Sierra Designs Revival 50 Backpack Review
After years of making quality tents, sleeping bags, and other quality outdoor products, Sierra Designs has added a new product line that helps complete your outdoor adventures. The Revival 50 backpack is part of the Pinnacle Series and is intended for weekend trips with its 50 liter capacity (2950 in3). At 3 lbs. 12 oz, the Revival 50 is in what used to be considered fast and light territory but has become the standard for all but heavy-duty mountaineering packs. The best part of the pack is hands down the innovative suspension system that I will discuss in further detail.
For the average backpacker, the most important element of a pack is the load carrying comfort because this has the most impact on your body. This is where Sierra Designs really upped the ante with the Revival 50. The innovative suspension system uses two smaller framesheets connected by a single aluminum stay to provide only 4 points of contact to your back. This combination allows great ventilation and carrying comfort by working with your body naturally. The lower part of the stay enters a fulcrum that anchors the hipbelt wings and the well padded lumbar pad. This directs the majority of the weight squarely onto your hips. My test with backpacks for how well the weight is being distributed on my body is to load them up, buckle the hipbelt and then loosen up the shoulder straps. This will tell you if the 80% or more of the weight is sitting on your hips like it should be. Shoulder straps are mainly there to distribute some of the weight and keep the bag from falling backwards. The Revival 50 passed my test flawlessly and I was quite impressed with the suspension system’s ability to not flinch under a heavy load. It is important to remember that not all bags work with all bodies. I tested the Medium/Large size of the Revival 50 and I am 6’1” and found it to be a great fit. One last note about the load carrying would be that there are two compression straps on either side of the pack and one top one that allows you to shrink your load down when necessary or for increased stability.
Another strong point of the Revival 50 is the organization ability. I have found that I am someone who definitely prefers a little order in my packs as opposed to a straight cram and go system and Sierra Designs did a solid job with the Revival 50. The detachable top lid contains two pockets to separate your toothbrush/etc. from your headlamp/etc. The front pocket is a perfect place for undergarments and baselayers that are good to keep easily accessed. There are also two mesh pockets on the inside of the front pocket that organize small items well. A zippered panel separates the main compartment from the front pocket and can be unzipped to access the main compartment. A well sized reservoir pocket along the backside of the main compartment allows you to put in your hydration system of choice. Rounding out the pockets are two hipbelt pockets; one on each side. I put my large point and shoot camera in one pocket and a snack in the other.
The packbag material on the Revival 50 is of good quality and seems resistant to wear. I noticed minor scuffing in a few areas but I think the bag will last many years of use. While the 150D Nylon Rain Dobby used to make the body is waterproof, the seems are not taped and therefore I would still recommend lining the inside with a trash bag if foul weather is expected. The zippers are not waterproof either so a pack cover would be a smart investment as well. Rounding out the features are solidly designed ice axe attachments and multiple attachment loops for accessories/ carabiners/ etc.
The areas that kept the bag from being a slam dunk for me all have to do with size; too small being the size issue. I felt that every pocket except the lid could have been a tad larger. The two biggest concerns for me were the water bottle pockets and the shove-it pocket on the front. The water bottle pockets are a little small and tight and I couldn’t fit a Nalgene into them while the bag was packed. The best bottle pockets in my opinion are ones that can swallow up a bunch of miscellaneous items while still being tight enough at the top to hold in a bottle. The pockets are made in a tapered shape that limits their usefulness as I was not able to get my water bottle in and out of one of the pockets while hiking. You will have to use the hydration sleeve unless you want to clip your bottle to the hipbelt. As far as the shove-it pocket goes, I found it to be a little too small for my taste. Again, it is tapered and I found it difficult to use the space that is available around it. I was able to squeeze in a softshell but it was a tight fit and took more effort than it should.
Overall, there are a lot of things to love about the Sierra Designs Revival 50 but a few quibbles kept it from being my top choice. I feel that with a few simple tweaks this bag could be one of the best. My current recommendation would be to evaluate weather or not the small bottle and shove-it pockets I mentioned are a big deal to you before purchasing this pack. If not, I fully recommend the Revival 50 because of the phenomenal suspension system and solid organization. Find out more at: http://www.sierradesigns.com