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Gear Reviews: Backpack

G4 Operator

Manufacturer: Eberlestock

Reviewed by: WildlandEMT The following is a review of the Eberlestock backpack listed above if you are interested. First let me give some background as to my backpack uses. Im a Wildland firefighter and during the fire seasons I spend the great majority of the day with a 40-50lbs pack on 12-14hours. Overall we hike through hard terrain where slips, slides, and falls happen to every body on the crew. This last season I went through 2 backpacks myself and helped a lot of new guys adjust their own. Backpacks are something of my hobby. We went through about 2 weeks where my crew did just about nothing except sit around in our trucks waiting for a fire to start. I spent this entire 2 weeks researching backpacks that I could use for hunting/hiking/and end of the world zombie survival. After many many hours I decided on the Eberlestock Operator G4 because I thought the company would take care of me and because their prices would keep me around $500 where mystery ranch would put me at about $700-$800. First impression. When I put the backpack on I loved the comfort and fit and all the adjustment straps I could play around with. I loaded it up with all my personal gear that I use during firefighting (50lbs worth) and went on a short walk up some hills by my house. I barely felt the weight of the backpack anywhere on my body but it was swaying around so much that I felt like I couldnt walk regularly without the weight throwing me around. I figured that the swinging was something that would go away when I got it dialed in. On my next fire call I took the backpack along as a replacement for my duffle bag so I could show it off to everyone on my crew. A lot of people were looking for new backpacks so people were interested in trying it on. At least 5 people tried it on and thought the backpack was crap because of the swaying. It was noticeable to people who didnt even try it on too because the swaying results in about 4-6 inches of movement!! We are not the smartest bunch of people but we put our heads together to take care of the swaying problem. This was when we all discovered that the swaying could not be solved with any adjustments on the backpack itself.... We did try some paracord to fiddle around with and it helped but is not a long term solution. CAUSE OF SWAYING Its caused by the gun compartment that sits right behind the bag itself to keep the weight of the gun close to the body. Basically the gun compartment is a huge space between your back and the backpack. This empty space results in the backpack not being secured to the frame and allows it to swing about freely in whatever which way movement takes it... Its a real shame. There is no way to "sinch" down this space even if you had a gun in it it would still be loose. I called Eberlestock about this but the only answer i got was that I should "stuff clothes into the gun compartment and tighten the horizontal compression straps". WHAT?? Eberlestock was not only aware of this problem but their only solution is something that Isnt functional as my clothes will push the weight of the bag further off my body. I then emailed Eberlestock telling them the solution for this problem can be solved with a few simple buckles. A few buckles that cost 20 dollars by the way because you have to buy their buckle kit and not individual buckles. Still this 2 buckle fix resolves most the problem but cant take away from the design flaw totally. Add this to a backpack that costs 400 dollars that should be ready to roll when it lands in your hands. Why doesn't Eberlestock put in a few more buckles that help close the gap between the gun compartment and the backpack itself? That would help gun carriers get their stuff nice and tight if they wanted or keep it loose so they could pull it out. So basically the backpack is neither exceptionally good at being a gun carrier or a backpack resulting in a soso product. So here it is. 6/10 Overall and I would not recommend Eberlestock to a friend. Comfort 9/10 (really good for an internal frame once you get all the aluminum rods dialed in, lots of airflow) Quality is 10/10 Adjustability 8/10 Weight 7-8/10 Design 3/10 just because the sway is unacceptable Space 10/10 tons and tons of it probably 7000 cubic inches if you stuffed your clothes into the gun compartment Customer Service 5/10 cool people but no reply to my email The Good Lifetime Warranty High quality zippers and buckles Really its a good backpack besides the sway Great placement of compression straps Built in replaceable rain-cover Lots of hydration areas Can completely conceal a rifle with scope The Bad I dont trust Eberlestock because they know about the flaw in their design and did nothing (applies to their gun packs at least). But due to this breach of my trust I wouldnt even go with a regular backpack from them anymore because what if there is another design flaw I wont find out about until I wear it? Gawd damn I feel betrayed by this company and Its worst because I love their product at the same time. Moving along moving along to Mystery Ranch.
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Kristin Hostetter
Q.} I am 6'7'' and an active outdoorsman year-round. Which 20ish degree bag has the most shoulder space and is still rather light?
Submitted by: Chris - Gambrills, MD
A.} To get the best answer for your question, I went to two BACKPACKER staffers who can relate: Jon Dorn and Ben Fullerton, both 66. Here are a few of their three-season picks.


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