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Gear Review: Alps OutdoorZ – Commander Pack + Bag


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 Alps OutdoorZ Commander Pack + Bag

“The Commander X + Pack is a complete system for the multi day backcountry hunter. The combination of an internal frame meat hauling pack with a detachable 4000 cu in pack bag offers the ability to pack in gear to a spike camp and haul out meat when the task is completed. The Commander X frame has lashing system that incorporates a compressed wing system and a lower shelf to secure loads to the frame. The pack bag can then be reattached with a series of compression straps over the load. When the meat-hauling frame is not needed the pack bag attaches to the frame with zippers for a secure fit to the frame for a comfortable carry. The frame is comprised of dual aluminum stays with channeled high-density polyethylene frame for rigid carry.” – AlpsoutdoorZ.com

The Commander pack works well in a multi-day hunt with a drop camp set up.

Company/Brand: ALPS OutdoorZ

Company/Brand Location: New Haven, MO

Manufactured/Made in: Vietnam

MSRP: $349.99

Product Number: 9994710

Sizes: One Size Fits All

Colors Available: Coyote Brown

Listed Features: 

  • 1680D Nylon Ballistic and Robic™ Nylon Fabrics for unmatched strength
  • Pack bag attaches to frame with zippers or compression straps when frame is loaded
  • Improved waist belt includes pockets, anti-sway straps and accommodates clip-style holsters
  • Improved side fleece-lined spotting scope pocket with large opening for easy access
  • LED light included with pack
  • Rifle and bow drop-down pocket
  • Top loading with spindrift collar
  • Top pocket converts to a fanny pack
  • Front pocket can be removed for extra gear
  • Extra-large lower door – #10 zipper
  • Internal horizontal divider
  • Side pockets
  • Hydration pocket and port
  • Rain cover included

 

 

The pack can slim itself down and function as a day pack.

Bag Weight: 2 lbs. 9 oz.

Pack Weight: 4 lbs.

Frame Weight: 5 lbs. 3 oz.

Total Weight: 9 lbs. 3oz.

Scoring criteria:

  1. Craftsmanship & Design
  2. Performance & Durability
  3. Fit & Sizing
  4. Pricing & Affordability

Scoring will be out of 5 for each section and then calculated as a percentage out of 100% for ease of comparison.

Craftsmanship & Design

The design of the pack is well thought out and certainly does not lack in innovative designs. ALPS always does a great job of including design items that truly make a hunter’s life a little easier in the backcountry. Some of these items would be considered industry standard, such as a spotting scope pocket and waistbelt pouches.

However, design items like the bottom door, integrated fanny-pack and adjustable velcro lumbar are things that set it apart. Everything seemed to be designed very ergonomically and everything had its place. Pockets, zippers, and clasps seemed to fall right where someone would instinctively reach for without looking around too much on where to access certain items.

The craftsmanship of the pack and bag are extremely rugged and feels heavy to the touch – which on the downside makes the pack quite heavy. This would certainly be a trade-off between ruggedness and weight – all at a balanced price point. The seams, zippers, material, all held up over some rough elk hunts and made it out of them without a scratch.

Score: 5/5

Hunters are shown after dropping off their camp and slimming down to day packs.

Performance & Durability

Performance of the pack bags were tested over multiple camping trips, hikes, and two elk hunts in Montana – one in hot weather and one in cold weather. Both times during the seasons, the bag performed well. The pack was also tested on four different people throughout the season and performed well enough in multiple configurations and pack loads varying from 30 to 70 lbs.

In all cases, the pack came out of rain, snow, dirt, and wind intact and ready for its next adventure. This is a pack that you do not feel bad about tossing around a truck, plane, or pretty much anywhere. The one downside to the pack’s performance is under extreme loads, we noticed that the pack tends to “sag” about two inches due to the lack of grip on the waist-belt. This was quickly solved by adjusting the lumbar and pack to be worn slightly higher than usual. This was a big deal to us as a pack should be fitted once and left alone for the remainder of its life with a hunter/user – regardless of load.

The material that makes up the pack is definitely strong and physically durable enough to withstand being scrapped up against trees, rock outcroppings, rough brush, etc. It does a great job of keeping everything inside of it protected and out of the elements.

Although the pack is quite well-rounded in durability and performance – we did notice a few weak points of the pack. The seams at the side pockets are very light and are not as rugged. One area that also seemed to be lacking was the draw strings on the top of the pack, which seemed like it was going to fray and was of lesser quality that an average pair of shoe laces.

Score: 4/5

The pack is comfortable enough for glassing while on the move.

Fit & Sizing

While the performance, craftsmanship, and design of the pack were great – the fit and sizing were definitely lacking. The pack was worn by 4 different people varying in height, weight, body type, and waist size. All testers had one comment that seemed to annoy them the most – the waist-belt. It seemed like no matter how much you pulled on the straps, adjusted, or fitted, the belt always got a little loose and never seemed to fit just right. As this is one of the most important fitting items in any pack – we definitely thought that it was severely lacking. The inside of the belt, while comfortable, did not grip the body very well – even when snug against the body. The material felt as if it was very “slick” and we had trouble with sagging across all users. While we understand the”One-Size-Fits-All” model, it could do a better job of staying fit and snug to the person that is wearing it.

In terms of the pack size, we collectively agreed that the it was the perfect size for multi-day trips into the backcountry. The packs versatility to perform as a large capacity pack bag, day pack, and meat hauler definitely redeems itself in the fit & sizing department.

Score: 3/5

Multiple configurations and versatility in use is where the pack truly shines.

Pricing & Affordability

Price. Pesos. Coin. At the end of the day, people will ultimately judge a product by its price tag and see if it is truly worth their hard-earned money. We would have to say that the pack is quite worth what it’s asking. While it is not the cheapest nor the most expensive – it does hit the middle market very well. For the price, one must truly discern what is balanced for them for the money. Weight, features and pockets, sizing, etc. these all have to be balanced to the value and it is easy to do so with this pack at $349.99. The true value of this pack is the versatility to use it in whatever configuration or load capacity that you want it to function at.

Score: 4/5

Overall Score & Thoughts:

The pack shines in its ability to really hit the middle of the market as a one size fits all pack. It can be adjusted to any persons desires for a backcountry pack and can adapt to multiple scenarios. The pricing is great and is quite affordable to someone looking into a hunting pack, as well as a general hiking pack. The craftsmanship and designs are very innovative, however, the myriad of features does make the pack a lot heavier than most of its backcountry competitors. For minimalist and super light packers, this pack is not for you, as it carries alot of bells and whistles with the weight to go with it.

However, if you are in need of a hearty pack that can pack in 40 pounds of camera gear, supplies for a 5 day hunt, and your food and water while staying organized in multiple pockets – this one is for you.

OVERALL SCORE: 16/20

80% / 100%

A hunter is shown with a completely full pack weighing in at 65 pounds.

Detail Shots

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