#3 Monarch - Canoe Pack
Product Review (submitted on March 4, 2008):
Although I grew up canoeing in the Pacific North West, I now live in China and do research in the Himalaya and Central Asia. There are a few key reasons I chose the Monarch #4 as my standard expedition pack.
1. Durable. Modern plastic materials are not suitable to high alpine deserts and gritty rough conditions which abraid easily, neutralizing their advantage in water resistance. The heavy duty canvas of the Monarch is perfect for resisting the dirt and grit.
2. Repairable. Most packs made from various synthetic materials, especially ones designed for waterproofing, are rendered useless after a single tear or hole, since stitching further perforates the shell, and adhesive patches inevitably peel off. I can patch my monarch pack (for instance, after it fell off a jeep in the Kashmir) with a sewing kit and whatever heavy canvas I find locally, meaning it is as good as new in no time.
3. Functional. I carry a lot of different kinds of gear, so the extra pockets help for keeping it separate. The box construction also makes it easy to store large bulky clothing. In the Taklamakan desert temperatures can vary wildly requiring large amounts of clothing, which fit easily into the large section. It is just as easily filled with large waterproof stuff-sacks for wet environments. The heavy materials mean it effortlessly holds up even when heavily weighted down.
4. Comfort. The waist band is pretty useless, so you won't be able to carry the weight on your hips, but the straps are comfortable, and the back, with no frame, is very comfortable if you put something soft like a sweater lining the back.