Sometime last year I went through a purging spree. Everything I didn’t really use within the last few months had to go. Of the casualties, my REI Flash 18 Pack was the one I missed the most. Worst idea ever. I kept meaning to pick one up but never did, making do with the packs I had at the time (hi, Scrambler 30). When Outdoor Research came out with the Isolation Pack this spring, I knew that it was time for me to pick up a summit pack replacement.
Available at Outdoor Research | Amazon
Weighing at 8.6 oz, the Isolation stows away perfectly at the bottom of your pack until you need it. Fully loaded, the pack holds about 18L. An internal zip pocket means your keys, lip balm and other knick knacks don’t fall to the bottom. The 100% nylon, 70D triple ripstop with TPU lamination fabric is durable and water resistant. The pack cinches shut with a cord on top. A bungee cord lets you strap stuff on the outside. Comfort features include a removable foam back, mesh shoulder straps and a sternum strap.
This has been my go-to pack for door-to-door climbing excursions in the Sierra. Bear Creek Spire, Matthes Crest and Mt. Conness, to name a few. For long days like these, I try to go as light and fast as possible. As a 5’ tall, 100lb person, every ounce counts. My kit generally includes tons of snacks, a 3L water bladder with around 2L of water, climbing shoes, harness/PAS/ATC/cordelette, first aid kit, sunscreen, lip balm, GoPro, lightweight puffy, boyfriend’s lightweight puffy, my helmet, and boyfriend’s helmet. The trad rack and rope go in Josh’s pack. Somehow I manage to make it all fit or attach on somehow.
It would be cool if there was a water bladder sleeve, since the bladder kinda just flops around and collapses on itself as the day goes on. And it would be really, really awesome if there daisy chains along the sides of the bag. The bungee is great for tightening loads or tucking away jackets, but it’s not great for clipping things like shoes, water bottles, or helmets to. The cord just stretches and then the objects flop around everywhere. I’ve tried clipping things to the top handle as well. It doesn’t work as well since items tend to swing around and hit me in the face.
The addition of a removable waist strap would be spectacular as well. When the pack is at capacity and I bend over to tie my shoe, pick up dirt, etc. the pack tends to flip over the front of my head. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s annoying. Of course, all the extra features come with additional weight implications, so I can understand why Outdoor Research might have opted to not include those.
The pack is primarily designed for outdoor activities, but I’ve used it for commuting as well. It can comfortably fit a 13” Macbook Pro, chalk bucket and shoes for the work/gym life. The Isolation Pack is a good pack if you’re looking for something super basic to hold the basics for a summit attempt. It’s no frills and simple. At $45 it is comparable to the REI Flash 18 pack with a lifetime product guarantee.
Buy through Outdoor Research or Amazon for $45.
This was sent to me for review.
Last updated on December 15, 2017.