Roads Rivers and Trails

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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Gear Review: Osprey Atmos 65

Long Term Test
Gear Review: Osprey Atmos 65
Written by: Bryan Wolf

Its Early Spring 2012, we had just hiked up the Hurricane Trail to the Hurricane Campground. It is late and the rain is coming down fast so we found ourselves with little left to do but set up and consequently stay in our tents. I think we fell asleep still laughing; we were just happy to be out. The next morning we woke at what ended up being the junction of the Hurricane Trail and the AT. What a beautiful way to wake up, the start of a 40 mile trip into Trail Days at Damascus Virginia.

This was my first trip wearing the then newly released Atmos 65. We’ll get to the pack and its features shortly, but before you can recognize what is good and really appreciate it, I feel it is important to look at the category as a whole. Looking back on the trip I quickly remember some perfectly convenient examples of backpacks gone awry and hopefully this mess of stories will somehow defend my love for Osprey packs, but also the importance of a professional pack fitting… by people that wear packs.

The first story happened that same morning. Early risers were jetting down the trail, obvious thru hikers from both the grime and conditioning. Stopping for a break and to simply say hi to the group was a lean and shaggy NOBO (North Bound hiker). Taking off his pack for a while he explained his dilemma. The pack he was wearing had fallen off his waist and consequently dropped to his shoulders. If any of you have dealt with this before you would know that the turn of events next leads you to weakened and soon useless Gumby like arms. What could have gone wrong?

Travel back further, the year is 2006 in deep Appalachian Maine. After 200 miles of grueling trail my buddy Joe and I grab a hitch into Rangley. We pick up a total of 2 knee braces, some fried chicken, Mountain Dews, and Doritos. If you are problem solving here the later 3 items are not related to the issue. Joe had a gap between the pack and his back leaving the entirety of the weight to fall on his hips and impact on his knees with every stride. Then again the guy that sized him up was never really a backpacker…

Why the Atmos?

The backpack is one of the most important and customized pieces of gear you’ll need, as important as or maybe even more so than your boots. Sizing doesn’t run like your t-shirts and even if you do get sized, are you sure the pack can accommodate your needs? That brings us to strength number one of the Atmos; the fit.

The pack comes in 3 sizes to match your torso height. From there each pack has an extended range of torso adjustment to meet your EXACT size. The pack should flow with your back, follow your shoulders with the strap yoke ending right under your arms. From there you can make the adjustments to assure the weight is distributed, centered and close to your body. The “Fit On The Go” hip extensions assure that you can both extend or shorten the hip belt to fit your waist in fluctuating circumstances. Does any of this sound helpful to the scenarios above?

If you find multiple packs that fit you perfect then it’s time to break down the features. This is a left or right hose hydration compatible pack with a separate internal sleeve. The top hood, or the “brain” of the pack has one main zipper on the top and one mesh organizer on the bottom. If I had one beef with the product it would be the small zipper opening on the brain limiting access with-in. Through the main duffle you have a removable sleeping bag compartment and bottom zipper for the sleeping bag compartment access.

On the outside of the pack you have well thought out features that will be on competitors’ packs in a few years when they catch up to Osprey’s standards. The Atmos has two fully usable drink pockets and the compression straps on either side can be redone to weave on the outside or inside of the exterior pockets. There is one larger light buckled pouch on the front of the pack and two separate side pockets. The pack rides nice with an exaggerated air scape mesh backing that makes the old school external frame guys drop their jaws. The air scape allows air flow behind your back for four season temperature regulation. Top it off with trekking pole holders and a safety whistle on the sternum strap and you’ve got it.

The packs suspension and framing can hold weight in the 40 pound range comfortably and it will withstand the weight without issue. Another thing to recognize is “The All Mighty Guarantee”. Osprey has an unbeatable warranty and matching customer service.

On The Job

You can see pictures of the pack and read about features on the Osprey website. How about why I like the pack? One of my favorite things is the gear organization and separation. I find it important to be efficient, organized and fully manage moisture in relation to all of my gear. The two hip pockets allow quick access to my headlamp, pocket knife, and a snack. No need to take off the pack for that, I’ve got it. The two vertical zips on the front carry my filter, pack towel, and toilet paper consistently. I have full access to what I need without routing through everything and I’ve separated items like the filter and pack towel that may be wet.

In the large outside pouch I find it is perfect to gorge safely with a rain shell and rain pants. The pocket seems to dry and drain easy with the lighter outer fabric and keeps the items I may need in a hurry there while being the furthest from the rest of my gear. Other reviews label the Air Scape back panel as a summer feature while I find it to be far from that simple. On my recent Mt. LeConte trip in the snow I found it convenient to manage my temperature as a whole. If I was cold in the front and hot on my back I’d otherwise need a Snuggie to figure things out, and I’m sorry but I’m not packing a Snuggie. The Air Scape gives me consistency in my layering.

I feel like 65 liters is perfect for trips other than those needing a bear canister and the weight of the Atmos pack from small to large are all under 4 pounds. I wear a small torso and it weighs in at less than 3 1/2 pounds. There is a size difference in the pack capacity due to the torso size, but it is hardly worth noting.

Please note that the female specific version of the Atmos is the Aura. Please see an experienced staff for a full customized fitting. Otherwise risk being the gimpy Gumby, and nobody likes a gimpy Gumby. To get sized for your pack and get a full run down on other pack features stop by Roads Rivers and Trails in Milford, OH.

River of Dreams

River of Dreams
An 86 Mile Journey Down the Little Miami River
Written by: Kara Lorenz

Water is wild!  It falls from the sky, crashes to the Earth, and races to the ocean only to repeat the process.  I’m not much for falling from the sky and crashing to the ground, but I sure will join in on the journey to the ocean!  When enough water comes to visit, I enjoy grabbing my kayak and taking it down the river.  Every trip I take is an adventure, no matter the length.  My favorite local paddle has always been on the Little Miami River.  Last year, my friend Vince and I decided to paddle the whole length of the Little Miami, but in a very different way.

When I say different, I mean in a way that has never been done before.  We were not the first to make this journey, nor were we the fastest.  What made this trip unique and record book worthy was our means of transportation down the river, stand up paddle boards, or two Liquid Logic Versa Boards.  For those of you who are not familiar with SUP boards, they are basically a longer and wider surf board motored by what looks like an extremely long canoe paddle.  Stand up paddle boarding is very prevalent in the coastal states and is gaining more and more popularity here in the Midwest.

Our four and a half day, 86 mile journey began at the northern most access point, located near John Bryan State Park.  The first 17 miles of the river were difficult, cluttered with fallen trees and debris.  We found ourselves dragging gear loaded boards through the woods and around large damned up sections of the river.  Gratefully, Liquid Logic was nice enough to include a tag-along wheel on the Versa board making portaging slightly more enjoyable.  It felt like we spent more time walking alongside the river than paddling the river those first 10 miles.  I fell off by board twice on the first day, and that was two times too many considering it was late March and 50 degrees.  After persevering through the most challenging portion of the river, Vince and I got more comfortable on our boards and fine-tuned our SUP skills.  I came to appreciate the different perspective that the stand-up paddle board offered me.  I was able to read the river clearer than ever and see so much more of the river and what lay beyond its banks.  For the next three and a half days, the river meandered across the northern farmland, cradled us between the hills of the ancient Hopewell Indians, and drifted us by an old Civil War Encampment, through the historic river towns of Loveland and Milford, and eventually delivered us to the Ohio River.

The river taught me more in the first 15 miles than I had learned in the first 15 years of my life.  I learned you can never have too many sets of dry clothes and that the northern Little Miami River geese are not as friendly as the southern Little Miami River geese.  Most of all, I learned that every river holds adventures within its banks, and if you let the river guide you for a little while, life becomes a whole lot simpler.  What makes a river different from any other journey is that you can embark upon the same river fifty times, and each time you will walk away with a different experience and understanding.  My challenge to you is to take a journey down a river, whether it is by canoe, kayak, board, or inner tube.  Water is not just for drinking, GO PLAY!