Last month, when I went to the Kettle Moraine Southern Unit in Wisconsin to do some segment hiking of the Ice Age Trail, I wanted to get a new daypack. The requirements for it were that it needed to be comfortable (obviously), but more importantly, it had to comfortably hold my collection of the 10 Essentials. A bonus would be that it be blaze orange, for added safety during hunting season. I was excited to purchase the L.L. Bean Trail Model Hunting Pack in Hunter Orange, as it seemed to fit the bill. I also liked the idea of the “quiet fabric.”
L.L. Bean’s description:
“This rugged pack offers you a simple, functional and affordable way to carry all your gear into the field. The unique suspension system includes a waistbelt and yoke-style harness with fully adjustable shoulder and sternum straps, allowing weight to be evenly distributed between the hips and shoulders. Contoured ridges on the back panel maximize airflow, keeping you dry and comfortable. The spacious main compartment accommodates extra layers, tools, a climbing harness and other gear you’ll need for a safe and successful hunt.
Two side pockets hold water bottles and smaller essentials like scents, calls or electronics. A channel behind the side pockets accommodates shooting sticks or a tripod. Side compression straps and lashing loops secure gear. Brushed poly warp knit bonded to a 150-denier polyester backer creates a lightweight, rugged and highly water-resistant fabric that’s incredibly quiet. Rugged Duraflex Rocklockster buckles. Waterproof zippers. Reinforced bottom. Imported.”
I would agree with most of the features and found this to be a very comfortable daypack that was, indeed, very quiet. I wore it over two days in light rain, snow, and generally cold conditions. It was never a problem to get into the pack, buckle or unbuckle, or adjust it on the fly – in short, it performed much as advertised. It was almost my perfect daypack.
Issues? The pockets were simply too small, holding very little gear. This wasn’t a deal breaker, as the pack was meant to carry emergency gear, needed only in dire straits. I could have carried a small snack and my sunglasses in the pockets, and my tripod did fit into the channel behind the side pockets. The biggest problem was a lack of a front pocket, to hold bigger items, like my Ice Age Trail guidebook and maps. These bigger items just got lost in the large main compartment, which required several layers of opening before getting to the gear inside.
If L.L. Bean adds the front pocket and makes the other pockets bigger, this would be the ideal pack for me. Unfortunately it’s only pretty close – while I loved the color, the fit, and the quiet fabric, ultimately I decided to return it and continue my search.
Anyone have a suggestion for a daypack that meets all my needs?
Other backpacks to check out: