Outdoor Research Elevator Pack

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Product / Item Name: Elevator Pack

Manufacturer: Outdoor Research

Price (as tested): $89

The key to this pack is its light weight and many features. Weighing in at only 14.8 ounces it is capable of holding a solid 14 liters. The pack is durable and it is streamlined from beginning to end. It comes in only two colors: black and bright orange (what they call “Diablo”). It has a nice smooth finish that is also extremely durable and while it is not waterproof it can be folded up to the size of a nalgene bottle. Now just because it is light and packable does not mean it lacks features. The pack has a sternum strap and a waist strap. What is nice about the waist strap is that it has a small zipper pocket on each side to hold a couple bars or gels so that they are easy to access while you are on the mountain or out for a day hike. Instead of a fancy front zipper pocket with fancy bells and whistles that more often than not people do not take advantage of, they have a simple pocket attached to the top loading flap. The front does also offer a small daisy chain and loops for ice climbing gear. Going even further into the many features it also offers compression straps to make sure all your gear is secured tight and does not move around while you are mobile. Next, for those who are super picky about saving every ounce possible you can remove the back panel that lays against your back. The panel is meant to help keep the pack rigid but if you are truly saving ounces it can help shed that much more. Lastly, there is space for a hydration bladder but I would be careful about the size of it depending on what you plan on taking with you in the pack, remember, the pack is 14L.

If you take a look at gear websites they are filled with articles and recommendations about so many different variations of backpacks: EDC / tactical / fitness. The problem with those packs is that they are “specialty” and so many of cost between $150-350. The Elevator Pack is $89, it is loaded with a ton of features and you can use it for a wide variety of different activities. I have used it skiing, hiking, EDC, running, and everything in between. Remember a pack does not have to be expensive to have great features and be functional.

I recently took the pack on my mini-honeymoon up in the white mountains. We stayed at a small bed and breakfast where our primary pack was a big 65L Gregory. Luckily, we were easily able to pack up the Elevator for our day to day hiking and shopping. It held our extra layers that were easily compressible thanks to the compression straps, a couple bars for when we wanted a snack hiking above the treeline, and of course extra hats and sunglasses in the top loading flap.

So while I am talking about how much I like the pack I want to also take a minute to talk about how much I love Outdoor Research and their Infinite Guarantee: “We believe so strongly in the quality of the apparel and gear we make that if our product fails to meet your needs at any time, we are happy to replace it. Our products are guaranteed forever, and your total satisfaction with our product is our goal.” I have worked with and helped Outdoor Research test a number of products. Without knowing that I am a tester, I have called their customer service department with questions and comments. They have never let me down, when you call you get to talk to an actual person, their staff is friendly and most of all they are extremely helpful.

So what is the pack missing? While it is hard to criticize a pack that offers so much at such a great price there are a few things I would change. One, is that there are no side compartments for water bottles. Assuming that your water source comes from using the bladder (no bladder included) the only other way to access water is to store it in the pack. So if you need water you either need to carry a bottle in hand or take off the pack and get it out every time you need a drink, which can be a pain when you are trying to stay moving on the trail. Another feature that it does not have which I really enjoy on most packs is a ventilation system for the back panel. This can be troublesome in the summer when it is easy to sweat while on a big hike and you depend on little details like that to stay cool while on the move.

So is the pack worth it? You better believe it! Instead of spending double the amount on pack that is truly meant for law enforcement or special operations, buy this pack. It is durable and provides a great variety of features, everything you need, nothing you don’t. Think about it, do you really need a 500 or 1000d CORDURA® backpack that is meant to be so durable that it lasts multiple combat tours in Afghanistan? If you do then go for one of the competitors, but for a nice quality light weight pack look no further. And on the off chance that you do find yourself in a Jason Bourne style shoot out that ruins your pack go ahead and call up Outdoor Research, I am sure they will be happy to replace or repair anything that has happened to it. 

About Jay - I grew up in the good old days where kids played outside all day. I have always loved the outdoors and since college have been working in one of two fields - Fitness & The Outdoors. I am currently a Crossfit coach out of Crossfit Simsbury in CT. Due to my love of the outdoors I make sure that we take yearly trips to the mountains of New England for weekend backpacking trips, skiing, ice climbing etc. We also like to participate in endurance events, adventure races and fitness competitions. Needless to say, I live a very active and outdoors lifestyle. Looking forward to contributing to the rogue community so if there is any piece of gear or apparel you want info on let me know, I will be more than happy to try it out, put it through the ringer and let you know what I think. 

- Jay