Food for 8 days in Iceland Hornstrandir

Food, the thing that keeps you going on the trail.

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For the past couple of years I’ve been opting for freeze bag cooking. I think it’s really neat, packs small, no dishes to do and you got mini-trash-containers for each meal. Is it always the most fun things to eat? No. But for me personally, the food I bring on a trip I see more as fuel rather than a dinner at a fancy restaurant.

For this 8 day trip I’m bringing 7 breakfast soups, 16 bags of noodles, 18 powerbars and 4 bags of nuts and candy for that extra punch. Total weight is 3900g so roughly 490g per day. Between 400-500g per day is good enough for me with the things I’ve chosen.

8 days worth of supplies is quite a lot for my Zpacks Arc Blast backpack, almost bursting at that point, but it’s doable. Best thing with food is that you consume it and after even two days it’s way easier to close the bag.

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Before I leave my tent in the morning I always bump the meals that I’m gonna be using through out the day. Putting Noodles in the back mesh pocket and snacks goes in the side pockets for easy access while walking. If it’s a really small meal I can even put it inside my cooking kit that I have right now. All of the above will save you time and not having to dig through your food bag inside your backpack. If possible I try to have everything I need during the day in the mesh pocket so I don’t have to open the main compartment of the backpack.

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Before going to Vålådalen, Sweden, 2016. 7.5 days worth of supplies.

Iceland 2015 – Gear talk with André

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Post-hike-picture

Here’s a rundown of what I brought to Iceland. All in all I’m very please with my gearlist and how everything works together. But sure, some items could be switched to lighter alternatives especially some clothing. I mainly refer to my Patagonia items. I’m a big Patagonia fan and that’s also why I don’t see any need to switch them to anything else before they break down completely. And this far they’ve held up really good!

Big Three

Zpacks Arc’Blast Backpack

One of my latest additions to my list. Sold another backpack for this one and I haven’t looked back since. Very good quality and super comfortable.

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Sleeping bag

Cumulus Quilt 250

Also quite new, have had a few nights in it but not any cold ones. I had great hope that it would perform as I liked and I can’t say anything else. Cold/warm nights aren’t a problem as you just cinch it tighter or leave it open depending on the weather. Had the coldest night in it since I bought it, around 0 degrees centigrade and it wasn’t a problem. If it would get a bit colder than that you’ll have to sleep with more clothing on. For around zero you’ll be good in long johns and a shirt.

Sleeping pad

THERM-A-REST NeoAir X-Lite

If it was a liiittle wider it would be perfect. Happy with the length if I just put a sitting pad under my feet during the night to keep them off the cold ground.

Shelter

HYPERLIGHT Mountain Gear Ultamid 2

I’ve had this for some time now and it always feels like a safe place to sleep. One thing that I’ll probably change in the future it’s the HMG pole straps. They’re not bad but not the best either. If something will fail with the shelter it’s probably them. I’ve looked at a few options and I think I’ll have some sort of pole extension. Probably the “The Missing Link“.

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BEARPAWWD INNER Net

Good stuff but a little heavier than other options on the market right now. When I got it there weren’t any real good options to this one. Happy with it.

Clothing

I’ll just be a little lazy here and not put everything out here from my list. As I started this post I mostly use clothes from Patagonia and they’ve always performed well. Nothing to complain about really other than they could be a little lighter.

INOV-8 Trailroc 245

Great buy, cheap and durable! After this trip I’ve bought new inner soles just as an easy upgrade. Not really sure that my current ones are worn out but better safe than sorry. Have walked +300km in these and on the outside the mesh still looks good and the sole still have plenty of grip left. Something to note is that the grip will eat away faster on rocky terrain like in Jotunheimen rather than the mixed terrain on Iceland (go figure).

SEALSKINZ

Well… They’re comfortable but won’t keep your feet dry long enough even if you just use them round camp. When they’re brand new the do the trick pretty good but the GTX membrane will deteriorate quite fast. Will probably look for a replacement.

Mountain Laurel Design Rain Kilt

Also first time use on this trip. Never had to use it in rain but wore it in camp once after a quick “swim” in the hot pool. It’s supposed to be good for when you do laundry on thru hikes and such (and of course in rain) as it’s not see-through. Jon however commented on that it might not be. Don’t know if people was looking at me because of the kilt/skirt or because they saw something underneath it… I’ll never know 🙂

Tools

Suunto Ambit

Great watch with good battery life. Unfortunately it has been acting up some times and have had problems with acquiring a good GPS-fix. I’ve noticed that it’ll “jump” a few hundred meters in all directions and then coming back to a good fix (out on the trail). It’s completely on random as far as I know and I haven’t found anything on the internet saying that this is a common problem with the particular model. I’ll just have to get in touch with Suunto’s customer service and see what they think.

Sony rx100 mark 3

Great little camera! I was very please with the quality of the pictures. It’s most definitely comparable with the expensive DSLRs on the market like the Canon 5D Mark II.

BLACK DIAMOND ALPINE CARBON CORK

Just, wow, everytime you use them. When you’re out there you don’t really think about them, they just work. They never complain, the flick-lock system hold everything in place during the day and the night when it supports the tent. Can’t recommend them enough.

HMG Stuff sack

These I just got before we left for Iceland. Replaced my sleeping bag stuff sack with one of these and the other I used for the food. Worked just fine, nothing to complain about.

TRAIL DESIGNS SIDEWINDER + INFERNO CONE W. EVERNEW TITANIUM ULTRA LIGHT .9L POT

Aaah, the kitchen. What makes you go further (and lighter). Works great with both alcohol and wood. For this trip it was only used with alcohol and we had no problem with it even in windy conditions.

The stove and HMG stuff sack filled with food.

To sum things up I’m very happy with everything I have right now and there isn’t anything that i really need to change because it’s not working right now. But there’s always possible to upgrade some items just to be safe like with the adaptor for the hiking poles to support the shelter better in high winds.

Iceland 2015 – Gear talk with Jon

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Final day of the trip on top of volcano Magni. Carrying all I needed for the trip. No less, no more.

So now with some time to reflect after the trip it’s time to do a gear rundown. In general I am very pleased with the kit I carried for this hike. I used more or less all the items carried, never felt that anything was missing and managed to be fully self sustainable during the whole trip.

Here is a quick walk through of the gear I brought on the trip. I have kept the information very short. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

Big three:

Arc Blast Haul Cuben fibeR version

The suspension of this pack is totally fantastic. After five days and 100 km + of walking I felt like I hadn’t even worn a backpack. No problems with aching shoulders, no sore hips after the belt and the vented back actually helps a bit to get the sweat of my back.

The only downside is that the mesh on the front pocket got ripped in a couple of places. I don’t have any good ideas how to fix this so i guess I’ll have to live with it. A bit disappointing for 400 dollar backpack to.

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Striking a pose above Skogafoss. My shoulder pouch well visible. Also note the dyneema shoulder straps and roll top that clips down to the side of my pack.

The shoulder pouch is worth mentioning. Used this for my camera and sunglasses. And it got used all the time. A perfect way to store these items that are a little bit fragile and good to have close by. If now someone could make a version with padding

Sleeping Bag

RAB Neutrino 200

Kept the temperature really well. I love the waterproof dry/stuff bag that comes with it. Considering getting either lighter version, possibly a WM Hi Lite to save some weight.

Sleeping pad

Therm-a-rest Z-lite

One of the few items I’m not satisfied with. To sleep better during longer trips I have now realized i need a wider and full length sleeping pad. Considering getting a Klymit pad for this.

Shelter

HMG Ultamid 2

Superb! Nothing more to add.

Bearpawwd inner tent.

Besides the weight the only problem with this inner tent was that its lack of solid walls made it quite chilly inside the tent when the winds got stronger. For future trips in these kind of conditions a similar version with solid fabric for the lower part of the walls seems like a good idea.

Clothing

Houdini Motion Light Pants

Light weight and dry up fast, an important ability when doing lots of river fording. On the downside these pants are starting to get worn out. Seems are loosing and I got a couple of small holes in them. I think I will look for a new set of pants for next season. Hopefully I can find a model with zippers on at least one of the front pockets.

RAB Helium T-shirt

Sheds away sweat like a champ. Dries up fast. It’s a keeper.

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State of my shoes after one day in the lavasand!

Salomon Fellraiser

These shoes fits me perfectly. The toe box is a bit larger than usually and gives good room for my toes. Inner soles were completely finished after this trip, so when i found them at a discount in a nice green color at Wiggle i ordered directly.

Haglöfs Lite Webbing Belt

I don’t know why I didn’t switch this piece of crap out after last year. Loosens up all the time and forces me to stop and adjust both pants and belt. Combined with Andrés bad experience with Haglöfs products I am now starting seriously to question the quality of their products. Needs a replacement asap.

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One of the few moments I didn’t wear the wind shirt, only my Icebreaker Merino. Sunglasses neatly stuffed in my shoulder pocket.

Icebreaker GT Merino long sleeve

Used more or less all the time. Combined with an outer shell this gives enough warmth for all but the coldest weather. Used by itself it ventilate good enough to be worn almost all of the time. I actually think this shirt was worn 99% of the time I was on trail.

Microfiber boxer shorts

Dries up to slow. I need to get a pair of merino boxers.

Inov 8 Mudsoc Mid

Wearing regular pants there is no need to have longer socks than this. Combined with a pair of 10 denier ankle socks I managed to keep my feet in perfect condition. Despite walking for over 20 km in snow, crossing dozens of rivers and in general walking with wet feet.

Houdini Airborn Hat

I love this little beanie. One of my favourite pieces of kit. The merino/silk combo works wonderful. Keeps me warm in the breeze and stays cool when my body builds up heat. Also dries up fast, an ability that’s important for me if you haven’t noticed…

Woolpower liner socks

Extra socks I wear to warm my feet when sleeping. Keeps me warm and gets my feet dry.

Sealskinz

These started to get wet after a couple of days. I only use these at camp to let my wet feet rest and get warm. So these socks don’t get used much. Have heard good things about Rocky GoreTex socks so I’ll maybe give them a try.

Arc’teryx Konseal Fleece

Didn’t use this much at all. But it fills a niche when I need an extra layer and is to sweaty or wet from rain to use my down jacket. Stays for future trips.

Icebreaker Long Johns

Only needed this for cold nights in the tent. Did the job well. Only alternative I could see is a pair of down pants but im a bit sceptical about those.

RAB Pulse Rainjacket

Incredibly we had only lighter rain showers so I only used this jacket once! It’s lightweight and keeps away rain showers reasonably. But I have noticed that the Pertex fabric is starting to peel of at the shoulders. I guess the wear from the shoulder pads is to much for this fabric. Think I will keep my eyes open for a eVent jacket.

Montbell Versalite Rain Pants

Didn’t need to use these. Light weight though.

RAB eVent Gaiters

Didn’t use.

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Montbell Ex Light Wind Parka. 65 gr of wind proof magic, straight from Japan.

Montbell Ex Light Wind Parka

MVP of this trip. Used this ridiculously light wind jacket so much. It breaks wind perfectly and is quick to adjust when you get warm. Even the super flimsy hood does a good job of keeping my head warm in the chilly winds of Iceland.

Montbell Plasma 1000

Super light down jacket. I downgraded from my thicker Arc’teryx hoodie that was overkill for these conditions. Used as insulation for shorter stops and at camp.

Outdoor Research Versaliner

These gloves still hold up and suits me perfectly. Didn’t need to use the waterproof shell but it’s a nice insurance to have if the weather gets really bad.

Vans Spicoli Sunglasses

Cheap and durable Wayfarer style shades. For hikes in more sunny environments I would probably go for something with more cover.

Tools

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A quick stop on the way up Mount Gathilur. On ascents like these hiking poles are a great help.

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork

These trekking poles are perfect. The flick lock system doesn’t compress a single millimeter. I used them almost all the time and at night they double as support for the shelter. The fact that these poles are not at a fixed length also makes it possible to pitch the shelter at different heights depending on how much airflow you want.

I have yet not needed to use the snow baskets for these so I think they will have to stay in the gear box for now.

GoPro Camera

Didn’t use this one very much as André stood for most of the filming. I’ll leave this one at home next time.

Canon IXUS 240HS

This one was ready in my shoulder pouch and I took loads of pictures. Of course not a high end tool but ok for my needs.

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A long spoon for your freeze bag meals. Some times it’s just that easy!

Sea to Summit, Long Spoon

Perfect to dig up that last bit of mashed potatoes out of the bottom of your freeze bag.

Platypus flasks

Ditched the push pull cap for a normal screw on version. Does it’s job, lightweight and still holds up.

Zpacks dry bag and stuff sack

A dry bag for my dry clothes and a lighter stuff sack for my food. I have learned that one dry bag is enough for me. Use a 3 L Zip lock as extra storage for wet clothes that i don’t want to put in the dry bag.

Trail Designs Sidewinder + Inferno Cone w. Evernew Titanium Ultra Light .9L Pot

Used this only with alcohol this time as wood is quite sparse on Iceland. Worked well but takes its time to get water boiling.

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27 g

Deejo 27 folding knife

Used this for cutting cord, opening food bags and so on. Does what it’s intended for but don’t expect more from such a small blade.

 

So, for the future I can see some room for improvement. Of course some of these are depending on where we I will be going next. But there still are some smaller items I wan’t to switch. But in general I feel that I now have nailed down a very good UL-kit that I can depend on in tough conditions!

Why Cuben Fiber?

It’s white, it’s crinkly, it’s waterproof and it feels like it weighs about as much as a tissue paper. But what exactly is Cuben Fiber, and why use it?

When I first delved into the world of ultralight backpacking, I combed the Internet trying to find a technologically advanced material that would change my backcountry experience. The fabrics used at the time had major limitations. For example, Silnylon, the primary lightweight fabric used, absorbed moisture and swelled and sagged, requiring constant re-tensioning. The slippery material also forced people to put liquid glues on the floors of their tents to keep their pads in place. Worst of all, silnylon is made when both sides of a thin, woven nylon fabric are saturated with liquid silicone, and there were no standards for these silicone coatings. So basically every batch was different. So when I discovered a small cottage industry outdoor company using Cuben Fiber I did some more research.

Read more at Hyperlite Mountain Gears blog.

Cuben Fiber is the best fabric for ultralight shelters and backpacks, no doubt.

Skaneleden_2015-05-23_20-25-56_IMG_1593Visdalen, Store Urdadalstinden

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Gjendesheim

First impressions – KS Ultralight gear Imo Pack

KS-Ultralight-Gear-IMO-Pack_2015-04-17_17-03-43_DSC00365 The Japanese post service sure knows how to haul stuff! Received my Imo Pack today, Friday after a five day transport from Japan to Sweden.

I’ll try to sum up my first impressions of the KS Ultralight gear Imo Pack here. Later on I will have to follow up with some reflections after taking the pack to the trail.

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KS Ultralight Gear

This is my first guest post here on Andrés blog. André and I have been hiking together for years now and it’s about time that i contribute with some material here.  /Jon

One of the things about UL-hiking I really like is all the Cottage Manufacturers making excellent equipment for us hikers. I like the oportunity to support a small scale industry with design and manufacturing in house. But a large bonus is also the possibility to customize the equipment you want to purchase. As a Design Engineer this is kind of a kids dream coming true, I can get equipment exactly the way i want it!

Last week I found the small (Even by these standards) Japanese/French manufacturer KS Ultralight Gear. They make various versions of ultralight backpacks in interesting material choises as X-pac, Silnylon and in some cases Cuben. 

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Imo Pack in red X-pac fabric. Front pocket in 70D Nylon, note the mesh bottom for water drainage – Photo by Laurent Barikosky

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New backpack

Got my new Fjällräven backpack today, the Foldsack No.1 in autumn leaf. As the No.1 points to it’s part of their Numbers series which means that all materials and details have been carefully selected to minimize environmental impact. They’re also constructed so that it is easy to repair and replace exposed details which may wear out before the backpack does as a whole. Great thinking! As with all Fjällräven gear they’re made to last but that also reflects on the price tag which sometimes makes a lasting hole in your wallet 🙂

Foldsack No. 1 in autumn leaf.

Foldsack No. 1 in autumn leaf.

I’ll use this backpack as a everyday carry bag and for small adventures, no overnighters, well maybe in the summer if it’s warm. One thing that’s great with it is that it has got an integrated laptop sleeve that I’ve been needing for some time. It’ll take a 15″ laptop.

The bag is at 16L so it’s not too big. I think it would be great as a backpack for school or going to the office.

You can read more about it here at Fjällrävens product page.

A huge step towards ultralight backpacking

Here we go…! I’ve made a huge step towards ultralight backpacking when I ordered a new backpack. For the past weeks I’ve been thinking about getting a new backpack. Not that I’m in anyway unhappy with my Mystery Ranch NICE Wolf Alpha but it’s heavy at 3.9kg. It’s built like a tank and sometimes I need that but for those lighter hiking/trekking trips I need something lighter.

I looked at a bunch of different packs – everything from Arc’Teryx to Fjällräven. I went to two different stores that holds quite different sets of brands and tried a couple of them out and finally made the choice to bring home a Fjällräven Abisko 65, 2.2kg. That pack is not a ultralight backpack but it’s still lighter than my Mystery Ranch. I packed it with everything I normally bring and had it on my back for a few hours at home walking around the house. It was quite good but not really what I wanted.

This last Saturdays hike with Jon didn’t help either… When you’re out in the backcountry you have loads of time to think, chat and trade ideas. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes it’s bad in a good way 🙂 It usually gets you in a state of mind that you really need this and that thing and it ends up hurting your wallet…

packs

From left to right: Blaze, Circuit, Crown.

Well after we got home we started chatting and looking at different packs and everything still pointed towards a ultralight alternative. The packs that kept popping up in our searches was the Granite Gear Crown A.C 60, 1kg(!), Granite Gear Blaze A.C 60, 1.3kg and the ULA Circuit, 1.1kg. After ruling the ULA Circuit out after some YouTube reviews and stuff I was quite hooked on the Crown but the thing that bothered me was the fact that it had a “soft” frame so to speak. I’ve known about Granite Gear before, since I’ve seen their tactical-series especially the CHEIF Patrol pack. ULA was something new to me. The Granite Gear Blaze has more of a traditional type of plastic frame which I like. I’ve had quite a few smaller frameless backpacks or with a softer frame and I’m to lazy to pack everything super tidy to not have anything poke you in the back. Or that makes the pack “round” towards your back and it starts to roll. So I slept on it, watched a few more reviews and finally decided what to get…

Here are a few good reviews on the different packs that I considered.

linelid3The pack that I finally choose after some great contemplating and with some help from Jon was the Granite Gear Blaze A.C 60. I also bought the Lineloc Lid which adds another 255 grams to the pack finishing it of at a total of 1.55kg which is not bad. That’s almost a third of what my Mystery Ranch pack weighs!! I don’t think I’ll be using the lid all the time but the way I see it it’s a nice to have feature and as it’s not that much money – hey I’ll buy that too!

The total money spent on the pack and the lid was 2 270 SEK, which is roughly about 350 USD with shipping included and free returns. Compared to the Fjällräven Abisko 65 that I brought home for testing this one is only 70 SEK more expensive which is about what I paid for gas to go to the store in the first place…

Granite Gear Blaze A.C 60

Torso Sizes: short | regular
Weight: 1.3kg | 2lbs 14oz
Capacity: 60 liters | 3660 cubic inches
Suspension: Air Current (A.C.) Internal Frame
Load Capacity: 35lbs | 16kg

100D Ripstop
210D Nylon Cordura
Stretch Mesh Fabric

Here are some good pictures from Outdoor Gear lab and I think that’s quite similar to what my pack will look like besides the fact that I didn’t order the Cactus/Jave color but the Tiger/Java. The main difference between the two is the color on the reinforced Cordura running on the front Click the link above to see the rest of the pictures and a short review.

It’s gonna be real interesting to see how it is, first hand, when it arrives. It was on backorder so I’ll get it in April as far as the initial reports are. I’ll get back with some more info as soon as it arrives!

New backpack Osprey Manta 20

I listed my TAD Gear FAST Pack Litespeed backpack a few days ago on eBay and it sold nicely as expected. Before I did this I was looking at a bunch of different packs not really knowing what to get but at every online store I visited I clicked every interesting pack into a new tab and after I went through the whole backpack section I looked at the tabs I had opened. Every single time I had a bunch of Osprey packs in the different tabs so with that background I started to go on YouTube and watching different reviews and I really liked what I heard and saw. So, I got myself a Osprey Manta 20! And so far I’m not regretting selling my TAD Gear pack, at all…

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Click for larger picture
Osprey Manta 20
Arc’Teryx Drac jacket
TAD Gear Force 10 pants
TAD Gear Preatorian Hoodie
Mechanix gloves and Mystery Ranch merino beanie

The most compact of the Manta series, this pack has an added zip front pocket with mesh organizer and works best for day long adventures.

Manta 20 Features

  • Built-in Raincover
  • Dual Side Compression Straps
  • ErgoPull™ Hipbelt
  • Front Pocket
  • Helmet Attachment
  • Hydration System
  • Panel Load
  • Stow-on-the-Go™
  • Top Slash Pocket

The reason I sold the Litespeed was because I wanted a sturdier internal frame, this one wasn’t too good, folding over itself especially if you had something heavy in the bottom of the pack. I had some issues with the waist belt coming of while walking, really annoying! I contacted TAD Gear about this and the had never heard about that one before… It didn’t matter if I had a little or a bunch of extra webbing coming out of the loop rings attaching it
ospreyreservoirtowards the back of the pack. I’d also liked a different and better organizational pocket on the outside and a lot less straps!

The price here in Sweden for a Manta 20 is about 900 SEK and the European and Asian versions comes with out the (awesome) Osprey Hydraulic Reservoir so I’ll need to get that too. It’s about 300 SEK extra but well worth it because it integrates with the pack.

So with this the pack, complete, the price would be about 1200 SEK which is close to what it’s bigger cousin the Kestrel 38 costs.

505611-stowonthegoThe feature list is just as on anything else you buy, cramped with stuff. But the thing worth mentioning are the Stow-on-the-Go system which gives you the possibility to carry trekking poles on the side of the pack. It attaches on the left side of the pack.

One thing that I would like to be different is on the hip belt. There are two great pockets there, one on each side that are big enough to carry a larger point-and-shoot camera, GPS, snacks or basically whatever in that size. But, they could have added some thin foam on the inside for some extra comfort. If you have something with a not so nice pointy edge or like a GPS antenna that could build a pressure point over time if you’re running with this pack. Also a warning about the hip belt. If you’re a very skinny dude you could run in to some problems not being able to set it as tight as you want to. I’m 180, 68kg and if I were a little skinnier I could get som problems with this, especially in the summer time when you don’t wear thick sweaters and jackets (in the first picture I haven’t tighten everything properly).

IMG_1534One of the best features of the pack is the frame, Airspeed. It gives a lot of ventilation and is ergonomically made so it sits really nice on your back.

Here are a picture when I had a coffee break when I was out walking today and also a picture of what I had in my pack at that time.

IMG_0462 IMG_1527With this stuff the pack was quite full but I could put some extra things in there if I wanted to but that would have had the fabric really stretched.

To sum things up – I’m really pleased with the pack so far, lightweight and feels very sturdy. I hope it’ll give me some good years of service!

If you want more info about this backpack or any other of their packs just go on YouTube and you’ll find tons of reviews and unboxing-type videos. Good Luck! 🙂