Ribzware Frontpack

by Steve Sherpa

– Ribzwear front pack 500 to 700 cubic inches (8l to 11l)
– 11oz – 13oz
– Fabric – Cordura Brand water resistant
– Colors – raptor camo, granite grey, stealth black, alpine green
– Price: $64.95usd

What true gram weenies may see as “unnecessary weight” most others see the convenience of easily accessible gear worth its weight in gold.

First, lets just say what the Ribz does not HAVE to be:
1) it does not have to be an additional pack, rather, an extension to the front to place frequently used items for easy access
2) Additional weight – with options (based on size) between 8l and 11ll, it can compliment a lighter, smaller backpack. Instead of a 65l backpack, a 50L with the ribs will give you almost equal space…and so on. As well, backpacks with “floating hoods” – you can remove that item in turn, use the space in the ribz.

Next – what IS the ribz pack?
1) Obviously, it is a pack that sits in the front of your ribz on your torso – but high enough to easily accommodate even the bulkiest of hip belts
2) Two very deep pockets of space that can accommodate (2) two liter platypus water bottles in each pocket, plus more.
3) Very durable fabric whilst being light weight

When I was introduced to this pack, I was a bit skeptical – since I am pretty bad about “if I have space, I will fill it up” i was worried about the additional weight. As well, my other fear is how much I sweat – in the summer, will this thing absolutely suffocate me? Most of all – will it be comfortable?

First – the bad – lets get that out of the way. Putting it on takes a bit of practice – you need to sling it on like a jacket with the zippers of the “ribz cage” inside. Also making sure not to get the straps wound up. Which brings it to the second “bad” thing. Taking it off and storing it – it is easy to get the pack snakes up on itself – once, I needed to undo all of the straps. A friend of mine, who also has a ribz, modified it to have clip buckles so he can avoid this. Water resistance – its questionable – but only at the seems like anything else. The fabric in in fact water resistant, if you seam seal the zippers and seams, this will add. But, like anything else in your pack, if you dont want it to get wet – zip lock it.

The good – Upon first wearing this a) it was very comfortable. b) First use in the winter proved to actually help insulate a bit. ) when used in the summer – it does not suffocate at all. In fact, storing cold water in the pouches does act to help cool you down a bit

The weight – here is where this thing shines. Because weight is redistributed to the front, it can counter balance weight from the back – making you not only more stable, but less load on your back. And because this weight essentially is pulling down and resting at the lower rib cage, it is more close to the center of gravity – so you do not really feel an extra weight, especially if you off load from the back.

What to put in there? Anything you want quick access to. I used to be a huge believer in my hydro bladder. Being a sort of anal packer (i know that sounds bad) – i always follow the rules of heavies items close to the back and center. Water weight is not only the heaviest single thing you will carry, but it shifts, which adds strain. With the addition of the ribz and a couple of platypus bottles – i keep, at most, a liter in my hydro. If even that. Otherwise, a liter or two depending on distances between water sources, will be in my front pack. Along with my phone, camera things, phone charger, leatherman wave, bottle of bug spray, first aid, snacks – and anything I may want to put in there for easy access.

The ribz pack has become an essential piece of gear, even for day hikes. It can even replace a day pack for short hikes. The physics behind its use do not pose a weight issue, even for gram weenies, in my humble opinion. The price tag for this piece of gear is well worth it backed by the founder of this company who is passionate about the outdoors as well as a fine product. This is worth every penny and gram.

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