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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Coleman Chinkapin X65 Backpack > Test Report by Ralph Ditton

18th February, 2008


INITIAL REPORT: 20th October, 2007
FIELD REPORT: 3rd January, 2008
LONG TERM REPORT: 18th February, 2008
Chinkapin X65 model 8540-603
                             Chinkapin X65 model 8540-603
                            (Courtesy of The Coleman Company, Inc.)

Personal Information
Name: Ralph Ditton
Age: 56
Gender: Male
Height: 1. 76 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight: 71 kg (156.5 lb)
Email: rdassetts at optusnet dot com dot au
City: Perth. Western Australia. Australia

Backpacking Background
Mt playgrounds are the 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. 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.

Product Information
Manufacturer: The Coleman Company, Inc.
Year of manufacturer: 2007.
Made in: China.
Quality Control tag: Yes, marked off by number 2.
Manufacturer's URL:
Model No.: 8540-603.
Removable hip belt size: Medium- fits 81 - 101 cm (32 - 40 in). Three sizes available.
Colour: Black with red straps.
Listed weight: 1.89 kg (4 lb 2 oz).
Measured weight: 1.766 kg (3.89 lb) on my electronic Salter scales.
Volume: 65 L (4440 cu. in).
Materials: 210D nylon diamond ripstop, pu coated with silicone finish.
                  1000D nylon cloth base.
410D nylon packcloth in high wear areas.
                   Hypalon inserts and overlays.
                   Stretch mesh pockets.
                   HDPE removable frame sheet with two 6061 aluminium stays.
                   Closed-cell foams for padding. (Two densities provided).
                   3D spacer mesh on all body contact areas.
Maximum carrying capacity: 29.5 kg (65 lb).
Maximum comfortable carrying capacity: Not stated.
Torso fit range: 35 - 53 cm (14 - 21 in) [From the 7th vertebrae (the bony protrusion at the base of the neck) to the top of the iliac crest (hip).
Zippers: Make unknown as there is no stamped origin on them.
MSRP: USD 169.99.
Warranty: Coleman will replace or repair any gear with a material and/or manufacturing defect for the lifetime of the product.

Product Description
The Coleman Exponent Chinkapin X65 Backpack (hereinafter known as the pack) has the medium waist belt that best fits my frame. It is for people with a waist measuring between 81 - 101 cm (32 - 40 in). The small waist size is 71 - 91 cm (28 - 36 in) and the large waist size is 91 - 111 cm (36 - 44 in). The waist belts are removable and interchangeable to achieve the correct fit. I have removed the waist belt and attached it to the top pocket that is also removable to create a lumbar pack. Very nifty. The pack that I received on the 16th October, 2007 is black in colour with predominately red straps, a few grey and black straps. The grey straps are on the shoulder harness, side of the hip belt and over the sleeping bag compartment. The black straps clip the hipbelt together and the other goes over the top of the throat of the pack. With the body of the bag being black it will make finding items inside the pack difficult. From past experience, I will have to use a light source to delve inside the pack. The pack met my expectations from what was depicted on the web page apart from the 60 litre symbol on the manufacturer's photo when in fact it is a 65 litre pack. Coleman does not make a 60 litre Chinkapin pack. The next size down is a 55 litre pack according to their web site.
I will now examine the various aspects of the pack.
The pack body is mainly constructed from 210D nylon diamond ripstop that is pu coated with a silicone finish to repel rain. It feels slippery in my hands. The diamond pattern is very visible. The base is double layered with the inside being 410D nylon packcloth along with the internal that back onto the frame sheet panel. The outside of the base is 1000D nylon pack cloth. I can pull the two materials apart in the centre as they are not bonded to each other apart from the circumference where they are stitched together. The insides of the shoulder straps, hipbelt and back panel that rest against my back are 3D spacer mesh. The straps are of a webbing type material and are 24 mm (0.9 in) wide. In all honesty, the manufacturer could have used smaller width straps to cut down on weight, anywhere between 15 - 19 mm (0.59 - 0.74 in) as they work very well on another bigger volume backpack that I have. The pockets on the side of the pack and inside the kangaroo pouch are of a stretch mesh with elastic ribbon at the top. The stitching appears to be well done, however, on the back panel there is some excess thread measuring 22 mm (0.86 in) long sticking out. It appears to be the extra bit left over where the stitching has been tied off. I will keep an eye on it during the test. The haul loop is generous in size. I can get my hand and fingers through the loop easily with space to spare and it is 24 mm (0.9 in) wide also. The buckles used on the pack are nylon UTX-FLEX STEALTH and seem sturdy. The largest buckle is on the hipbelt. It measures 50 mm (1.9 in) in width. The other buckles measure between 28 mm to 35 mm (1.1 in to 1.4 in) in width.
                                        top pocket waterproof zipper
                                                                                            top pocket waterproof zipper

Top Pocket
The top pocket is detachable as it is attached by four clip-on buckles. There are generous lengths of webbing at the four buckle anchor points. This will allow me to tilt the top pocket back away from my head when full so that it will not interfere with my full brim hat. There is just the one waterproof zipper with a very generous finger ring attached to the zipper body. Trailing from the finger ring pull is a strip of red material that has "exponent" written in white on it. I am more inclined to use the finger ring pull than tug on the material as I have more control over the zipper and I am closer to the zipper to operate it. The tag is probably just a marketing eye catcher but not very practical when using bare hands. There may be some limited use for it when wearing gloves and the tag is palmed for extra pulling purchase. I will have to test this out.
                                      finger pull and tag on zipper
                                                                                          finger pull and tag on zipper
Inside the pocket there is a divider which creates two compartments. The primary purpose is that of an organizer pouch when the top pocket is being used as a lumbar pack. On the base of the pocket, there is a sleeve and inside the sleeve stitched to the base of the pocket is a patch of hoop material that marries up to the hook patch on the hipbelt. This is the location where the hipbelt is fed into the sleeve to create the lumbar pack after the top pocket has been removed from the pack. On both sides of the pocket along the bottom edge there is an elastic strip inside the band that extends for about 105 mm (4.1 in) when not stretched. The purpose of the elastic is to give a snug fit over the throat of the pack. There are no hidden pockets that I could find nor is there a dog clip for keys or a tiny keyring light.
I estimate that the volume of the top pocket is 3¼ litres (198 cu in). I arrived at this by placing a 2 litre (122 cu in) and a 1 litre (61 cu in) milk container in the pocket. There was a tiny bit of space left which I estimated.

Extension Collar
The extension collar at the top of the main body, in my estimation, adds about 8 litres (488 cu in). I used my ubiquitous milk cartons to fill in the space to arrive at the figure. It is secured by a draw cord that runs around the top of the collar and can be closed tight by a spring loaded cord lock. The collar extends from the main body by 20 to 25 cm (7.9 to 9.8 in). It is longer at the area behind the head and shortest above the kangaroo pocket due to the overall cut of the main body. This slightly odd oval shape gives an even height at the top of the pack. The extension collar is grey in colour.

Inside the Pack
At the top of the pack there are two short straps 68 mm (2.6 in) long that have a hook and loop pad stitched to them. When folded over to marry the hook and loop pads, the straps are about 32 mm (1.2 in) long. I am unsure as to their purpose. Perhaps I could thread the webbing through a keyring that contains my keys and a little LED light as the webbing is 19 mm (0.7 in) wide. Just below the two straps is a pocket for a water bladder. It is 150 mm (5.9 in) wide and 310 mm (12.2 in) deep. The pocket takes a 2 litre (4.2 pint) water bladder. I must admit that I am not a big fan of carrying my water inside my pack due to past experiences where the bladder has leaked and wet my gear and clothing. I much prefer to carry my water on the exterior side pockets. There is a tubing porthole on the top right hand corner right against the edge of the frame sheet. A strap is located at the top of the pack that can be used to secure items between the collar and the strap under the top pocket such as camp shoes or newspaper. That is what I usually use it for. Also when tightened, it pulls the front of the pack towards my back and compressed the top down a bit.Towards the bottom of the pack but above the sleeping bag compartment is a most unusual shelf. Instead of the usual zippered shelves that I have come across, this one has a draw cord in the centre. When the draw cord is pulled in tight to close the opening, it forms a shelf. Undone and opened up fully it forms a tube into the sleeping bag compartment.
                                          compartment shelf closure system
                                                                                 compartment shelf closure system

On both sides of the shelf there is an opening around 35 mm (1.3 in) to allow tent poles or some other long objects such as walking poles to be packed inside the pack. All of the draw cords on the pack have a spring loaded cord lock together with a ring attached to a short strap. By pulling on the cord and pushing against the ring it is very easy to close any opening. This section of the pack can take about 45 litres (2746 cu in) of gear. I used my 20 litre (1220 cu in) dry sack and two 10 litre (610 cu in) dry sacks stuffed with clothing to arrive at this figure, I estimated that about 5 litres (305 cu in) of remained.

Sleeping Bag Compartment
Again, I used my 13 litre (793 cu in) dry sack to estimate the capacity of this compartment. The said dry sack completely filled the space available. I did not compress any of the sacks. So, the outcome is that the sleeping bag compartment can fit 13 litres (793 cu in) inside it. There are two large zippers with generous pull handles and the ever present red tag. (See top photo). Where the two zippers "kiss", there is a gap above and below them of around 7 mm (0.3 in) due to the curvature of the zipper heads. This is a potential source of water entry even though there is a storm flap surrounding the zipper. In my opinion, the manufacturer should only have one zipper similar to the top pocket because that zipper fits neatly into an end giving a good seal without any gap showing. This entry point allows a bushwalker to access the sleeping gear in camp quickly. I believe it comes down to an individual likes if an entry point there is required. For me, it is totally unnecessary.

Front Kangaroo Pocket
No, it does not come with a Joey in the pouch. Again, this pocket is very different to ones on my other packs. For a start it is much larger. It ranges from 290 mm (11.4 in) at the top and is 270 mm (10.6 in) at the bottom. It is 500 mm (19.6 in) long. The two sides are pleated so that the pocket can expand. It has the same zipper assembly as the top pocket. Inside the pocket are two stretch mesh organizer pockets. Using my dry sack with clothing in it I was able to fit a 10 litre (610 cu in) dry sack inside the pocket. There was no apparent spare space.

Total Volume of Pack
Using my rough methods of measuring the pack volume by using known volumes of dry sacks filled with clothing I came up with two figures. The first one is without using the extension collar and it came in at 71¼ litres (4348 cu in) and using the extension collar the volume jumped to 79¼ litres (4836 cu in). Not bad for a 65 litre (4440 cu in) pack.

Outside of the Pack
There are the usual compression straps, two on each side, one near the mesh side pocket and the other towards the top. Two straps run vertically over the kangaroo pocket and attach themselves to the top pocket by way of male and female clips. Running vertically over the sleeping bag compartment are two grey straps that attach by means of a male and female clip set up. These straps can be used to secure gear to the outside of the pack such as a tent or a closed cell sleeping pad. Beside the base of these straps are two grey webbing loops that can be used for ice axes. On either side are two stretch mesh pockets with a ringed drain hole. This is where I carry my water containers.
                                         mesh side pocket
                                                                                                             mesh side pocket

Alongside the two top compression straps are two loops that form a closure by using a hook and loop facility. They can be used to secure hiking poles with the base inside the mesh pocket. The diameter is about 35 mm (1.4 in).

Hip Belt
There does not appear to be too much padding on the wings of the hip belt. I can just squeeze my thumbs into the open weave mesh and feel a bit of give. There must be a stiff foam insert. On the outside of the left hand wing is a small pouch that has a zipper at the top with the inevitable red tag. I really do not know what practical use can be made of the pocket as I can only just get my four fingers inside it and that is all. Very little give or sideways stretch. It would be of more use if the pouch had a bellows type of construction so that trail nibbles could be placed in it. As it is, it is too small for a hiking map. About the only useful thing I could put in there would be banknotes and a car key.
                                            hip belt pocket
                                                                                                            hip belt pocket

The hip belt is completely removable from the pack. I undo the two grey waist belt load straps, slide my hand along the waist belt until I strike where the hip belt is joined to the pack by way of a hook and loop system. It is a fairly big patch and it is difficult to separate the two materials because I free one section and a section that has been freed already wants to get together with its mate again. I have to repeat it a few times before I have a complete separation. When separated, I just pull the hip belt out through the opening making sure that the two materials are kept apart. I made the mistake once and I came to an abrupt halt in trying to free the hip belt because a portion of the hook and loop met. The hip belt buckle is fairly easy to use. The webbings that passes through the male and female parts of the buckle are very easy to tighten and loosen. The hip belt is attached to the main body of the pack so it is not a floating hip belt that is independent of the pack.
                                            lumbar pack
                                                                                                                      lumbar pack

Sternum Strap
This is a nifty design. The sternum strap slides up and down a cord covered in a webbing material. The nylon slider to which the strap is attached wraps itself around the circumference of the cord, allowing it to slide up and down to suit any adjustment that I may want to make.
                                            sternum strap slide
                                                                                                 sternum strap slide

The shoulder straps are slightly contoured and the body contact areas are made of 3D spacer mesh. Below these straps is a webbing shoulder strap that allows for adjustment through a buckle to achieve a snug fit of the pack on my back. Attached to the top of the shoulder straps are two adjustment straps called load lifter straps. They allow me to adjust the angle to the shoulder straps thereby reducing the weight on my shoulders and transfer it to my hips. There is a webbing ladder that allows for adjustment to the back panel after the back panel has been separated from the pack by breaking the contact between the hook and loop system. When it is separated, the panel can be raised to a new position, reattached to the hook and loop system and re tension the webbing ladder.
                                            webbing ladder and haul loop
                                                                                                   webbing ladder and haul loop

What I could not find
On the web page and little booklet that came with the backpack, there is mention of 4 large external side pockets and a map pocket. With regards to the external side pockets, all I can find is two, one either side and they are not divided in any manner. When a manufacturer says "side" I take that literally. There are only two sides to the pack. If the manufacturer is referring to the top pocket on top of the pack and the kangaroo pocket on the front of the pack, then that makes four but they are not on the side. If the manufacturer is not referring to those last two mentioned then I am at a loss. The map pocket has me stumped also. I have a backpack that has a cunning hidden map pocket on the outside of the top pocket that can take my maps. Took me a little while to find it. There is nothing there on the top pocket of this pack. The topographic map sizes that I carry and use are 68 cm (26 in) high X  102 cm (40 in) wide and the scale is 1 : 50,000. i.e.1 cm (0.4 in) on the map represents 500 m (547 yd) on the ground. If by chance that the little pocket on the hip belt is supposed to be a map pocket then it is woefully inadequate. If this is not the map pocket then I cannot find it. When a manufacturer says a map pocket I expect something large along the lines of15 cm (6 in) high X 35 cm (14 in) long whereby I can fold up my maps and fit them into that size pocket. There is no way my maps would fit into the hip belt pocket if that is the map pocket.

This pack will certainly test my packing ability and the amount of gear that is REALLY NECESSARY as I usually carry a 90 litre (5492 cu in) pack. I am looking forward to see what I can discard and thereby reduce my weight. The bigger the pack, the more I fill it up with "ESSENTIALS" in my opinion anyway.
A big thank you to Coleman for the opportunity to test this pack and to BGT for selecting me.
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report God willing. Please check back then for further information.

Date: 3rd January, 2008
Testing Locations
I have been on two field backpacking trips since the Initial Report.
The first trip was an overnighter on the Coastal Plain Trail in mid November and the second was a five day, four night backpacking trip in the Nuyts Wilderness. For the Coastal Plain Trail the daytime temperatures ranged over the two days from 33 C (91 F) to 24 C (75 F) with the wind at an average of 4.3 km/h (2.6 mph). Relative Humidity was 37% and Barometric Pressure at 1007 and steady. In short, it was hot and uncomfortable. Elevation ranged from sea level to 71 m (262 ft) and the terrain underfoot was very dry loose sand.
For the Nuyts Wilderness, the terrain ranged from sea level to 53 m (174 ft) with temperatures ranging from a low of 12 C (53 F) to a high of 33 C (91 F). The sea breeze was from the SSW and averaged 39 km/h (24 mph). Relative Humidity during the four days fluctuated around the 80% mark.

First trip
This was only a short walk of around 11 km (6.8 mi) and the pack weighed 14 kg (31 lb) which included food and water. What surprised me is how much gear the pack can swallow. Then I had the added bonus of the organizer in the kangaroo pouch. The two stretchy mesh pockets can store a lot of gear also. I put my fly spray, toiletries, pack cover, rain coat, camera, weather meter and Steripen in there. I did not put much gear in the top pocket, just the map and compass. I did not use the hydration bladder pocket inside the pack but I did have water bottles placed in the two side pockets. When walking with the pack, the shoulder straps did not dig into my shoulders but I did have to lean slightly forward for balance. One thing became obvious was when I was rummaging through the pack, I needed a light to see what was where. The black interior makes it very difficult to find things. Perhaps a lighter inside colour would go some way to alleviate this problem.
For this first small exploratory trip I was very happy with the pack and how it performed. I certainly had to be ruthless with which gear that I had to leave behind. If the gear could not have two or more uses it was left out. I have never been on an overnighter with a pack weight of 14 kg (31 lb) before.

Second trip
As mentioned above, this was a five day, four night trip in a wilderness location. My total pack weight was 20 kg (44 lb) which included 5.5 L (11.6 pints) of water for the first day. On this day we had a number of sections of beach walking, then rock hopping, scrambling and climbing around the various points. We had to wear gloves because the limestone was very daggered. On one of these scrambling exercises the pack caught on the limestone and it tore a hole in the left external mesh pocket. I only discovered it at a rest stop. Also the stitching on the elastic at the top of the pocket is fraying. I suspect it is from the rubbing against the rocks.
                                  hole in pocket
                                                                                            hole in pocket

The second day we went part on track and the rest off track doing bush bashing on a compass bearing through very scratchy and prickly bushes interspersed with strands of peppermint trees. Every fly in creation hitched a ride on our packs. No further damage was sustained by the pack. Pushing our way into a valley through coastal heath that was head high we made camp at Thompson Cove where we stayed for two nights. It was during our stay at this campsite that I converted the top pocket into a day pack for our exploration of the area. I will deal with this as a separate heading.

                                   rest at Little Long Point
                                                                                             rest at Little Long Point
My final day was all on track back to where the cars were left from a car shuttle. I estimate that the pack weight at the start of the trip was hovering around 15 kg (33 lb) and this included 3 litres of water which weigh 3 kg (6.6 lb). By the time we reached the cars I had drunk 2 litres of water as it was quite warm, so the pack weight was approximately 13 kg (28.6 lb).

Performance of the pack
Day Pack
I used the day pack set up for two of the days when we camped at Thompson Cove and explored the area and enjoyed a swim in the ocean. I found that the volume to carry things was limited. Inside the hood I placed my swimming togs, microfiber pocket towel, sunscreen bottle, some trail mix, camera and a 600 ml (20 oz) water bottle and it was full. The camera is small, a Panasonic DMC-TZ1. There is definitely a case for making the top pocket much larger in volume especially for a larger flexible water bottle of say 1 litre to 2 litres. As the track down to the bay was very overgrown and we had to tunnel our way through sections, I found that the outside base of the hood/day pack collected a lot of leaf litter and twigs and remained there until I took the pack off and shook them out. It was no big deal, just excess and unauthorized weight which stuck into my back. I had no difficulty in removing the hip belt from the main pack. All I had to do was to ensure that I had one of my hands working its way through the hook and loop patch and keep them separated so that I could extract the hip belt. Before doing so and this is where I made the initial mistake, I forgot to undo the stabilizer straps on the hip belt that attach to the pack, so the hip belt was going nowhere. Note to self, undo the straps first. The straps fed out of the buckles easily and they were easy to feed back into the buckles when I had finished with the day pack setup.
                                   day pack
                                                                         day pack

How did the various straps perform?
The straps that were not subject to stress did their job very well, such as the top compression strap that goes over the throat of the pack. The straps that pull the hood down tight on the front of the pack worked very well and the two grey straps on the base of the pack that strapped my tent on were good also. My main worry here is that they may be a tad short for a larger tent such as a two man tent made from conventional materials and not silnylon. As there is very little weight in the strap I would recommend that they be longer to cope with a bigger girth of a tent because there was not much strap left to play with when I put my tent on.
The side compression straps did their job also, even so far as to help in holding my water bottles in, especially the more rigid ones. My flexible 2 litre water bottle was kept in the pocket but the top took a nasty lean over the compression strap when I was rock hopping, scrambling and rock climbing. This caused the bottle to bang against the back of my arm.
Now for the remaining straps, hip belt and sternum.
The hip belt fits my size very well, (waist 94 cm [37 in]). What I found was that the belt would work itself a little bit loose through the buckle and I had to keep tightening it up so that my hips kept supporting the weight of the pack and not my shoulders. The intervals were usually around about a half hour before I needed to tighten the hip belt. Admittedly, I was doing a lot of twisting when rock climbing and scrambling and bush bashing which caused a lot of high stepping. The slippage was not major in terms of distance the belt travelled through the buckle, only about 1 cm (0.4 in) but it did transfer the dynamics of the weight of the pack from my hips to my shoulders. One other aspect that I experienced with the hip belt that frustrated me was when using it in the day pack mode, I experienced difficulty in trying to tighten the hip belt around my waist. When I tried to tighten it, the whole arrangement wanted to slip around my waist without any tightening taking place. The only way that I got around it was to take the day pack off and adjust the belt as close as possible by sticking the pack between my knees and feeding the belt through the buckle to where I thought it should be then putting it back on. With the hip belt slipping through the buckle, I got very sore shoulders, not on top, but near the top but in front. I had a definite mark on both shoulders.
The sternum strap. The positive. The strap moves very freely along the sternum strap slides. In fact it has a mind of its own. When I put the loaded pack on, I move the sternum strap to the position that I want it so that I can feel a nice tightness across my chest and know that the shoulder straps are pulled into position. That is around half way. What happens is that within minutes the straps move freely up to the top position nearest my chin causing slackness in tension for my shoulder straps. It is pointless in adjusting the sternum strap because at the halfway point it is at the right distance for the buckles to meet. Any shorter they would not join together. I gave up with it and let it do its own thing. About the only useful purpose I found for the sternum strap was to use it as a bracket for the end of my hydration hose.
Hydration pocket
I took a big gamble and used the hydration pocket for the first time in a very long time due to the disasters that I have had previously with leaking bladders inside my pack. The small hydration exit hole at the top on the right hand side is a tad too small. I had great difficulty in feeding my mouthpiece and cap through the hole. I had to do them separately with much angling and tugging. It is a "CamelBak" with a mouthpiece and cover that has a height diameter of 28 mm (1.1 in). It is oval in shape with the width diameter of 24 mm (0.9 in). By enlarging the triangular hole in the pack by bringing the anchor points stitching back 5 mm (0.2 in) this would overcome the problem that I encountered. What to do with the hose once it is out of the pack? It just swings about or hangs without any anchor points on the pack. My hose does not have any clip attached to it. What I propose is that the manufacturer adds a clip/bracket on the shoulder strap so that a hose can be stowed out of the way. This is when I put the sternum strap to a use it was not designed for but did it very well. It kept the mouthpiece stable in an easily obtainable position when I wanted it.
Pocket on hip belt
I did not use it as it is too small for any practical use. What I did notice was that the zipper came undone very easily after I had been through very tight bush that was pulling and scraping at the pack. If it cannot be made bigger to take a proper topography map then the manufacturer should consider deleting it as a feature. I couldn't even put any trail mix in there as the softer material was too taunt to stretch too far.
Harness system
The harness system is a very simple system. There are no moving parts (excluding the ability to remove the hip belt). The frame sheet did its job of giving shape to the pack and keeping objects inside the pack from sticking into my back. There is some flex in the hip belt where it is attached to the pack through the hook and loop system. It wriggles. This allowed the pack to move slightly with my hips when I was in very rough terrain and rock scrambling, rock hopping and rock climbing. I was never thrown off balance by my pack weight doing these activities. This was a big plus.
Pack fabric
The fabric stood up very well to the scratchy and prickly vegetation and the limestone cliffs that I climbed. The only casualty was the mesh pocket when it got snagged on limestone. The rest of the pack looks very good as I can see no further damage to it. The material did not become grimy or dirty from being laid down on beach sand, rocks, black sand and moist dark dirt.
                                   scratchy vegetation
                                                                                scratchy vegetation

Haulage loop
Lifting 20 kg (44 lb) onto my shoulders was not an easy task. First I had to try and get it onto the top part of my leg then heave it from there onto a shoulder and then work the other arm through the other strap. I would suggest an extra haulage loop on each side, say down towards the base of the pack. My favourite side is to put the pack on from my right leg, so an extra haulage loop on the left hand side plus the existing haulage loop would give me greater control in getting the pack onto my back. I was thrown off balance a few times trying to get the pack on. It did cause a bit of an ungainly dance to regain my balance much to the amusement of my fellow walkers.

Things I like
  • Pack is lightweight and has a slim profile for tight bush.
  • Can swallow a lot of gear.
  • Fabric, apart from mesh pocket stood up to the scratchy vegetation.
Things I dislike
  • Sternum strap not staying in place.
  • No anchor points for a hydration hose.
  • Slipping hip belt through the buckles.
  • Unable to properly tighten the hip belt when using the hood as a day pack.
Overall, despite a few minor gripes, I am very happy with the pack. It has certainly forced me to have a rethink on what I can take and leave behind. After my last trip I will still be rethinking some items as they had either no use or very minimal, so I should get the pack weight down a bit further. It will only be a shaving of close to a kilo (2.2 lb). My weight can blow out with water depending on the weather conditions and the camp destination, e.g. will it be dry?
The pack performed reasonably well when rock climbing, hopping and scrambling. My balance was not thrown off when I had to lean at awkward angles looking for propping support or hand holds. Nothing fell out of the pack and no gear was ripped off the outside of the pack. I would have loved to stow away the tent inside the pack but there was no room left for it.
I did not experience any rain so I did not get a chance to test for water repelling ability of the fabric. The closest was ocean spray drift that wet the fabric lightly. However, the wind and sun dried it off in a matter of moments.

This concludes my Field Report. The Long-Term Report should be completed by the 19th February, 2008. Please check back then for further information.

Date: 18th February, 2008
Testing Locations.

Since my last report, I have only been able to test the pack over four days which was made up of two trips. One trip of two days was to the Coastal Plain Trail. The temperatures during the hike on the two days fluctuated between 35 C to 40 C (95 F to 104 F) and the humidity was averaging 60%. Ultra Violet index ranged from 9 to 10 which is very high. Elevations ranged from sea level to 
71 m (262 ft) and the terrain underfoot was very dry loose sand.
My second trip was also two days and took place on the Bibbulmun Track around the Murray River campsite. Temperatures during the hike ranged from 28 C to 33 C (82 F to 91 F). Humidity I estimated was around 70% judging by the amount sweat on my clothes. Elevations ranged from 143 m to 280 m (467 ft to 919 ft). The Ultra Violet Index peaked at 9 which is very high.
I scrubbed a number of solo walks during this period as the daytime hiking temperatures were in the very high 30's and low 40's C (100 to 111 F). The days were cloudless with a very high Ultra Violet Index ranging from 11 to 14 which is in the extreme range.

How did the pack perform?
Although both trips were only overnighters, there are core gear items that must be taken such as a tent, sleeping bag and mat, cooking gear and utensils. Where volume is reduced is in the clothing and food areas. I still managed to stuff the pack full and have my camp shoes hanging off on the outside of the pack. The kangaroo pocket is a godsend with its organizational aspect of the two mesh pockets and the expanding side gusset. I am able to get a lot of gear in there such as a camera, GPS, insect repellent, wine, pack towel, toiletries and other odds and ends that I find "essential" for a comfortable camping experience. The only pocket that was underutilized was the top pocket. All that I put up there was my glasses in a protective case and mobile phone. So I had plenty of space left. The only pocket never used was the one on the hip belt. I could not find anything to put in there as it is too small and has no stretch to say, put a pair of sunglasses or trail mix in there. The weight of the pack with all of the gear aboard came out to14 kg (31 lb) and I was very comfortable carrying that over hilly and sandy terrain. I was able to maintain an upright stance and not lean forward on the level ground. Going up hills caused me to lean forward slightly for balance.
I did not use the top pocket as a day pack during these trips as I have been to these campsites before and did not go exploring.
There is no sign of fraying on any of the straps and they did not slip through the buckles when under load. The only one that had a mind of its own is still the sternum strap. It still manages to ride up to my neck. This does not cause me any problems, but it does not stay where I put it. I like a bit of tension on the shoulder straps when being pulled inwards on my chest. The hip belt did not slip through the buckle with a load of 14 kg (31 lb) or less after consumables had been used up. I can only surmise that when the load is around 20 kg (44 lb) that is when the belt starts to slip through the buckle due to the extra weight.
Harness system
The harness system still performed very well for the weights that I loaded into the pack. The hip belt took all of the weight and my shoulders basically became a guide to prevent the pack from moving sideways and backwards. In other words, my shoulders did not carry the weight of the pack and this is evidenced by me not getting sore, aching shoulders. This is the first pack that did not cause me any soreness on my shoulders.
Pack fabric
No further damage was sustained by the pack during my trips. On my last trip the ground was very dusty due to the current drought and the dust clung to the fabric. I removed it at home with a mild warm soapy solution and hung it on the clothes line to dry. I then had to give the pack a wash once more as the first wash failed to remove all of the dirt. With the pack being wet, it was hard to see if I missed any spots of dirt so I had to wait until it dried.
                                           dirt on the pack
                                                                          Dirt on the pack

During the testing period there was no rain at all. In fact, sadly, we have broken the record for the longest period without rain. Since the Field Report with further use of the pack, I am very happy overall with the performance. For a person used to carrying a 90 litre (5492 cu in) pack with a load of 20 kg (44 lb) for an overnight bushwalk, I was certainly forced to rethink what I carried to fit into the 65 litre (4440 cu in) pack. The big bonus was the drop in weight, especially for the overnight bushwalks. I still started of with a 20 kg (44lb) load for the four day bushwalk that is mentioned in the Field Report. The only comment on the red straps on the pack that I would like to make is that they could be narrower, say 15 mm (0.59 in) as opposed to the existing width of 25 mm (0.98 in). The wide straps in my opinion make the pack look "busy". It is purely a cosmetic thing and yes there would be an infinitesimal weight loss with smaller buckles being required also.
Thank you Coleman for the opportunity to test the Exponent Chinkapin X65 Backpack. It was a pleasure to use.

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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Coleman Chinkapin X65 Backpack > Test Report by Ralph Ditton

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