Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gear Review: Marmot Ultra Kompressor Backpack

The more experience I get with hiking/camping gear the more I like Marmot. They are generally the less expensive alternative to The North Face, Arc'teryx, etc. However, less expensive doesn't necessarily mean lower quality. In fact, this pack has taught me that Marmot may have some of the best finishing of any day pack in its price range that I've tried out.

From The Big Outside

Marmot Ultra Kompressor is a 20L, light weight, top loading day pack. I tried on many other packs and chose this one for a variety of reasons. First of all, the Marmot Ultra Kompressor fit my back much better than every other pack that I tried on. I am fairly tall and most other packs felt like I was wearing a toy. If you are 6' or taller and are considering a pack, for fit alone, I recommend this pack.

Other features I like include the large front cage that's great storage for your go-to items like map, GPS, camera, etc. The cage compresses well and items feel very secure without the use of zippers. It has two side cages for other routinely accessed items and each accept a 1L canteen. The lid pocket that is zippered and generously sized. For the items that you want kept safe but don't need readily available, like your house keys, there is a small zipped pocket inside this main lid pocket that will keep your items safe.

The main pocket is large enough for a full day in the wilderness. It easily accommodates a change of clothes, hat, gloves, food for a day, a camp stove, water bladder, first aid kit and nearly anything else that you could possibly need for a full day's trek in the woods. Compression straps on the outside of the pack cinch down to secure smaller loads and loops and bungees allow you to carry ice axes or poles. The main compartment also has a hydration sleeve for a water bladder and a port to conveniently run your hose to the outside and loops on the shoulder straps keep it secure. It fits my 2L bladder and easily has room for a larger version.

The Marmot Ultra Kompressor is tremendously comfortable. Probably the most comfortable pack I've ever tried on. When I'm running through trails it feels like it's a part of me. The sternum strap is adjustable up and down the shoulder straps the clips have a built in safety whistle. The shoulder straps are contoured and perforated for comfort and adjust to accommodate any body type. For extra comfort, it even comes with hip straps. These are just nylon webbing with clips. I find them superfluous.

Aside from fit, the best thing about the Marmot Ultra Kompressor is the price. I tried on a lot of other packs from big names and none felt as comfortable and all were more expensive. The finish of the pack is excellent - it just feels so well thought out and it certainly feels like it's built to last. The pack is made from Double Ripstop nylon and is impregnated with silicon for a water repellent finish. All for less than $80 which is where most comparable packs are beat by $20 or more.

If you are looking for a lightweight, durable and, most of all, comfortable day pack without spending $100+, check out the Marmot Ultra Kompressor!

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