HIGH PEAK TRANGO BACKPACK
TEST SERIES BY BRIAN HARTMAN
INITIAL REPORT - March 19, 2011
FIELD REPORT - May 31, 2011
LONG TERM REPORT - July 30, 2011
5' 9" (1.75 m)
145 lb (65.80 kg)
I have been hiking and camping for over 20 years and enjoy backpacking solo and with my kids in Scouting. I especially enjoy fall and winter backpacking and camping. My backpack and gear are older and weigh 40+ lbs (18 kg). This has limited the distances I have been able to cover while hiking. My goal over the next several years is to replace my existing clothing and gear with more suitable and lighter weight alternatives.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: High Peak USA
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.highpeakusa.com
MSRP: Not Listed
Listed Weight: 3.36 lbs (1.52 kg)
Measured Weight: 3.5 lbs (1.58 kg)
Capacity: 4,500 cu in (65 L)
Dimensions: 29 in high x 14 in wide x 11 in deep (73 cm x 35 cm x 28 cm)
Material: 330D Double Ripstop Nylon PU / 420D Mini Ripstop Nylon PU / 1000D PU bottom
Color Tested: Navy / Light Grey
Recommended Torso Length: Adjustable
* Toplid pocket
* Side compression straps
* Ice axe holder
* Main compartment and separate sleeping bag compartment
* Hydration system ready
* EVA foam shoulder straps
* Vario harness system
* Pre-formed aluminum suspension bar
* 3D molded foam backpanel
* Dual water bottle pockets
* Quick clip points
* Haul loop
High Peak describes the Trango 65 as "the perfect backpack for extended adventures". In fact, it is an ultra-lightweight dual compartment backpack made for multi day trekking. The bottom compartment features a drawstring divider and is front loading for easy access when stowing a sleeping bag. The Trango 65 also offers hydration compatibility, adjustable torso length, and side straps for maximum load compression.
My initial impressions of the High Peak Trango 65 backpack were very positive. It is an attractive looking backpack, with a navy blue, black and grey color scheme. It is very lightweight for its size and yet it feels quite strong due to the materials used. The Trango 65 is constructed of 330D and 420D ripstop nylon with a 1000D PU bottom. It uses dual aluminum suspension bars for support along with a molded foam back panel. At first glance it appears to be well made. After inspecting it more thoroughly, I found high quality workmanship throughout its construction with no frayed fabric, uneven seams or suspect areas that would be cause for concern. The buckles and zippers work well and the zippers have pull-cords to make grasping them easier. High Peak has obviously paid great attention to detail in the manufacture of this backpack.
|Vario Harness System|
Although the Trango 65 is lightweight for a 65L pack, it still includes many nice features. The first of these features is the dual storage compartment, which consists of a top-loading main compartment and a front loading bottom compartment. These two compartments are separated from each other by a drawstring divider. The top compartment provides storage for the majority of items carried on a backpacking trip, including tent, clothing, food, hydration bladder and other gear. The bottom compartment is designed to hold a sleeping bag and, in this capacity, it appears to provide plenty of storage space. The zippered front opening to the bottom compartment is quite large and I don't anticipate any problems getting my sleeping bag into and out of this compartment. There are two more zippered storage areas on the backpack, both of which are in the toplid. The first of these, the exterior toplid pocket, is quite large, measuring 11 in x 10 in x 5 in (28 x 25 x 13 cm). Inside this pocket is a small plastic clip suitable for securing keys or other valuable items. There is also an interior lid pocket which measures 11 in x 10 in x 0.5 in (28 x 25 x 1.2 cm). In regards to capacity, the Trango provides ample storage at 65L and I could easily imagine stuffing this pack with enough gear for several days on the trail.
|Aluminum Suspension Bars|
Several more features of the backpack include dual side water bottle pockets, side compression straps, an orange sternum strap with a built-in whistle, breathable hip belt, ice axe holder, EVA foam shoulder straps and adjustable Vario Harness System that adjusts from XS to XLarge for different length torsos. Going through each of these features individually, the water bottle pockets are large enough to hold my 32oz (0.94 L) Nalgene bottle. The side compression straps are intended to help compress the pack when it is not fully stuffed. The whistle, which is built into the sternum strap, is a neat idea and the whistle actually works pretty well. Moving on to the suspension system, the Trango 65 utilizes dual pre-bent aluminum bars along with a 3D molded foam back panel with mesh backing for support of heavy loads. The back panel provides a good deal of strength, stability, and additional support for the backpack. In addition to these features, there are also a number of quick clip points on the front of the pack as well as on the toplid. Finally, there is a hydration pocket inside the main compartment and an exit hole just above the pocket where the tube from a hydration bladder can be run. The exit hole is marked by a water icon and the word "H20." Webbing straps on the left and right shoulder straps are provided to secure the sip tube.
|Water Bottle Pockets|
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The High Peak Trango 65 came with two hang tags. The first tag lists the backpack's capacity and weight as well as the construction material. It also highlights several features of the backpack and graphically depicts proper loading of the pack for correct weight distribution. The back of the tag explains High Peak's lifetime warranty against material and workmanship defects. The second tag describes Dupont Dow's Hypatex fabric coating which provides weather and abrasion resistance.
TRYING IT OUT
|Padded Hip Belt|
My first task before putting on the Trango 65 was to adjust the Vario Harness System to fit my torso length. The slider was easy to adjust up and down between the five levels from X-Small to X-Large by using the hook-and-loop fastener. I found the large setting provided the perfect custom fit for my torso length.
|Top Loading Compartment|
After loading the Trango 65 with my sleeping bag, tent, clothing and other gear I tensioned the side compression straps to compress everything together and then put on the pack. I proceeded to adjust the shoulder straps and waist belt. Both were very easy to adjust. The padded waist belt was comfortable and supportive, and helped to minimize the weight on my shoulders. Its cut out design wrapped around my hip bones rather than over them for a more comfortable fit than the solid belt on my other pack. Because my waist is fairly narrow, I had to take out nearly all of the slack in the belt in order to get a good fit. This left lots of extra strap, which was not a big deal. However, if my waist size were less than 31" (78 cm), I wouldn't be able to fully tighten the waist belt. Next, I adjusted the sternum strap to fit across my chest. Once again, this was very easy to do. Once properly adjusted, the Trango 65 was very comfortable to wear. The foam shoulder straps had plenty of cushion and the water bottle pockets were easy to reach without taking off the backpack. The lightweight design definitely helps with my goal of trimming some weight off my load and it still feels comfortable enough to carry significant loads.
I really like the bottom compartment with its drawstring divider and front load zipper. The waist belt and shoulder straps are very comfortable and the emergency whistle on the sternum strap is a nice touch. High Peak has done a really good job of designing a lightweight backpack with all the necessary essentials.
|Sternum Strap with Whistle|
Based on what I read about the Hypatex® coating on the Trango 65, I'm anxious to test it's weather resistance. Although I wasn't able to find much information online about this coating, DuPont's hang tag, which was on the backpack, claims it provides excellent abrasion resistance and waterproofing.
The High Peak Trango 65 is a well-designed backpack. In my initial testing, it has been comfortable to wear and it seems to have plenty of room for essentials. I am looking forward to testing it on multi-day trips and putting it through its paces on the trail.
I will post a Field Report in approximately two months. Please check back then for further information. I would like to thank High Peak USA and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this backpack.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Since receiving the Trango 65 backpack, I have used it for a total of 7 days, including 2 three-day backpacking trips and one overnight trip. My first three-day trip was to the Charles Deam Wilderness area of the Hoosier National Forest in Indiana. I camped at an elevation of approximately 850 ft (260 m) and overnight lows were around 46 F (8 C). The area was hilly and densely wooded with lots of streams and several well marked trails. The weather was cool and overcast this weekend with frequent showers. I hiked a total of 14 mi (22.5 km).
My second trip was an overnighter to Oldenburg, IN. The weather was very nice on this trip as we caught a break in between thunderstorms although it was still wet and muddy from earlier rain. Skies were mainly clear with a nice steady breeze and temperatures around 60 F (15 C) throughout the day. I only hiked about 4 mi (6.4 km) on this trip.
My final trip was a three day trek in Brown County State Park in Nashville, IN. The trails were muddy due to the ridiculous amounts of rain we received earlier in the week so I hiked mainly off-trail and tried to stay on the ridgelines as much as possible. The weather was clear and mild, with daytime temperatures of 64 to 72 F (18 to 22 C). Elevations in the area ranged from 680 to 820 ft (207 to 250 m) and I logged approximately 8 mi (13 km).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I am very pleased with the Trango 65 backpack so far. There are many features of this backpack that I really enjoy. Among them are its comfortable fit, large storage space and rugged design. In addition, it is very lightweight and this has equated to making it very enjoyable to carry for long periods of time.
During my multi-day trips, the weight of the Trango 65 along with my supplies averaged 32 pounds (20 kg). Here is a brief list of some the items I carried:
* Sleeping bag
* Tent with ground cloth
* Sleeping pad
* Camp stove and fuel canister
* Aluminum pot
* Additional clothing
* Flashlight and headlamp
* Food & water
Fit & Comfort: Throughout my field testing, the Trango 65 pack fit well and was comfortable to wear. The great fit was due in large part to High Peak USA's Vario Harness System which allowed me to easily adjust the backpack frame to fit my torso. In truth it took me a couple of tries to determine the correct frame setting (XS-XL) for my torso length as there was no chart to refer to. Once I had the Vario Harness System dialed in correctly I moved on to adjusting the hip belt, shoulder straps, load lifters and finally sternum strap for a customized fit. The cutout in the hip belt is a great idea as it allows me to tighten the belt firmly around my waist without smashing my hip bones. With the hip belt secured, I felt like I was able to carry the majority of the pack's weight on my hips. One note of concern is that I came very close to running out of belt length while tightening the waist strap. It is simply not designed for waists that are much smaller than 32" (81 cm). I am concerned this may present a problem for me during summer months when I am only wearing shorts and a tee shirt and do not have any other bulky items to help inflate my mid section. It is a shame that this pack does not accommodate smaller waist sizes as it's light weight and rugged design would make it a great pack for Boy Scouts. After adjusting the waist belt I moved on to the shoulder straps, which were easy to adjust and proved to be quite comfortable given their EVA foam construction, and then finally to the load lifters and sternum strap. All in all, the pack did a very good job of distributing the load weight so that it never felt top heavy and it did not shift to one side as I moved. While hiking some steep trails at the Hoosier National Forest, the pack stayed firmly on my back so that I never felt off balance. In addition the molded back panel allowed air to circulate across my back so that I never felt sweaty. Given my experience so far, I suspect that the Trango 65 would be just as comfortable with another 10 lbs (4.5 kg) of supplies in it. I will test this theory during the next few months to see if it is true.
Storage Space: The Trango 65 has enough room inside for all my gear except for my sleeping pad which is 24 inches (60 cm) long and 7.5 inches (19 cm) in diameter when rolled up. Because my sleeping pad is bulky albeit lightweight, I was forced to either leave it behind or strap it to the outside of the pack. I wish High Peak USA had included straps on the bottom of the pack so that I could easily secure this item. Although the sleeping pad is more of a luxury item this time of year, it is essential insulation against the frozen ground during winter months. Of course, there are quick clip points on the top of the pack that can be used to lash items with nylon cordage, but this isn't as quick and convenient as using built-in straps. I also tried securing my sleeeping pad using the side compression straps but they only expand to 6 inches (15 cm) at their maximum. In defense of High Peak USA, the Trango 65 is designed as an ultra-lightweight backpack and so a lot of people who use this backpack probably aren't carrying a full length sleeping pad with them most of the time.
Loading the Trango 65 from the top and front compartments is very easy to do and the drawstring divider is handy for those times when I want to convert the inside of the backpack to one big compartment. I found the lid pockets on the pack very handy for storing smaller items such as snacks, maps, sunglasses, emergency essentials and the water bottle pockets worked well for storing my Nalgene bottles.
Durability: This pack has held up very well during Field Testing. With its ripstop nylon construction, it not only looks and feels rugged, but it has proven itself on the trail. This backpack is very well made.
Another feature that I was anxious to test on the Trango 65, based on what I read, was Dupont's Hypatex coating which supposedly provides additional abrasion resistance as well as waterproofing to the backpack's fabric. Although I can't say whether the coating made the ripstop nylon any more durable, I am comfortable in saying that it added a degree of waterproofing to the backpack. I observed water beading up on the outside of the pack and after trekking for miles in light rain showers and then setting the pack on soggy wet ground at my campsite, the items inside the pack stayed mostly dry. There appeared to be a little water seepage into the pack but I was expecting that to be the case.
I have enjoyed wearing this pack over the past few months. Overall the Trango 65 fits me well and remains comfortable even with loads up to 32 lbs (14.5 kg ). It is rugged, has decent storage capacity, and has room for two water bottles in the mesh pockets. I would not hesitate to take it on a multi-day trip. Its close fit gives me great balance when scrambling up steep hills and the light weight design definitely helps with my goal of trimming some weight off my load while still feeling comfortable enough to carry a substantial amount of supplies.
I would like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and High Peak for giving me the opportunity to test this pack.
This concludes my Field Report. My Long Term Report will be posted in approximately 2 months. Please check back then for my final review.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the final test phase I took the Trango 65 backpack on two additional backpacking trips for a total of six days. My trips were to Mound State Park in Brookville, IN and Brown County State Park in Nashville, IN. The weather during these outings was hot and muggy with daytime temperatures reaching 95 F (36 C). The terrain varied considerably from hilly forested areas to open fields. Due to the intense heat, I spent most of my time in the forested areas and on established trails. I also did a small amount of off-trail hiking through thick undergrowth. On these weekend trips I averaged 4-5 mi (6.5-8 km) per day.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
One of my goals during this test phase was to determine how well the Trango 65 performed while carrying heavy loads. To this end, I wittingly packed more gear than usual at the start of both trips so that my pack weight averaged 40 lbs (18 kg). Due to the blistering heat, water reserves became the heaviest thing in my pack. I was pleasantly surprised that despite my unusually heavy load, the Trango 65 was still quite comfortable to carry. The waist belt, in particular, performed its task extremely well. It did a great job of supporting the weight of my pack as I trudged across steep terrain and miles of parched ground. I didn't experience any tender spots or pressure points on my hips during either of my trips. In addition, the mesh back panel provided adequate ventilation for my back to temper my sweat in the heat of the day.
In regards to capacity, I found the Trango 65 held a generous amount of gear and supplies. Due to time constraints, I did not have the opportunity to use this pack for any week long trips, but I have always had plenty of space for three and four day adventures and as noted above, the pack is quite capable of carrying heavy loads. My only suggestion to High Peak USA would be to add two straps to the bottom of the pack. This would make it much easier to secure a sleeping pad or tent to the outside of the pack when additional room inside the pack was necessary. Although there are only two zippered pockets on this pack, they are generous enough in size to allow me to compartmentalize my items for more organized storage. The exterior toplid pocket has become home to items that I want quick access to such as first aid supplies, raingear, maps, sunglasses and snacks. The interior pocket usually houses my keys, wallet, phone and other miscellaneous items.
The dual side pockets have also come in handy this summer as I've used them to store my 1 Liter (33 oz) Nalgene water bottles. The pockets are loose enough that I could reach around and remove one of the water bottles while hiking without having to remove my pack. Unfortunately, I have had two situations where one of my water bottles has inadvertently fallen out of the pockets. The first occurrence happened while I was climbing a steep ridge while off-trail. As I was climbing, I was leaning forward and my pack must have been jostling back and forth. I heard the water bottle hit the ground and turned to see it roll back down the hill. In this instance I was quickly able to retrieve it. The second time this situation happened, I was not aware my water bottle had fallen out until I returned home and started unpacking my supplies. Luckily one of the guys in our group found it near our campsite. The only thing that I can figure is that my water bottle must have slipped out of the side pocket of the Trango 65 while I was putting on or removing my pack.
In regards to durability, the Trango 65 held up very well during long term testing. I have not noticed any significant wear so far and there have been no failures of the zippers, straps or buckles. This backpack has made it through some tough conditions and never faltered. The bottom and sides of the pack have scuff marks and soiled areas mainly due to off-trail use, but other than that the pack is in very good shape.
Very comfortable to wear with the cut-out waist belt and EVA foam shoulder pads
Dual suspension system helps carry heavy loads
Rugged design with heavy duty fabric and zippers
Large storage space with dual compartments
Molded foam back panel provides good back ventilation in hot weather
During my long term test I had difficulty keeping my Nalgene bottles from unknowingly slipping out of the side pockets
There are no straps at the bottom of the backpack for securing a tent or sleeping pad
The High Peak Trango 65 backpack is an extremely comfortable and versatile pack with very good ventilation for hot weather hiking. It is incredibly lightweight and has several nice features that are innovative and useful. It is appropriately sized for a wide range of trips from intense day hikes to multi-day adventures. This is truly one of my favorite packs. It has become my favorite pack for weekend trips due to its incredible comfort but it would be equally enjoyable on longer outings.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.
I would like to thank High Peak USA and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Trango 65 pack. This concludes my report series.
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Read more gear reviews by Brian Hartman