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Review: OFFPISTE UltraPack

The OFFPISTE UltraPack is a strong addition to the backpack/hydration system market. The crew at OFFPISTE were tired of taking their backpacks off to get to their gear while they were outdoors and wanted a pack that they could access without removing it. After several iterations, the team thinks that they’ve “nailed it” with their triangular, single-strap bag and have put the it up on Kickstarter to get it into production. We got our hands on one of these triangular contraptions to give it a thorough standup paddling test.

Our first impressions were solid. The pack is made out of high-material and the zippers, stitching, buckles, etc. all feel strong and well-built. This thing isn’t going to break down under hard use.

The size of the pack—seven liters that expands to ten—is a good size. Many paddling packs only let you carry the bare essentials: phone, energy bar, water bladder and keys. We like to carry more stuff like GoPros, an extra layer and sunscreen. The UltraPack is great for carry more stuff while not being too big. For those of you that like to go minimal, the zipper pocket on the pack is actually removable with a four-liter “LightPack” that velcros on in place of the UltraPack and still holds the proprietary bladder. Very handy.

Now for the true test: paddling with a single strap, shoulder sling backpack. At first, it felt a little strange to have a strap on one shoulder and not the other. But a messenger pack this is not. The UltraPack sits squarely—or should we say triangularly—in the middle of your back thanks to generously long straps for adjustment. Technically, there are two straps: the main, weight-bearing strap and a thin waist strap, to keep the pack in place when you’re moving around. It doesn’t slide side-to-side and it feels quite natural after a few minutes.

If you don’t like the pack on the one shoulder, you can switch it to the other thanks to two buckles on the main strap. But that’s where our main beef with this pack comes in: the point where the main strap clips for adjustment creates an overlap that lightly rubs on your collarbone as you paddle. It’s fine for shorter paddlers but I did a three-and-a-half hour paddle and was a little tender there the next day. Another option would be to switch shoulders partway through.

Overall, this is a solidly-built, well-designed pack that should merit consideration from paddlers looking for a pack that does a little bit more.

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Check OFFPISTE out on Kickstarter.

More gear here.