A Review of the Ribz Frontpack
By Steve Gillman
The following review is based on my experience with the newest
Ribz Frontpack, an ultralight version that is just being introduced
(late summer 2009). As soon as I received my frontpack I had
to put it on my kitchen scale, of course. Eleven ounces, or maybe
a bit less. Not bad. I had expected it to be closer to fourteen
It took me a few minutes to figure out how to use it. It can
be separated into two parts, with both a zipper in the front
for easily putting it on and taking it off, and velcro strap
to connect the two parts in back, so you can adjust it as necessary.
I decided to take it into the mountains for a hike/climb.
I like to go really light, so I wondered about the advantages
of adding 11 ounces to my pack weight. But the point is that
it's not all about the total weight, but about how it is distributed.
The frontpack is designed to balance out the weight on your back.
After I packed up I had about four pounds in the frontpack -
counting the pack, and eight pounds on my back . I did feel more
balanced, although I could tell that this would be a hot way
to hike in some places.
(For my complete packing list see the page Overnight
Under Twelve Pounds)
(For an account of the trip see the page Gear
Testing and Getting Lost.)
Putting the Ribz Frontpack on
Wearing the Ribz Frontpack and my Golite Pack in my
The Ribz Frontpack
I hiked a total of about twelve miles over the course of two
days with the frontpack. It was in some pretty rough country.
I liked how it balanced the load and it didn't hang up on the
tress I had to push though for an hour at one point. It was a
bit hot because the sun was shining and it was uphill for hours
the first day, but in the cold morning I appreciated being wrapped
by the frontpack, and I really noticed the better balance on
some of the rocky slopes I negotiated by moonlight.
- The newest Ribz Frontpack is lighter than I thought it would
be - only 11 ounces on my scale.
- It seems very tough and durable despite the light weight.
- I like the plain black color (not sure if other colors will
- It was nice to have water bottles, maps and compass easily
available without removing my pack for a change.
- The two large pockets with two small compartments make organizing
easy. There are also two more zippered pockets.
- On a sunny summer day climbing a steep slope, the Ribz Frontpack
was a bit hot (although I loosened it to allow more airflow around
- What I thought was a chest strap (like those that hold two
straps together on some backpacks), worked better when I put
it between the straps behind me. That kept them from sliding
off my shoulders (which they did when it was in front).
I won't use the Ribz Frontpack on every trip, but it's a great
addition to my backpacking gear. I can see that it will work
well by itself for some day hikes (and it's lighter than any
day pack). In addition to providing better balance and easier
access to gear, there is another advantage I see for ultralight
backpackers. If you are taking a trip where your small lightweight
pack isn't quite big enough, you don't have to move up in size
to a large and uncomfortable frame pack. Just add a Ribz Frontpack.