I finally solved my pack dilemma! I found the goldilocks of a pack for the GDT use-case that had been stymieing my gear list! Something that carries well at 20lbs, but also at 40lbs if needed, with the right feature set and a reasonably low weight: the newly released Seek Outside Flight in the Spectra/X-Pack combo in the 22″ frame option.
I had big plans for testing this pack prior to the GDT. The Fundy Footpath, the Superior Coastal Trail, the Cloche Silhouette Trail (UPDATE: I did end up doing La Cloche Silhouette with this pack, and my thoughts on it can be found here)…. You know what is said about best laid plans! So instead of having a solid, hundred mile, real-use ‘initial thoughts’ review, we have this.
Since the pack arrived, I have been walking laps around the neighbourhood with various loads both for ‘training’ and testing. It doesn’t compare to real testing, but it will have to do for a start!
For about a month, I took the pack out for neighbourhood walks ranging from 3 to 10 miles, loaded with 30-45lbs. All surfaces were concrete, all flat (sadly a reality of where I live!).
- Pack no mods, no compression straps: 36.1 oz
- All extra strapping: 4.0oz
- Compression straps: 0.5oz x 6
- Over the top: 0.8oz
All webbing lengths are very generous, I will need to cut most of them down a bit so that they aren’t in my way which will have an ounce or so.
Given the limited nature of my testing, I can’t speak as thoroughly about this pack as I would like, but here are my preliminary thoughts after 50 miles trying to find the upper weight limit for comfort with this pack:
- I am really happy with how it carries. I’d say the estimated 50 lb upper limit on the website is about right for me and I am someone who hates weight on my shoulders. No pressure points or hot spots so far.
- I love, love, love the dual adjust hip belt. This is my first pack with that feature and it is an absolute game changer for me. A big issue I have had with my other ‘heavy load’ pack is that the hip belt will be very tight around the bottom edge, and hardly touching me on the top edge because of the shape of my hips. This leads to the bottom edge being so tight that I develop numb spots. The dual hip belt adjustment completely solves this problem.
- It is fairly light (same weight as my Tempest), but it doesn’t feel flimsy under load like some of my other packs. Even with 45lbs in it, it feels very solid when picking it up to put on.
- The bottle pockets are huge, and cut quite high. This means that they hold a lot! It also means that reaching a bottle in them is almost impossible. This is an advantage to how I pack (I don’t keep quick access things in those pockets), but could be a disadvantage to others.
- The airflow on this pack for a non-trampoline/mesh suspension is fantastic! In the above photos you can see how much of a gap there is between the pack and my back.
- The hip belt pockets are absolutely cavernous. Like, “fit my old DSLR in one” cavernous.
- The Flight balances a bit differently than my other packs because of how the volume is distributed (less near the bottom, more towards the top). I found the Flight balanced well with the centre of mass more towards the bottom.
Overall, I am very happy with this pack so far! It seems to be checking all the boxes it promised to. I can’t wait for things to improve such that I can get out and do some real testing with it!