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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Dakine Outtabounds Pack > Test Report by Nancy Griffith

DAKINE OUTTABOUNDS PACK
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
LONG-TERM REPORT
March 27, 2009

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TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Nancy Griffith
EMAIL: bkpkrgirlATyahooDOTcom
AGE: 42
LOCATION: Northern California, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
WEIGHT: 132 lb (60.00 kg)

My outdoor experience began in high school with involvement in a local canoeing/camping group called Canoe Trails. The culmination was a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have completed all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. Now I usually hike in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Most of my trips are section hikes or loops from a few days to a week. I carry a light to mid-weight load, use a tent, stove and hiking poles.


INITIAL REPORT

November 14, 2008

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

outtabounds
Photo courtesy of Dakine

Manufacturer: Dakine
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.dakine.com
MSRP: $160 US
Listed Weight:
Overall: 4 lb (1.8 kg)
Shuttle pack only: 1.5 lb (0.7 kg)
Measured Weight:
Overall: 5.2 lb (2.4 kg)
Shuttle pack only: 1.8 lb (0.8 kg)
Size:
One universal size available
Overall: 26 x 11 x 8 in (66 x 28 x 20 cm)
Shuttle pack only: 20.5 x 12 x 4 in (52 x 31 x 10 cm)
Volume:
Overall: 2300 cu in (38 L)
Shuttle pack only: 728 cu in (12 L)

The Outtabounds pack is made from 630D nylon.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Outtabounds is essentially two packs in one in that it includes a detachable shuttle pack that zips into the larger pack. The load lifter and load stabilizer straps have buckles to detach them from the main pack. The pack shoulder straps and hip belt are attached to the shuttle pack and thread through the rigid back panel of the main pack. Since the shuttle pack zips out of the back panel of the main pack, the main compartment of the pack can be accessed through the back in addition to the traditional top access.
shuttle pack
Photo courtesy of Dakine

MAIN PACK FEATURES:
The back panel of the main pack has a rigid plastic sheet inside and an aluminum stay for support in stabilizing heavy loads. The stay slides into a vertical slot which is located in the middle of the back panel. The stay can be bent to a preferred shape for a customized fit. It has a hook and loop tab to hold the top of the stay in place. The back panel is nicely padded in the mid-back and lower lumbar area with a foam material which is covered in breathable mesh.

There is a carry strap at the top of the pack and also one in a zippered pocket on the left side.
loop
There is a drawstring closure and cord lock on the top of the main compartment. At the bottom of the main compartment is a partial divider of half mesh and half nylon with a drawstring closure at the top.

There are load compression straps on the sides of the main pack along with pockets with drawstring tops and cord locks.

There is a large external pocket on the front for carrying a snow tool or shovel. Inside the pocket there are two vertical sleeves for holding a detachable shovel handle. The pocket has an additional layer of lining and a drain hole at the bottom of the pocket apparently to drain any melting snow. The front of the pack also has a 4 loop daisy chain on either side. Through one of these loops on either side, there are hook and loop tabs which are removable. They are for holding the lid straps down, but they appear to be a great way to attach poles too. See above photo.

The lid of the pack has two large external pockets. The one at the very top is fleece-lined.

SHUTTLE PACK FEATURES:

The shuttle pack has two sets of straps for attaching a snowboard vertically. The straps can be tucked away when not in use.
snowboard
Photo courtesy of Dakine

For carrying skis diagonally, there is a pocket on the bottom right side which contains a loop to hold the lower portion of the skis and a strap at the top left to secure them. See last photo for lower loop.
skis
Photo courtesy of Dakine

The hip belt has a waterproof zippered fleece-lined pocket ideal for carrying a small camera or other sensitive items. I have never seen a zipper closure like this. The zipper slides over the material on either side unlike a traditional zipper that slides under. The material from each side meets very precisely in the middle. Due to this, the zipper is slightly difficult to operate but will be worth the extra effort if it is in fact waterproof. There is also a swiveling key clip inside the pocket.
zipper

The shoulder straps are somewhat different than what I've seen in that they route over the inner portion of the shoulder close to the neck which allows for full movement of my arms. I can rotate my arms fully over my head with no restriction from the shoulder straps. There is a sternum strap which is also interesting. It has a section of elastic attached to two points on the strap such that the strap will stretch before it restricts movement. The height of the sternum strap is adjustable by sliding it vertically so that it can be positioned comfortably.

At the back of the pack is a large nylon hydration pocket with mesh in the lower portion. The pocket is easy to access and large enough to hold a fleece or other items in with the reservoir. At the top of the pocket there is a plastic hook for holding a water reservoir and a tab with a diagram of a water droplet and arrow to indicate where the hydration tube routes. The tube routes through the left shoulder strap and ends at a zippered portion on the lower part of the strap. It is completely insulated.
hydration
Photo courtesy of Dakine

The front of the pack has another large lined pocket with a zippered mesh pocket inside of it. At the bottom of this pocket is a drain hole.

There is a sleeve on the side of the pack for fast access to an ice axe. It has a buckled strap at the bottom. It also appears that this sleeve would work well for a bike pump which I will try.
sleeve

Overall, the pack weighed 30% more than what was advertised. At the advertised weight of 4 lbs (1.8 kg) it would be twice what my usual backpack weighs. Since the Outtabounds is for snow activities which require a heavier load, I am fine with the heavier weight. But I am disappointed in how far off the actual weight is from the advertised weight. I double-checked it on another scale to confirm and found the same thing.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The pack included a hang tag with one tab showing photos of some of the features. It shows the deployable shuttle pack, vertical snowboard carry, diagonal ski carry, insulated hydro sleeve and waterproof fleece-lined camera pocket. It also has tabs for the pack specifications in French, German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese languages. One tab has the warranty information for North America and ROW (rest of world) of which I've repeated the North American warranty for reference. The hang tag also states 'Made in China'.

NORTH AMERICA - LIMITED LIFETIME WARRANTY: DAKINE offers a Limited Lifetime Warranty against manufacturing defects. DAKINE will repair or replace, at its discretion any products found to be defective within the scope of normal and appropriate utilization and are within the Limited Lifetime Warranty covenants which exclude normal wear. Claims should be presented at the point of initial purchase with proper documentation to validate claims thereunder.

A separate small white tag simply listed the model name, model number and MSRP.

TRYING IT OUT

First I examined all of the pockets, zippers, loops, etc. to try to figure out what everything was for and how the shuttle pack detaches from the main pack. This pack really has a lot of features and pockets. It seems that every time I pick it up, I find something that I hadn't previously noticed.

I tried it on to check the fit with my short torso and to see whether the aluminum stay needed to be adjusted. Since there is only one universal size, I expected it to seem too long for me, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it really fits perfectly. I'll get a better idea of the complete fit details when I am able to use it fully loaded. The aluminum stay didn't seem to need any adjustment but I will check it further when the pack is loaded.

SUMMARY

Somebody at Dakine really put a lot of thought into this pack and came up with some great ideas. I tried to cover them in this report, but I may not have even discovered all of them yet. I'm also impressed with the workmanship and how well-constructed this pack is. This is my first experience with Dakine products and everything that I see so far is first class.

I see two exceptions from the pack being as advertised on the website. One is that the measured weight is 30% more than advertised. The second is that some of the photos show a different model pack. They convey the idea of the features which is helpful and is the intention, but they are confusing and slightly misleading in that the other parts of the pack are different. The photos in this report with the green pack color are the ones that I'm referring to.

Likes:
Detachable shuttle pack
Features for holding snow equipment/gear
Routing of straps to allow for free movement

Dislikes:
None yet



FIELD REPORT

January 26, 2009

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I used the pack in all three configurations for a variety of activities over the test period for a total of 20 uses/days.

Entire Pack:
IMAGE 1
I used the entire pack for a 3 day backpacking trip at Point Reyes National Seashore (California). For this trip, I backpacked in and out for a total of 13 miles (21 km). My full pack weight was 27 lb (12 kg). On the middle day, I used the shuttle pack for a day hike of 5 miles (8 km) from base camp. My shuttle pack weight on this hike and the ones mentioned below was approximately 7 lb (3 kg). The elevation ranged from sea level to 854 ft (260 m). Temperatures ranged from 39 to 60 F (4 to 15 C) and conditions ranged from clear skies to heavy fog.

Shuttle Pack Only:
IMAGE 2
The shuttle pack was used 3 times for hiking, 5 times for snowshoeing and 3 times for mountain biking. I typically carried a hydration reservoir and a light jacket in the hydration pocket, carried lunch and a camera in the outer pocket and my keys in the hip belt pocket. For mountain biking, I also carried a tire pump in the ice axe sleeve. Some examples of these day trips follow.

Hiking:
Foothills of the Sierra Nevada (California): 3 miles (5 km); 743 to 1,262 ft (226 to 385 m); 60 to 70 F (15 to 21 C); dry conditions

Lake Margaret, Sierra Nevada (California): 5 miles (8 km); 7,400 to 7,700 ft (2,256 to 2,347 m); 55 to 65 F (13 to 18 C); sunny

Snowshoeing:
University Falls, Sierra Nevada (California): 5.6 miles (9 km); 3,450 to 4,100 ft (1,052 to 1,250 m); 31 to 37 F (-0.5 to 3 C); fresh snow; sunny

Echo Lake, Sierra Nevada (California): 5.0 mi (8 km); 7,300 to 8,000 ft (2,225 to 2,438 m); 35 to 45 F (2 to 7 C); deep snow conditions; sunny

Loon Lake, Sierra Nevada (California): 6.5 mi (10.5 km); 6,400 to 6,700 ft (1,950 to 2,040 m); 31 to 45 F (-1 to 7 C); deep snow conditions; sunny

Main Pack Only (no shuttle pack):
I used the main pack 7 times as an overnight travel bag. For this, I did not carry the shuttle pack portion. Thus it did not have the shoulder straps, so I carried it using the side handle.


PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Entire Pack:
I was concerned that the shuttle pack would take up too much space inside the pack, but I found it easy to pack all of my usual gear. I found the shuttle pack to be the perfect place to pack my lesser used items like my first aid kit. With my hydration pack in the shuttle pack, it provided good weight distribution. There was a sufficient amount of space to fit all of my typical backpacking items. I even stuffed my winter jacket and winter gloves inside. I liked having the extra pockets for a bit of organization that I don't have with my lightweight backpack.

Shuttle Pack:
The zippers are really easy to operate on the shuttle pack front pocket because they move very smoothly. I can open the pocket slightly and then completely open the pocket simply by pulling on the pocket (not touching the zipper). These zippers move so freely that I twice found my pack to be unzipped while snowshoeing. Once was after bushwhacking through a steep section of heavy snow-laden trees. The tree branches must have caught on my pack and pulled the pocket open. The second time I was snowshoeing in the open but I did have my jacket strapped to the outside of the pack. I suspect that the weight of the jacket pulled the zipper open. The simple solution is for me to leave the zipper ends at the side or bottom and not at the top. I'll try this for the long term test period. I like that the outer pocket unzips 3/4 of the way making access to the pocket really easy.

I like having the extra space in the hydration pocket to carry items like a light jacket. It keeps it out of my way when I'm trying to access my lunch.

The zipper on the hip belt pocket seems to open in a direction opposite to what seems natural to me. When it is closed, the zipper is at the back near the pack. This makes it somewhat difficult for me to find the zipper easily. My camera does not fit in this pocket, so I typically use it for keys and/or trash.

I found the external straps to be useful for carrying a fleece or jacket when I wanted to access it easily. This was best on days when the temperature fluctuated and I found myself getting hot and then cold. It is nice that the straps can be tucked away when not in use. I also used the external straps for carrying snowshoes where we had to hike across some pavement or thin snow areas. I simply strapped them on with the bottoms facing outward to protect the pack and it worked fine. I wasn't sure if there should be some special method, but they were very secure with the straps around the outside of the snowshoes.
IMAGE 3

Main Pack:
This portion makes a nice overnight travel bag. The lower portion of the section with a drawstring worked perfectly for holding shoes. The rest of the main compartment is very roomy and was able to hold quite a bit of warm clothing. It could easily hold several days' worth of travel items for me. With the outer straps tucked away, there aren't too many straps to interfere with use as an overnight bag. The side handle worked well for carrying. I had no problem with items shifting inside the bag and getting wrinkled.

Comfort:
The shuttle pack and entire pack are both very comfortable. I particularly like the way the straps hit close to my neck so that my arms are completely free to lift overhead. This was noticeable when scrambling up steep slopes and when fishing since I could cast without restriction.

Load Distribution:
The shuttle pack is fairly small, so I was not able to overload it in any way that would make it uncomfortable due to poor load distribution. Even with my snowshoes strapped to the outside, I found the pack to be well-balanced.

Usually I have to experiment with packing a backpack to get the weight distribution just right, but when I used the entire pack, I was able to pack it well the first time. It was very comfortable and did not feel awkward.


SUMMARY

The Outtabounds is a top quality pack with a lot of features. I am completely satisfied with it.

Hot:
High quality
Features like pockets, straps, pocket lining
Versatility - Backpack, Daypack, Overnight Bag
Shoulder straps allow for full arm movement

Not-so-hot:
It is a bit heavy for summer backpacking, but as a snow pack is reasonable


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During the long term test period, I continued to use the pack in all three configurations. Total usage during this period was 28 uses/days.

Entire Pack:
IMAGE 1
I used the entire pack for a 3 day trip backpacking trip at Spooner Lake (Nevada) near Lake Tahoe. We snowshoed in for less than 1 mile (1.6 km) to a rustic cabin with cross-country skis strapped on. My full pack weight was 25 lb (11 kg) not including the skis. It was 35 F (2 C) and steadily raining despite the fact that we were at 7,100 ft (2,164 m) in January. On the middle day, I used the shuttle pack for cross-country skiing for 10 miles (16 km). Temperatures were 35 to 40 F (2 to 4 C) with cloudy skies. My shuttle pack weight was approximately 7 lb (3 kg). The elevation ranged from 7,080 to 7,600 ft (2,158 to 2,316 m). The third day we snowshoed back out with skis strapped on to the pack. My full pack weight was around 20 lb (9 kg). There was 4 in (10 cm) of fresh snow, the temperature was 25 F (-4 C) and it was snowing heavily.

Shuttle Pack Only:
I used the shuttle pack 4 times for hiking, 3 times for snowshoeing and 3 times for cross-country skiing. I typically carried a hydration reservoir and a light jacket in the hydration pocket, carried snacks in the outer pocket and put my cell phone in the hip belt pocket.

Some examples of these day trips follow.

Hiking:
Foothills of the Sierra Nevada (California): 3 miles (5 km); 743 to 1,262 ft (226 to 385 m); 60 to 70 F (15 to 21 C); dry conditions

Fern Canyon, Russian Gulch State Park (California): 6.7 mi (11 km); 50 to 350 ft (15 to 107 m); 45 to 50 F (7 to 10 C); sunny conditions

Salmon Falls Trail, Folsom Lake (California): 10 mi (16 km); 800 to 1,300 ft (244 to 400 m); 45 to 60 F (7 to 15 C); overcast conditions

Snowshoeing:
Vernal Fall, Yosemite National Park (California): 5.0 mi (8 km); 4,035 to 5,400 ft (1,230 to 1,646 m); 25 to 30 F (-4 to -1 C); deep snow; heavy snowstorm conditions

Blodgett Research Forest, Sierra Nevada (California): 2.0 miles (3.2 km); 3,900 to 4,100 ft (1,189 to 1,250 m); 40 to 45 F (4 to 7 C); thin snow conditions; sunny

Cross-Country Skiing:
Spooner Lake, Eastern Sierra Nevada (Nevada): 10 mi (16 km); 7,080 to 7,600 ft (2,158 to 2,316 m); 20 to 35 F (-7 to 2 C); calm overcast to breezy snowstorm conditions

Glacier Point Road, Yosemite National Park (California): 11.0 mi (17.7 km); 7,200 to 7,350 ft (2,200 to 2,240 m); 18 to 22 F (-8 to -5 C); groomed snow conditions; sunny to overcast

Main Pack Only (no shuttle pack):
I used the main pack 9 times as an overnight travel bag and twice for a 3-night trip. I was able to easily fit multiple days worth of clothing including lots of winter layers. As in the FR, I carried it using the side handle.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Water resistance:
During my snowshoe hike in on the Spooner Lake trip, it rained steadily for the entire 30 minutes. I did not have a pack cover with me. The contents of the top pocket (or any other inside portion of the pack) did not get wet.

Also on the Yosemite snowshoe hike, it was snowing heavily such that my shuttle pack became completely soaked on the outside. None of my extra clothing inside the pack got wet at all.

Insulated Hydration Sleeve:
While cross-country skiing in Yosemite, the exposed mouthpiece of my hydration reservoir kept freezing. However I had no problem with the water in the tube freezing while I had it zipped in the insulated shoulder strap.

Zippers:
On the shuttle pack, I left the zipper ends at the side rather than at the top during this test period and had no problems with the pockets opening by themselves during use. Since the zippers move so freely, I didn't have trouble using them while wearing gloves.

Straps:
I find myself constantly using the straps especially on the shuttle pack. I strap my jacket, my hiking poles and my snowshoes to the front of pack on a regular basis. But when I don't have anything strapped on, I like to tuck the straps away which is easy to do and keeps them out of the way.

The straps on the backpack are quite useful too. My first attempt at strapping on the skis left them too low which felt unbalanced as I was hiking. So, my husband easily found other straps to move them and re-strap them for me without me having to remove my pack. There are enough straps that multiple options exist.

I never had any problem with the strap buckles loosening or with the straps slipping. I did have to remove my gloves to operate the buckles but I could easily tighten the straps while wearing gloves.

Pockets:
The outer pockets on both the large pack and the shuttle pack seem to be waterproof and were really handy for storing wet items. I could put snow-covered items in there and with the drain hole, the water just drained out and didn't migrate to any inner pockets. My dry clothing in the adjacent pocket didn't feel damp at all.

The pocket on the hip belt is too small for my camera which is too bad since it is nicely lined and has a waterproof zipper. However, I just carried it in the top pocket of the backpack which is also lined or in the outer pocket. If it was raining, I wore it around my neck to make sure it was protected. The hip belt pocket was nice though for holding my lip balm and keys. I also used it for storing a half-eaten energy bar or the bar wrapper.

Durability:
All portions of the pack appear to be in great condition. I can't see any wear areas, loose threads, damaged material or even stains. I have never been gentle with the pack and in many cases it has been exposed to granite which is very abrasive. It is really holding up well.

Load Balance:
As in the Field Report, I found the load distribution in the fully packed backpack to be comfortable. Since the Spooner Lake trip was to a cabin, my pack contents were quite different from usual. I had much more food and clothing than normal along with items that I rarely carry for backpacking like wine, books and games. I also carried cross-country ski boots in my pack. I didn't go to much effort to balance the weight but still found things to be comfortable even with the skis strapped on the outside.

Comfort:
Overall I found the pack to be quite comfortable. It didn't make my back feel too hot or sweaty. The shoulder straps are nicely routed to give me full movement of my arms even while snowshoeing or skiing with poles.

SUMMARY

The Outtabounds is a well-thought out, first class pack with great features. I am completely satisfied with it. I especially like the versatility of using it as a backpack or daypack. I'm always on a quest to lighten my backpacking load, so I don't like that it weigh 2.5 times what my summer backpack weighs. But it provides features that may make it worth carrying anyway.

Hot:
High quality
Features like pockets, straps, pocket lining
Versatility - Backpack, Daypack, Overnight Bag
Shoulder straps allow for full arm movement
Zippered insulated hydration tube sleeve

Not-so-hot:
It is a bit heavy for summer backpacking, but as a snow pack is reasonable
Pockets open on their own if zippers are left at top

CONTINUED USE

I will continue to use the shuttle pack portion for most of my day trips. Since the entire pack is heavier than my other backpack, I won't use it for most of my backpacking trips. I'll use it on backpacking trips where I really want to have the shuttle pack with me also for day hikes from base camp. I'll continue to use the large portion of the pack as a travel bag for trips where I need to hold more than what my overnight luggage can handle.

This concludes my Long-Term Report and test series for the Dakine Outtabounds pack.

I would like to thank Dakine and BackpackGearTest.org for choosing me to participate in this test.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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