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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > High Peak Trango 65 > Test Report by Don Taylor

HIGH PEAK TRANGO 65 PACK
TEST SERIES BY DON TAYLOR
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - March 15, 2011
FIELD REPORT - May 31, 2011
LONG TERM REPORT - August 02, 2011

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Don Taylor
EMAIL: anfhiker AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 34
LOCATION: Youngstown, Ohio USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 7" (1.70 m)
WEIGHT: 185 lb (83.90 kg)
TORSO LENGTH 17" (43 cm)

For the past 13 years I have been camping/backpacking primarily in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia with the Allegheny National Forest as the most frequented location. My trips are generally long weekends and I try to camp or hike at least once in all 4 seasons with the fall being my favorite. My backpacking trips usually consist of 15 mile (24 km) days and a group of 2-3 other hikers in forested, moderately hilly areas. I consider myself a lightweight, slow and steady hiker. The winter hikes often involve heavy snow and freezing temperatures.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: High Peak USA

IMAGE 1


Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: www.highpeakusa.com
MSRP: N/A
Listed Weight: 3 lbs 6oz (1.53 kg)
Measured Weight: 3 lbs 4 oz (1.47 kg)
Capacity: 65 L (4500 cu in)
Other details:

Features as listed on the manufacturer's website:
  • 1 Toplid Pocket
  • 2 Compartments
  • Sternum Strap
  • Hipbelt
  • 2 Side Compression Straps
  • Ice Axe Holder
  • Hydration System Ready
  • Eva Foam Shoulder Straps
  • Vario Harness System
  • Mesh Backing
  • Pre-Formed Alum Suspension Bar

Materials:
  • 334D Double Ripstop Nylon PU
  • 420D Mini Ripstop Nylon PU
  • 1000D PU Bottom

Warranty
"High Peak products are covered by a Lifetime Warranty against material and workmanship defects. Products found to be defective will be repaired or replaced at our discretion and High Peak reserves the right to make all determinations as to the use of this policy. Products failing due to normal wear and tear, abuse, accident, critters, or the natural breakdown of materials over extended use and time will be replaced for a nominal fee."

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

IMAGE 2
Vario Adjustment System
The High Peak Trango 65 is described by its manufacturer as being a large capacity and light weight pack that is built from high grade, lightweight materials. When the pack arrived it looked exactly like what I was expecting from viewing the pack on High Peak's website. Mine is blue and gray which from the website appears to be the only color available. I was surprised at how light the pack really is.

The pack is adjustable using High Peak's Vario system. The system is a series of loops on the back pad of the pack where the top of the shoulder harness is attached. To adjust it, you simply undo the hook-and-loop strap, move it to a different setting and then reattach. The anchor loops are labeled XS, S, M, L and XL; however, I have not been able to find a chart that shows what torso length each loop represents.

The internal frame is made of aluminum and consists of two vertical bars connected at the top by one horizontal bar. The manufacturer describes it as a pre-formed alum suspension bar. It can be accessed and removed from the main compartment via a zippered pocket.
IMAGE 4
Pre-Formed Bar


This is a two compartment pack. The upper compartment is top loading and is secured with a drawstring. Inside there is a large pocket to store a hydration bladder or other gear. Two hook-and-loop straps are located just above the hydration pocket. There is a slot on the side of the main compartment for a hydration line to pass through. The bottom compartment is accessed from the front of the pack through a flap with a large zipper on it. The top and bottom compartments are separated by fabric that can be opened and closed by a drawstring. This feature will be handy when I have my sleeping bag removed and need to access a piece of gear at the bottom of the main compartment.

Each side of the pack has two compression straps to secure the load. Both sides also have stuff pockets on the bottom to store water bottles or other gear. On the right side, looking from the front of the pack, there are two straps that serve as an ice axe holder.

The top lid is held in position on the front by one quick clip located in the middle of the lid. The rear side of the lid is sewn into the main pack and therefore the lid is not adjustable or removable. Where the back of the lid is secured to the main pack there is a haul loop made of webbing. The zipper on the front of the lid opens up into a large pocket and the top of the lid has four tie down points, one on each corner. On the underside of the lid there is another zipper that leads to a smaller pocket. I didn't even notice it until I started writing this report. I am thinking that this will come in handy.

The back pad, shoulder straps and the main part of the hipbelt are made of Eva foam. Where the hipbelt connects by a quick clip, the nylon strapping that connects the main hipbelt sides together is more narrow than what I am used to. I will be watching to see if it digs in while I am hiking.
IMAGE 3
Hipbelt Connection


Finally, there is a chest strap made of webbing. The quick clip that holds the two sections together also serves as an emergency whistle.

Overall my first impressions of the pack are positive. The materials and workmanship seem to be good. The stitching appears strong and the pack has a surprisingly sturdy feel to it despite its light weight.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The pack did not come with any instructions although most everything is self explanatory. The one thing I would like to see however would be a reference chart that compares torso length to High Peak's XS, S, M, L and XL size settings.

TRYING IT OUT

I adjusted the fit system to the L setting and put approximately 25 lbs (11 kg) in the pack to see how it fits. The pack seems comfortable and it adjusted well however I only walked around some small hills in the woods near my house.

SUMMARY

Right out of the box the pack looks good. It is free from any loose strings or obvious flaws. My only concern at this point is the waistband. The nylon straps that extend from the hip pads look narrow to me and I am concerned that they will dig in and be uncomfortable.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

This spring has been a total rain-out here in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania so I have not had the chance to hike as often as I would normally would. I was only able to get out for two long weekend trips with the pack. The first trip was to Zaleski State Forest in Southern Ohio. The trail conditions were terrible as it rained nearly the entire time we were in the woods. The second trip was taken to an equally muddy area along the Tracy Ridge trail in the Allegheny National Forest. Between the two trips I was able to hike about 40 long, muddy and wet miles (64 km). In both cases my pre-rain soaked pack weight was around 30 lbs (14 kg).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The biggest tests the pack was put through during my two recent trips were staying secure on my back as I was slipping and sliding down the trail and keeping the contents somewhat dry during the endless rain. In both cases the pack did better than I expected. The adjustments on the pack allowed me to fit it very securely and comfortably on my back. In addition, even though I had forgotten a rain cover for the pack on one of the trips, the pack did a fairly good job of keeping the contents dry.

Once the pack was fully loaded and on my back, it was a quick process to get it secured in place. The adjustments were easy to operate and the pack was very comfortable to hike with. As for durability, the pack was put through some muddy and rough conditions such as a few scrapes and falls and it has held up great so far. I have not noticed any rips and all of the seams still seem secure. The pack was easily cleaned with a little soap and a wet rag when I got home from the trips.

All of the zippers and drawstrings worked great. The zippers are large enough to grab easily with cold, wet hands and the drawstring on the bottom of the main compartment proved to be very handy for accessing items that I would have otherwise had to dig down from the top to retrieve. I have had packs in the past where the zippers always seemed to get hung up in the zipper flap material however I did not have that problem with this pack so far.

IMAGE 1
Waist Belt Straps
The side pockets where I normally store my water bottles could have been a little more secure. A few times when I set the pack down or stumbled on the trail one of the bottles would fall out.

The interior pocket that holds my 3 L (101 oz) hydration bladder worked out very well. The bladder stayed in place and the slot for the bite tube to pass through did not cause any issues.

Both the shoulder straps and waist belt proved to be comfortable. I initially had concerns that the narrowness of the waist belt straps would cause some irritation however that was not the case. One issue that I will fix after the completion of the test is the length of the waist belt straps. I have a 35 inch (89 cm) waist and when I cinch the waist belt down, the straps hang down below my knees. One addition I would really appreciate is a small pocket on the waist belt of the pack. I have had them in the past and I really noticed not having one. The shoulder straps stayed in position and other than the normal shoulder soreness that I feel in the mornings, the straps felt good.

My biggest complaint to this point is about the chest strap. It is fine while I am wearing it; however, the male end of the clip fell off a few times when the pack was off. It is easy enough to put back on but it could get lost in the woods very easily.

SUMMARY

Overall I am very happy with the pack so far. It is very sturdy for how light it is and I don't feel like any comfort was sacrificed with the lower weight. It held my 30 lbs (14 kg) of gear very well and the compression straps worked great to keep the contents from bouncing around. The chest strap clip falling off may prove to be a problem if it comes off in the wrong spot and is lost. All in all I am looking forward to wearing this pack for my upcoming summer trips.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

For the final stage of the testing period I was able to take the pack on a four day, 45 mile (72 km) trip on the North Country Trail through the Allegheny National Forest. The conditions were very hot and muggy with afternoon thunderstorms. My pack weight was around 35 lbs (16 kg) which is heavier than normal due to the amount of water I was carrying. The trail conditions were good with stable ground and only a few long ascents. In a few spots I walked through some thick undergrowth but for the most part I was hiking on clear trail.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The pack continued to perform great. Even with the additional weight from the extra water I was carrying the pack remained stable and comfortable. My concerns about the waist belt digging in and causing irritation were again unfounded. My only complaint about the waist belt continues to be the length of the straps which I plan on modifying after the test. As for my shoulders and hips, I can report that other than the standard soreness that comes with waking up in the morning after a long day on the trail, there was no irritation.

On this last hike I would say the biggest test for the pack was how well it ventilated against my back during the hot, steamy days. Despite the conditions the pack did well at keeping my back reasonably cool during the morning hours, but as the day went on and the temperature reached into the high 80's F (30's C) it was a lost cause. However, I can say that the pack performed as well as other far more expensive ones that I have worn during summer hikes.

During the four days we spent in the woods on this trip, I did not experience any further problems with the chest strap clip coming disconnected from the nylon strap as I did previously. I paid special attention to how I handled the pack when it was not on my back to ensure it didn't come off and get lost.

My issues with my 1 L (34 oz) water bottles falling out of the side pockets is still a problem. Bending over, slipping and putting the pack on can easily cause the bottles to tumble out. I have not lost any of them yet, but I have to remember to check them often. Tighter elastic on the top of the pockets should take care of the problem.

After 90 or so miles of hiking with the pack I can report that it has held up extremely well. All of the seams have held and the zippers continue to function without issue. With some simple water washing, the pack cleans up like new. I cannot find any major issues with the main fabric of the pack, and the bottom barely shows any wear at all.

SUMMARY

Overall I am extremely pleased with the High Peak Trango 65. It has proved to be a pack that combines the qualities of being lightweight and durable. It has ample storage room to hold plenty of gear on my 4 and 5 day hikes and the compression does a great job of keeping everything in place. The back pad, shoulder straps and waist belt all provide a comfortable fit.

As for improvements, I would like to see the chest strap clip secured to the nylon strap better, waist belt straps shortened and the elastic on the side pockets tightened to provide a more secure fit around commonly used water bottles.

I have really enjoyed the pack to this point and I look forward to using it in the future for my multi-day hiking trips.

Thank you to High Peak and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this pack.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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