The Other Stuff

Review, July 1997


The Other Stuff


K2 Loadmaster Longbed

K2 Loadmaster Longbed
Not unlike the lingering appeal of Jimmy Carter, the charms of the aluminum-tubed, external-frame backpack seemed to go south about the time Reagan appeared on the scene. You remember those low-tech packs: Wearing one felt akin to strapping on a panel of Sheetrock. I gladly jettisoned mine when more comfortable internal-frame packs came of age. That's why I was initially puzzled about K2's new external-frame pack, the Loadmaster Longbed (406-587-3522).

But the Longbed, with its sophisticated suspension system, behaves as comfortably as an internal-frame design, thus making it a legitimate alternative. Its frame prevents the pack from sagging against your body and manages impossibly heavy loads while maintaining a lively feel, thanks to fiberglass support wands that transfer weight to your hips. Now, instead of loading heavy stuff up high to drive the frame into your hips — the reason old packs swayed so uncontrollably — you can pack the Longbed like an internal-frame pack, stashing the weight low for stability. While the shoulder straps could use a skosh more contouring, I was pleasantly reminded of how much breezier external-frame packs feel: The spine of the suspension is a mesh panel stretched across the frame, allowing air to circulate along your back. Hauling 50 pounds up a muddy trail in the Cascades, it was only when stooping under a downed tree that I noticed the frame's underlying rigidity.

As for carrying capacity, the Longbed offers a cavernous, 6,000-cubic-inch main compartment that allows access through top and front panels. Ten pockets — including a mesh pouch for funky socks — organize your gear. And that beefy dinosaur of a frame provides innumerable places for lashing snowshoes, stuffsacks, and such. Perhaps the most winning feature of the Longbed, however, is that it sells for what seems like a pre-Reagan price: $259. — Douglas Gantenbein

TOP OF PAGE

Pacific Motion Eclipse Chalk Bag
There you cling, momentarily stumped on a vexing climb, when you reach for some chalk, only to discover your chalk bag still cinched shut. You fumble at the balky

Pacific Motion Eclipse Chalk Bag
cordlock with sweaty fingers, but it's no use — you'll have to climb down and start over. Unless you happen to have the new Eclipse chalk bag from Pacific Motion ($23; 888-624-2247), which solves this frustrating problem with a snap-open-and-shut design. The round plastic rim is hinged on each side so that when closed it folds in against itself to form a crescent moon; wedge your thumb between the halves and it pops open like a coin purse, allowing you free access to a full two ounces of helpful chalk. Ingenious. A four-inch opening makes the fleece-lined, 2.8-ounce Eclipse good for sport climbers, and two bigger sizes are on the way for crack climbers. — Gregory Crouch
TOP OF PAGE

Women's Winston Rod
The tradition-steeped world of fly-fishing is slow to change. But with the new Joan Wulff Favorite from R. L. Winston Rod Co. ($525; 406-684-5674), no longer are women forced to cast with a man's rod that may feel as unwieldy as a pool cue.

The Favorite is a "women's" rod chiefly because of its grip, which was designed by its casting-champion namesake. Presuming that the typical woman is slighter of hand and wrist than the typical man, Wulff ergonomically sculpted a smaller version of the conventional round cork grip, adding a thumb groove for surer handling. The ergo grip helps properly align your arm, elbow, and shoulder for a strong, accurate cast. Indeed, when I let the medium-action, eight-and-a-half-foot Favorite rip, I found it easy to direct my casts. And although the tip wasn't as soft as I'd prefer in a five-weight rod, it responded smoothly. Beyond the precise feel you'd expect from any Winston rod, the three-piece Favorite sees to the finer points, with its dark green finish, hardwood reel seat, and nickel-silver fittings.

What may have started merely as a way to introduce more women to fly-fishing could easily become a broader trend. In serving the needs of women, Wulff also gave men with small hands a fantastic rod — and a thoughtful design that's sure to be a favorite in the years ahead. — Jennifer Olsson

TOP OF PAGE

Photographs by Clay Ellis

More Adventure

Holiday Subscription Sale! Save 79% and Get a Free Gift!

Subscribe
Pinterest Icon