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My first reaction to this pack is wow, a women's specific pack, with the woman in mind! Awesome, cause, ya know, it's easier to make a men's pack and according to some people, women don't get out much. But here you have it, a women's specific Sierra Designs Jubilee 65. Now Backpacker Magazine gives this bag a "best organization" award, and I'll agree with a few points. It does allow the user to easily access the bottom of the bag. It also has pocket separators in the top pouch to keep personal items away from camping items as well as a "super-size-me" front pocket. Yet I'm not too fond of the front panel access. For some reason, my items seemed to keep falling out. Because of the way the bag forms when fully packed, the inner flap elastic pockets fold over towards the ground causing items to fall out. Simple solution? Add zippers or a Velcro patch. I also found it hard to keep items in the inner pocket because if I wanted to get to the bottom of my bag, I had to take everything out first. The inner zip (to get to the bottom of the bag) under the flap, is convenient to a point. Then, it just gets annoying, again, if I had items in this pouch, and unzipped it to get to the bottom of my bag, those items fell in my bag. Simple solution? Put the zipper on the side of the separating panel. This would still allow the user to have items in the pouch without fully exposing them to the depths of the rest of the bag.
I guess pack designers also don't think tall women go hiking. I was just out of range for the torso fit, I'm about 20" so I'm sure this bag would fit better with the extra small to small 14.5"-17" suggested length . I found the padded hipbelt to be anything but comfortable. Again, I'm sure it fell on the wrong spot on my torso, but with no options in larger sizes of this pack, I thought I would give it a try.
Here are some of my favorite features:
Easy to open/close storm collar.
Nice lumbar curve with ventilated conduit.
Bottle opener on the left shoulder strap.
Besides the hip belt and the inner zip, I really enjoyed this pack. The shoulder straps tightened in just the right way and the chest strap always felt great no matter how much weight was in it. A couple of other key features that I enjoyed were the easy to open/close zippers, thin and smooth compression straps, the ventilation and lumbar curve, easy to open/close storm collar and of course, the bottle opener. Although if I were taking this baby on a 3 day hike, I don't know how inclined I'd be to bring along a long neck!! For this MtnMama, women's specific fails. Guess I've gotta stick with my MHM 5280 for now!