Mountainsmith Red Rock 25 Review
The Mountainsmith Red Rock 25 is a high quality pack, durable yet flexible, with several awesome features makes it great for long hikes, all day adventures, vacation travel, and even urban jungle navigation (think college student, or public transportation commuter).
My impression of this pack is that I love this pack! The pack is made from the Duramax material that has a high quality look and feel, with that tear resistant effect that makes it great for those who can be hard on their gear, like me. And oh so many pockets! The main two compartments are top loaders. The back part (the area with the hydration pack pocket) has an extra mesh zipper pocket, which made a great space to store lunch and snack, accessible without having to dig into the pack to get at it, always a plus. The middle which was also quite spacious for a day pack has an organizer sleeve which seems to be multipurpose. There are pockets that could fit electronic gear, or a notepad and writing utensils or other small items of similar shape. Again this is an especially nice feature if you want some smaller things to be accessible without having to dig through a big pocket to find them. There is also another small easy access external top pocket that I used for camera batteries and memory cards and a side loading external pocket that I stuffed my rain shell into. There are also side loops for trek poles, an axe loop and a “daisy chain” on the outside that can be used to clip things to. This pack has more space than I had stuff to fill it with. The company site touts this as a bag to keep you organized hence the reason they say it could be just as good for a student as a hiker.
The most specific thing I want to say about this pack is that it is ultra-comfortable. I am a photographer and take the camera on all hikes. I often climb over hill and dale to get the shots that I am after and like to do it with my pack still on. I wore this pack day hiking into our local forests on several occasions and kept it on as I climbed off the main pathways and into the hills. It was like I didn’t have it on. I tried filling the pack to capacity and I did a lighter pack as well and had the same experience. This pack has several adjustment straps, including a removable waist strap. It took a little effort to adjust the just right to my fit but it was worth taking the time. Also a note here is that I am shall we say more well-endowed female and though the there is a small adjustable sternum strap I found that even with adjustment it was too restrictive and uncomfortable. But leaving it undone made no difference in the overall feel of the pack on my body. Still found it just as easy to crawl over and under things without having the pack slip in any direction. I even tried this with the big heavy coat, the lightweight parka, and the layered shirt effect. Hence the reason I am so impressed with this pack. It has so much versatility in adjustment that I could make it comfortable in any weather so to speak. Each time I finished hiking I was impressed by the lack of sore aching muscles in both my shoulders and back. Even with what seems to be minimal padding and a sort of more ridged feel to the back panel, the design and those “side V compression straps with load stability” really do work!
A note here is that the company makes a claim that Mountainsmith Red Rock 25 will fit either a hydration system or a laptop in the hydration pocket in back. You can see here from the photo that it will indeed hold laptops up to about 17in. But a word of caution here is that after using the pack with my hydro-bladder and then removing it to test the laptop in the pocket my laptop came out damp. As I don’t take my laptop on hikes as a rule it was only in there a few minutes and this did not harm my system. But it may be wise to designate your pack for one type of use or the other or to allow ample drying time before switching from water to electric gear. There are cool external mesh side pockets deep enough and designed well enough to hold large water bottles and then some as an alternative.
All in all this pack is one I would recommend to friends but not one I would loan out! It retails for 79.95. Hydration “bladder” is not included.