Review – Local Lion 60L Trekking Backpack (Part 1)
Previously, (see it here) we discussed what makes a good backpack suitable for a BOB (Bug Out Bag). Often GearBest.com has good stuff at great prices, so I thought I’d see if they had any potential candidates. And they did have a 60L which looked pretty good, and a 65L which looked like it might serve also. They sent out one of the 60L ones for review.
Local Lion is not a known brand (to me). Doing the research, I could not find out anything about the company, although models do seem to be available from Amazon and eBay in addition to GearBest and other sellers. So they seem to be a legitimate backpack company, almost certainly from China.
This was chosen because it was 60L, a good size for a BOB, was available in a dull green as well as the more stylish blue, red or orange, and was advertised as “water resistant” with an included “rain cover”. Promising, but no matter how waterproof a pack is, if you submerge it in water, it WILL leak. For BOB (or any serious) usage for this or ANY pack, always pack things in waterproof bags. For protection from rain, the waterproof cover should be handy.
The material is nylon, which is usually a good choice. Although the thickness was not specified, the durability will have to be determined by inspection and experimentation. Size is listed as 67.00 x 35.00 x 25.00 cm, or 26.38 x 13.78 x 9.84 inches; the weight is given as 1.5 kg, which is 3.3 pounds. It has a ventilated suspension system and shockproof strap construction. There is the required handle so it can be carried by hand. When having it on your back is not practical, a nifty buckle on the sternum strap keeps the shoulder straps in the right place and, as a bonus, the strap also includes a whistle.
GearBest also offers a 55L Local Lion model, but all the colors available are a bit bright, so I did not investigate further. From other vendors, there is a 65L Local Lion model offered, but again, only bright colors seem to be available.
The ad makes it seem a good choice; let’s do an actual inspection.
At first glance, it looks as good as its pictures and description. It turns out to be the same model, the Olympus III, advertised by other vendors as 65L. They charge more and don’t have the dull green color available. Note that the size given is misleading, particularly the length, which can max out at about 32 inches rather than the 26 inches specified, which would seem to be more like a minimum length.
Suspension: The carry handle is just a 3/4″ nylon strap, which is not optimal, but should be adequate for short distances. The shoulder straps don’t have any adjustment of the top attachment point, but the straps have plenty of length adjustment. The parts of the strap which contact the shoulders are contoured and padded for comfort and have the standard adjustment straps at the top to pull the pack closer to the shoulders. Each shoulder strap has a D-Ring you can clip something to, and a sternum strap which is adjustable up and down as well as for length. You might also be able to work a hydration tube through one of the D-rings to keep it close at hand (close at the mouth, actually), but if not, there is a section of webbing fastened right above the D-ring which might serve this purpose almost as well. The sternum strap buckle includes a whistle, which is easier to blow and louder than the ones I’ve seen on bracelets. The waist belt padding is a little flimsy and short; we’ll have to see how it works under load. The belt strap is a bit narrow, but plenty long enough. I was worried because an ad from another vendor claimed a maximum waist size of 46 inches, which would not have come close to fitting me.
Construction: The back padding appears like it will be comfortable and dissipate heat well. The frame is actually sort of a hybrid – it is outside the pack, but minimal and fully contained, so has none of the disadvantages of the classic external frame. It appears to provide good structure to the pack; it is supposedly removable, but that would be an unwise move. The pack material appears like it will be durable, and I could not find any flaws in the construction.
– On the bottom, there is a small zippered pocket labeled “Raincover”. It was empty, but the rain cover was packed into another pocket. The rain cover is a mild orange, sort of like the interior of a cantaloupe, which is not the most appropriate for a BOB, but not the worst possible. Other Local Lion ads state that the rain cover colors provided are “random”, so this is likely not an error and should be kept in mind when ordering.
– At the bottom end of the main compartment, there is a double zipper with nice zipper pulls. It was a bit difficult to get open around the corners but otherwise fine. There is a drawstring flap right above the zipper, which can “mostly” separate this lower end of the compartment from the rest of the main compartment. There are open areas along the front and each side of the separation flap which cannot be closed off. I’m concerned items from the upper compartment could “leak” through into this compartment. Closing, the zipper which was a little difficult to open, did not have any problems going around the corners. The zipper is protected by a flap from end to end.
– On the front is a large flat pocket with a zipper from top to bottom. It has the nice zipper pull, but no protection for the zipper except for a small “hood” at the top end. The zipper is stiffer than the rest, possibly due to some waterproofing. Tags are attached to this pull, mostly in Chinese, although there is a “features” list on the back in English, which provides some useful tips.
– On each side is a flat, narrow, deep pocket with an angled zipper with the nice zipper pull and a flap providing protection. Below each of these is an open topped mesh pocket with an elastic top which provides a few inches of stretch.
– The hood has a large pocket accessed from the rear. The zipper has the zipper pull and flap covering the zipper. Inside the hood is another flat pocket, closed by a zipper.
– Inside the main compartment, there is a flat pocket against the back, with an elastic top providing perhaps an inch of stretch. I’m not clear what this would be good for, except something large, somewhat stiff and flat, like maps or a tarp. Other ads claim it is for a laptop, but I’m skeptical. It does not really look thick enough, and the frame rods run down the middle right behind it. I can see a laptop being snapped in half with the pack loaded and used hard. In any case, how many people are going to have a laptop in an expedition pack, much less a BOB?
– On each side of the padded waist belt, there is a zippered pocket with the usual zipper pull. This zipper has no protection and is along the center of the pocket side, so be careful when opening that stuff does not fall out.
– On the front of the bottom, compartment there are two adjustable straps for rolled items. There is no capability of attaching anything to the bottom of the pack, although if you got two 3/4″ slide buckles, and put them over these straps at the bottom. You could run a strap between each buckle and the bottom of the frame to provide this capability if you need it. There are also two web loops here for ice axes or similar items.
– Covering the front pocket is a narrow flap on each side, connected by two adjustable straps. This could be used to fasten something, but care must be taken since there is nothing to prevent the item from slipping out the bottom. It can also provide a bit of side to side compression if needed.
– There are two compression straps on each side to cinch down the load. They could also be used to strap something to each side.
– On the front, to each side, there is a four inch, adjustable, elastic cord. This must be an important feature in modern backpacks, because although I have no idea what they are for, they were specifically mentioned in the product description.
– There are two adjustable straps to fasten something to the top of the hood.
– There is a covered slot to the main compartment at the upper left back labeled “H20”. Obviously, this is to allow passage of a hydration bladder hose from the inside to the outside, which is a good thing (it could also be used for headphone wires if anyone still uses wired headphones). Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any place to hold the hydration bladder. The interior pocket was my first thought, but I fear the bladder will be “squished” by the frame rods running up the center of the back.
– In the pocket with the rain cover. was a round plastic device. This is a “back support” which is inserted between the frame rods in the middle of the back. It is not easy to install, and I could not tell any difference once it was installed, but you might as well try it for yourself to see if it does anything for your body size. Here is a video showing how to install it (the video is in Chinese). If you can’t get it to run normally, download it and play it locally. If you find you don’t like this attachment, remove it and save it somewhere “safe”.
Well, all this is pretty good so far, but the real question is, how well does it do the job? Check in next time for actual testing results (here’s a hint: it did quite well).