Please allow me to share letter below, it is one of the many we receive from our fans who like to write and tell us about their experiences with their Duluth Pack. We love to know how you are using your pack, and how it is holding up on trail. The letter appears unedited and in its entirety. Also, please note that I address some of the suggestions at the end of the letter.
I’ve owned the Wanderer since 2007, abusing it as my field pack for work and carrying it as my “man-bag” almost daily. I’ve taken this bag with me nearly every day of the past five years, worn it for 16+ hours at a time with 20+ lbs in it, and have used it in all four seasons in northern Minnesota. It’s been stepped on, slammed in doors, dragged through the mud and over rocks and between trees, submerged, frozen, dropped, thrown, and barfed on (I have young kids).
The cotton canvas is a great material. It’s durable, quiet, comfortable to wear in the hot summer, dries quickly when wet, and is easy to wash. The only wear on the pack is slight fraying of the shoulder straps, and a dime-sized hole on the outside of one of the outer water bottle pockets. (Where the water bottles in the pack rub against trees). In rain, the contents of the pack stay dry, to mostly dry. The stitching, leather straps, leather cinch cord, rivets, and buckles have also held up perfectly. The cotton has faded, but that’s to be expected.
It’s a good-sized daypack. The pack will easily hold all my field gear for a day’s work (lunch, water bottles, camera, GPS, maps, flagging, tools, foldable shovel, field notebook, field guides, fleece vest, rain jacket, etc.). Any clothing items that don’t fit in the main compartment can be rolled up, tucked under the main flap, and secured with the long straps. Shoulder straps can be lengthened to accommodate larger winter jackets, or shortened to wear shirtless. The outer bottle pockets add width to the pack and sometimes make it difficult to squeeze between trees (or between people at a grocery store), but it’s usually not an issue.
–This pack has an unpadded back, and bulky/pointy items (field notebooks, equipment, tools, etc.) should be packed deliberately between soft items (or on the outside of the cargo pocket) to maximize the user’s comfort for extended use. Sometimes I find myself packing an extra article of clothing with which to pad equipment…not a big deal, but sometimes annoying at the end of a long day. A flat “map” pocket built in the main cargo pocket (on the strap-side of the pack) could be used for holding padding. (If a back pad was included that could double as a diaper-changing pad , it’d get super bonus points…)
–This pack is not particularly suited to carrying heavy weight for long periods of time. For most users, this may not be an issue, but a waist belt and pack stays (to transfer pack weight from the shoulders to the hips/waist) might be a welcome modification for those that carry heavy loads for long periods of time. A sternum strap might also be nice…
–This pack might benefit from some strategically placed leather patches on areas that are likely to receive heavy wear or repeated abrasion. (Bottom of pack, bottom of water bottle pockets)
Overall, the Wanderer is a super daypack for most users/uses, with quality materials and workmanship and a very nice style. Those looking for a pack to carry weightier or bulkier items may want to look to a more modern pack, or petition Duluth Pack for some upgrades. :-) This pack is worth the cost, and I love supporting local business. Thanks, Duluth Pack! ~ D
D, thank you so much for taking the time to write and share your Wanderer story with us. Rest assured that we are listening and while there is no single pack that can address every need we are trying to make our bags the most versatile in the field.
First, let me point out that we have two daypacks that have a map pocket hidden under the flap. Both the Guide Pack and the Rambler have a zippered pocket under the main flap, which work great for small pocket guides and maps.
Second, while wear and tear is not covered under our lifetime warranty we will repair bags that have become worn. Additionally, we will customize bags with leather patches or heavy weight canvas in what you see as potentially high wear areas. While a leather bottom will add weight and cost to a bag, it is a great idea to add durability and good looks to a pack.
Third, let me point you to the Bushcrafter pack, designed especially for Duluth Pack by Mike Lummio of the Bushcraft Northwest. This pack is slimmer in design and slides easily between trees and tight spaces on trail. The Bushcrafter also includes some of the features you were looking for: padded straps, waist belt, and sternum strap. It is designed for heavy loads over a period of days and is getting great reviews from those who have put it to the test.
Thanks again for taking the time to share with us. Anyone who has a story to tell or a question to ask, may send their emails to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. If I can’t get the answer, I know how to find the answer.