Sierra Designs: Revival 50 $239.95 www.sierradesigns.com
The Good: Convenient front-panel access to the main pack means your gear is never out of reach.
The Bad: Nalgene bottles can be a tight fit when the pack is full.
The Ugly: Lumbar pads look ruthlessly uncomfortable. Thankfully this is not the case.
There is a lot to like about the Sierra Designs Revival 50 Backpack. First, it swallows your gear and makes for easy loading partially due to the straight back. This accommodates tent poles and other items nicely compared to other packs with curved backs.
If you’re like me and dig lots of pockets, the Revival 50 has got you covered. It has dual holsters on the hip belts for a quick draw of your favorite energy bar or other snack, saving you a trip into the main pack. This is always a good thing.
I got most excited about the front pocket. It takes up almost the full length of the pack and is perfect for throwing in a light jacket or some extra layers. The best part about this pocket is not the pocket itself but the zipper on the back panel. This zipper grants you access to almost two thirds of the main compartment, and you don’t even need a secret password. This, combined with the top access, means you will never have to dig too far for that long lost roll of TP. The only downside is that many items will want to fall out of the pocket when you are accessing your main pack through this zipper.
The comfort level of this pack was a thumbs up partially due to the Revival’s suspension system. The pre-curved articulating waist-belt is one element of the packs suspension system. This well-padded waist-belt provides some shock absorption, dampening the bounce of your pack while on the trail. The other element is a single aluminum stay running down the spine of the pack. This aluminum rod provides the necessary support while letting the pack flex with your movement. Both of these features provide a suspension system that seems to work well. Just don’t overstuff the pack like I did, or you will bow the aluminum rod and lose functionality.
Another element adding to the comfort of this pack is the four pads that come in contact with your back, two at the shoulder and two at your lower back. These large lobular pads are no joke. The design may conjure up thoughts of a massage chair in your local mall. Nice and thick, these lobes feel quite different if you are not used to this lumbar pad design. In no time at all, things settle in and you feel as though they are not there. This pad design allows the pack to sit away from your body slightly, giving plenty of ventilation for your back.
My most recent trip with this pack took me into the Trinity Alps Wilderness up the Long Canyon Trail. It was an out-and-back of 5 miles up a steep valley. with the pack somewhat overloaded with camera and video gear. I ended the trip with a little soreness in my shoulders, normal given the situation, and was happy with the performance of the pack.
In addition to the key features of this pack, the design is nicely rounded off with an array of compression straps, two nalgene bottle holders, and ice axe loops. It’s also covered with several inconspicuous loops for strapping items to the outside. If this wasn’t enough, Sierra Designs has redefined the term “hydration ready” and decided to throw a bottle opener on one of the shoulder straps for extra measure. I like how these guys think.
The weekend warrior will feel at home with this well-designed pack. With enough storage for a long weekend in the woods and a suspension system designed to keep you trekking over the long haul this pack does not disappoint.
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Author: David Frandsen