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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > MEC Ibex 65 > Owner Review by Jacob KokuraMEC Ibex 65
March 25, 2009
Name: Jacob Kokura
Height: 5’ 8” (1.73 m)
Weight: 205 lb (95 kg)
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Date: March 23, 2009
Backpacking Background: I've been camping since I was young, and I now spend about three weeks in the back-country each year on a series of two to five day trips. My packs are generally in the lightweight category, and I’ve managed to develop a stock of great gear with careful purchases. Living near the Rockies in Alberta and British Columbia has made my trips really exciting with majestic views, unpredictable weather, and challenging terrain.
Manufacturer: Mountain Equipment Co-op
Web site: www.mec.ca
Product: Ibex 65
Size: Long (also available in Short and Standard)
Year manufactured: 2007
MSRP: $159 Canadian
Weight listed: 3.0 kg (6.61 lb)
Actual weight 3.0 kg (6.61 lb)
Volume listed: 68L (4150 cu in)
Load weight capacity suggested: to about 40 lb (18 kg)
Color reviewed: Petrel/Carbon
My Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) Ibex 65, purchased in 2007, is an entry level pack designed to include many of the features of more expensive packs while remaining affordable. Made in Vietnam, the pack is mainly constructed of 630 denier Superpack nylon, with 1050 denier Superpack nylon on higher abrasion areas like the floating lid, pack bottom and side pockets. All exterior zippers are either weatherproof or flap protected, and all seams are fully taped. Though the Ibex comes in 3 lengths, my particular pack is a Long, holds 68 litres (4150 cubic inches), and weighs 3.0 kg (6.61 lb). The pack features a floating lid with an exterior pocket which includes a key clip and a mesh pocket inside and a see through pocket underneath the lid, a sleeping bag compartment found at the bottom of the pack which includes a removable trampoline divider to allow the sleeping bag compartment to be included with the main compartment or kept separate as the owner desires, mesh side pockets, a removable ice axe loop, two vertically zippered side pockets, a sleeve and ports for a hydration pack, and a front pocket featuring an elastic cord rig on the outside of the pocket, two hip belt pockets, as well as a capacious main compartment accessed from the top of the pack. The suspension system is formed by a polyethylene frame sheet and twin aluminum stays. The reviewed pack is a long format bag, and the weight delivered was accurate to the manufacturers specifications. MEC also offers an 80 L (4900 cubic inches) version of the pack.
Between the summer of 2007 through until early 2009 this pack has primarily been used in the Kananaskis and Rocky Mountain Ranges in south western Alberta, Canada. The terrain in all cases involved travel distances of 7-14 km (4.5-9 miles) per day. While being used the majority of the time on maintained trails, the pack has also seen a small share of typical back-country abuse while bush whacking and short scrambles. The pack was also worn in a variety of weather conditions, including sunny heat (35 C/95 F), cold snowy weather (-5 C/23 F), as well as extended rainy periods.
Because of its size I have generally have used this pack in multi-day trips, using it more than 15 nights over 2 summers. A few examples of trips I’ve taken the pack on include the Elbow Loop and Turbine Canyon both found in the Kananaskis Mountains outside Calgary, Alberta, and Landslide Lake found outside Rocky Mountain House, British Columbia. The Elbow Loop, a 45 km (28 mile) loop featuring 3 campsites spread out equal distances around the loop, a side track to the beautiful Tombstone lakes below Tombstone mountain, and an elevation gain of 250 metres (820 feet). Turbine Canyon is a 45 km (28 mile) trip with an elevation gain of 550 metres (1800 feet), which was made with a slow moving group of students during a bizarre, snowy, late summer week. Landslide Lake was a difficult 34 km (21.1 mile) trek with a 650 metre (2130 feet) gain.
Looking to return to the backpacking world after getting married I had a need for a new pack with little to spend. Heading into a local store I found the MEC Ibex 65, not too expensive, but full of features that many other more expensive packs boasted of. What drew me to the pack at first was its inclusion of a lower sleeping bag compartment, a hydration sleeve, and hip belt pockets. I’ve used it fairly extensively, and here are my observations from my use.
I have used this pack for solo trips, as well as using it as I led a group of students, carrying my own gear, navigation equipment, and also some of the group gear, including a large first aid kit, repair gear, a two man, four season tent with poles and pegs, and some of the fuel for the group. The Ibex has always handled my load admirably, holding upwards of 23 kg (50 lb) of gear, filling the pack to the brim, however, I have found that the heavier the pack is, the less I could make it comfortable for my back. The major problem I have with the Ibex is how little adjustment for different torso lengths there is. The pack comes in the three different lengths noted above, but there is no ability to adjust the shoulder straps to deal with a different torso length than the 3 sizes allow for. The pack does have the proper load lifter adjustments on the shoulders and stabilizer straps on the hip belt which is typical of any other multi-day pack, but if the Ibex isn’t a perfect fit, there’s no way to make it better by adjusting the straps or belt positions. I have a fairly long back, though I am not very tall, so I found myself between the Medium and the Long sizes. I went with the Long due to the advice of the sales assistant at the store I bought from, advice I began to realize wasn’t the greatest after several trips carrying heavy loads. Over the course of any trip, as my food was eaten and fuel used or I was able to spread out more of the group gear I was carrying, the weight load become more bearable for me and I didn’t mind wearing the pack as much. The length of the pack continues to be an issue for me.
Though I don’t always find the pack comfortable, the Ibex’s configuration of pockets and compartments make it easy to pack all of the gear I need and keep it organized during the entire trip. The lid, with its water resistant, see-through, underside pocket and capacious top pocket with an interior mesh pocket, makes it easy to organize and protect small important items like my map and compass, snacks, headlamp, toiletries, keys, ID cards, and campsite permits. The hip belt pockets are wonderful to have, making it easy to access a small bag of GORP while hiking, some bug spray and sunscreen, or a compass for a quick bearing check. The hydration sleeve is, after my experiences using this pack, a necessary feature on any pack and having this option makes the Ibex very appealing. The side pockets made it easy to store items that needed to be kept separate like rain gear, dirty tools, or white fuel canisters, as did the lower compartment where I kept my tent or sleeping bag.
I have found the hip belt was able to handle all loads I’ve packed without slipping off my hips, but that was due in part to a modification made by myself - I replaced the original buckle with a new buckle, identical to the first, because I stepped on the original which had broken it immediately following my first trip using the Ibex. I found the original buckle had slipped slightly, a problem remedied surprisingly with a new buckle. I have not heard other Ibex owners complain about this issue, making me believe my original buckle was the problem and not typical.
The suspension of the pack has been quite good, and having used a less expensive MEC pack in the past, I appreciated the upgrade the Ibex has in this area. In comparison, the Ibex more easily handled the 23 kg (50 lb) load I threw at it during one trip when compared to the lesser pack. I qualify that observation because the long pack wasn’t the best fitting for me and I found that weight uncomfortable because of the poor fit. That said, the Ibex suspension didn’t fail at that weight, whereas other packs - even ones that fit better - have failed to properly hold at that weight for me.
As for durability, the pack itself seems bombproof, very resistant to the abrasion and abuse delivered by the rigours of back-country travel. Although the material of the pack isn’t specified as water resistant, or by any means water proof, it did not allow much, if any water inside the pack during the continuous rain and even snow of some trips I’ve used this pack for. Despite needing to wear rain and insulation layers during many of my trips, the pack did not need a rain cover to keep items in the pack dry. I keep spare clothing in dry-bags inside my pack, but I will say that even the dry-bags did not see moisture through the material of the pack. I do not suppose that it would do as well being dunked in water as it’s obvious the pack is not meant to be treated that way, but during medium rainfall and light snow this pack has fared quite well in keeping the elements out. Also, the pack saw some rough abuse during this trip as we bushwhacked on occasion, as well as doing some scrambling across some rocks and the Ibex stood up to the rough treatment in stellar form. The zippers on the pack are phenomenal, very large and heavy duty, they do not catch on the material of the pack, and are always protected or have been made weather resistant to help keep the elements out.
The pack doesn’t have some features that I wish it had, and has some features I found less than useful. For instance, the lid of this pack doesn’t transform into a fanny pack for day hiking use. I also found that the Ibex did not compress down well for use as a day-pack, at least not as well as I wished. I have used other packs that have lids that turn into a fanny pack for use as a day pack and I wish the Ibex had this feature also, and it seems bizarre that it does not include this considering all the features the Ibex does boast. In contrast, I wish the Ibex did not feature an elastic cord rig on the rear of the pack because it got caught often during the times I wore the pack through heavy brush. I didn’t find I ever needed it and have considered removing it myself. I can see why it has this feature, as it may make it easy to hang wet gear off the back of my pack to dry in the sun as I hike, but I personally don’t like strapping or hanging anything off my packs. I find that strapping things to my pack in such a way makes it so they can easily fall off or become caught leaving me without my gear when I arrive at my destination or keep me from moving forward when I need to press on.
A new development...
Having already written this report, it was suggested to me to ask MEC what to do about this pack being the wrong size for me. I followed the suggestion and took my Ibex into my local store to see what could be done.
Almost 3 years later, nearly 20 days on the trail for a combined total of approximately 200 km (125 miles), and no receipt, I was staggered and flabbergasted to find that MEC took my pack back for a full refund. They did not need me to simply exchange it for a new pack, and would have given me cash had I chosen, but I had wanted to acquire new gear from MEC so I took in store credit. I am amazed, and very impressed by the return policy MEC demonstrated today. Their attitude is that their customers should be enjoying the outdoors, and if the gear they sell hampers that enjoyment in any way, MEC will fix that problem.
MEC, I salute you.
I think the MEC Ibex 65 has been a great pack for me when I was on a budget and in need of a pack. I do wish that I had gotten a properly fitted version if I’m honest, because it does have so many features of the more expensive packs out there while remaining fairly inexpensive in comparison. I found it very worthwhile to have owned and used this pack for use during weekend through to 5 day long trips. While not truly in the lightweight pack category at 3 kg (6.61 lb) for my pack, it is capable of handling heavy loads and is resistant to the elements.
Pros: It's fairly comfortable, handles large loads, very durable, hydration pocket, many pockets for organization, the zippers are heavy duty, and for this price it's very usable.
Cons: Unnecessary features, lack of some common features, a little on the heavy side, no adjustment for the shoulder straps.
This concludes my report.
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