The INSTINCT XX 20L pack is a new addition to the stage/ multi-day racing scene and finally, dare I say, this pack begins to address many of the failures experienced in other packs.
It is in summary, the best pack we have used.
To clarify, this pack was provided free to test and this is not a paid review or advertisement. You can read and view some initial videos here.
The only way to test any pack like this is in a ‘real’ scenario for male and female. So, Abelone Lyng and myself set off for a 3-day fastpack covering 65km carrying all we required.
We both carried a pack, and the INSTINCT had more than required for one person. You can see in the photo above the majority of contents but in addition to the above was a 2-person tent, merino top and leg base layer, down jacket, hat and gloves. Also, 3 Firepot meals and additional snacks. Total weight, inc the pack was approx 6.5kg with 800g water.
See a time-lapse of packing below:
HERE are the pack contents itemised with weights and links.
There are several key features to the instinct and depending on the adventure you are undertaking, you would pack the bag differently. For our 3-day trip we needed a tent, but as an example, if doing a race like Marathon des Sables, you would have no need for a tent and this would free up considerable space for the food requirement of six or seven days.
The pack has a maximum capacity of 24L and compresses to 18L by rolling down the top of the pack and compressing it. We recommend you view the videos here. This is extremely useful in self-sufficient races when you basically ‘eat’ the contents of the pack and therefore the pack reduces in size, weight and volume.
Here is a review video which gives a real-time review of the INSTINCT XX 20L.
Both Abelone and myself found the pack arguably the most comfortable we have used and tested and it stands out in several areas:
- Flexibility and adaptability.
- The ability to reduce the pack size as per requirements.
- The ability to segregate items in different areas – top pocket, main pocket, two mesh pockets, zipper pockets.
- The front of the pack is the best we have tried not only for two hard bottles but the ability to use four bottles or use two bottles and use the other pockets for storage.
- The fit is excellent and while extremes of size, both large and small cannot be accounted for, in general, we feel that the pack will work with most body sizes and shapes.
- Movement while running is minimal but not zero. It is the best we have used.
- There are many small features – zipper pockets, elastics, the external carabiner fitting and so on that make the pack a pleasure to use.
With full weight (8kg) you soon realise if you have the Instinct packed incorrectly and it is worthwhile playing and spending time with different configurations. What works for one, may not work for another, so, find what what works for you. Certainly, what I personally thought would work for me initially, did not work and I had too much movement in the top pocket. When I re-packed, the improvement was considerable.
The one size fits all and elastic side does provide incredible flexibility and comfort and both Abelone or myself found no hot spots or irritation.
Packed correctly, the ability to access what you need, on the go, is superb. Ultimately, fine-tuning the pack to an individuals need is part of the process of what makes fastpacking fun. However, the crossover of fit, packing and individual needs between Abelone and myself was seamless and we could easily swap and change at any time with just an adjustment to the chest and elastic side straps making for a perfect fit.
How to fit the pack?
Notably, there are features to the pack that we did not use or mention:
- Large zipper pocket that will take a 2 to 3ltr bladder that will occupy the length of the pack between the back pad and the main compartment. This pocket could also be used to segregate clothes, for example, clean and dirty.
- Removable top pouch that we did not use that can also be used to secure a helmet if required – useful for snow/ climbing adventures.
- Three different areas to secure poles.
- Ice axe and shovel friendly with attachment points.
The XX allows :
– 2 x 750ml+ bottles/softflasks in front
– 2 XL vertical front zip pockets
– 2 zipped shoulder pockets
– 2 XL mesh front pockets
– 3 fixing options for poles (front/back)
– Ice pick on back
– Shovel fixture
– Easy backside carrying of sleeping mat or other objects (ex: tent)
– Independent 3L water bladder pocket
– X-Large 2-in-1 overlapping stretch mesh pockets on lower backside
KEY FEATURES : – Large back door = instant access to main compartment and easy viewing of internal items
– Independent roll-top pocket for increased storage
– Removeable top pouch carries smaller items (first aid kit, knife, etc). A stretch mesh pocket over the top allows instant access to jacket storage or a solar battery panel
COMFORT & PROTECTION :
– Entirely made of Cordura© Nylon 6.6 ripstop
– 3mm perforated EVA padding in back panel
– 3D mesh shoulder straps/back panel for ideal sweat dissipation
Is the INSTINCT perfect? No, it’s not, but it comes pretty darn close… I guess the question that I have is the zipper on the main compartment? If that fails, this would cause huge problems, however, it is a special zip, reinforced and extremely durable, I have no reason to think this would fail. The pack may be compromised on fit with small men or women, however, in general, based on myself and Abelone, we can see it fitting most body shapes.
Ultimately, for both of us, the INSTINCT XX 20L is the most complete and flexible pack we have used. It’s great to look at, it is really well thought out, it provides multiple options and flexibility and without doubt, has the best bottle holding and capacity of any pack I have used. The option to compress the pack to 18L means it can also be used for long single-day races, such as UTMB, when the need for mandatory kit is high.
Quite simply – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Price 225 euro
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