Sierra Designs was founded in 1965, and has created some of the best outdoor performance products on the market ever since. They have continuously garnered industry attention by attracting some of the most badass outdoor athletes on the planet, and routinely winning awards for producing outstanding equipment from year-to-year. I’ve personally used a Sierra Designs sleeping bag for almost 2 decades. It’s been a trusted piece of equipment in my pack on steep summit approaches and simple weekend getaways.
When I first got my hands on the 2011 Herald 30 and Revival 65 backpacks, I was excited to put them to work. I had been using Osprey and Gregory packs for the past 10 years, and so I was looking forward to trying something new.
The Herald 30 is nice day pack. Let’s call it what it really is–it’s a hybrid pack. On my latest 3 day trip to Big Sky, I was able to stuff all of my clothing into the surprisingly roomy-but-streamline 30L pack. Weighing in only at 3 lbs, it made traveling very easy carrying a small pack, while also dragging along a massive ski bag. The bulk of the pack is made of 150D Nylon Rain Dobby and it’s reinforced with 315D Cordura. Basically, you could use the Herald 30 as a snowboard and not expect any rips from usage. It’s that tough.
Even though the Herald 30 (women’s version is called the “Rejoice”) is accessed through the front panel, I found the pack well architected in the interior. It’s hydration ready with BPA-ree Waterbottle pockets. There is a security pocket with key clip, easy-access front velcro pocket, trekking pole loops and a storm collar. These are just some of the nice features that Sierra Designs thoughtfully put into this pack. The real excitement came while I was hiking up on Big Sky Mountain. The “Fulcrum Suspension System” (more on that in a bit) and ventilated lumbar pad kept me comfortable during the ascent with my skis. The thermo-molded waistbelt was a nice touch as well. I didn’t feel it pinching into my side at all, like most packs do. The Herald 30 was unbelievably versatile–great design and really simple.
This beast has already received Backpacker’s “Best Organization” rating for 2011. It has all of the useful features seen in the Herald 30 – it’s just much bigger. At 65L or 3800 cubic inches, it has twice the capacity as its smaller cousin. Yet, it weighs in at only 3 lbs 14 oz.
The Revival (women’s version is called the “Jubilee”) backpack, which comes in two sizes – 50L and 65L – also has Sierra Designs’ comfort-fitting “Fulcrum Suspension System”, which is made of an innovative, laser-cut composite material mated with a lightweight aluminum stay and a forged pivot mechanism at the waistline. What does all of this tech-jargon mean? The Fulcrum System provides structural rigidity and support exactly where it’s most needed, while also allowing the wearer to twist and turn his/her torso freely. This is all achieved with a minimum amount of lightweight materials, which is quite impressive.
As far as overall comfort: I loved the foam shoulder straps. They were both snug and form-fitting. I loaded the pack with 42 lbs of gear, my normal load for a 3 day summit ascent. The pack’s suspension design made for great balance and stability, while the back panel allowed for cooling ventilation, which was important during my 8-mile test hike in the Pacific Northwest. There was no load flop during the descent, when lightly jogging. I can see myself using this pack quite a bit on 3-4 multiday trips either for leisure or on the Ingram Flats on Mt. Rainier.
I was thrilled to try these packs out for the first time, and they both held up nicely to Sierra Designs’ high standard of thoughtful design and burly construction.
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