We’ve spent some time reviewing sample packs from Outdoor Products, as the ones we received are geared specifically toward women and for youth hikers – my wife an kids get out a lot less often than I do. We’ve put them through their paces over 6 months or so, 4 road trips, camping, and plenty of miles on the trails.
We went back and forth with the Mantis Dragonfly External Frame Pack, sometimes appreciating it and other times not so much. The pack is comprised of mostly smaller pockets with one larger top loading main compartment. Front and bottom pockets give access to main compartment, which was helpful. I prefer less, larger pockets, but my kids didn’t seem to mind, so clearly it’s a preference thing. The shoulder straps and hip belt were adequate, though I prefer a lot more padding, personally. The kids also said the belt could use improvement, but accepted it otherwise. The pack has compression straps, with plenty adjustment and attachment points, meaning you could really carry quite a bit if you were so inclined. In this day of internal frame packs, the overt black plastic external frame gives it a distinct retro look that I found quite appealing. The plastic seems sturdy enough and I like that the top of the frame forms a handle, making the pack easy to pick it up. With its adjustability, this pack can grow with your child and is also a possible option for smaller men or women. This is a pack that definitely does its job and, depending on your preferences, you’ll probably either love it or hate it.
The Artemis 35 is a 35 L pack designed for women. The pack is primarily a main compartment (top-opening but with a u-shaped zipper for easy access. An internal pocket holds an optional hydration bladder. There is a packing diagram on the inside of the top pocket, which is a nice reminder of how things should go in. An exterior front pocket has a zippered compartment along with smaller organizational pockets. Two elasticized water bottle pockets complete the pack’s storage, though there is a small elasticized waist pocket (would be better zippered) and there are attachment points at various sites, including a somewhat incongruous daisy chain on the waist belt. Designed for women, both my wife and daughter appreciated the fit and even fully loaded felt like the pack felt comfortable.
At the time of writing, neither pack appears on the company website any more, but both are readily available through other online stores. If you don’t mind smaller pockets, and external frame, and something that can grow with your child (or you’re a smaller adult), the Mantis Firefly is an inexpensive yet quality option. The Artemis 35 is designed for women and was found comfortable by the females in our household – it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but performed admirably both as a day pack and fully loaded for hiking.
Products received for editorial purposes – all opinions are my own.