I miss the external frame packs of yesteryear; the kind I humped up the trail back when I was in the Boy Scouts. So naturally, when the opportunity arose to try out the High Sierra Bobcat 65, I couldn’t pass it up.
What I’ve missed most is the functionality of the external frame pack. High Sierra really hit the mark with this pack by including all of the things I love about an external frame pack, like the external pockets that allow you easy access to gear without having to remove everything just to reach the one item at the bottom of the pack that you need. Unfortunately, they skimped a bit on quality. The materials used in the pack’s construction are low quality, making this pack better off on the young shoulders of the aforementioned Boy Scouts than on the backs of serious outdoorsmen and women.
Still, this is a fun pack to play around with in good weather, and rest assured you’ll never want for interesting conversation on the trail when carrying the Bobcat 65. Someone always has something to say about an external frame pack. I put about 200 miles on the Bobcat 65 and spent a few evenings with some neophyte backpackers who had one as well, so I got a little novice input. I did about 30 miles backpacking, snowshoeing, and some mountaineering. I even took the Bobcat glissading and it handled surprisingly well.
- Ample outside pockets (my favorite feature)
- Extendable top
- Has a perfect size sleeping bag compartment
- The pack glissades surprisingly well for an external frame
- A great conversation piece
The not so good:
- No ice axe or gear loops
- Low quality stitching
- Low quality zippers
- Inadequate tie down loops for strapping on gear
- Shoulder straps are too short
- Low quality shoulder and belt padding
- Low quality belt buckle system
- A little heavy at 7.05 pounds
For just over $100 retail this is a fun backpack for younger treckers that will be outgrowing their gear in a matter of a seasons. But for an experienced backpacker who often ends up deeper in the wilderness where life can depend on quality gear, this pack simply won’t cut it. While it may not be fair to compare the $100 High Sierra to a $280 European brand internal frame pack, I’ll still have to shelf this backpack until High Sierra makes a grownup version. And I sure hope they do because they truly hit the nail on the head with all of the features.
Click Here to Purchase the High Sierra Bobcat 65
Manufacturer: High Sierra
Date available: On the market now
Manufacturer’s Website: High sierra
Price: $99.00 to $108.99
Listed Weight: 7.05 Lb.
Materials: Mini-Diamond Ripstop, Mini-Weave Duralite®
Dimensions: 25.0″ x 19.0″ x 8.5″
Requirements: Height: 68-72 Inches Waist: 30 Inches and up
Colors Available: Black, Pacific, Nebula , Amazon, Pine