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A Review of the Ribz Frontpack

By

The following review is based on my experience with the newest Ribz Frontpack, an ultralight version that is just being introduced (late summer 2009). As soon as I received my frontpack I had to put it on my kitchen scale, of course. Eleven ounces, or maybe a bit less. Not bad. I had expected it to be closer to fourteen ounces.

It took me a few minutes to figure out how to use it. It can be separated into two parts, with both a zipper in the front for easily putting it on and taking it off, and velcro strap to connect the two parts in back, so you can adjust it as necessary. I decided to take it into the mountains for a hike/climb.

I like to go really light, so I wondered about the advantages of adding 11 ounces to my pack weight. But the point is that it's not all about the total weight, but about how it is distributed. The frontpack is designed to balance out the weight on your back. After I packed up I had about four pounds in the frontpack - counting the pack, and eight pounds on my back . I did feel more balanced, although I could tell that this would be a hot way to hike in some places.

(For my complete packing list see the page Overnight Under Twelve Pounds)

(For an account of the trip see the page Gear Testing and Getting Lost.)

Putting the Ribz Frontpack on

Wearing the Ribz Frontpack and my Golite Pack in my backyard.

The Ribz Frontpack

I hiked a total of about twelve miles over the course of two days with the frontpack. It was in some pretty rough country. I liked how it balanced the load and it didn't hang up on the tress I had to push though for an hour at one point. It was a bit hot because the sun was shining and it was uphill for hours the first day, but in the cold morning I appreciated being wrapped by the frontpack, and I really noticed the better balance on some of the rocky slopes I negotiated by moonlight.

The Good

- The newest Ribz Frontpack is lighter than I thought it would be - only 11 ounces on my scale.

- It seems very tough and durable despite the light weight.

- I like the plain black color (not sure if other colors will be available).

- It was nice to have water bottles, maps and compass easily available without removing my pack for a change.

- The two large pockets with two small compartments make organizing easy. There are also two more zippered pockets.

The Bad

- On a sunny summer day climbing a steep slope, the Ribz Frontpack was a bit hot (although I loosened it to allow more airflow around me).

Other Notes

- What I thought was a chest strap (like those that hold two straps together on some backpacks), worked better when I put it between the straps behind me. That kept them from sliding off my shoulders (which they did when it was in front).

Summary

I won't use the Ribz Frontpack on every trip, but it's a great addition to my backpacking gear. I can see that it will work well by itself for some day hikes (and it's lighter than any day pack). In addition to providing better balance and easier access to gear, there is another advantage I see for ultralight backpackers. If you are taking a trip where your small lightweight pack isn't quite big enough, you don't have to move up in size to a large and uncomfortable frame pack. Just add a Ribz Frontpack.



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The Ultralight Backpacking Site | Review of the Ribz Frontpack