If you're tired of packs that bounce off trees while you're hiking, or never seem to get your weights balanced right, or that just plain don't feel good, you might wanna check out the Kelty Tornado Packs.
Our little Weekend hiking crew uses them and we love em. The new subdued colors are cool too (They used to be cobalt blue or purple only ;) Now you can blend in with the woods instead of standing out.
The narrow profile of the Tornadoes makes hiking, even in tight brush, much easier than with a wider pack... and your arms are free to swing as needed. It was designed primarily as a Rock climbing pack, but in the undergrowth of the South East, it fits our needs perfectly. It'll easily hold a weekend's worth of camping gear.
The weight we typically carry is easily distributed throughout the pack, and you can transfer the weight from shoulders to hips, or a balance between, just by adjusting "riser straps" on the fly... no need to even stop. I have a bad back, so I keep the weight on my hips and off my shoulders. (With ANY pack, Remember to pack the weightier items low so you aren't constantly "balancing the load" down the trail like an Egyptian with a big clay pot on her head).
These packs are tough, light, affordable, and well built. They don't "squeak" like some internal frame packs do as you walk. The suspension system is great.. VERY comfortable. As one friend said, "you feel like you just got strapped into a form fitting bucket seat". Seriously, we LOVE the suspension system, but a word of caution, you tend to overload the pack because it doesn't "feel" like you're carrying as much weight as you're actually carrying... but your legs WILL know after a few miles on the trail ;)
The full length side zippers are great for getting stuff out of the pack without unloading everything from the top. On the newer model we just purchased the zipper goes down the side and then across the sleeping bag area... VERY nice.
As with any "real" pack, you need to know YOUR measurements before you buy for best fit, and you need to "fine tune" the pack to custom fit YOU. If you buy it from an outfitter, the sales people can do this for you on the spot. It's EASY and quick to set the pack up to fit specifically YOU.
The "men's model" is usually a 4000 CI pack, and the Women's model (yes there IS a difference, Women are built differently in case you haven't noticed) is somewhere in the 3000CI range.
The Down Side:
There are no internal compartments to keep your stuff separated. One item ends up piled on top of another. More fragile items should be stored in the removable top portion of the Pack. We're thinking about taking ours to a local shop and having at least one mesh compartment (or floor) added just above the sleeping bag area, and then a zipper opening where the bag is stored. This would allow you to pull out the sleeping bag without all your other stuff falling to the bottom of the pack.
We like to "hang" our packs, and the Tornado was designed to unload it laying flat on the ground. But it's not really that big a deal the way it is and works perfectly if you like the lay the pack down on it's back to unload for camp setup (Hey, some people do).
Would WE Buy It?:
YES! In fact one of our close friends recently bought the newest Tornado in our group. It's got all the same neat features of the older Tornado packs, plus some nicer improvements (and it's in a more subdued color).
Torso Fit Range for the 4000CI model = 16-21
Weight: 5 lb. 7 oz.
Capacity: 4000 Cubic Inches (Men's Model)
Fabric: 600D Kodra upper /1000D bottom
Frame: Twin vert. 6061-T6511 alum. Stays
HDPE suspension panel
Price seems to be about 130 - 150 bux (depending on where ya get em)
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