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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > High Sierra Sport Sentinel Pack > Test Report by Tom Callahan

HIGH SIERRA SENTINEL 65 BACKPACK
TEST SERIES BY TOM CALLAHAN
LONG-TERM REPORT
May 18, 2008

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Tom Callahan
EMAIL: tcallahanbgt AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 49
LOCATION: Seattle, Washington, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 170 lb (77.10 kg)

For the past 20 years I have lived off and on in Washington State, backpacking in the Cascade Mountains. I get out regularly on day hikes and multi-day trips and usually try to include a good off trail scramble. During the winter I get out snowshoeing at every opportunity. I also enjoy glacier climbing, summiting prominent peaks like Mt. Rainier (14K ft/4K m) and Mt. Baker (10K ft/3K m). My pack weight will range from 15 - 50 lbs (7 - 23 kg) depending on the season and the length and type of trip.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: High Sierra
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.highsierrasport.com
MSRP: US$180.00
Listed Weight: 4.8 lbs (2.2 kg)
Measured Weight: 5.6 lbs (2.5 kg)
Listed Dimension: 32.0" x 14.25" x 8.75" (81 cm x 36 cm x 22 cm)
Actual Dimensions: 32" x 13" x 10" (81 cm x 33 cm x 25 cm)
Listed Capacity: 3970 cu in (65 L)

Sentinel 65 Loaded Up
Sentinel 65 Loaded Up




INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The backpack arrived wrapped in a clear plastic bag, packed inside a brown shipping box. There were 3 hang tags; a large tag with images of the pack, specs and features, a warranty tag (good for the original owner for the life of the product) and a US Ski Team/VISA tag noting that a portion of the item proceeds supports the US Ski Team.

I had requested and received the Chipotle, Tungsten, Black model. This is a sharp looking color scheme. I really like the bright Chipotle color as it makes for a very high visibility pack which is a nice safety feature. Looking closely at the construction of the pack it is well made. The pack material feels very sturdy. Stitching is straight, tight and no loose threads. Load points are secured with reinforced stitching. Interior material edges are all finished with piping. Zippers are strong, made with nylon teeth and a metal slider.

The main body of the pack is constructed with Duralite Grid-Weave fabric, which looks a bit like a rip-stop nylon but it has just a slight texture to it. The bottom of the pack is made with Duralite Duraweave which is thicker and has a more durable feel than the Grid-Weave fabric. The top of the lid and the outside of the outer pocket are made with Duralite Mini-Weave which is similar in weight to the Grid-Weave fabric.

The pack is basically a top-loader that closes with a drawstring at the top of the main compartment, a nylon strap that cinches over the top of the compartment and a lid that cinches down with four straps. The pack also has a sleeping bag compartment at the bottom, which is accessible via a front-loading flap. A divider separates the sleeping bag and main compartments and may be unzipped to open up the entire pack interior.

The pack lid is a single compartment which opens via a single zipper that faces the back. This compartment is very large which will be great to load up with all those items that I like to have readily accessible. The lid compartment does not have a smaller internal zip compartment or a key leash, which would have been nice as I hate digging through my pack for keys at the end of a trip. An interesting feature on the bottom of the pack lid is a rubberized label listing and describing "12 SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS." I've never seen that on a pack before.
Shoulder Strap Attachment System
Shoulder Strap Attachment
Back View Showing Straps
Back View showing straps

The shoulder straps are constructed with Grid-Weave fabric on the outside and VAPEL mesh on the inside. This VAPEL is small, open mesh material that covers the padding. The shoulder straps are a one-piece unit which attaches to the pack by means of a nylon webbing strap, secured with Velcro-type fastener. This shoulder strap unit is secured to the horizontal web straps that run down the middle of the back of the pack. This series of horizontal web straps provides the means to adjust the height of the shoulder strap attachment point. The shoulder straps also have load-lifters with the option of a high or a low attachment point to the top of the pack. Sternum straps attach to the shoulder straps by means of plastic clips that slide up and down for a range of adjustments. The padding along the back of the pack is covered with a finer mesh than the shoulder straps and has several ventilation channels. The hip strap is similar in construction to the shoulder strap, Grid-Weave on the outside and VAPEL on the inside. There is a single, angled lumbar strap on each side, which is slightly different than the pack image on the web site that shows a pair of horizontal lumbar straps. The hip strap padding is very wide and very long, too long, as are the nylon straps. More about that in the next section, Trying It Out.

The pack has two vertical aluminum frame bars for support. These are easily removable and labeled so they are put back in the correct way. The bars have a double bend design and the product information notes they are adjustable.
Aluminum Frame Bar
Aluminum Frame Bar

The media pocket is attached to the left shoulder strap by means of a nylon strap and Velcro-type fastener. The pocket has a top flap that is also secured with Velcro-type fastener. There is ample room for a piece of personal electronics such as a hand held GPS, cell phone or mp3 player.

The outer pocket is constructed with Grid-Weave and Micro-Weave. It opens up the center with a zipper. This pocket is stitched to the pack along its bottom and two nylon straps along each side hold it in place. These nylon straps also serve as the pack's compression straps. This pocket is not very big, although large enough to hold my rain jacket, gloves and a hat. The pack has an open mesh pouch on each side which can accommodate a one liter water bottle. There are no other exterior pockets.

For exterior attachment systems, there is an ice axe loop on one side with a daisy chain above it. The daisy chain has a small, removable nylon strap with a Velcro-type fastener to secure the axe handle. The other side of the pack has a pair of small nylon loops for holding the bottom of trekking poles and the same daisy chain and strap arrangement above it to hold the tops of the poles. This will really come in handy when I need to secure my trekking poles to my pack. There is a pair of nylon straps that run along the bottom of the pack and in front of the sleeping bag compartment, clipping into the bottom of the daisy chain straps. These straps look like they will easily hold items such as a sleeping pad, tent or snow shoes. It is also possible to secure items like a climbing rope or sleeping pad between the outer pocket and the main body of the pack.

The rain cover is stowed in its own pocket in the bottom of the pack. It stays attached to the bottom of the pack with a small nylon strap. It covers the entire front of the pack and secures by means of a drawstring. The pinch toggle on the draw string holds the rain cover in place. The manufacturer information notes this rain cover may be used to cover and protect the pack as checked air luggage. However, the pinch toggle slides open easily on the drawstring cord if the rain cover is pulled at all, so I am not certain how well this cover would stay in place as a piece of checked luggage.

The pack has an internal pouch to hold a hydration bladder, an offset plastic hook to hang the bladder and a hydration tube port on either side of the pack. This internal pouch runs down the entire length of the back of the pack which is very unusual. It is not my preference to have my hydration bladder down at the bottom of my pack where it will be stuffed down and difficult to access and remove without taking everything else out of my pack. I'll likely be hanging my hydration bladder on the hook to keep it up higher in the pouch.

Hydration Pouch and Bladder Hook
Hydration Pouch and Bladder Hook


Now on to Trying It Outů

TRYING IT OUT

After looking over the pack, I was anxious to load it up and try out the fit. The main compartment readily accepted all my standard camping gear. My sleeping bag, packed in its compression sack, is 9" (23 cm) across and 12" (30 cm) long and fit easily into the sleeping bag compartment with extra room on the sides for small items like gloves, socks, etc. My regular pack is maxed out for space at its 60L capacity and so it was nice to have the extra room afforded by this 65L pack. With all this gear the pack weighed 40 lbs (18 kg) for this fit test.

Initially I had the shoulder strap unit on the upper attachment point. It felt comfortable height-wise, but the padding was pushing into my shoulder blades. I adjusted the shoulder strap down two adjustment points and it felt a lot better. I think I needed to get the shoulder padding below the upper bend in the frame bar. I can see I'll be fine tuning this a bit during my field testing.

Now as for the hip strap... I have an average sized waist, 34 in (86cm), and when I tried on the pack the ends of the foam padding nearly touched! When I cinched on the waist straps I almost ran out of room before the belt became snug. With the hip strap snugged up I had 21 in (53 cm) of extra strap sticking out of the end of the belt clip. So something is definitely wrong with the design size of this hip strap as it is way too long.

With the shoulder strap in a good position and the hip strap snug I then buckled up the sternum strap, snugged up the load lifters and lumbar straps. I had these load lifters attached at the upper attachment point. The pack felt very comfortable, snug to my back and balanced. The padding of the shoulder straps was firm and handled the weight without digging into my shoulders. The back padding also felt firm and comfortable. The large size of the padded portion of the hip strap really wrapped around my hips well, spreading out the load, distributing the weight of the pack over a broad area.

TESTING STRATEGY

I'll be using this pack on all my outings during the test period. This will include day trips and some multi-day trips into the Cascades Mountains on snow shoes and backcountry skis. Weather conditions will be typical Pacific Northwest, ranging from sunny to snow to rain. While this pack will make for an oversized day pack it will be a great size to hold all the extra gear I bring on overnight trips.

During the field testing I'll be fine tuning and adjusting the height of the shoulder strap. I'll adjust and bend the frame bars if necessary. I'll be checking out how compatible the pack is with different hydration bladders. While this pack will be tested mostly during the winter, to the extent possible I'll be checking to see how well the back ventilates over the course of the day. Given the typical weather I'll be experiencing, I'll have ample opportunity to see how weather-proof the pack material is and how well the rain cover keeps my gear dry. I'll also be trying out the exterior attachment options with different gear to check out this pack's versatility.


SUMMARY

This pack has a great capacity and the 65L volume handles all the gear I need for a multi-day trip. There are good options for securely strapping on other gear to the exterior. The strap and suspension system felt comfortable during my fit test.

As good as this pack felt during the fit test in my home, I'll be anxious to get out in the field to really see how this pack handles a load over a long period of time on the trail.

Pros: Pack capacity, range of strap adjustments for a good fit, built-in rain cover

Cons: Oversize hip strap, oversize hydration bladder pouch, lack of outside pockets

This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.

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


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I tested the Sentinel 65 primarily in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Testing began in mid-Jan so have used this pack on mostly snowshoe outings, with one trip on cross country skis. I used this pack on 7 day trips and one overnight trip during the testing period. While on day trips I would load up the pack with the equivalent bulk and weight of a typical weekend's worth of gear. So pack weight ranged from 30 to 40 lbs (14 to 18 kg) during this phase of the testing. I have used the pack to carry up to 55 lbs (25 kg). During the Long Term Testing I plan to test the pack up to the manufacturers recommended maximum load weight of 60 lbs (27 kg). Temperatures ranged from 20 to 50 F (-7 to 10 C), with most trips taking place around the freezing level. I encountered sunny days as well as rain and snow during the testing period. Elevation gain on most days averaged 2,000 ft (610 m).

I also use this pack regularly for conditioning, loaded up with 30+ lbs (14+ kg) of water jugs, jogging/powerwalking up a sand trail and steps at a nearby park.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Fit & Comfort:
Overall this pack is very comfortable to wear. The shoulder strap padding was of sufficient width and thickness to provide a good cushion under heavy loads. The Ergo Strap adjustment system enabled me to adjust the shoulder strap attachment point just where I needed it for a good fit. However I did not like the thick pad that is built into the center of the shoulder strap system. This pad is too thick and pressed into the center of my back between my shoulder blades. It didn't hurt, but it was noticeable and became annoying during the course of the day.

The load lifter and sternum straps are positioned well and enabled me to fine tune the pack fit.
Long hip straps
In the field

The padded portion of the hip strap is wide and long, which wrapped around my hips like I was getting a big hug. This helped to distribute the pack weight across a broad area and made it comfortable to carry a heavy load. Now for the negatives. Because the padded portion is so long, the end of the pads come to within 4.5 in (11 cm) of each other. (I have a 34 in (86 cm) waist.) And with the belt cinched down, the strap webbing extends out 19.5 in (50 cm) . This was way too much excess webbing and I had to tuck in away otherwise it dangled nearly to my knees. Also due to the width of the padding, when taking a large step up over a boulder or on a steep trail, the padding would press into my upper thigh and into my ribs. So while this hip strap padding is generously sized, it is a bit oversized. The hip strap buckle is strong and easy to clip. But it does not have a tab or groove to make it easy to loosen. I like a snug hip strap so I had to dig my fingers down between the buckle and the strap every time I wanted to loosen the strap.

Ease of Use:
I really like the 65L capacity of this pack. My regular pack is 60L and it seems I am always struggling to get all my gear into it. The Sentinel 65 has that extra 5L that made packing just a bit easier. To load I would first start with my sleeping bag. The sleeping bag compartment is easily accessed from the outside of the pack. The opening of this compartment was of sufficient size to accept my somewhat bulky synthetic bag. I then loaded the rest of my gear from top, cinching it closed with the two drawstrings.

This pack has a generous lid compartment which I really liked. I had ample room to stow all those items I like to have close at hand. The compartment easily fit my lunch, gloves, sunglasses, map, hat and camera.
The outer pocket on the front of the pack made for a good place to stow my rain jacket, providing quick, easy access. This pocket was just big enough to fit the jacket, but nothing else. This outer pocket is hinged, stitched to the pack only along the bottom edge, with the sides held in place by the compression straps. The space between this pocket and the pack was a great spot to put my foam pad or a climbing rope. Cinching down on the compression straps held this gear securely in place.

The gear straps systems on the pack exterior are designed well. I was able to attach the head of my ice axe to the single gear loop and the shaft was held securely in place with the hook and loop attachment strap on the daisy chain. This loop was not large enough to accept the T-handle of my snow shovel, necessitating that I take blade off the shaft, slide the shaft though the loop and reattach the blade. On the other side of the pack was a pair of smaller gear loops which were perfect for accepting the tips of my trekking poles. The shafts of the poles were held in place with the same hook and loop attachment strap and daisy chain system. The gear straps that looped up and over the sleeping bag compartment were well placed to hold my snow shoes in place securely. These would readily accept a sleeping pad or similarly sized item.

Loaded Up
Loaded Up


The pack's hydration bladder pocket for some reason extends down the entire length of the inside of the pack. This was much too long to just slide in my average-sized 2 L (68oz) MSR Dromedary hydration bladder. Therefore I hung the bladder from the built-in hook designed for this purpose. The hook worked well to suspend the bladder up in the pack. But the placement of the attachment point of the hook caused the pack material to pull down, creating a dimple which collected rain water and snow. The opening for the hydration tube was of sufficient size to allow the bite valve to fit through easily.

Dimple from Hydration Bladder
Dimple from Hydration Bladder


The media pocket was a nice extra. It readily accepted a cell phone, GPS , mp3 player or sunglasses. It is positioned well on the left shoulder strap, providing easy access for whatever is placed in it.

Venting/Moisture Control:
While the pack rode securely on my back the spacing and design of the padding provided good ventilation. Most of my testing was done while wearing a jacket, but there were times when I was down to a long sleeve shirt. During those times I felt my back was getting adequate ventilation.

Weather Resistance:
I was very disappointed in the weather resistant properties of this pack. The Grid-weave and Mini-weave pack material would soak through almost upon contact with rain or wet snow. This material is not advertised as being water resistant, but even so I was surprised that moisture would soak through it so quickly. The built in pack cover was not much better. In a light shower, water would bead up on the exterior of the cover initially, but within an hour it had soaked through the cover and was soaking through the pack material, wetting the pack contents.

Durability/Wear and Tear:
The pack has held up well during the testing. The padding of the shoulder straps and hip belt are in good shape, retaining their cushioning properties. The pack material, webbing and stitching are all intact, showing virtually no sign of wear.

Cleaning:
Most of my use has been in snow so this pack has stayed relatively clean and I have not been able to evaluate how quickly it gets dirty and how easily it may be cleaned.

FUTURE TESTING STRATEGY

For future testing I will continue to use this pack on my outings in the mountains of WA State. I will be looking to see how the padding, material and stitching hold up under prolonged use. Since Long Term Testing will continue through to mid May, I am expecting to have the opportunity to test this pack under warmer weather conditions to better evaluate its ventilation properties.

SUMMARY

I have been enjoying testing this pack. It has been great to have the extra room to stow my gear. Plus I like the flexibility to attach different gear to the outside of the pack. Overall the Sentinel 65 fits me well and is relatively comfortable even with heavy loads. However I cannot say the fit is ideal due to the shoulder strap padding that presses between my shoulder blades and the oversized hip strap padding. My biggest disappointment, though, is the poor water resistant properties of the pack.

Likes: Good overall capacity, large lid compartment, gear loops for both an ice axe and trekking poles

Dislikes: Poor water resistant properties, shoulder strap padding that presses on the area between the shoulder blades, oversized hip strap padding.

I would like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and High Sierra for giving me the opportunity to test this pack.

This concludes my Field Report. The Long Term Report will be posted in about 2 months. Please check back for more information.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I used this pack through part of the transition season here in the Pacific Northwest as winter lets go and spring begins to take hold. During the long-term testing phase I used the pack for an additional 8 days in the field including an overnight trip in the Alpine Lakes region of the Cascade Mountains. I averaged 5 hrs/day on the trail for each day of field testing. Average elevation gain was 3,000 ft (900m). Pack weight averaged 40 lbs (18 kg), however I used this pack with a 55 lb (25 kg) load on a few occasions.

During day trips I used this pack with nearly a full load of my regular equipment and a few water jugs so the pack weighed the equivalent of a weekend's worth of camping gear. For my overnight trip the pack was loaded with everything I needed; clothing, tent, stove, fuel, pot, snow shoes, crampons, ice axe, shovel, food, emergency kit, sleeping bag and sleeping pad. I also included my Backpacker's Oven and baked up some hot biscuits. They can make even a freeze dried meal taste good. During my overnight trip the pack weighed 47 lbs (21 kg). Distance traveled was 9 mi (15 km) and elevation gain for the trip was over 3,600 ft (1,100 m).

The pack is rated to have a capacity of 60 lbs (27 kg). It was not really possible to get the pack up to that weight with just my camping gear however I did load it up to 60 lbs (27 kg) using water jugs and a blanket just to see how it handled the weight. So while I did not hit the trail with the pack loaded to this max capacity, it felt OK on my back for this little test. With the amount of my standard camping gear that will fit in a 65L capacity pack I normally would end up with a pack weight approaching 50 lbs (23 kg).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The pack performed well during the testing. I emphasized testing this pack's ability to carry a load over the course of a day on steep terrain to see how the pack held up and to assess fit and comfort. Through the long term testing the shoulder straps and hip belt have retained their cushioning properties. Also the stitching, webbing and pack material have held up well, no open seams, broken threads, or fabric tears. During Long Term Testing I continued to have the same observations regarding fit and comfort that were noted in the Field Report. I would add that through proper adjustments and loading the pack felt well balanced and secure on my back, even on steep slopes and while scrambling over rocky terrain.

The pack worked well to hold all of my camping gear in the internal main compartments. The upper main compartment contained my tent, food, cook gear, stove, fuel, water filter, clothing and personal gear. As with any pack with large compartments, it helps to have gear organized in a different bags to facilitate finding items when needed. The lower sleeping bag compartment had extra room on the sides after placing the bag in it. I made use of this available room by storing my extra gloves, hat and extra socks in this space. Not only did it make good use of the space, it made it easier to find these items, not having to dig through the upper main compartment. Around camp the pack would stand up well on its own. The aluminum support bars helped the pack to keep its shape, facilitating loading and unloading.

In addition to the pack's main compartments, I continued to enjoy the large storage capacity of the lid. On every trip I used this lid compartment to store smaller items so they were readily accessible, minimizing the need to search through the main compartment.

The external attachment points and webbing provided great flexibility. On my last overnight trip, due to variability with the spring snow conditions I carried snow shoes, crampons, an ice axe and snow shovel on the pack, while carrying trekking poles in my hands. The various straps and attachment points not only enabled me to carry all this equipment, I was able to access a specific piece of gear when it was needed without having to unload everything off the pack.

I did discover a limitation associated with pack's rain cover. Aside from its poor water resistant properties already noted in the Field Report, it is designed to fit exactly over the pack when fully loaded. This is OK unless you have items strapped to the pack's exterior. For example, with my snow shovel strapped to the outside of the pack, the rain cover would no longer cover the sides of the pack, exposing the non-water resistant pack material. I would prefer the rain cover have some extra room to fully cover the pack when there are items attached to the outside. With a slightly larger rain cover, a good fit could still be obtained when there is no gear on the outside by cinching on the rain cover drawstring.

Pack w/ Gear, Cover Off
Pack with Gear, Cover Off

Pack w/ Gear, Cover On
Pack w/ Gear, Cover On


During this long-term testing period I was able to use the pack in warmer conditions such that I was not wearing a jacket. On some of the more strenuous hikes I would get a good sweat going and the wicking and venting properties seemed adequate. My back would naturally be very wet with sweat and there seemed to be sufficient airflow and wicking such that I was not uncomfortable or overheating.

Throughout the testing, I always placed my water bottle in the same exterior mesh side pouch. Towards the end of the test period I noticed the mesh of this pouch had begun to fray and pill. This is the result of the water bottle pressing against the mesh and being subject to rubbing against snow, rocks and dirt when I set the pack down.

SUMMARY

Overall I have been pleased with the performance of the Sentinel 65. The pack materials and construction have withstood many miles and hours of the trail under heavy loads. The pack has fit me well, although not perfectly. As previously noted, the hip belt is just a bit too wide and long. The hip belt width was not an issue on most trails. However on slopes of more than 45 deg or while rock scrambling the hip belt would press into my thigh and ribs. The shoulder harness and padding pressed against the middle of my back and shoulder blades which was a bit bothersome. Despite these issues, I have been relatively comfortable when using the pack throughout testing. While the pack is basically well made, an improvement would be to incorporate more weather resistant materials in its construction.

The pack served me well in accommodating my camping gear. The pack's two main compartments provided flexibility and ease of access to gear compared to a one compartment pack. The center exterior pocket was just the right size to hold my rain jacket, plus made it readily accessible. The large lid compartment made for a great place to store small items rather than have to search for them in one of the pack's main compartments. In addition to the good internal storage capacity, the pack provided the flexibility to handle an assortment of gear attached to the pack's exterior.

Fully loaded while on late May overnight
Fully loaded while on late May overnight


Things I liked most:
- The 65L capacity. This is a good size for the amount of gear I like to take backpacking.
- The large lid storage compartment with ample room for all those things I like to have readily available.
- Exterior gear straps and attachment points, especially the dual gear loop system, with a single loop on one side for an ice axe and double loops on the other side for trekking poles.

Things liked least:
- The hip strap is a bit oversized. This wide padded belt did provide good comfort to a point, but the padded portion was just a bit too long and wide. The webbing was also too long.
- Poor water resistant properties. This pack would benefit from having an effective waterproof coating on the main pack and rain cover.
- The padding associated with the shoulder straps and the shoulder strap harness attachment point would press against the center of my back and on my shoulder blades.

CONTINUED USE

I will continue to use the Sentinel 65 as my back pack for this coming camping season. If fits me well enough and I really like the capacity and external gear strap arrangement.

I have a different pack cover that provides better water proof protection which I will use rather than the one supplied with the pack. Also I will be trimming off the excessive hip strap webbing now that testing is complete.

This concludes my report. I would like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and High Sierra for giving me the opportunity to test the Sentinel 65 Backpack.

ADDENDUM - December 3, 2008

This section is an addendum to my test series. Following the conclusion of the test series in mid-May 2008 I continued to use the Sentinel 65 backpack. It was my primary pack for overnight trips and I often used it on day hikes, particularly for my training hikes. On each outing my pack weight ranged from 35-45 lbs (16 to 20 kg). When in the field with this pack I wore it on average 5 hrs/day. Following this test series, after 3 overnight trips and about 5 day hikes I had 3 failures during a single outing.

Webbing detached on one end
Webbing detached on one side


1) The major failure was that of the stitching for a section of the horizontal webbing which was the attachment point for the shoulder strap harness. The stitching for a section of this webbing let go along one side and as a result the webbing came detached on one end. I had noticed this particular piece of webbing was taking the majority of the strain whenever I was picking up the pack to put it on my back. But it never occurred to me this strain might ultimately cause the webbing to pull out. Because of the extent to which the stitching let go, I had to move the shoulder strap harness down 2 straps to get to webbing that was still held securely in place.

Hip belt adjustment strapped pulled out
Hip belt adjustment strap pulled out


2) On this same outing an adjustment strap on the hip belt pulled out from its attachment point on the right side of the pack. This strap attachment point is right in a seam. The strain on this strap and the seam resulted in the seam pulling open to the point that the strap pulled out. Fortunately this was just an adjustment strap, not one critical for load distribution.

Broken hydration bladder hook
Broken hydration bladder hook


3) The third failure that developed on this same trip was the breaking of the plastic hydration hook. I have no idea how this happened. I typically used a 3 L hydration bladder and the hook never looked or felt like it was strained on any of my trips. So I was surprised at the end of the his outing when I looked into the pack and there was the broken hook.

These all seemed like items which would be covered under High Sierra's life-time warranty policy. The High Sierra policy is noted on the company web site,

"High Sierra bags are warranted to the original owner against defects in materials or workmanship under normal recreational use. If a warranted product fails due to a material or manufacturing defect, we will repair or replace the product at our option. This warranty does not include bags or products with wheels, which have a 5-year warranty."

Through the web site I filled out the on-line Customer Return Authorization Form, which included a Comments section where I described the pack failures. The next day I received an email with a return authorization number and shipping instructions. I then shipped the item to High Sierra and 15 days later I received a brand new Sentinel 65 backpack. Plus, included with the pack was a form letter from High Sierra apologizing for the inconvenience along with a coupon for a $10 rebate towards my next High Sierra purchase. This return process was easy to do with very timely response on the part of High Sierra. Also I was surprised and impressed that High Sierra chose to replace rather than repair the pack.

To sum up, I was disappointed that I experienced these failures after only one season of use. I had put the Sentinel 65 pack through some hard use with heavy loads which apparently was too much for some of the pack's stitching. High Sierra does stand behind their product with their warranty, though. Additionally, the warranty return process is very smooth with prompt turnaround time. I don't plan on using the Sentinel 65 in the future because I don't have confidence it can hold up to my typical pack usage. I will likely donate the new Sentinel 65 pack I received to a local Boy Scout troop where it will be used but probably not quite so rigorously.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. 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 Sport Sentinel Pack > Test Report by Tom Callahan



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