The best hiking backpack? The One Planet Strezlecki looks the goods

Recently we posted about 5 features in a hiking backpack we do not want.

The goal was two fold:

  • an exercise to clarify what sort of pack we might purchase one day
  • to inform others of our ideas about what we define as a good hiking pack

Over the weekend we were able to visit our local Mountain Designs store. It is our city’s only “pure” hiking goods store and we have been buying gear there for years. We trust the owners and staff. They are people who go hiking and climbing. They have adventures and use the gear they sell. It is like our second home where we can swap yarns about recent trips, or get advice, or borrow stuff sometimes.

We had some spare time and decided to suss out their bushwalking packs……. just to see what was around……

Now, do we really NEED a new pack each? Probably not, as these would be our third new pack in 5 years. Luckily, circumstances have fallen favourably our way and we have the CASH to splash, so purchasing is an option. (especially when we heard a rumour of a sale coming up soon)

We looked at a lot of packs. We played around with a lot of different packs. In the end we easily decided on one brand – One Planet.

In fact, we have decided on the Strezlecki from One Planet. Why you might ask?

It meets all our five criteria (and more)

1) Limited number of straps
Really simple strapping and compression system. Look at the photo. How clean and unpretentious does it look?

2) Pockets
Top, underlid and front. All very spacious, all with great zippers and wonderfully integrated into the pack design. There are also bottle holders built into the harness and some additional attachment points for extra gear. The beauty of these additional points is they are unobtrusive and streamlined. (in other words we won’t cut them off to save weight!)

3) Zippers
REALLY strong #10 YKK zippers, with big handles. These zippers are tough and the sewing to hold them there solid.

4) Fabric
Strong, tough and waterproof. It is called Waterloc canvas. This is the One Planet blurb on the fabric . It is worth reading to understand the research and product development that has gone into this pack. The pack is waterproof (under most conditions)

5) Weight
Not the lightest at around 3kg but strong and durable. We want this to be the last pack we buy. We want it to last. The strength and soundness of this pack promises years of hard work and gives us confidence that it will weather anything we throw at it.

But wait…..there’s more ……above and beyond the original five criteria.

Harness:
We assumed all harnesses are much the same, basically shoulder straps and a hip belt. That is until we read the harness sales pitch by One Planet where the opening line is:
We believe the harness is the most important part of a backpack. Without a strong, comfortable harness, you might as well buy a suitcase.

We now know there are about six different hip belt sizes and three different back lengths available.
As One Planet states, this creates precise control over the relationship between back length, shoulder straps and hip belt. Or, in other words, a fancy way of saying we will make it fit you, no matter what!

Service
We were a bit confused about some of the information that was available on-line and in the brochure, (we must be a bit thick here at “Our Hiking Blog” – the brochure and website are fantastic, it’s just that we did not understand…..) and decided to telephone One Planet. Lee was on the phones and was, in one word, fantastic.

If her assistance was any gauge of the quality of the product and service from One Planet then I believe we are on a winner. She knew her stuff. She was the first entry to the company and had all information either in her head or online. Very impressive.
Also impressive was the length One Planet are prepared to go to custom build their packs..but that, my friends is a story for another day.

By the way, neither One Planet nor Mountain Designs have ANY commercial relationship with “Our Hiking Blog” (although they are welcome to contact us to discuss a million dollar deal!!)

Comments

  1. Mark says

    I have a One Planet McMillan pack, and I can’t speak highly enough of it. It has given me many years of outstanding performance. In terms of customer service, last season I pulled the pack out of the garage to discover the day pack was covered in mildew. I emailed One Planet to ask the best way to get it clean, I received a same day response including idiot proof care instructions – unreal.

  2. Raina says

    I just purchased the One Planet Styx 2 for my first Overland Track ‘expedition’ in Feb 2010 and can’t believe how easy it is to adjust. I even loaded it with fake weights to test the comfort of the harness and shoulder straps. I’m definitely happy with my purchase.

  3. Frank says

    Hi Raina,
    Thanks for dropping by. I reckon One Planet is a wise choice. The harnesses seen to be the same across all of their packs and are very easy to adjust. Great idea loading your pack up with weight (a mate uses big bags of dog food to train with loaded up in his pack)
    February is a great time to walk the OT. Hope the trip goes really well.
    Frank

  4. says

    I think you converted me Frank. I also own the One Planet Strezlecki! Tough as well as I actually threw mine off a cliff at one stage. Well, I was lowering it to a ledge in the Croajingolong National Park but it decided to keep going. Probably fell 10 metres to rocks but it didn’t miss a beat. Lucky me!

    Greg

  5. Peter says

    I’m wondering why the One Planet WBA was not mentioned here as it better conforms with every one of your 5 requirements. There are only 2 zips – both in the lid. I really wonder about zipped compartments at the bottom. Max size is 65 L cf your Strez at 75, 80 or 85L, but it is built to take 20 to 25kg. The OT can be done with 14kg. You can also attach the Limpet day pack (and/or side pockets) to increase your carrying capacity by 12L plus. The canvas is a lighter grade 200gsm weight (cf 390gsm Waterloc) – but I recently succumbed to its 2kg weight, simplicity, streamline design and canvas water resistance to replace my venerable 20 year old 65L Mountain Designs Baltoro III. In any case I would use a pack liner in any pack.

    The 3kg Macmillan (80, 85 and 90L) also better conforms with your 5 requirements, and I was tempted with this, but in the end I decided on low weight (= low volume as well) as a general rule in my gear selections to provide a better experience.

    Lastly, One Planet make their packs in Australia.

  6. Frank says

    Hi Peter,
    Great comment thanks!
    This article was written in early 2009 (I think the first comment was on the 4th) The One Planet WBA was not released them so that is why it si not mentioned.

    Our daughter and here fiance bought one each a few weekg ago. They do look good.(and a heap lighter)She has not used it on a trip yet but will next week I believe!

    And, yes, you are correct, One Planet do make their packs in Australia bar for one: The Wheelies are the only One Planet packs not made in our Melbourne factory. Made in Vietnam. http://www.oneplanet.com.au/travel/wheelie.html .

    Sadly (yes sad because of the number of packs we own) we each have one of these too. They are great for travel , if not a bit heavy.

    p.s. my last pack was a MD one, lasted very well. Cheers and thanks for the great info.
    Frank

  7. Graham Ward says

    Guys
    After much research looking for a hiking pack I purchased an Aarn Natural Balance.
    I have only hiked 350Ks with it (on one trip)
    It seems good to me and the Balance Pockets really do help to even some weight out.
    It is very lightweight compared to most! and the Flo Mo lets most things move naturally.I can confirm that it is waterproof!
    Did you look at the Aarns? if so what do you think?

    Cheers
    Graham

    • Frank says

      Hi Graeme ,
      I have not looked at Aarons. I am a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to packs and pathetic at keeping weight down.

      As we get older and the knees hurt more I expect we will have to really look at it. I know Philip at section hiker ( I hope it was him) says the most important way to start dropping weight is the buy a set of really accurate scales. Weigh everything and just keep cutting down weight until you only carry what is absolutely necessary……
      Thanks for dropping by

      Frank

      • says

        G’day Frank,
        I recently bought a set of postal scales via ebay and have been amazed at the weight differences of various items. Having been forced to go lightweight(due to age; mine not the gear)in recent years my weekend pack is around 7-8kg before I add the water but I reckon I can get it lower just by using these scales for small items. eg’s 1. signalling mirror: old computer hard disk = 25g versus plastic cd = 16g
        2. plastic film canister for (holding a smidgin of toothpaste)= 6g versus small freezer bag (holding the same amount of toothpaste but doubled over)= <1g (my scales only register down to 1g or more).
        It doesn't sound like much but I think once I get started I should be able to make considerable gains (or is that losses?).

        Regards,
        Allan Wells
        If you're built like my the biggest weight savings can be had by reducing your own body weight.

  8. Jenny says

    Hi all
    Just wanted to add my comments I have had a One Planet 65L Strezlecki for sooooooo long it was before they were One Planet. In those days they were made by AKing (this name has always proved a laugh on my many trips). I have totally loved this pack over the 20+ years I have used it. In fact the waterproofing has just started to flake away and the strapping is only now softening causing slippage. The pak and I have been through many storms with no extra rain cover and it has never let me down. I have even sat on it and slid down the snow in New Zealand. I am now faced with the horrid task of replacing my much loved pack and have spent the last 12 months looking to replace it was a lighter pack but I keep not buying the other packs and returning to the One Planet web site with a sigh and wondering if my poor old back can move into the next 20+ years with a heavier pack. The review is right for me the best things about this pack is it’s simple design, the fantastic harness, I especially love the water bottle holders at the waist strap, the strong zips and it’s waterproofness.

    :):):) Jenny – Got to love this pack and it’s Australian!!!!!!

  9. Melinda says

    Hi, I’d like to start by saying thank you for such for providing such a great resource for beginner hikers such as myself with this blog and your excellent books (The Overland Track and Food To Go).

    Finally about to buy my pack but am torn between the Strezlecki and the WBA…what feedback can you provide since your daughter’s trip with the WBA? I’ve heard there are concerns about it’s durability.

    Thanks again,

    Mel.

    • Frank says

      Thanks Melinda,
      Pleased they are useful!
      I will throw up a question to Clare on our new facebook page (Our Hiking Blog) and see if she has any thoughts. (it’s just easier to grab her there)
      Will try and post her reply here too.
      Cheers
      Frank

        • Frank says

          Hi Melinda,
          This is what Clare had to say. Sorry it might not be much help…

          We actually have the umbra. It’s great! Super light weight, I love the buckles easy to undo with cold hands. Top pocket isn’t such a great size and that’s the only pocket other than the big pocket.

  10. Sascha Roszak says

    I bought the One Planet Tasman as I wanted it for hiking & backpacking, I’m now worried that it maybe too heavy (4kg) compared to others such as the McMillan etc?

    • Frank says

      Hi Sascha,
      Thanks for dropping by. How much does the Tasman weight? There can’t be too much difference between the McMillam.

      Just use it till it wears out then get another one, it will owe you nothing!

      Enjoy
      Frank

  11. Sascha Roszak says

    Thanks for the reply Frank,

    The Tasman weighs about 1kg more than most bags I’ve seen but it’s so durable!

    Thanks again,

    Sascha

  12. Alex Faithfull says

    Hi there,

    I’ve been looking at purchasing a new pack, and I’ve been considering the Osprey Argon 85L. I realise that this pack does not meet your criteria of having no unnecessary exterior clips and straps, and that it is not Australian made, however apart from that, it looks to me to be a pretty good unit.
    What are your opinions on this?

    Thanks,
    Alex

    • Frank says

      Hi Alex,
      Thanks for dropping by. I am by no means an “expert” but just wrote down what we were looking for at the time. One Planet (and lots of other manufacturers) have produced a lot of new packs since that article was written.

      I don’t know about the Osprey Argon 85L. but my daugher just ordered an Ospray Atmos so will be interested to check it out.

      I had a look at the Ospray site, looks a nice pack! Good luck with it.
      Frank

  13. Aaron says

    I’m doing the Tassie overland track and the Kokoda Track soon and I was wondering what type or pack your experts would reccommend. Are hybrid packs acceptable or should i just get a straight out hiking pack?

  14. Roslyn Smith says

    Hi, my 16 year old daughter is going to India next year with World Challenge, they leave in November for one month. Which pack would you recommend for her.

  15. anwar Essop says

    I believe i have designed and developed the perfect product for back packs, it is an accessory for back packs, i call it the back pack cradle, this product will release the pressure/weight of the shoulders and distribute it to the waist and legs.

    I tried and tested it and it works like a charm, my problem i am an individual, with the perfect prototype, who can help me take this product to where it belongs.

    This product will eliminate, shoulder aches, neck aches and spinal problems, from carrying heavy loaded back packs.

    It is very good for school kids, hikers, mountaineers, travelers and the army. any recommendation will be great, my details are Anwar Essop, email: packadini@gmail.com, tel 0716796928, south africa.

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