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Reviews > Packs > Pack Accessories > Vaucluse Gear Pack Frame > Test Report by Mike Lipay

Vaucluse Gear - Cool-Dry Frame
Mike Lipay

Reviewer Information

Location:Plum, Pennsylvania, USA
Height:5' 6" (1.6 meters)
Weight:162 lb (73.5 kg)
Background:I’ve been hiking since ’65 with occasional backpacking trips (backpacking became a love affair in the early 80’s). My first sleeping bag weighed in at 8 lb (3.6 kg) by itself! These days my loaded pack only weighs about 15 lb (6.8 kg) sans food. While most of my adventures are in the Northeast I’ve also been spending a good deal of time in the desert Southwest and most places in-between. My trips tend be in the cooler months - September through May - as I’m not much of a hot-weather person.

Initial Report - March 6, 2022

Company Information

Manufacturer: Vaucluse Gear

Product Information

Model: 6 Honeycomb Series
MSRP: $94.95 USD
Colors: White, Aqua Blue, Pink, Green, Orange

Product Specs



Standard Metric Standard Metric
Weight: 6 oz 170 g 6.7 oz 190 g
Width: 9 in 23 cm 9 in 23 cm
Height: 15 in 38 cm 16.2 in 41 cm
Thickness: 1.4 in 3.6 cm 1.4 in 3.4 cm


Initial Impressions

The Vaucluse Gear Cool-Dry Frame is a lightweight rubber frame meant to sit between the backpack and the hiker’s back, keeping the pack off of the back and allowing air to flow through, thus keeping the hiker’s back cool and dry. It is designed to fit any daypack or backpack regardless of size or manufacturer. It accomplishes this because the frame has two loops that fit over the shoulder straps, there are no other connection points.

ASSEMBLY: While the product does come with assembly instructions, it arrived fully assembled. There are a few extra spacers provided, so I’m guessing the instructions are in case any of the spacers needs to be replaced.

SUMMARY: So far I like what I see. It’s well constructed, lightweight, flexible, and doesn’t feel odd when wearing it (I thought the honeycomb and the spacers might be annoying). It attaches quickly to any of my packs. I like this because I tend to carry my packable daypack with me on backpacking trips for when I hike to a central point for camping, then take day trips from there to explore different trails. I can quickly remove the Cool-Dry Frame from my backpack and put it on my daypack, then switch back for the return trip

The only downside that I see is that my G4 and Eagle Creek packs don’t have load lifters like the MooseJaw show in the photos. The adjustment strap keeps the frame from sliding down to the bottom of the straps, it takes a bit of maneuvering to put the pack on because of this, though not a big issue. Once the pack is on the frame is stable.

Also note that it does add about 1.5” (3.8 cm) onto the depth of any pack, so if I was close to the adjustment limit of my pack then I might be concerned that the Cool-Dry Frame might not work with the pack. Fortunately I am not near the limits, and it does work for me on all of my packs.


Field Report - April 9, 2022

First Test

Odd as it may seem, my first test was in the airport traveling to my hiking location. I typically use one of my backpacks instead of luggage when I travel. This way I limit the non-consumables that I travel with to only what can fit in the carryon space. When I get to my destination I then purchase the consumable items (usually just food and, if needed, stove fuel). I, obviously, wasn’t testing the cooling properties of the Cool-Dry Frame during this part of the trip, more interested in the comfort and ease of use.

With that said, the Cool-Dry Frame is comfortable, even though it can be felt when sitting atop only a shirt, when there was a light fleece jacket tossed into the mix I did not feel the frame at all. Without the jacket I didn’t find the frame uncomfortable, but I was aware of its presence.

As to the ease of use, that was another story. On this trip I was using my mid-size pack (between a full backpack and a daypack), I use it when I’m camping in a park or forest where there is a designated camping area that I use as a base camp. The weight of the pack is typically in the under-10-lb (4.5 kg) range, so not heavy. I then use it as a daypack for my excursions, weight is typically under 5 lbs (2.3 kgs). Here there was a consistent issue with the frame getting caught in the shoulder strap area, I would then have to either take it off and try again, or reach behind me, grab onto the bottom, then pull it into place. I think this is related to the jacket being made of fleece and the rubber getting stuck on it while putting the pack over my shoulder, it doesn’t seem to do it if I am just wearing a shirt. Experience will tell if this occurs with a smoother jacket made of nylon. I did resolve the issue by attaching the bottom of the frame to the ice-pick/carry-handle at the bottom of the pack with some double-sided hook/loop fastener (see photo).

March 11-4 - Saguaro National Park
Distance Altitude Weather
12.4 mi / 20 km 2,915-4,686 ft / 888-1,428 m Cool nights 49-54 F / 9-12 C; Warm days 78-80 F / 26-27 C; Windy, sunny, no precipitation.
Morning hikes started off with a fleece jacket, this is where I noticed the frame issues mentioned above. Afternoon warmth had me ditch the jacket for just a t-shirt, no issues with the frame. Yes, with the warm temps my back didn’t sweat at all…nice!

Mar. 18, 2022 - Duff Park to Pleasant Valley Park, Pa.
Distance Altitude Weather
8.8 mi / 14 km 894-1,215 ft / 272-370 m Temps 38-42 F / 3-6 C; Wind speed 5-9 mph / 8-14 kph; Wind chill 32-39 F / 0-4 C
Cold hike, but I wore the frame on my day pack just to see how my modifications worked out - surprisingly well. Even with a winter coat on there was no problem getting the pack (with frame) on and off. The frame did not slip around - this is major since it is difficult to reposition the frame once the pack is on my back.


Long Term Report - May 22, 2022

May 18-19, 2022 - Taconic Range (Mount Frissell area), New York, Massachusettes, Connecticut
Distance Altitude Weather
24.3 mi / 39 km 1,835-2,447 ft / 559-746 m Cold (48-56F / 9-13C); rained most of the trip; moderate winds.
Frame didn’t do much good this trip, might have been better without it. Rain got inside the frame area and soaked my back. Wasn’t much of a rain for most of the trip (more drizzle than anything), so I didn’t wear a raincoat the first day. Second day rain was heavier so I did put one on this time, rain came down between the frame and jacket, ran down to my pants. From prior experience the pack against my back would have prevented most of the rain from drenching the backside of my pant (butt area).
May 20-21, 2022 - Taconic Range (Mount Greylock area)
Distance Altitude Weather
28.2 mi / 45.4 km 2,110-3,488 ft / 643-1,063 m Hot (78-91F / 25-33C); sunny; gentle breeze.
Ah, what a difference a day makes. Dried out overnight, gentler elevation climbs this time (Frissell was a lot of rock scrambling). The Cool-Dry Frame held up to its name this time, though not as perfectly as the first time I used it. Did a lot of sweating on this trip, and my back (and front) held the evidence of it, but the frame did allow the breeze to come through, cool down the back, and wick away some of the moisture. Made this trip a lot nicer than it otherwise might have been.

Final Observations:

Honestly, I didn’t expect my back to stay perfectly dry - that’s a lot to ask of any device. Unlike during my trip to the drier climates (Arizona/New Mexico) the Northwestern U.S. has a lot of humidity to deal with, not just the sweating. Humidity slows down/prevents the wicking away of sweat (especially once it gets above 68% relative humidity), so nothing is going to keep the back dry. What the Cool-Dry Frame does allow is for the breeze to get between the back and the pack (this makes even a wet back feel cooler) and take away some of the moisture. Sure, I sweated, my back still got damp, but I felt better, and when the heavy uphill was done my back did start drying out (something that would never have happened with the pack against it). Overall, I am very pleased with how the Cool-Dry Frame performs.

As far as suggestions, I would like to see some way to attach the Cool-Dry Frame to the bottom of the pack straps as well as the top. On my daypack, with the frame secured to the ice pick strap (as mentioned above) I did not experience any shifting. But my backpack is an ultralight that does not have the ice pick strap on the bottom, nor does it have a hip belt, so my pack and the frame would shift a lot when I had to bend my torso to get around obstacles (trees, rock outcroppings, etc.). Being able to secure the frame to the bottom of the straps would have alleviated that problem. (I know this because I picked up some hook/loop straps from a local hardware store and used them to secure the frame to the bottom straps, just as I had with the daypack to the ice pick strap)



What I like about the Vaucluse Gear Cool-Dry Frame:

  • Lightweight, easy to install.
  • Doesn’t feel odd when wearing it.
  • Did keep my back dry in moderate temperatures, cool in high humidity.

What I don’t like about the Vaucluse Gear Cool-Dry Frame:

  • Not really a don’t like, but does require fidgeting if the pack doesn’t have load lifters on the shoulder straps.
  • Difficult to get on when wearing a jacket.
  • Allows the pack to shift around if not secured at the bottom.


This ends my Long Term Report, I’d like to thank Vaucluse Gear and for the opportunity to test the Cool-Dry Frame.

Read more reviews of Vascluse Gear gear
Read more gear reviews by Mike Lipay

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