Three adults tested this pack over the course of several weeks. We all reached the same conclusion: this pack is comfortable.
- Compresses well
- Large capacity
- Easy to roll and secure top
- Straps adjust easily and hold in place
- Waterproofing works
- Good value for the price
- No side pockets for water
- Sweat on your back can be an issue on strenuous climbs
- No inner pockets to organize small items
Test #1 — Family Picnic (Jill)
I wouldn’t normally pack a 30L pack just to take a picnic, but I was dying to try out the Shasta Weather Defense Backpack. Plus, well, we can eat a lot. So I filled this bag up with lunch, a blanket, and some toys for the kids and we hit the trail. We walked for about an hour on the unmarked trail behind the Primitive Baptist Church in Cades Cove before we stopped in a field for lunch. I carried the pack, and it sat well and didn’t cause any discomfort (granted it wasn’t at full weight.)
My favorite part about this pack is the design. The top roll seal makes it easy to pack and unpack. It’s a simple bag without a lot of bells and whistles, and I appreciated that. We are hikers, and plan to use the bag that way, but I think it would also be great for a rafting or boating trip. My only worry is that the bag itself feels heavier than the other 30L packs that I have tried.
Test #2 — 8. 4 Mile Hike to the Highest Point in Texas (Raina’s Husband)
A man’s perspective on this pack is important to balance us out. Add to that, we wanted to see how the Shasta would hold up in our normal highpointing conditions. Guadalupe Peak, a strenuous highpoint with 3,000 feet of elevation gain, seemed perfect. The plan was for both of us to try it during portions of the up and down of this steep, rocky climb.
My husband was up first. As soon as he put the pack on, he proclaimed, “wow, this is comfortable!” He appreciated the way it compressed nicely and fit his frame well. About halfway up, I suggested we switch packs, but he waved me off. At the summit, I again tried to switch packs. This time he shook his head explaining that the pack was really comfortable and that I should continue to carry my own.
A bit of insight – this man is picky, routinely paying large sums of money for packs and other gear that make life as comfortable as possible on the trail. Any hint of discomfort, he would have switched. Most certainly, I would have heard a complaint – not one. He warned me ahead of time that “if the pack sucks, I’m throwing it off the mountain.” Of course, this wouldn’t have happened; I would have been blessed with Shasta pack time. The point is, the complete opposite happened. He hoarded the Shasta to himself, refusing to share. That alone speaks volumes.
If he were to improve the pack, he would tweak two things: 1) add side pockets for water bottles, and 2) alter the back to allow more air flow for quick drying. Water fits fine in the outer compartment, but he feels it is only convenient with a hiking companion. Alone, accessing water requires removing the pack since it similarly has no water reservoir holder. For the lack of air circulation on his back, the sweat from this strenuous hike became noticeable even with a wicking shirt and performance soft shell jacket.
Overall, he recommends the pack. Reflecting on the hike later that afternoon, my husband suggested we title the review, “Looks Can Be Deceiving.” He went on to describe how he didn’t initially like the look of the pack – the waterproof material looked odd to him and when not compressed, the pack can appear unwieldy and uncomfortable. His expectations were set to hate the pack. All it took was putting it on for him to solidly endorse the product – and not let it out of his clutches.
Test #3 — 5 Mile Local Hike (Raina)
Since my husband refused to share in Texas, I needed either to experience this heavenly comfort for myself or challenge his review. I started by loading up the Shasta with a compact sleeping bag, compressed sleeping pad, waterproof pants, and mid-weight gloves in the main compartment. I finished it off with a 16 oz water bottle and my cell phone in the outer compartment. Compression straps in place, I set out on a solo five mile hike with the Shasta.
Instantly, I understood why my husband kept this pack to himself. This is comfortable. After five miles, I still didn’t feel the weight, all of it well placed on my hips. Admittedly a little crazy, I even tried it at home after the hike to do some light yard work and to move some patio furniture around. The pack remains secure and comfortable even with vast amounts of movement and strenuous activity.
I agree that the lack of side pockets is a touch inconvenient. I’ll further echo my husband’s request for airscape vents on the back. I didn’t notice it while hiking, but the back of my shirt was fully saturated by the end of the hike. I needed a shirt change as soon as the pack came off.
For my hike, I could have used a padded compartment for my cell or perhaps some smaller inner pockets in the main chamber. I’ve grown accustomed to throwing band-aids, spare hair elastics, and chapstick in a small pocket. While this pack has an outer pocket, it seems most functional to use it for water and snacks. Alternatively, a small pocket on the hip belt could meet some of my needs.
Still, comfort and compression steal the show on this one. Any nit-picky comments I’m making are far outweighed by the benefit of comfort and dry gear.
All three of these tests were during sunny conditions. Since we can’t speak to the waterproofing yet, we decided to conduct a special test.
Test #4 — Waterproof (Jill)
My big test of the Shasta pack is a Cub Scouts camp out next week. Before I took the Shasta on the overnight I had to test it out and make sure it’s as waterproof as it looks. I packed it up with all of my essentials – my sleeping bag, a book, dry socks, and a Summit Chicks T-shirt. Then I completely startled a landscaping contractor by taking the whole thing outside and turning the hose on it for a full five minutes.
The pack seemed to hold up well after my soaking. It repelled the water, and didn’t seem too much worse for the wear. But what about my beloved belongings?
Everything stayed perfectly dry. I won’t have any fear about leaving my clothes and sleeping bag, or even my electronics in this bag if it rains. I left the bag outside after my test and it dried quickly and didn’t have that wet hiker smell that gear sometimes gets. Cub Scout campout, here we come!
30L Shasta Weather Defense™ Backpack
by Outdoor Products
- Dimensions: 20.5in x 10in x 10in / 1,654 cu in
- Welded seams
- Watertight, roll top seal
- Reflective accents
- Articulated padded shoulder straps with sternum handle
- Top carry handle
- Front access pocket
- Trekking pole holder
- Padded waist belt
- Designed for heavy use
- Tough heavy duty fabric with welded seams
- Trekking pole holder
Disclaimer: Outdoor Products provided us with this item to test for this review. All testing is unbiased. Our policy is – if we love the product, we’ll rave about it. If we don’t, well, we’ll be honest about it. Also, we are Amazon affiliates.