One of the few downsides of bushwalking is that—short of hiring a personal porter for every trip—you generally have to lug your gear with you. Even after rationing out toilet paper, eating all my snacks en route, and sawing my toothbrush in half and hand-plucking out three-quarters of the bristles, I still seem to be hauling 15-20kg of gear anytime I go anywhere. The amount of time spent pulling straps, adjusting clips, stuffing pockets so that I can have the most comfortable fit for what is always going to be—let’s face it—an uncomfortable experience is wearing me out just thinking about it. And without exception, an hour into the hike, the pack comes off, the straps get re-pulled, the pockets get re-stuffed, and the cursing—replete with a litany of unholy blasphemies—begins. Hiking with a heavy pack becomes a constant process of adjustment and re-adjustment as the load gets lighter, heavier or moves around.
The North Face have attempted to resolve this challenge with their DynoCarry System. Launched across a range of technical hiking packs: the Griffin (65 and 76L); Banchee (50 and 65L); Hydra; and Chimera. Each pack range utilises a number of technical innovations that allow adjusting the pack—while still on your back—much, much easier.
The Banchee, which I tested, incorporates two pretty cool Dyno-fit features (the bigger the pack, the more features are included). A self-equalising strap allows you to quickly transfer weight from one shoulder to the other, while a secondary torso strap allows you lift or lower the pack’s position on your back. I hear what you’re saying: What’s the big deal? That’s standard on most technical packs. True, but not on the fly. The Banchee lets you do these adjustments without removing the pack. You literally pull or release a strap and Bam!—the changes are made. These two innovations allow quick and easy adjustment of the pack’s positioning on your back mid-hike, without all the messing around involved with more traditional systems: pack removal; semi-permanent strap adjustments; pack on; test; curse; repeat.
Not only can you rapidly get a better and more comfortable fit to begin with, but it lets you effortlessly transfer the weight around your back to ease muscles that have been under strain and relieve pressure points. For me, this is the prime reason for buying one of these packs. But not the only reason: it’s a performance pack, replete with durable construction materials, loads of internal/external pockets (the hip belt pockets are particularly generous), lashing points, tool holders, trampoline back panel and the list goes on. The pack is light, too—just a feathery 1.5kg. I’d love the shoulder straps to be just a tad softer and wider (much of that 20 kilograms seem to sit on my shoulders), however this configuration is pretty consistent with other similar packs.
I can’t say the Banchee and the DynoSystem are going to result in me carrying any less crap when I go hiking, but at least now I’ll be able to move it around my back a little more, delaying the time until the cursing commences.
Need to Know
Weight: S/M: 1.47kg, L/XL: 1.5kg
Dimensions: S/M 72cm x 35cm, L/XL 77cm x 34cm)
Volume: 65 litres
Construction: Body 70D IronLite nylon, Boot 210 IronLite nylon