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

RED FOX SANDHILL 65 L PACK
Test Series by Theresa Lawrence

Initial Report - October 19, 2017

Field Report - January 2, 2018
Long Term Report - March 4, 2018

TESTER INFORMATION

Name: Theresa Lawrence
Email: theresa_newell AT yahoo DOT com
Age: 40
Location: Sparwood, British Columbia, Canada
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight: 130 lb (59 kg)
Torso Length:19.5 in (50 cm)

I have more than 20 years of backpacking experience. Day hikes and 2-3 day backpacking trips take place on most weekends throughout the year while longer trips are only occasional. I backpack predominantly in mountain terrain (Coast Range, Cascades and Canadian Rockies) with the goal of summiting peaks. Activities I use my gear with include mountaineering, ski touring, rock climbing, kayaking, biking, trail running, Search and Rescue and overseas travel. I like my gear to be reasonably light, convenient and simple to use though I would not claim to be a lightweight hiker.

Initial Report - October 19, 2017


 
Images taken from manufacturer's website

PRODUCT INFORMATION


Manufacturer: Red Fox Outdoor Equipment
Manufacturer's URL: www.usredfoxoutdoor.com
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Made In:Vietnam

MSRP: $188.5 USD
Listed Weight:
Measured Weight:
2 lbs 15 oz (1.33 kg)
2 lbs 3 oz (1.09 kg)
Sizes Available: one size 
Colors Available:
Color Tested:

Incense/ Grey, Lemon Curry/ Grey
Lemon Curry/ Grey
 
 DESCRIPTION & FIRST IMPRESSIONS                                                                         

The Sandhill 65 L pack is by far the lightest 65 L pack I have ever seen up close. The material used is ironically a 'Heavy' Duty 210 denier woven nylon. The lightness comes from the wire frame suspension system called the AirVent Wireframe Suspension that keeps the pack suspended away from the back creating a cooling draft. This fancy frame, however, is not adjustable for different torso sizes. The shoulder and hip pads have a lot less padding than I'm used to seeing on a pack of this volume. So, I'm rather curious how it will perform with heavy loads. The manufacturer's website indicates a capacity load of  'as much as you can bear'. They state 'there is no maximum limit' and that even when overloaded it will distribute the weight evenly and comfortably. Very intriguing, I must say.

The overall design of the pack is a sack with top-only entrance. The sack is extendable with the aid of an expandable and removable lid. The lid has two zippered pockets; one on the top and one underneath. There are two compression straps on either side allowing the pack to shrink down to a petite specimen. The pack also features straps on the bottom with clips and two gear loops. There is one large stash pocket with some stretchy material and two side pockets with the same stretchy material. There are also pockets on the hip belt, one of which is mesh and the other contains a key clip. Other features to round out this pack include a whistle on the sternum strap, three daisy chain ladders and a hydration compatible pouch.

TRYING IT OUT

I was a little worried when I saw that it was a one size fits all and no adjustable frame pack. However, when I tried it on it seemed to fit okay. I was able to pull on the shoulder straps from above and below, which seemed to help fine tune to my measurements. I feel the sternum strap is a bit low on me, though this changes depending on how full the pack is. Overall, it feels comfortable at first hand, but until I'm fully loaded and on the trail for some time it's hard to tell. I'm looking forward to recording those results once I'm out there. Looking at the overall craftsmanship, I see no flaws. The pack appears to be well made and uniquely engineered.

SUMMARY

My first impressions are overall positive for the Red Fox Sandhill 65 L pack. The intriguing lightweight design offers a novel idea for backpacking and I look forward to seeing how it translates to comfort and function on the trail. My only concerns and reservations at this time lie with the lack of adjustability of the frame and the one size fits all design. Soon enough and roughly in two months I will have tales from the backcountry.

Field Report - January 2, 2018

FIELD CONDITIONS

WhatWhereDetails
Two-day backpacking trip
Pack weight: 40 lbs (18kg)
Connor Lakes in Height of the Rockies Provincial Park, British Columbia, CanadaDistance: 27 km (17 mi) with 10 km (6 mi) on a mountain bike
Trail Conditions: dry forested trails and lightly covered with snow and ice
Weather: windy, sunny and cloudy with some frost and snow at higher elevations
Temperatures: 3 C (37 F) to -2 C (28 F)
Two-day backpacking trip
Pack weight: 40 lbs (18kg)
Elk Lakes Provincial Park, British Columbia, CanadaDistance: 14 km (9 mi)
Trail Conditions: dry forested trails and lightly covered with snow and ice
Weather: windy, sunny and cloudy with some frost and snow
Temperatures: 7 C (44 F) to -2 C (28 F)
Day Hike (Snowshoe)
Pack weight: 20 lbs (9 kg)
Sparwood, British Columbia, CanadaDistance: 5 km (3.1 mi). Trail Conditions: light deep powdery snow
Weather: cold and sunny. Temperature: -16 C (3 F)
Search & rescue practices
Pack weight: 20 lbs (9kg)
Sparwood, British Columbia, CanadaAvalanche practice. Walked through snow looking for transceiver signals in the dark at night
Weather: cold and dark. Temperature: -11 C (12 F)



COMFORT & FIT


I had some reservations about the pack being one size fits all with no option for adjustment. However, I had no problems with fitting the backpack. In fact I found the pack light and comfortable with no hot spots. I have had the pack filled up to 40 lbs (18 kg) as well as cinched down to a small summit pack. I haven't noticed any discomfort with either extreme.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The volume of the 65 L pack has been very welcoming and accommodating for all my winter layers and winter sleeping bag. The volume gives me a lot of flexibility for stashing everything I can think of. I have appreciated the hip pockets, which seemed small at first, but I was able to fit my camera and any other item that I had wanted to stash for easy access. The stretchy side pockets have also proved useful for stashing gloves on the fly or a 1 L water bottle. The larger stretchy pocket on the back fits an outer layer nicely and I have now just discovered my avalanche gear, (probe and shovel), fits nicely making it useful as a winter pack for search & rescue. It will also come in handy on my next set of adventures in the snowy mountainous backcountry where I always travel with avalanche rescue gear. The large top entry main sack fits my large winter sleeping bag along with my mat, food and clothes. It fits my 3 L hydration bladder easily in the designated pouch and has options for putting the hose on either side with two large holes that accommodates the nozzle on the hose easily. The top lid with zippered pockets offer ample room for my gloves, beanie, neck warmer, snacks, head lamp, etc. I like that the rim of the lid hugs the entire pack and always covers the top entry of the pack and stretch pocket without slipping off.

My only complaint is the pole securement bungee has no clasp to tighten it or hold it in place, so it just wiggles loose and does not secure the poles. In fact, there were two, one on each side of the pack and one has already fell off the pack as there wasn't anything preventing this. For now, I just secure the poles with the backpack straps, which works well enough.

At this point the pack has been very durable for the conditions and continues to look as good as new. I even stuffed it full of firewood as there was some fresh cut wood about 1 km (2/3 mi) from our camp and it did not suffer from the irregular shapes and slivers.

SUMMARY

Overall I found this pack to be highly functional and the lack of weight very desirable. While this pack is one size fits all, I had no problem fitting it comfortably and I have felt no need to complain on the trail carrying 40 lbs (18 kg) of pack weight. Plans for the next couple of months include multi-day adventures to backcountry huts either by way of snow shoes, alpine-touring skies or snowmobiles. Check back in roughly 2 months for my updated report on those adventures. 

Likes
- Lightweight
- Lots of volume, but cinches down if not needed
- Hip pockets
- Stretchy pockets on side and back
- Whistle on sternum strap
- Large holes for hydration hose nozzle

Dislikes
- Pole securement has no way to stay in place. Not reliable or functional.




Long Term Report - March 4, 2018



LONG TERM CONDITIONS

WhatWhereDetails
Three-day backpacking trip (Snowshoe) 
Pack weight: 32 lbs (14.5 kg)
Tunnel Creek Hut, Fernie, British Columbia, Canada Distance: 20 km (12.4 mi)
Trail Conditions: hard packed snow and deep powdery snow
Weather: cloudy with flurries Temperatures: -4 C to 1 C (25 F to  33 F)
Three-day snowshoe trip
Pack weight: 20 lbs (9 kg)

Banff National Park/ Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada
Distance:13.5 km (8 mi)
Trail Conditions: hard packed snow
Weather: cloudy with some clear and sunny moments
Temperature: -2 C (28 F)  with wind chill -10 C (14 F)
Search & rescue practice
Pack weight: 20 lbs (9 kg)
Sparwood, British Columbia, CanadaAvalanche practice, winter scenario packaging subject.
Weather: light rain/snow, dark.  Temperature: 2 C (35 F)
Snowshoe Day Hike
Pack weight: 20 lbs (9 kg)
Sparwood, British Columbia, CanadaDistance: 5 km (3.1 mi)
Trail Conditions: hard packed snow
Weather: cloudy, clear and sunny. Temperature: -10 (14 F)


PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I have continued to find the Sandhill 65 L pack fits me comfortably. The light frame distributes the weight effectively, concentrating the bulk of the weight onto my hips. I've also found the pack to be highly functional. I can use it with a hydration pack as well as with water bottles in the side stretch pockets. The back stretch pocket fits my winter gear such as my avalanche probe and shovel perfectly.  There was ample room in the main compartment to stash winter layers, sleeping bag, mat and stove. The top lid adjusts in a way that always covers the main compartment, whether it is fully extended with a maximum load or buckled down to the smallest pack it can be. I liked the fact that I could compress such a large volume (65 L) into a small day-sized pack with the help of strategically placed compression straps on the sides.

I've enjoyed the simple concept of this pack in that it was just a sack. There were no gimmicky pockets or compartments or extra zippers into the main compartment, which kept it light. I had enough extra space in all the elastic pockets, waist belt pockets and top lid to do without these.

Finally, the pack although lightweight, was incredibly durable. The main pack material remains unaffected, just a tad dirty and I have a pin sized hole in the stretch fabric from the corner of my shovel, which does not affect its function at this time.

SUMMARY 

In summary, I give this pack two thumbs up. I'm most impressed with the weight to durability ratio. It is the lightest, yet biggest pack I've ever used and the lack of weight has not been a detriment in any way. I plan to continue using this pack for multi-day backpacking trips all year round. My likes and dislikes remain as before.
            
I'd like to thank Red Fox Outdoor Equipment and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to take part in this test series.  

Read more reviews of Red Fox Outdoor Equipment gear
Read more gear reviews by Theresa Lawrence

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



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