional backpacker. I suspect this was the feeling of others as well from looks I received while hiking. By the end of the third hike with the RIBZ, both issues were resolved.

The location of various items naturally sorted with each items amount of use. Ones that I regularly use ended up in the front most section. The seldom used items moved to the back. Once this happened I gauged the weight of each item by hand. Then I moved a few things from the left or right pocket to achieve an even distribution. Below is the usual RIBZ load, minus the trail mix for day hikes and on the Mt. Ascutney overnight the addition of two apples.

Here's what I typically carry in the RIBZ;
IMAGE 2
-bandanna
-camera & tripod
-knife
-parachute cord & carabiners
-sunscreen
-binoculars
-hand sanitizer
-sunglasses
-flashlight
-plastic trash bag
-velcro strap
-spare batteries
-signaling mirror & firestarting kit
-cell phone
-trail snacks


On the trail the RIBZ has been phenomenal. I really dislike stopping and removing my pack to retrieve items from it. I have even put off snacking to avoid it. So the RIBZ has been a revolution for me. I now even pause to take photos and snack more often. The paratrooper image is all but vanished. I am beginning to envision a kangaroo as I bound down the trail with my pouch of goodies.

A few times I had some difficulty putting the RIBZ on as the straps were tangled. Once tangled I find it hard to discover which is the misplaced strap. I need to remind myself when removing the RIBZ to carefully fold or position the straps to prevent them from crossing the wrong way. When I remember to do this shouldering the RIBZ is no trouble.

I have worn the RIBZ with three different style packs. RIBZ has worked well with each one. All three are similar in that they have a hip belt, shoulder straps and sternum strap. They differ in the amount and what they each can carry, as well as framing style. The ERGO kid carrier is a "soft" pack and has no frame at all. My 20.5 L (1250 cu in) pack is meant for backcountry skiing and has a molded back panel. There is no frame per say but the semi rigid back panel provides some shape and support. My 65 L (4000 cu in) pack has a internal aluminum rod frame. These packs each allow differing range of motion and have a very different feel. The RIBZ teamed up with each one nicely and complemented each one.

When switching from one pack to another I have felt the need to make minor adjustments to where the RIBZ rest. When using a more rigid pack with more weight the RIBZ are more comfortable worn higher on the torso. The opposite is true when moving back to a lighter pack. The adjustment is easily made with a backpack on or off. This made me more aware of my pack loads, front and back. I find the RIBZ most comfortable when the back load is heavier. When the front load, RIBZ load is greater or just a few pounds less than the backpack load it feels awkward. My center of gravity seems off, especially hiking uphill. I find the opposite is true when the backpack loads are greater than the RIBZ loads. My center of gravity is spot on and the weight distribution well balanced. Over any terrain uphill or downhill I feel no draw to lean forward or backward under the weight I am carrying.

I almost always use trekking poles. However on my second hike with the RIBZ I did not. This was a shorter, less strenuous hike with my two young children. Our dog also came along, the RIBZ provide a great place to stow his leash while still being readily available(pictured above). Without poles my arms swung much less and stayed closer to my torso than usual. I noticed my elbows and forearms rubbed against the RIBZ. I had to make a slight adjustment to my gait to prevent this. On all other hikes trekking poles were used and my arms never rubbed the RIBZ.

SUMMARY

The RIBZ performance thus far has been commendable. If for only one reason, I take my pack off much less while on trail. But there are others, it is well made, comfortable to wear and keeps gear organized. The weight of my pack feels better distributed, which translates to pleasurable hiking. The RIBZ holds enough to almost make a backpack unnecessary on day hikes. The RIBZ has worked best when I am carrying an overnight load. I find my center of gravity more ideal with the RIBZ when carrying a heavier backpack load.

All materials, integrity of assembly and function have done well during this stage of testing. I look forward putting in more miles and overnight trips with the RIBZ.
IMAGE 3

Compliments

-access to gear
-capacity
-comfort

Concerns

-straps tangling









LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Date / Location - June 10 / Storrs Pond Recreation Area, New Hampshire
Distance / Elevation - 8 mi (13 km) / 400 ft (120 m)
Conditions - 83 F (28 C) clear and calm
Pack Weight - Ribz 8 lbs (3.5 kg)

Date / Location - June 16 -17 / Amity Pond Natural Area, Vermont
Distance / Elevation - 10 mi (16 km) / 1200 - 1600 ft (360 - 490 m)
Conditions - Daytime high 81 F (27 C) abundant sunshine and breezy, Nighttime low of 48 F (9 C) clear skies
Pack Weights - Ribz 8 lbs (3.5 kg), 20.5 L (1250 cu in) pack 30 lbs (13.5 kg)

Date / Location - July 13 - 14 / Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire
Distance / Elevation - 7.5 mi (12 km) / 1800 - 2760 ft (550 - 840 m)
Conditions - Daytime high 90 F (32 C) and sunny, Nighttime low 50 F (10 C) clear and cool
Pack Weights - Ribz 8 lbs (3.5 kg), 20.5 L (1250 cu in) pack 20 lbs (9 kg)

Date / Location - July 18 / Smarts Mountain, New Hampshire
Distance / Elevation - 8 mi (13 km) / 1050 - 3238 ft (320 - 990 m)
Conditions - Hot and humid, starting with 74F (23 C) and 74% humidity, ending with 85 F (29 C) and 42% humidity
Pack Weights - Ribz 8 lbs (3.5 kg), 20.5 L (1250 cu in) pack 16 lbs (7.25 kg)

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

IMAGE 1
Smarts Mtn
Due to a relocation of base camp (aka residence) the RIBZ and I logged a limited amount of trail time during this stage of testing. I was able to squeeze in 33.5 mi (54 km) during two day hikes, one overnight trip and a two night trip. Outings took place in Upper Connecticut River Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire. As well as one trip a little farther north in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

I continue to be pleased with the RIBZ Front Pack. In the field it has proven to be very functional and versatile. The RIBZ allows me to carry a good amount of gear when hiking with a child carrier on my back. It has freed up room in my pack and led to my gear being more organized. I have not had any troubles with getting the RIBZ tangled up during this test period. I am now in the habit of wrapping the two pouches together with the shoulder straps.

When first reading the RIBZ claim of better posture I was doubtful. At the end of the test series I feel it is true. By moving some of my pack weight to the front my center of gravity changed. This in turn reduced undue burden on any one muscle group. Long story short I feel like I slouch forward less.

After hiking with the RIBZ on a couple hot and/or humid days I do have a negative to report. A decrease in the amount of air flow and insulating affect. The result: a hot and sweaty belly. Not unbearably so but none the less unpleasant.



SUMMARY

Over the course of testing the RIBZ Front Pack I realized two things. First I never had to say, "Hey could you get something out of my pack for me?" Second my internal dilema of wanting something in my pack but not wanting to stop and take off my pack did not occur. At first the RIBZ Front Pack looked foreign and felt different. Now the RIBZ feels like a natural part of my backpacking load.
IMAGE 2
Lonesome Lake & Cannon Mtn


Compliments

-gear accessibility
-decreases backpack removal
-better weight distribution and balance
-backpack better organized

Concerns

-sweaty belly on hot days

CONTINUED USE

The RIBZ Front Pack will be on all my multi-day backpacking trips. As well as on hikes that require a child carrier. But will stay behind on shorter day hikes. The front to back weight distribution does not work well for me with my day pack load.

This concludes my Long-Term Report. Thank you to RIBZWEAR and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to participate in this test series.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of RIBZ Sportswear gear
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