A wonderful, thoughtfully designed pack with possible durability and QC concerns
As a 6'0" bony guy who's run the gamut of packs and outdoor gear, this pack fits my needs exactly. I'm a fair-weather weekender who isn't quite ultralight and no longer has any interest in playing pack mule on said weekends. I've always straddled the boundary between medium and large size packs and the M/L fit me perfectly. I have not had the same issues with the hip and shoulder pockets like other reviewers have. They have been quite useful for a phone, snacks, chapstick, and any other small items I might find helpful during my hikes. The pack is an excellent size and forces me to be intentional with what I pack which I greatly appreciate.
The pack holds a BV450, but it makes everything else a tight fit. I've opted to place mine with the lid away from the back and I find that pretty comfortable. The side pockets hold all items well and the zippered compartment is greatly appreciated. The back panel will hold trekking poles, but it can be a little bit of an operation. It will accommodate loads of 30lbs in it, but I wouldn't push it past that. The bungies on the back of the pack have a lot more give than they may seem. I asked a lot of them by stuffing my rain jacket, filter, and fishing supplies in it during its inaugural trip in Mokelumne wilderness. In total I carried my sleeping pad, X-mid 2P, sleeping bag, BV450, rain gear, map, compass, water, filter, headlamp, and fishing gear. I can attest to the waterproofing capabilities of the fabric and I encountered some light rain and the water rolled right off. I'm interested to see how the waterproofing holds up.
Quality control concerns
Some of the concerns I have revolve around general quality control and long-term durability. As gentle as I try to be on my gear, I've already seen some scratches on the fabric which I wasn't anticipating. However, this comes with the territory and is perhaps more attributed to user error.
Upon packing and inspecting the brand-new pack I was concerned to find some questionable stitching on the bungies that make up the external pocket. The bungies are tight and I hope that they will not pull out the daisy chain in the future.
When testing out packing of the bag I found what appears to be a hole in the fabric where the sole buckle attaches to the pack. This and the stitching along the whole seam does not inspire confidence as the fabric looks like it was already separating when I hadn't taken it out yet.
Regardless of what I believe are these QC shortcomings, the pack fits so well that I have no qualms attempting repairs in the future should they be needed. Ultimately, I understand that this is something that is not by design nor is it something within Dan's control. I don't expect that this is the norm.
I cannot give this great pack five stars because I'm concerned about its long-term viability and I do not have the peace of mind that the stitching will hold for the years to come. That said, I would not hesitate to buy this pack again or a second iteration of it.
Overall, this is the best fitting pack for me that I have ever owned. I'm extremely pleased with this pack. Not only does it look great, but the thought and design put into it make this a wonderful pack to explore the outdoors with. This pack is a must to consider when looking for something that you can take backpacking and hiking. I look forward to putting a lot of miles on this pack. I am so grateful for Dan's involvement in this project and I eagerly await his future contributions to this industry.
Would recommend to a friend.