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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > High Sierra Long Trail 90 > Test Report by Kurt Papke

High Sierra Long Trail 90 Pack

Test Series by Kurt Papke

Initial Report - September 29, 2008

Field Report - January 8, 2009

Long Term Report - March 3, 2009

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 55
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 220 lbs (100 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Backpacking background: mostly in Minnesota - have hiked all of the Superior Hiking Trail and Border Route.  Preferred/typical  backpack trip is one week.  I do periodic dayhiking in Michigan, Wisconsin, Utah, Colorado and Oregon.  I mostly backpack in the spring/Fall seasons.  I am a comfort-weight hiker: I try to carry as few items as possible, but do not go to extremes to reduce the weight of items carried.

Initial Report

Product Information

Manufacturer: High Sierra Sport Company
Year of manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer website: http://highsierrasport.com/
Listed weight: 6.1 lbs (2.77 kg)
Weight as received: 6.3 lbs (2.86 kg)
Standard volume:
5500 in^3 (90L)
Color tested:
422: Pacific, Tungsten, Black
Size tested:
Available in one size only
MSRP: US $215

Product Description

Long Trail 90 pack front viewThe High Sierra Long Trail 90 pack is described by the manufacturer as an "Expedition-style frame pack...for multi-day climbing or hiking".  Its voluminous capacity and comfort features should appeal to me when I want to carry large loads for a long time.

The Long Trail 90 pack achieves its volume by segmenting space and extending itself in all dimensions: horizontally, vertically, and to the front.  There is a sleeping bag compartment with zippered separator as shown at the bottom of the picture on the left, and above the water bottle holders are two half-zippered (the zippers extend only along the front) small vertical side pockets.  The pack lid is spacious (two zippered pockets), adjustable front and rear to accommodate variable collar extensions and removable.  I was a little surprised that there are no hipbelt pockets.  The main compartment is huge: it is the first pack I have ever been able to easily fit my bear cannister into.

The two substantial removable stays shown in the above photo have been removed from the pack and set alongside.  These can be bent for a custom fit, something I plan to experiment with during the test cycle.

The bottom compression straps shown in the above photo can be used for external sleeping pad storage, and the hook-and-loop trekking pole straps are located on each side.  The front pockets are behind the nicely-illustrated cardboard feature card in the front photo.  The two water bottle pockets are also shown on each side in the picture. The one on the right is holding a 1L Platy bottle which can be seen extending well past the side pockets. The pocket on the left that is barely visible is holding a 1 qt Gatorade bottle.  The pockets are elastic, but lack a drawstring.   Both bottles fit very snugly into the pockets. They are not going to fall out, but they don't slide in easily either.

Inner front pocket and main compartmentThere are two stacked front pockets. The outer pocket is small with a vertical zipper. The inner pocket is larger with a semi-circle zipper and an interior pouch -- perfect for rain gear.  The interior of the inner pocket is shown in the photo at right with the zippered access to the main compartment right behind it.  As shown in the photo, the bear cannister fits with room to spare.  The orange plastic inner pocket liners seem like they would be quite water-tight. Perhaps they would be a good place for wet raingear, a tarp, or a rain fly.



High Sierra Long Trail 90 back viewThe picture to the left shows the back view including the substantial molded foam back.  The air channels which allow the back to breathe are shown in the photo.  Note that the shoulder straps and the huge hip belt are generously padded.  The rectangular lumbar pad is good sized and comfortably padded.

Not visible in the picture is a self-tensioning sternum strap that combines an elastic with an nonelastic strip that limits the stretch.

On the left strap (right side of picture) is the removable shoulder strap "media pocket".  The pocket is a very tight fit for my Garmin eTrex Legend GPS, but my iPod Nano and cell phone fit nicely.  The pocket was too small for my camera, so I will attach my accessory shoulder strap pocket to the right strap during the test period.

In the center of the picture are the strap loops for the adjustable ("ERGO-FIT") shoulder harness.  Adjustments are very simple: peel back the hook-and-look strip, move it to the desired set of strap loops, and re-attach the hook-and-loop strip.  A second attachment point for the load-lifter straps is located behind the top of the shoulder straps, to be used if the harness is adjusted significantly lower.  I will not be using the adjustable harness features during the test period, as my pack arrived adjusted for a long torso and fit me perfectly out of the box.


Long Trail 90 pack hydration sleeveAll hydration sleeves are not created equal.  The picture on the right shows the huge sleeve which extends to the bottom and both sides of the pack.  The sleeve is so large that it will be important to attach a reservoir to keep it from sliding around.  The hook shown at the top of the picture appears to be intended to perform this function, but I find it curious that there is only one hook.  All the reservoirs I am familiar with have two holes for hanging.

The sleeve is so large that it may prove useful for storing wet gear in, keeping it separated from the dry compartment.

The two webbing straps in the picture are where the aluminum stays go.  The stays are removed by lifting the two hook-and-loop webbing flaps.

Unfurled pack coverCover wrapped around pack
Above are two views of the pack cover.  In the photo on the left, I have removed the cover from its hook-and-loop closed pocket and spread it out on the floor.  Note the strap attaching it to the inside of the storage pocket.  In the photo on the right the cover has been wrapped around the pack and cinched down with the drawstrings.  The handy luggage tag is in the middle of the picture. High Sierra notes that the cover is useful when checking the bag as luggage.

The left photo shows the sleeping pad compression straps attached criss-cross.  The Long Trail 90 pack has the straps quite far apart for my rolled up Therm-a-Rest pad.  By crossing the straps the pad doesn't fall off the pack.

Pack bottomLastly, the photo at the right shows the bottom of the pack.  Note that the compression straps extend across the bottom of the pack to attach to the back.  The most interesting item in the photo is the assymetric loops for ice ax and/or trekking pole attachment.  There is one large loop on the left, and two smaller loops on the right.  This is a configuration that I have not seen before.  Perhaps this is intended for an ice ax on the left and two poles on the right.  I'll have to experiment with this a bit to see how this works out.

Initial Impressions

Quality of materials and "fit and finish" of the pack are excellent.  I could find no instances of poor workmanship, missewn seams, nor frayed threads.

Author wearing packAfter filling the pack with gear I hoisted it up onto my back and walked around the basement (photo at left).  The picture was taken before I had symmetrically adjusted the shoulder straps...  I was very favorably impressed with the comfort. The  hip belt padding felt very pleasant and supported the pack weight well.  The back panel was also a good fit with no pressure points.  All the strap adjustments were obvious in their use and allow the pack to accommodate varying torso lengths, waist and chest sizes.  The sternum strap is also visible in the photo.

Most notable in the picture is the setting of the hipbelt clips. I have the hipbelt tightened as far as it will go.  I have a 38 in (96 cm) waistline.  Someone with a smaller waist will not be able to snug up the hipbelt satisfactorily.  Oddly, the High Sierra fit/sizing sheet lists this pack for waist belt sizes "up to 40 inches". In fact that would be at the lower end of the range, not the upper limit by any means.  What is not visible in the picture is the excess hipbelt webbing hanging down to my knees.  It'll be interesting to see where I go with the excess!

The Long Trail 90 pack seems very full-featured with the exception of the hipbelt pockets already mentioned and perhaps a zippered pocket with keyring attachment for car keys and valuables.  In fact, there are so many features that I had to restrain myself from overdoing the photos in the Initial Report.  There are many compression straps and rings for attaching gear everywhere on this pack.

It seems like the biggest challenge with this pack will be keeping myself from filling it with too much weight.  I recently spent a week in Isle Royale National Park in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, and my companion had a similarly-sized pack that weighed in at 63 lbs (28.5 kg).  His comment was "I could fit all this stuff in here so I thought I should take it".  By the end of the second day he had blistered feet and sore legs from humping up and down the Minong Trail with that load.  Hopefully I will have more restraint when using the Long Trail 90 pack.

Test Plan

I have plans for a week-long October trek through the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan.  This trip should be long enough to assess comfort levels over a moderately long period as well as getting an initial indication of durability.  I will attempt to assess:
  • Comfort: are the shoulder straps comfortable?  How well do the hip belts carry 90 liters (5500 in^3) of gear including lots of food?  How well does the molded foam backpanel mate with my back and shoulder blades after a week?  I have a tendency to play with the load lifters in the afternoon as I get tired. Am I able to vary the load with this pack?  Do I find it worthwhile to re-bend the stays?
  • Usability: how easy is it to pack my gear in the various compartments?  In particular, the side pockets seem quite small, will I be able to use them effectively?  How easy is it to attach my trekking poles in the afternoon when I often stop using them, and do they stay on?  How easy is it to get a reservoir in the hydration sleeve and thread the tube?
  • Accessibility: can I actually reach my water bottles in the two provided pockets without taking the pack off?  As mentioned, they are pretty snug, I will be interested to see how easy it is to get bottles in/out of the pockets while in motion, especially with gloves on.
  • Reliability & robustness: how well does the pack survive abrasion?  I am not gentle when hoisting my pack. How well do the straps hold up?  There are lots of zippered pockets. Do they snag or break?  The zippers are quite substantial and require quite a bit of effort to use, how well do they work in cold weather?
  • Functionality: how effective is the compartment design?  Am I able to use the various compartments effectively with no wasted space?  How well placed are the sleeping pad compression straps? Does my pad fall out?  How well does the collared storm shield keep water out of the pack?
  • Moisture control: does the pack cover keep contents dry?  Does the hydration sleeve keep any leaks out of the pack?  Does the lining in the front pockets contain any moisture there?
  • Aesthetics: its a clean-looking pack. Does it still look that way after 4 months of wear and tear?
This concludes my Initial Report on the High Sierra Long Trail 90 backpack.  The Field Report will be appended to this document in approximately two months.

Field Report

Field Locations/Conditions

Long Trail on the SHTDuring the Field Report period my first use of the backpack was on a 4-day backpacking trip along the Southern end of the Superior Hiking trail in Northern Minnesota from October 13-16.  This trail section varies in altitude from 650 to 1200 ft (200 to 365 m).  The terrain is forested with granite outcroppings.  Temperatures ranged from a high of 60 F (16 C) to a low of 28 F (-2 C) at night.  My starting total weight was 50.7 lbs (23 kg) including 3 qts (3 l) of water.

The photo at left shows the pack at a rest break on the Pine Ridge overlook.  The remarkable aspect of the photo for me is there is nothing tied to the back of the pack!  On all my backpacking trips I have my sleeping pad, camp shoes and rain jacket/pants strapped to the back of my pack.  I was able to put all of my gear in the pack without even having to extend the collar to fit.  The only items on the outside of the pack are the things I want there: water, and my knife/thermometer dangling from the zipper in the back.

Winter campingSecond use was December 8-10, 2008, a 3-day trip to the Superior Hiking Trail along the Beaver Bay to Penn Creek section.  Beginning pack weight was 46.8 lb (21.25 kg) including 7.8 lb (3.5 kg) of food and 3 qt (3 l) water.  Temperatures ranged from a low of -2F (-19 C) to a high of 15F (-9 C).  Elevation ranged from 750 to 1250 ft (230 to 380 m).  This was clearly a winter camping outing (see photo at right), and I was happy for the capacity of the pack.  Even with its copious capacity, I still ended up strapping my camp boots and snowshoes to the back of the pack.

I was pleased that my 0F (-18 C) synthetic fill sleeping bag fit in the proper compartment of the pack.  However, it took some cramming to get it in there, and my Hennessey SuperShelter open cell foam pad would not fit into the sleeping bag compartment with the bag.  It had to go into the main compartment.  The good news is the main compartment of this pack is so large it swallowed the pad with aplomb.


Observations

  • The pack fit me very well - I was able to carry virtually all the weight comfortably on my hips.
  • There are a lot of nooks and crannies, hooks and loops to store things in this pack.  One of my challenges was remembering where I put things.
  • The side pockets are small.  They are large enough to be useful, but only about 60% of the size of the side pockets on another pack I have.  They are too small for a 1 l (1 qt) insulated Platypus bottle.  I did find them useful for storing hats, gloves, mittens and other items I needed to access on hiking breaks without opening the pack or accessing the front pockets which had gear strapped over the top of them.
  • The small vertical front pocket in the picture above (with the knife & thermometer dangling from the zipper) is very small (thin).  About all I could fit in there was a package of cigars, and it was good they were small cigars.
  • The hydration sleeve is huge.  It is so deep, that once I forgot to hang my reservoir on the hook, and it slid to the bottom of the pack.  The result was the drinking tube was so shortened (reaching to the bottom of the deep pack) that I could hardly get it in my mouth.
  • Some of the zippers required substantial effort to work, particularly on the side and front pockets.  They never snagged, but they required a lot of force to open or close.  They worked well in frigid weather, and never froze up on me during extreme cold weather.
  • The adjustment for the right shoulder strap started to slip after the second day on the trail.  By the end of the 4-day trip just moderate bouncing caused it to loosen more than I would have liked.  By the second trip both shoulder straps slipped constantly, which annoyed me greatly and caused the pack to tilt backwards.
  • The shoulder strap padding was not as comfortable as I expected given the weight carried in the pack.  The sparse padding plus the slippage mentioned in the previous point resulted in some pretty sore shoulders.
  • The pack felt and looked a bit top-heavy.  It was odd to twist my neck, look behind me and see the pack cover looming behind me.  Once I got used to carrying it, the weight distribution seemed fine, but it definitely took some getting used to.
  • There are two zippered pockets in the pack lid.  I cannot figure out why the top one (the smaller pocket) is felt lined.  I intend to use it for goggles  and sunglasses on my next trip, as the liner should protect the lenses.
  • I found a use for the media pocket: two energy/protein bars fit very nicely in there.  I appreciated being able to grab a snack without putting the pack down.
  • The pack fabric seems really durable.  I was slinging it down on granite outcroppings without a care, and so far it has suffered no ill effects.
  • The extension collar has a draw cord around the base and the top.  I never used the one at the bottom, but the one at the top worked well and allowed me to corral my gear in the main compartment.  The top compression strap was effective in squeezing my gear down.
  • I found the pack cover to be most useful at night.  I enjoyed being able to just pull the cover up and over the top and not worry about my gear getting wet or full of snow.  It was large enough that I could stash boots and other gear under the cover.  Nice!

Big Pack Syndrome (BPS)

Me at the grocery store before the trip: "Yeah, another bag of Peanut M&M's, that'd be good.  Ooooh, let's throw a jar of Nutella in there too."  When packing a 90 l pack, I found I had little or no self-restraint.  For me to have a pack that weighed that much for a 4-day trip is a bit of an embarrassment.  This is not the fault of the High Sierra Long Trail pack - it did not hypnotize me into loading up like that.  I just have to learn that its OK to use the compression straps on the pack to tighten it up when its not full.

Busted

Busted hydration sleeve hookIn preparation for my December backpacking trip I was stowing my hydration reservoir in the sleeve and heard a "pop".  The photo at left shows the broken reservoir hook which was the source of the popping sound.

The good news is that the reservoir I was using is large enough to sit in the sleeve with no support needed from the hook.  To prevent any further damage from sharp edges, I snipped off the hook with diagonal cutters.


Summary

Likes:
  • I liked having the integral rain cover, which I mostly used to cover the pack at night.  As a hammock camper I do not have a vestibule in which to store my pack, and I appreciated the self-protecting design.
  • The hipbelt padding was very comfortable, and effective at transferring the load directly to my hips.
  • The main compartment, sleeping bag compartment and pack lid are all huge and can swallow lots of gear.
  • I appreciated the neat look of having all my gear inside the pack instead of hanging off the front.
  • The combination of draw cords and compression straps on the extension collar, combined with the adjustable straps for the pack lid made a very effective system to configure the pack for varying amounts of gear.
  • There are few packs that can accommodate strapping snowshoes to the back.  This one can.
  • This is a durable pack.  I don't coddle my packs, and the Long Trail 90 looks brand-new (except for the broken hydration hook) after all my field use.
Areas for improvement:
  • No pack should have shoulder strap buckles that slip and loosen up.
  • The very front pocket and side pockets could be bigger to make them more useful.
  • The hydration sleeve is perhaps too big.  Reservoirs just don't come that size, and things can get lost in there.  This issue is compounded by the sole hydration reservoir hanger, which in my case broke off.  That meant my reservoir sunk to the bottom of the sleeve, which goes all the way down to the bottom of the pack.
  • The zippers require excessive effort to operate.
  • The hipbelt padding wrapped around to the front of my abdomen more than it needed to.  My stomach is already sufficiently padded on its own, such that having padding on the belt pressing against it seems overkill, and could prevent someone with a smaller waist from completely tightening it.
  • The hipbelt webbing straps are too long.  The previous point about the length of the padding contributes to this.  As a result, I had to tuck the excess straps behind the padding to keep them from flopping around in front of me.
This concludes my Field Report for the High Sierra Long Trail 90 Pack.

Long Term Report

Strap Slip

tri-glidePrior to any use during the final two months of testing, I decided that correction of the shoulder strap slip was necessary.  I was about to embark on some Winter backpacking with heavy loads, and I was unwilling to use the pack on these trips with the malfunction.  After correspondence with other gear testers, I settled on the use of tri-glides.  These little pieces of hardware would prevent future strap slippage without permanently altering the pack, so if necessary the alteration could be undone.  I visited my local gear store and purchased four 1-inch (2.5 cm) tri-glides.

I removed the strap from the buckle, looped it through the tri-glide, back through the buckle, then down through the tri-glide again.  The result is shown in the photo at left, the added tri-glide highlighted with a red rectangle.  The position in the photo is a little misleading, as there is a fair amount of slack in the strap moved up into the buckle.  Under tension, the tri-glide does not touch the buckle.

This process was repeated four times: once for each load lifter, once for each shoulder strap near the base of the pack.

The downside of this additional hardware is that the load lifters and strap tightness cannot be adjusted while the pack is worn.  I have to take the pack off, adjust the webbing passing through the tri-glide, then adjust the buckle.  This seemed like an acceptable trade-off to me, as once my straps are set the way I like them, I rarely change them except if I change jackets or other upper-body clothing that impacts the strap fit.

The tri-glides prevented all strap slip once attached.  I went from tugging on them every half-hour to not touching my straps at all.  Now that my shoulder straps could be properly adjusted and stay that way, my shoulders felt much better when using the pack.


Test Locations/Conditions

Dates
January 11-13, 2009
February 12-14, 2009
Location
Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) near Finland, Minnesota
Porcupine Mountains, Michigan Upper Peninsula
Altitude
1322 ft to 1726 ft (400 m to 525 m)
778 ft to 1600 ft (237 m to 490 m)
Temperatures
High of 15 F, low -27 F (-9 C to -33 C)
Daytime highs of 30 F (-1 C), nighttime lows around 15 F (-9 C),
Terrain
Forested with lakes and rivers
Rolling hills with no steep ascents
Forested with lakes and rivers.  The trail was along an escarpment with some steep grades.
Pack weight
Part one: 47.2 lbs (21.4 kg)
Part two: about 50 lbs (23 kg)
47.0 lbs (21.2 kg) including
3L (3 qts) of water
30 oz (0.9 L) white gas fuel
Food for 4 days/3 nights

Superior Hiking Trail

The January snowshoe & backpacking trip was based around the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) Finland Rec Center trail head where our vehicle was parked.  The plan was to hike North toward Sonju Lake on day one, return back to the trail head on day two to resupply and continue East towards Leskinen Creek, spend day three continuing East towards Section 13 and the big beaver pond at the bottom of the cliffs, then hike out on day four.  We were aware of potential extreme cold after the first night; predictions were for lows at night around -22 F (-30 C).  We knew we would have to be flexible.

I carried all my gear in the Long Trail 90.  My hiking partner Sean used only a pulk sled for the first leg, then switched to sled plus backpack for the second leg.

Day one of the trip provided perfect snowshoe conditions: 15 F (-9 C) with only very light winds when we hit the trail at noon.  Due to deep, powder snow of 2-3 ft (60-90 cm) and an unbroken trail, we didn't make nearly as much distance as we hoped and stopped for the night at Egge Lake.  Distance was 3.3 miles (5.3 km), and we alternated leading due to the effort of blazing the trail.  The snow was so powdery that our snowshoes sunk over a foot (30 cm) with each step, which meant lifting them quite high on each stride.

I was pleased at the way the Long Trail 90 handled in this situation.  I had no load shifting, and the pack stayed very stable on my back despite the inevitable body rocking that comes from taking big steps in snowshoes.  Properly adjusted shoulder straps that did not loosen while hiking contributed to the stability.

On day two we backtracked to the vehicle, topped off our white gas and gathered up additional gear for what was supposed to be a wickedly cold night.  From there we departed East on the trail and made 6.4 miles (10.3 km) for the day, not bad considering that on the second leg we were breaking trail again.  Once again the Long Trail 90 pack performed admirably, this time with additional weight and bulk for the cold conditions.

We made Leskinen Creek about 3:30PM and set up camp quickly as the temperature was dropping and the sky clearing.  As it turned out the temperature dropped to -27 F (-33 C) that night.

The next day we decided to hike out and cut the trip a day short, as some dog sledders in the parking lot warned us it was supposed to get dangerously cold with wind chill warnings the following evening.  Better to quit while we were still having fun.

Porcupine Mountains

This was a solo trip.  Starting from the ski chalet around lunchtime I hiked up the Escarpment Trail in 3-4 ft (1-1.3 m) of snow, breaking trail all the way.  This was a steady uphill climb, with most of the vertical gain in a 1 mile (1.6 km) section.  Camped that night in a wooded area on the escarpment.

Day two was an out-and-back to the Lake of the Clouds overlook.  Again, breaking trail all the way out, the trail was an up-and-down section along the escarpment.  From the overlook I hiked back to a campsite just East of where I camped the night before.

Day three was an easy morning hike downhill to my car.

This trip was the first time I really attempted to use the front-load capability of the pack, in this case for stowing and accessing my stove for a hot lunch.  I tend to pack my gear very tightly, and though I was able to remove the stove OK it wasn't easy to cram it back in again after the contents shifted and settled.

Pack cover in the snowI also used the pack cover extensively in the evening.  As a hammock camper, I do not have the luxury of a vestibule.  I sometimes put my pack beneath my hammock for protection, but that makes it a hassle to access the contents as I have to bend over and crawl underneath the hammock and tarp.

As can be seen from the photo at right, the cover protected the pack and all my gear from the night's snowfall.  I appreciated the ability to "stash" things under the pack cover while I was changing clothes while it was snowing.  It was easy to lift the cover and throw something under there for a few minutes to keep the snow off.

I also used the pack cover a few times as a ground sheet to sit or stand on for a few minutes.  It was a little chilly standing on it in my socks, but while changing pants it was pretty handy.

It was very easy to deploy the pack cover, just undo the hook-and-loop strip and pull it out.  It was also easy to pack back in, just a quick fold, stuff it in the pocket, and press on the hook-and-loop strip.


Observations

Multimat strapped to pack Winter camping requires substantially more bulky gear than other seasons.  The result can be seen in the photo at left taken on the last morning before hiking out to the Finland trail head on the SHT trip.  A number of items had to be strapped to the outside of the pack.

On the bottom are my SuperShelter foam pad in the green bag, and my down sleeping bag in the orange bag.  My main sleeping bag is inside the pack in the compartment.  Note how the pack straps are long enough to be criss-crossed, a technique that holds gear very securely.  I was able to pack my main sleeping bag in the compartment without using a dry sack for the first time, as there is no danger of rain in these conditions.  I appreciated the separate compartment giving me the ease of packing the bag directly.

On the left of the pack is my 1L (1 qt) Nalgene bottle in a blue insulating sleeve.  This hooked nicely to one of the compression straps.  Though I could not reach it while hiking, it was quickly accessible at breaks when I took off my pack.  It would be nice if this insulated bottle fit into the side pockets, but it did not.

My Exped MultiMat can be seen vertically strapped to the right side of the pack, in this case with two of the compression straps.  This worked perfectly and allowed quick access to the mat for use as a sit pad for breaks.

The black insulated hose from my Platypus Insulator hydration reservoir can be seen coming out of the hydration port at left.

Last, note the red 20 oz (0.6 L) MSR gas cylinder in the left water bottle holder mesh pocket.  This worked very well giving me access to the fuel when making a hot lunch.  Not visible in the picture is a 20 oz (0.6 L) Gatorade bottle in the right water bottle holder pocket.  Both of these items fit nicely in the pockets, and were easy to stow and access.

During the Porcupine Mountains trip I used a 1 qt (1 L) Gatorade bottle, which also fit nicely in the pocket.  I used a 30 oz (0.9 L) MSR gas cylinder on this trip, which was a snug fit beneath the side pocket.

Summary

The High Sierra Long Trail 90 has proven to be a capable Winter backpacking piece of gear.  Its large volume, load bearing capacity, and facilities for strapping gear to the outside allowed me to carry enough gear for several days in the backcountry in very cold conditions.  The built-in pack cover is very effective at keeping winter snow off the pack.  I was impressed with the way the pack handles when traveling with snowshoes.  Though my hiking partner had the advantage on downhills with his pulk sled, I was able to clamber up steep grades and cross bridges more easily with this pack.  On the solo Porcupine Mountains trip I had to climb some very steep slopes and handle some difficult lateral grades on snowshoes, and I never felt that the pack constrained my movements.

Once I solved the strap slip problems with the tri-glides my feelings of pack comfort improved greatly.  Clearly some of my prior experiences with sore shoulders were the result of the pack tipping back from my shoulders.   Other than the early failure of the hydration reservoir hook, the reliability of the pack has been excellent.  All the zippers, pull-cords, elastic, buckles, etc. still work like they were new.

For my use, the jury is still out on the front-load capability.  The zipper adds some weight to the pack, and considering how little I used it (once) I question whether it's worth the additional weight.

I intend to continue to use this pack after the test period is over on trips where I need this kind of capacity.  I would recommend it to any backpacker who needs the space and load-carrying ability, has a large enough waistline for the hipbelt to fit properly, and who is willing to make some adjustments to prevent the strap slippage.

Many thanks to High Sierra Sports and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.



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