Gear Review: Columbia Women’s Vixen 22L

I’ve been trying to find a good day pack over the last year or so. My beloved Jansport is starting to show wear in the shoulder straps and I decided to leave it packed away in Colorado. I’d begun to use my Teton Sports Summit 1500 as a default daypack after I got it in August but gave it away to a friend in need leaving me essentially daypack-less. When I opened my duffel bag of Columbia Sportswear goodness in Park City and found the Vixen, I was delighted.

Over the last month or so, I’ve been using it on all of our hikes. I’ve never had a pack that had an air gap between the back and the pack and was excited to try it. The gap is supported by two metal rods. This does create a pretty narrow tunnel to the pack which I find a bit annoying sometimes. The gap is nice but I still sweat plenty at the hip strap & support. Inside the body of the pack is a pocket for a hydration bladder. Beyond that, it’s one big space which is plenty of room for my day hiking needs.

The hip belt is too big for me. I wear the pack with the straps all the way tightened and it’s still not quite snug enough around my hips with just a t-shirt. Similarly, the straps on the shoulder straps are really long—I’m planning on cutting them down next time I’m around a sewing machine.

Signal Peak

The outside water bottle pockets are the perfect size to hold a Nalgene; too many packs have pockets that are too small to hold one well. If I really want to I can reach around and pull them out without taking the pack off. It also has a large open front pocket. I wasn’t really sure what I would use this for but Sprocket’s trail bowl lives here so it’s always available (and if it’s still a little damp it doesn’t get my stuff wet). At the very top of the pack is a small pocket that I use for keys and a cell phone.

One of the biggest downsides I can see to this pack is durability of the light stretchy material that makes up the water bottle and front pockets. Mine has numerous “snags” from being dragged through desert brush—although for primarily trail hikers this would not be a concern. The low profile does do well when it comes to scrambling around through the brush though!


This pack was provided by Columbia Sportswear to me as part of the #omniten program for review. All opinions are my own.

Gear Review: Teton Sports Summit 1500

source: The Morning Fresh

On the #hikerchat adventure during Summer Outdoor Retailer Show, Forrest and I both got a Teton Sports Summit 1500 to test out. My old Jansport was too bulky to for a comfortable all day mountain pack (and it was reaching the end of it’s life) so I’d been in the market for a new daypack. It wasn’t long before I was more than happy to adopt the Summit 1500 as my go-to pack.

I used it on several 14-ers hikes last year, often carrying everything for both F and I on long days. The pack was comfortable to wear on hikes as long as fifteen miles. The nylon construction seems to hold up well to abrasion from rocks and vegetation.

The pack has tons of pockets for a daypack which can be nice to stash rarely used items like first aid kits, a compass, etc. I’m a really big fan of having a “hood pocket”: a great place for stashing a map and other regularly used items. The velcro gear loop can help to carry many types of year but I’ve used it several times to carry a tripod:

I even packed for non-camping weekend trips with it to avoid checked baggage fees (it’s even small enough to evade carry on fees with some budget airlines!). At $59.99 on Amazon, this pack is a great value that I can recommend to nearly anyone looking for a new day pack.

Jansport Warranty

My first hike with my pack, 2003.

When I was in high school, I went to REI and bought a day pack. I remember explaining to the salesperson that I’d be using it for a school pack as well as for hiking. They helped me to pick out a Jansport Equinox 33. The pack has seen plenty of use as a school bag (like seven years worth). It’s also seen its fair share of day hiking and after nine years, it was starting to break down in some small ways: the buckles were starting to get brittle and crack but worst of all, the main zipper would work its way open leaving my stuff free to fall out.

Summit of Mt. Ellinor (WA), 2005.

About three weeks ago, I sent my pack off to Jansport for some warranty work. I was really worried that they’d replace it with a pack of inferior quality. I needed my decent hip belt, sternum strap, and packing space. Instead, when the pack arrived yesterday, I got my old pack back with all new zippers and buckles! The whole process took just three and a half weeks and it looks like I’ve got something that is as good as new!

Hiking Katahdin, 2007.

Thanks to Jansport for making this such a painless process. I received an email when my pack was checked in, called the number in that email once to check on it’s process and was provided with a tracking number when I called. All this on top of getting my pack back all fixed.

Mt. Thielson, 2009.

I’m looking forward to taking it out to test it out soon and having more adventures!

Hiking to the cabin. March 2012.