I was asked about my experience carrying the new (in 2014) Six Moon Designs Fusion-65 Backpack. I thought I would share my answers here. I’ve spent about 100 days hiking with this pack since I purchased it. I carried it on my 500-mile treks of The Colorado Trail in both 2014 and 2015. My overall impression of the pack is that it is the most comfortable backpack I have ever carried and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a lightweight backpack.
Q. Why did you purchase this backpack?
A. I had a wonderful lightweight Patagonia Exos-46 backpack (now slightly revamped as the Exos-48) that I had modified to weigh just two pounds. The pack was perfect for overnight and weekend backpacking trips where the weight of the pack was under 20 pounds. But, it was a little uncomfortable on those occasions when I had to put more weight in it. I do a lot of backcountry trail maintenance work and I am often carrying saws and other tools, which can add considerable weight to a pack. I was looking for a lightweight pack that could carry occasional loads in excess of 30 pounds comfortably. The Fusion-65, at only a few ounces more than two pounds, seemed to meet these needs exactly.
Q. Were you able to easily adjust the torso length to fit your back and hips?
A. Yes, I think the pack came set for a medium torso length. I simply took the small plastic tool that came with the pack to loosen the Velcro connection and I slid the torso lengthening strap to the large position and refastened the Velcro. (I am 6’1.) It was easy to do, and the pack fits perfectly. The Velcro connection has never slipped from the position I set it to.
A. I have a 36-inch waist, and I got the Large hip belt size. It fits great. There is plenty of room to adjust for larger and smaller waist sizes. I do have the shoulder straps out to their maximum adjustment. They seem perfect there, and I have no problems with them, but I was a little surprised I was at the end of the adjustment strap. I don’t have a large upper body, so this may be a problem for people who work out more than I do.
Q. How do you like the dual-strap waist belt?
A. I love it! I didn’t really understand the purpose of the two straps at first. And, even now, when I first put the pack on, I hitch the belt up as if it were a single strap belt. As the belt loosens up over time, I usually just tighten the top strap. This has the effect of making the pack sit comfortably on my hips. I have had sore hips after long trips with other packs. My hips have never hurt with this pack. The belt is super comfortable and the pack rides on top of my hips better than any pack I’ve ever worn. As I walk, I sometimes notice how little weight is on my shoulder straps.
Q. Some people have complained about a “bump” in the lumbar region, where the pack support attaches to the waist belt. Has this been a problem for you?
A. When I first put the pack on, I did feel a slight bump in the region you mention. I was a little worried the pack would rub there. But, after I put some weight in the pack, I have never even noticed the bump, and this has become a complete non-issue for me.
A. I haven’t used the pack with a water bladder, so I can’t answer this question. I use one-liter Gatorade bottles for water, and put these in the pack side pockets.
Q. Do the compression straps work well to shrink the pack when not fully loaded?
A. Yes, this is another outstanding feature of this pack. It weighs just two pounds and four ounces, so it makes a perfect overnight or weekend pack. The compression straps work great. You almost feel like you can use this as a day pack, if you need to, since the pack cinches up so small. But, if you need to put 5-6 days of food in it, loosen everything up and you suddenly have a large pack that can carry a lot of gear, food, and weight.
A. The side pockets of this pack are the only components that get less than an A grade from me. The thread on these pockets immediately started to unravel the first time I had the pack out. They continue to unravel. This hasn’t really caused much of a problem in functionality, but given the quality of the rest of the pack, it stood out to me. I contacted Six Moon Designs about it, and I hear they are taking steps to fix the problem in upcoming versions of the pack. The pockets are also a bit too shallow, I think. I usually put a one-liter Gatorade bottle in each pocket. These bottles tend to jump out of these pockets when I set the pack down and pick it up again. I’ve lost one bottle this way. I lost another bottle while bushwacking with the pack. Once I added “check the bottles” to my mental checklist when I pick up the pack, I’ve had no further problems. The good news about the side pockets is that I can usually reach back and remove a water bottle without having to remove the pack. Most of the time, I can also put the water bottle back in the pocket.
I have had no problems whatsoever with the large stretchy pocket on the back of the pack. I typically store my wet tent or tarp in there, and there is plenty of room for gloves, windbreaker, hat, etc. Everything I’ve put in there has been held securely. I think the stretchy material is less prone to being caught on vegetation than a mesh material. It appears durable enough.
I particularly liked the large pockets on the waist belt. I have a problem finding my glasses when I need them and keeping them from damage on a long hike. I used one pocket to carry a hard-sided case for my glasses, and the other pocket to carry a Sawyer Mini-Filter and Aqua Mira drops. This worked great for me.
A. Extremely durable. I have complete confidence in the body of the pack.
Q. I like the look of the roll-top closure. How did that work for you.
A. I like the way it looks and works, too. It is easy to give the pack that “squared away” look that I like. The roll-top is secured with three mini-clips. This can be mildly annoying when, for the 10th time, you get your pack squared away only to realize you left something out of the pack that has to go inside. I realize it is unfair to blame the pack for this, but it happens to me a lot. I suppose my complaint is on the same order as kicking the dog when there is a bad smell in the room.
A. Don’t even start with me about the color! I took a lot of abuse from my hiking companions this summer. I am not a fan of the white and yellow colors. I would greatly prefer something more environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to get this pack dirty, so that the colors subdue a bit. Dirt washes off easily and a quick shower will do it. The pack looks brand new all the time. If you are looking for a pack that develops character over time, this is not the pack for you.
Q. Is the pack water resistant?
A. The pack is water resistant. I use a pack liner bag, rather than a rain cover, to keep things dry. This pack was wet a lot this summer. The robic material sheds water pretty well, and it doesn’t appear to absorb much. I didn’t have trouble keeping things dry inside the pack.
A. I just like the way the pack fits and stays close to my body. It moves well and has never thrown me off balance. It rides on my hips nicely, and puts very little weight on my shoulders. I walked 18-24 miles a day this summer and I can honestly say I was never uncomfortable because of my pack. (My feet hurt, occasionally.) There were times I had to run in this pack, and it did that well, too.
A. Absolutely, almost without reservation, and especially if it came in better colors! I’ve found the Six Moon Designs staff extremely helpful and responsive when I’ve contacted them. I think they are trying to make this the best lightweight pack available, and I think they are very, very close to doing so. Note that this pack has been updated (available August 2015) and that the pockets and colors have been completely changed. This fixes the two biggest problems I identified with this pack. See the Six Moon Designs web page for details.
You can see other gear that I carry and what I think about it on my Pinterest Lightweight Backpacking Board.