In 2010 I was looking for a good traveling pack, and after some research I settled on the Eberlestock Halftrack backpack. It’s more of a hunting pack, and although not specifically for ‘backpacking’, it inadvertently has a lot of features that make it perfect for backpacking.
- Front opening– Most packs are top opening, which can get annoying when you need something at the bottom of your bag. It’s also equally annoying to try to arrange how you pack your bag based on keeping things you use often towards the top. This pack opens from the front which definitely cuts the time you spend digging around your backpack by a lot.
- Size – With the nice-sized side pockets this pack is made to be wider and shorter than most packs. This is good because it matches nicely with the width of my shoulders and doesn’t go higher than my head. Great for a short person like me. Also, it fits well in most airplane overhead compartments so you don’t have to check it.
- Space– It holds 55L. In my opinion any more than that makes for a really big bag and any less space and it becomes a little tougher to fit what you need in it unless you’re savvy to the minimalist thing.
- Pockets– This pack has a good amount of extra pockets, two long ones on either side, a top pouch, a bunch of small pockets inside the main compartment, and many loops that you can clip things to with a carabiner. Enough to organize things but not too many to make you forget where you put what.
- Rain poncho cover– Most decent travel packs have one which is good to keep your pack dry and to keep in from getting dirty when you have to put it under a bus or belly of a plane.
- Quality shoulder straps and back padding– enough said
- Rigidity– The bag is not expandable at all, it says it is 55L and that’s all you’re gonna get. Expandable packs come in handy for many reasons and this pack is just not made that way.
- Weight– It’s about 6 lbs, not much but it does feel bulky and is definitely a little heavier than most packs. However, you get buff from carrying it so this could go in the pros list too.
- Detachable compartments– It doesn’t have any, and while not a major drawback I have found a detachable pack of some sort to be useful when manipulating the overall size of the bag to fit it in tight places.
- Price– it’s about $220, I think I found mine for more like $159 but I remember having to shop around online for a long time to find that deal. $159 isn’t a whole lot for a quality backpack but $220 feels a little steep to me.
- Zipper security– Or lack of it. If you want to lock up your pack with one of those little TSA approved combo locks you have to lock it through the cords attached to the metal zipper instead of through the metal itself, which means if someone wanted to jack your stuff they would just have to cut the cords with scissors. If you replace the cord with something sturdy like metal hoops (which I plan to do), you can line up the zipper for the main compartment and the top compartment and lock it all with one lock.