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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > High Sierra Col 35 Backpack > Test Report by Don Taylor

HIGH SIERRA COL 35 PACK
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TEST SERIES BY DON TAYLOR

LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - April 01, 2010
FIELD REPORT - June 10, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - August 16, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Don Taylor
EMAIL: anfhiker AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 33
LOCATION: Youngstown, Ohio USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 7" (1.70 m)
WEIGHT: 185 lb (83.90 kg)
BOOT SIZE: 10 US

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

Manufacturer: High Sierra Sport Company
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Just Out Of the Box

Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: www.highsierrasport.com
MSRP: $140 US
Listed Weight: 3 lbs (1.4 kg)
Measured Weight: 3 lbs (1.4 kg)
Color: Amazon (Other Colors Available: Chipotle and Pomodoro)
Listed Capacity: 2135 cubic inches (35 L)
Size: Universal Fit
Frame: Internal

Product Features As Listed On Manufacturer's Website

  • 35 Liter (2135 cubic in), top-load main compartment with gusseted drawstring closure and adjustable top lid.
  • Padded backpack straps, with adjustable load-lifters, is constructed with Vapel mesh Airflow.
  • Single, contoured aluminum frame bar can be adjusted to fit the shape of your back.
  • Molded foam back panel with Airflow channels to keep your back cool and dry.
  • Adjustable waist belt with Vapel mesh Airflow padding, wicks moisture.
  • Adjustable compression strap on each side.
  • Webbing daisy chain to attach extra gear.
  • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve and dual exit ports for tube (reservoir not included).
  • Adjustable bottom compression straps.
  • Removable media pocket is attached to backpack strap.
  • Adjustable sternum strap stabilizes pack.
  • Soft lashing hardware holds ice ax/hiking poles.
  • Dual mesh side pockets hold 1000 ml (34 oz) water bottles.
  • Tuck-away rain cover, stored in a bottom pocket, also protects the pack when checked for travel.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

Upon initial inspection, the pack color is very attractive and it is very light to handle. Before the pack arrived, I visited the manufacturer's website to get as much information as I could. The website was very easy to navigate and it clearly listed the main features of the pack. They even have a short video that gives a brief overview of the pack. Right out of the box the pack is what I expected after visiting the site.

The tag attached to the front of the pack states that it is a top load pack; it is designed to hold gear and supplies for a day hike or climb. It also describes the pack as being made from Grid-Weave Duralite, Mini-Weave Duralite, and Duraweave (bottom). I looked on the manufacturer's website for a description of what exactly Grid-Weave Duralite and Duraweave are however I could not find an explanation. A quick Internet search did not produce anything, either.

A tag listing the limited lifetime warranty is attached to the rear of the pack. The warranty is as follows:
"High Sierra Sport Company products are warranted to the original owner for the lifetime of the product against defects in materials or workmanship under normal recreational use."

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Adjustable Bar
The main support for the frame of the pack is composed of a single contoured aluminum frame bar. To remove or adjust this bar, flip open a small panel inside the pack and removing the bar. There are no specific instructions on how to adjust the bar for various fits so I will be interested in seeing how this works.

The shoulder straps are adjustable and fitted with load lifters. They are constructed with padding that is surrounded by Grid-Weave Duralite on the outer side and Vapel mesh Airflow on the inner. Each strap has a loop for a water line and a D-ring attached to it. The left strap (when the pack is on) also has a removable pocket that can be used to store a music player, GPS, or other piece of equipment. Each shoulder strap is tensioned with a standard nylon strap and buckle setup. The shoulder straps are connected with an adjustable sternum strap.

The pack's waist belt is straightforward. The construction is similar to that of the shoulder straps with padding covered by the Vapel mesh Airflow on the inside of the strap and Grid-Weave Duralite on the outside. The waist belt is tensioned around the waist and near the back by standard nylon straps and buckles. The back panel of the pack is made of molded foam with Airflow channels.

The lid of the back is a zippered pocket. The entire lid is removable and is secured with quick clips on the front and nylon straps and buckles on the back. Under the lid, there is a list of "12 Survival Essentials." High Sierra lists these as, map, compass, flashlight, food, water, clothes, sunglasses, first aid, pocketknife, matches, whistle, and tarp. Although I would debate the fact that most of these items are "essential," it could serve as a quick checklist. On the top of the lid, there are four plastic loops for securing gear.

The High Sierra Col 35 is a top loading pack with the only access to the inside is through the top. The inside of the compartment contains a hydration reservoir sleeve, two exit holes for a water tube, and a hanging clip for keys or other items. Once loaded, the storage compartment is secured by a drawstring closure and a nylon strap with quick clip connection.
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Side View


On each side of the pack, there are mesh pockets designed to hold 1L (34 oz) water bottles. Just above these mesh pockets, there is one compression strap on each side.

The front of the pack is equipped with a webbed daisy chain running the length of the outside for extra gear. There is also a small fastener to hold hiking poles or an ice axe.

The bottom of the pack is made of Mini-Weave Duralite. There are two compression straps for securing gear. In addition, located on the bottom is the included rain cover. The cover is stored in a pocket on the very bottom of the pack where it can easily be accessed without disturbing the main compartment of the pack.

Finally, there is a loop installed on the top of the pack for hanging or carrying.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

There were no instructions included with the pack. A tag is attached to the front of the pack that has a numbered diagram listing the packs features and showing where each feature is located. The lack of instructions should not be an issue as the pack is straightforward. However, a brief note explaining the best way to adjust the main aluminum support bar would be helpful.

TRYING IT OUT

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Included Rain Cover
I filled the pack with my sleeping bag, clothes, and some other various items. I was surprised at the room the pack has. Although I had a relatively light but very bulky load in the pack, it expanded very nice. The straps were comfortable around my shoulders and the waist belt stayed in place.

With the pack filled, I found that the lid could not be cinched down enough to keep it securely in place. It appears that the placement of the buckle and the length of the strap do not allow the top to be pulled down tightly. I will be looking at this issue closely.

With the pack off it is very easy to quickly pull out the rain cover and get it into position. The cinch cord, although much longer than it needs to be, pulls the cover securely around the pack.

SUMMARY

Right out of the box the pack fit well. It appears to be constructed with good quality materials and boosts a large amount of features. The size appears to be ideal for a quick weekend trip. I am somewhat concerned that the lid does not cinch down securely to the top of the pack, and the length of the cinch cords seems excessive. Otherwise, I am looking forward to loading it up and heading out.

Please check back in a few months to read about how the pack performs in the field.

Thank you to High Sierra Sport Company and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this pack.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

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Pack With Tent in the ANF
I have carried the High Sierra pack on a few long-weekend trips to Southern Ohio and the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania. My longest trip was a four day hike in the Allegheny National Forest along the North Country Trail at the end of May. Temperatures on these trips ranged anywhere from 22 F (-6 C) on one really chilly April night to 85 F (29 C) on my recent May trip. The terrain varied from well groomed, flat trails to muddy, steep, barely visible, root and rock filled paths. As to be expected here in the Midwest, on every trip I experienced some bit of rain including an all out downpour during a thunderstorm. I think it is fair to say that the pack has seen a wide variety of weather and trail conditions.

On my shorter hikes, the pack weighed in at around 30 pounds (14 kg) because I brought along cold weather gear and some comfort items that I would not carry for longer treks. For my four day trip, the pack weighed in at 32 pounds (15 kg). From my experience so far, I feel that the pack's volume is sufficient for two or three day hikes during cold weather and up to four day trips during the warmer months.




PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

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Media Pocket
The construction and materials of the pack have held up well to this point. The fit of the pack has been average and the shoulder straps have not caused an irritation issue. Also the media pocket is handy and the built in rain cover has worked great. The straps on the bottom of the pack have had no issues securing my tent. As expected, the hydration pocket and tube ports are a great feature. I have not had any comfort issues with the waist belt although a pocket or two would be nice. Once loaded, the pack does a good job of compressing to secure smaller loads.

I have not treated the pack with any type of waterproofing however I was happy with how it faired during a few light rains when I didn't bother to stop and pull out the rain cover. My contents stayed dry however the heavier material of the pack did take some time to dry off in the sun.

On the negative, the back pad is not the most comfortable during warm weather and securing the top lid down tightly is still a major issue. No matter how full the pack is, I cannot pull the lid down securely. It bounces all around while I hike which has really been irritating. To this point I would list this issue as the biggest concern I have with the pack.

The side pockets secure my standard one liter water bottles fairly well but they could be a little tighter. I would like to see a tighter fit that expands well so I can pack either my fuel bottle or water bottle more securely.

SUMMARY

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Side View With Tent
Overall to this point I would rate the pack as average. The pack is bullet proof with its construction and materials but the problem I am having with securing the top lid down is a major negative. The back pad tends to keep my back really warm during warm temperatures and some tighter fitting expandable pockets on the sides would be nice.

I would consider the pack's size adequate for two or three day hikes during the winter and up to four day trips during warmer, milder weather that requires less gear. For its size, the pack really does take in the gear and when it is not full, the pack does a good job of compressing to secure the load.

Please check back in two months to read my long term report.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I took the pack on one last weekend trip back to the Allegheny National Forest. The hike covered nearly 20 miles (32 km) on rugged, brush filled trail. Temperatures ranged from 60 F (16C) at night to 85 F (29 C) during the day and the weather was clear with no rain. Pack weight was just over 25 lbs (11 kg) as I took some unnecessary but handy items.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The pack construction has continued to hold up well. The media pocket has stayed in place and the straps have not frayed or torn. The fabric has also fared well even after my last trip that passed through some heavy underbrush at times. The bottom of the pack appears to be in good condition with no obvious holes or tears forming. In addition, the back pad was more comfortable on this trip than previous ones and I noticed that not as much sweat built up even though the temperatures were high. The shoulder straps are still comfortable and I have not had too many issues with the waist belt.

On the negative side, the top not securing tightly is still a major issue. It bangs around while I hike and it becomes very annoying. In addition, the side pockets seem to be losing some of their elasticity. They were not very tight fitting from the beginning and I have noticed that my standard 1L water bottles are not staying in place as well as they had been.

SUMMARY

I still rate this pack as average. It fits me well and it is well built however the issue with the top lid not securing down tightly is a show stopping issue for me. The pack is a good size for weekend hikes, it compresses down well and the straps have not caused any major irritation issues. The few times the pack has been rained on it did a fairly good job of keeping my gear dry even without the rain fly.
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The Pack in the ANF

CONTINUED USE

As for future use, I do not expect to use this pack for hiking trips. The lid issue is the prime reason for this prediction. If were not for this problem, I would probably use this pack from time to time for some of my shorter trips.

Thank you to High Sierra Sport Company and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this pack.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of High Sierra Sport Company gear
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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > High Sierra Col 35 Backpack > Test Report by Don Taylor



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