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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Red Fox Outdoor Equipment Sandhill 65L > Test Report by Marina Batzke

REDFOX SANDHILL 65L PACK
TEST SERIES BY MARINA BATZKE
LONG-TERM REPORT
March 06, 2018

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

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Marina Batzke
EMAIL: mbbp2013 (at) yahoo (dot) com
AGE: 58
LOCATION: Los Angeles County, California, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
WEIGHT: 132 lb (60.00 kg)

I converted from day hiking and car camping to backpacking in 2013. My backpacking trips are one or two weekend excursions per month in Southern California. The locations range from Joshua Tree National Park desert areas in the cooler months to mountainous elevations in the summer months. I always hike with a group and like the gear talk in camp. While I am looking for ways to lighten my pack, I am not an ultra-lighter: I like sleeping in a tent with a sleeping bag on a comfortable pad. In January 2017, I added snowshoeing to my winter activities.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: RedFox Outdoor Equipment
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Made in Vietnam
Manufacturer's Website: http://us.redfoxoutdoor.com
MSRP: US$208.50
Listed Weight: 47 oz (1350 g)
Measured Weight: 44 oz (1250 g)
Other details:
Two color options available: Lemon Curry/Grey and Incense/Grey
Also available as 45 liter pack at 44 oz (1250 g) at $188.50

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

My coworker handed me a big carton but it was really lightweight. Once I opened it, I pulled out the super lightweight RedFox Sandhill 65 L backpack that was wrapped inside a clear plastic bag. The pack is so light, I can easily lift it with one hand.

My Sandhill 65 L pack has a pleasant golden-yellow color with contrasting grey which the manufacturer describes as lemon curry/ grey. I like my pack colors! The pack shell is made from heavy-duty 210 denier woven nylon.

The RedFox Sandhill pack is unisex and is not available in different frame sizes. This is my first backpack with an external frame and mesh back. Where it will rest on my back, the pack has a grey mesh that is connected to a grey metal wire frame, called AirVent Wireframe Suspension. This grey mesh is tightly drawn around the metal wire frame and thereby shall provide excellent weight distribution combined with excellent venting. The wire is 0.16 in (4 mm) thick. I am measuring 12 in (30.5 cm) wire frame width at the pack top, 11 in (28 cm) at the pack waistline and curved 16 in (40.6 cm) at the pack bottom. From top to bottom, I am measuring 24 in (61 cm) wire frame height.
IMAGE 1
the AirVent back side
IMAGE 2
a close look at the mesh and wire frame

The golden-yellow pack body has two grey side stash pockets with a stretchy elastic opening. These are quite big at 8 in (20.3 cm) depth and 8 in (20.3 cm) top opening. Above each of these two side stash pockets is a 14 in (35.6 cm) tall grey fabric daisy chain with seven loops. Each of these fabric chains has an elastic tool loop attached to the fifth loop. Also above the two stash pockets, the pack has 2 compression straps on the pack left and on the pack right. These are grey fabric straps with grey clip buckles. At its bottom, the pack is grey and has two 13 in (33 cm) grey fabric straps with grey clips that are suited to hold a rolled-up mattress pad. Near there, I also see two fabric loops as additional attachment points.

In the front, there is a large shove-it pocket in dark grey with yellow accents. The pocket attaches to the pack opening with a grey plastic clip. This large open pocket has an elastic top for easy access. On that pocket outside is a 15 in (38 cm) tall daisy chain with seven loops.
IMAGE 3
my RedFox Sandhill 65 L in lemon curry grey
IMAGE 4
a look inside shows the full width bladder opening


Let's approach the inside of this top-loading single, extendable chamber pack. At its top opening, the pack has a grey fabric strap and grey plastic clip to tighten its closure. Once I open that clip, there is an extendable 5 in (12.7 cm) tall grey fabric section that has a drawstring closure. I am measuring 42 in (107 cm) circumference when the drawstring is fully expanded. That gives plenty of access to insert a bulky sleeping bag or firm bear canister into the pack body. From pack bottom to the top of the extended grey nylon fabric opening, I am measuring 32 in (81 cm).

Looking inside, I first notice a bright red hook-and-loop that I can attach my hydration bladder to, thereby holding it upright. Right underneath the red hook-and-loop is a full pack-width zipper that leads to the pack outside with its external frame. When I reach through this opened zipper, my hand can trace the external metal wire and the back side of the mesh. Below this full-width zipper, I notice a full pack width pouch with an elastic top opening, ideal to insert a hydration bladder into. I love this 11 in (28 cm) pouch width, as I own a 3 L hydration bladder (101 fl oz) that fits best in a wide pouch.

The RedFox Sandhill pack has a removable top lid that is attached to the pack body with two grey fabric straps and grey buckles. The lid has an internal zipped pocket with a red fabric/ grey plastic key clip inside. That is ideal to attach car keys to and helps me remember where to find them at the end of a multi-day outing. The top lid also has an external zipped pocket for those items that I want quick access to, like food for lunch, first aid supplies and duct tape.

On both sides, the pack has 3 in (7.6 cm) hydration hose insertion openings that are marked H2O in bright blue imprint. Each of these openings can be sealed with a hook-and-loop closure.

The padded waistbelt is anatomically shaped and buckles in the front center. Where it attaches to the pack body, the waistbelt on each side is 5 in (12.7 cm) high and tapers down to about 3 in (7.6 cm). Here the 1.5 in (3.8 cm) wide and 19 in (48 cm) long grey strap starts that I use to pull the waistbelt tight. That is a long strap length and its return is held together by an elastic band, plus I can insert the long excess strap underneath the waistbelt pockets, so it does not dangle down.

A front pocket is attached on the left and to the right side of the waistbelt. Each pocket has a 7 in (17.8 cm) zipper opening and is about 4 in (10 cm) high. The pocket on the right has a yellow nylon fabric top while the section below the zipper is a grey mesh fabric. The pocket on the left is made from yellow nylon fabric throughout. This pocket has a red fabric strap with grey key clip sewn inside.

The sternum strap is adjustable vertically by moving it up or down the shoulder straps. At its longest extension, the sternum strap measures a width of 15 in (38 cm) from left to right shoulder strap attachment. The sternum strap has a buckle closure near the left shoulder pad. That plastic buckle incorporates a whistle.

The shoulder straps are 17 in (43 cm) long. At the top, each strap is 3 in (7.6 cm) wide and tapers down to 2 in (5 cm) at the lower end. Each strap has a slight S shape. The right shoulder strap has a RedFox logo attached, while the left shoulder strap has a silver-reflective tape strip in that spot.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

Attached to the RedFox Sandhill pack was a small booklet that holds information in English and Russian. First it talks about RedFox having been in the outdoor market since 1989, founded by professional mountaineers. Today RedFox is a leading Russian manufacturer of high-tech apparel for extreme sports and an active lifestyle. The 65 and 45 L packs are described as ideal for trekking.

WARRANTY
RedFox Outdoor Equipment fully warrants its products to the original owner against material defects and workmanship for the lifetime of their product.

CARE INSTRUCTIONS
are shown as very small symbols on the back of the small booklet: Wash at warm water temperature up to 86 F (30 C). No bleach. Never tumble dry. Never dry clean. Never iron.
I only plan to wipe over the pack with a moist microfiber cloth should cleaning become necessary.

I find it a bit confusing that the booklet first shows various care symbols in big print, including "wash up to 104 F (40 C)" and "tumble dry" but apparently only shows this as general explanation for all its products. Only when I get to the backside of the booklet, the applicable instructions for this pack are shown in very small print. I can barely make out the number 30 for the water temperature - the applicable symbols are that tiny.

TRYING IT OUT

The empty RedFox Sandhill 65 L pack is super lightweight. I put it on, closed the hip buckle and the sternum strap buckle, pulled the various straps and a first quick empty-pack impression is: it fits well.

I closely inspected the RedFox Sandhill 65 L pack and it is flawlessly made. All seams are intact. All zippers run well.

I then got ready for a desert backpacking trip where I had to carry 2 gal (8 L) of water which converts to about 18 lb (8 kg). First I inserted the 3 L (101 fl oz) hydration bladder and it slid easily into the hydration pouch. It was very easy to insert the hose and mouth piece through one of the two hydration openings.

My sleeping bag, compressed down to 7 in diameter x 13.5 in length (17.8 cm x 34.3 cm) inside its stuff sack, fit easily into the pack bottom area. I added my tent, rolled-up mattress pad, night-time clothing, rain jacket, food, ten essentials and a few other items including a 1 gal (4 L) water bladder into the pack body and still had plenty of room. I inserted a 32 fl oz (946 ml) sports drink bottle into one of the stash side pockets and it fully disappeared inside the deep pocket.

With all that water, this was a 35 lb (16 kg) heavy pack and not pleasant to lift off the ground and onto my back. My Field Report will describe how the RedFox Sandhill 65 L pack faired on this desert backpacking trip.

SUMMARY

I really like that the RedFox Sandhill 65 L backpack
is lightweight
has a hydration bladder opening that allows easy insertion of a 3 L water reservoir
has multiple lash points, daisy chains and straps
has the elastic-top shove-it pocket
has two well sized side stash pockets with elastic opening
has a very pleasant yellow-grey color combination


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Joshua Tree National Park, Southern California, USA
October 2017
Pack Weight: 36 lb (16.3 kg)
2 day/ 1 night backpack 14 miles (22 km)
Elevation: 4000 - 5800 ft (1200 - 1770 m)
Temperature: 53 - 74 F (12 - 23 C)
IMAGE 1
Joshua Tree National Park
IMAGE 2
Red Rock Canyon

Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Southern California, USA
October 2017
Pack Weight: 20 lb (9 kg)
2 day/ 1 night car camp: 9 miles (14.5 km)
Elevation: 3000 ft (900 m)
Temperature: 58 - 91 F (14 - 33 C)

Valley Forge Campground, Angeles National Forest, California, USA
December 2017
Pack Weight: 29 lb (13 kg)
2 day/ 1 night backpack 4.6 mi (7.4 km)
Elevation: 3500 ft (1070 m)
Temperatures: 54 - 70 F (12 - 21 C)

Red Rock Canyon State Park, Southern California, USA
December 2017
Pack Weight: 20 lb (9 kg)
3 day/ 2 night car camp 10 miles (16 km)
Elevation: 2000 - 3000 ft (600 - 900 m)
Temperature: 36 - 69 F (2 - 21 C)

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

As mentioned in my Initial Report under Trying It Out, my October Joshua Tree National Park backpacking trip was a dry camp, so we had to haul 2 gal (8 L) of water to our spot for the night. The Redfox Sandhill 65 L pack provides a lot of room: The 100 fl oz (3 L) hydration bladder easily fit into its designated pouch. Guiding the hydration hose through the generously-sized H2O opening at the pack top was a snap. I carried an additional water bladder, plus food and it all fit well inside the pack above and around my gear. One of the side stash pockets held a water-filled bottle, the other an electrolyte drink bottle. I made sure to not pack anything unnecessary or duplicate and still, my total pack weight including food and water was heavy 36 lb (16.3 kg) at the trailhead. The hiking was entirely off-trail and getting to camp meant passing through many sandy patches. The shoulder pads of the Redfox Sandhill pack cut into my shoulders and my pack felt very heavy. My shoulders hurt, my neck felt strain. I was happy once we reached camp, I was able to unload and hike up to the peak with just the ten essentials and only some of the water and food inside the Redfox Sandhill pack.

The Valley Forge backpacking trip was short, entirely on-trail without a peak, camp offered water and my pack weighed 29 lb (13 kg). I was able to position the pack better, my shoulders and neck did not experience the strain. Now suddenly I noticed a squeaky sound near the top right of my pack.

The squeaky sound was also noticeable on the Red Rock Canyon dayhike, even to a hiker walking right next to me. The sound is at the top right and it can be annoying. I will have to investigate if it is related to carrying a lighter pack or what might cause the squeak.

At Red Rock Canyon State Park, I noticed a bit of sciatica after an hour of hiking. I touched my lower back and noticed that the coolness of the cold-water filled hydration bladder irritated my lower back. There is only a thin fabric layer and the back mesh between the hydration bladder and my back. I inserted an extra shirt that I had worn in the morning at the start of our hike between the mesh and the hydration bladder. This extra layer warmed up my lower back and my sciatica symptoms disappeared rather quickly. Next time I go hiking, I will place a thin insulation pad on the pack inside to prevent the cool water temperature from reaching my temperature-sensitive lower back.

SUMMARY

Things I noticed about the Redfox Sandhill 65 L pack:
- 65 L capacity allows me to stuff a lot of things inside without having to dangle items on the outside
- shoulder pads cut deep when pack is heavy
- the shove-it pocket in the front is ideal to stuff an outer layer into without having to open the entire pack
- squeaky sound at right shoulder
- very little insulation between hydration bladder and my lower back
- pleasant color, lots of features


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Mt. Pinos, Los Padres National Forest, California, USA
1 day Off-trail Navigation: 5 miles/ 8 km
Pack Weight: 20 lb (9 kg)
Elevation: 8850 ft (2700 m)
Temperature: 45 - 70 F (7 - 21 C)
IMAGE 1
Mt. Pinos
IMAGE 2
Joshua Tree Nat Park again

Joshua Tree National Park, Southern California, USA
2 day/ 1 night backpack: 14 miles/ 22.5 km
Pack Weight: 35 lb (16 kg)
Elevation: 4000 ft (1200 m)
Temperature: 35 - 70 F (2 - 21 C)

Mount Waterman, San Gabriel Mountains, Southern California, USA
2 day/ 1 night backpack: 6 miles/ 10 km
Pack Weight: 29 lb (13 kg)
Elevation: 8000 ft (2348 m)
Temperature: 40 - 69 F (4 - 20 C)

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Mt. Pinos Navigation outing was supposed to be on snowshoes. Unfortunately we only found small patches of snow and therefore the snowshoes had to stay in the car and the event turned into a dayhike off-trail. The roomy Redfox Sandhill pack was perfect because from 8 AM start time with cold 45 F (7 C) in the parking lot until early afternoon, the temperature started increasing and the sun came out with 70 F (21 C) and a clear blue sky. I was able to peel off layer after clothing layer. I first stashed my bulky winter jacket, next my fleece jacket and finally a long sleeve shirt into the pack, along with a knit hat and winter gloves. The pack still felt light and comfortable. I did not notice it anymore than I would have noticed a smaller daypack.

The Joshua Tree National Park backpacking trip was to a dry camp and I overpacked on water. I carried a total of 237 fl oz (7 L) of water and 33.7 fl oz (1 L) of a sports drink. Combined with my gear and my food, plus happy hour shareables I hauled 35 lb (16 kg) to our backcountry camp. That was a heavy load and I kept adjusting the Redfox Sandhill pack higher and higher up. But of course, 35 lb is a lot to carry and my shoulders hurt. The next morning I watered the desert plants with the excess water and hiked out with a much lighter pack. I found a better fit by really pulling the tensioners tight and finally was able to rest the pack on my hips.

The Mount Waterman backpack was a local outing to check out a destination for a future trip with the group. The 29 lb (13 kg) were more my typical (non-desert) pack weight and the pack fit well.

I have been inserting a thin foam square into the hydration bladder pouch to provide extra insulation for my lower back against the cool water inside the pouch. I have not had the sciatica problems since.

One thing I value is the red fabric/ grey plastic key clip inside the top lid's internal zipped pocket: at the trailhead I attach my car keys to the clip and two days later, I always remember where I securely stored the valuable car keys.

Looking at the pack now, I notice no holes or tears, despite having hiked off-trail and through brush, such as grabbing desert cat claw. The Redfox Sandhill 65 L pack has held up very well.
IMAGE 3
Bottle and Sunglasses case inside side pocket

SUMMARY

Pros:
Lightweight pack with lots of internal space
Extra-wide hydration bladder pouch; easy to feed tube to outside
Spacious elastic side pockets that easily fit a bottle
Elastic-top shove-it pocket great to quickly stash something

Cons:
Little insulation between hydration bladder and my back
Squeaky sound at right shoulder when pack is lighter

The Redfox Sandhill 65 L pack is a roomy backpack that provides plenty of space for all things I want to carry along. It took me a while to find the right fit but now that I have found the correct positioning, the pack is comfortable to wear.

Thank you to BackpackGearTest.org and Redfox Outdoor Equipment for the opportunity to test this lightweight pack with its many features.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of Red Fox Outdoor Equipment gear
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