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If you are in the market for a pack that lets you keep your most needed items at the ready then the Ribz Front Pack is worth a look.
Capacity: 700+ cu. in.
Weight: 9 oz.
Recently I reviewed an Aarn Designs pack that is designed with front balance pockets to aid in distributing weight more evenly as well as allowing the wearer to easily access any of their gotta have gear with ease. The Ribz wear front pack takes this a step further by allowing some bomber and amazingly easy to access pouches throughout the two sides of the pack. The basic idea is that this pack is worn much like a vest, over the shoulders and zipped across the front. The webbing that makes up the body of the pack is much like a shoulder harness you would carry a firearm with. The reason behind the minimalist design is so that you can wear it comfortably with or without a regular pack or hydration system.
The unit I recieved for review is one of the newest designs and you can tell that a good deal of thought has gone into it, especially with the access points to each of the 5 main pockets. I had no issue unzipping them with one hand, nor did I have an issue with retrieving any of my stashed gear.
To be honest I really, really dig this product. Sure I think it could use some tweaking here and there, but on the whole this is a pretty sweet set up that I think all backpackers, from day hikers to distance hikers, would be stoked to have.
I can't tell you how much of a difference it makes to have your map, compass, gps, camera, softshell, snacky cakes, and other essentials right there on your chest. Any of you that have spent time on the trail and wish you had the whosit, whatsit, or whatever right there when you need it will be stoked. I mean come on, if I only had this thing on when I saw Bigfoot I definitely could have gotten to my camera and well now I'd be super famous and telling my story in bars all over the world drinking exotic beers and I could back my story with sweet photos!
OK back from dreamland. The RIBZ pack had a few minor issues that I think folks should know about, although none of them are show stoppers. On each of the shoulder straps is a plastic "D" ring that I guess is meant to attach stuff to but I think that these are pretty crappy and I cut mine off. The adjustable strap that goes across the back of the pack has a ton of webbing to adjust and is meant to be cut to fit, just be sure to leave enough so you can adjust the unit to be large enough to get around any layers you'll be wearing in the winter! The upper part of the back straps has an adjustable strap as well but it rides across the two horizontal straps and it seems to move around a bit, perhaps in future designs there will be a means to keep the straps where you put them.
Really other than those few little and obviously nitpicking observations I have no complaints.
Yes, I wore it on it's own, with a hydration pack and with a full backpack and the only thing I noticed was that the upper corner of the side pockets was covered by my shoulder straps to which I think I lost only about 20 cu. in.