More on backpacks. Here is a preliminary look at the new F3F FAC Track pack from Eberlestock. I first met Glenn Eberlestock at the SHOT Show five or six years ago. He was located in a small space at the end of one of the rows towards the back of the room. Nothing special in terms of presentation but I was impressed with his packs and the fact that he was rapidly being picked clean of flyers and business cards. It was obvious to me that his products would do well. And they certainly have. Sorting through the fads and fashion of the outdoor equipment industry to identify and promote the very best wilderness gear for high end recreational users, backcountry professionals and government agencies.
The Eberlestock F3F FAC Track pack evolved out of the F3M Halftrack which I reviewed and used a number of times last year. I liked the Halftrack because it reminded me a lot of a Camptrails New Horizon frame pack that I hiked the Grand Canyon with many years ago when I was a kid. I did have a couple of gripes with the Halftrack though. One, the top pocket which I immediately identified as a great spot for my 15 power binos was poorly served by a narrow zipper opening on just the front side. Second, the lower side pockets were too short to accommodate standard 32 ounce Nalgene bottles without them falling out at the most inconvenient times.
The FAC is smaller and the top pocket zipper is longer allowing much better access to the entire pocket but the lower side pockets are still too short for my trusty Nalgene bottles (yes, I know that is not what they are specifically made for but it is an easy fix that many users would use and appreciate).
I got the Half Track in Coyote but my FAC Track is in the new and most excellent, Dry Earth color. I really like the DE.
The FAC Track front differs from the one on the Halftrack in that it has two outside pockets. They are not set up perfectly for my taste and use but I think I can make them work. Note the use of PALS straps over much of the exterior surface and the quiet, low floppage (technical term) zipper pulls.
The FAC features dual full length side pockets which are supposed to be for hydration bladders but I found it too tight for my 100 ounce Camelbaks. They are also too tight to insert and extract my Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod when the pack is full. Bummer. If those side pockets were two inches bigger they would be perfect for both. Note the short lower pockets and side grab handle.
The harness is nicely designed and rides exceptionally well. The belt is also very good and has plenty of PALS straps for accessory pockets to store things like a rangefinder, SPOT unit, GPS, gels or bars, Windicator, etc, etc. I am, however, a little concerned about the durability of the materials used on the inside of the harness. I applaud the effort to optimize ventilation but am wondering how long the perforated facing will last.
Open front pockets. Note the zipper cover on the upper access point of the main compartment. It works a little better when the pack is stuffed to capacity but not much.
Strategically placed zippers provide outstanding access and allow the user to open the bag up completely. You can see all the nooks and crannies and a number of features non-military customers won’t have much use for. Again, lots of PALS straps.
The 3080ci Halftrack in Coyote on the left and the 2500ci FAC Track on the right in Dry Earth. You can see that the FAC Track is a little deeper and a skosh taller. The FAC seems at this point to be more utilitarian and user friendly.
The Halftrack is wider than the FAC Track standing behind it and has full length side pockets that work better for the way I use these kinds of packs.
We will see how the FAC Track fairs against other top packs in this class through out the season but one thing is clear so far. Creating a pack that is perfect for everyone is a very tall order if not downright impossible. Every user has a different list of expectations and needs and you would go crazy trying to satisfy everyone. I don’t know how many units are sold to the military relative to what the hunting community buys but a hunter specific model would certainly be welcomed in my opinion.
I will keep you apprised and as always, your comments are reviewed, considered and appreciated.
One question I anticipate is, since Eberlestock is best known for their gun scabbard packs, why didn’t you choose one of them? While I like the ability to carry my long gun on the pack I don’t like having it hang down behind me like a third leg and I can’t set the pack down on its bottom. I would rather have it flush with the bottom and stand up above my head but maybe that is just me.
We can be educated and persuaded but not bought, bullied or bs’d.
Hardcore Outdoor is dedicated to those who won’t or can’t turn back.
Sorting through the fads and fashion of the outdoor equipment industry to identify and promote the very best wilderness gear for high end recreational users, backcountry professionals and government agencies.