This summer I led a four-person trail crew in Glacier National Park. Maintaining a 125-mile trail system means working rain or shine. I camped 70 nights and hiked over 2,500 miles this past summer, often carrying 50 pounds of gear including chainsaws, brush cutters, and basic hand tools. Getting dirty is simply part of the job, but working in wet clothes is another matter. One of the best pieces of gear I used was the Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 50 backpack.
The pack's secret is an OutDry membrane that makes the main compartment completely weatherproof—essentially a turning the Ozonic into a dry bag you can hike with. After using the pack in some terrible Rocky Mountain weather, I wonder why it took me so long to start using a waterproof pack. It’s genius.
Besides the waterproof liner, the pack has several well-thought-out features. The lightweight aluminum frame helps disperse the weight of awkward loads like chainsaw gas and bar oil between my shoulders and hips. An adjustable hip belt helped me dial in the fit based on the weight I was carrying. Finally, thick, heavily padded straps also made it comfortable carrying 60-pound loads over rough terrain.
There are few people who demand as much from their gear as trail crew workers. That this pack held up to the months of abuse that I put it through is a testament to its well thought-out design and durable materials.
At nearly four pounds, the Ozonic is slightly heavier than other similar bags on the market, but it’s a small price to pay for the addition of a waterproof liner. I, for one, would rather carry an extra pound than deal with the aggravation of wet layers and soggy sandwiches when I get to camp.