Chicken Tramper 35 Ultralight Review
Cons: Expensive, lacks adaptability, lots of extra straps when compressed
Manufacturer: Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear
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Chicken Tramper 35 Ultralight
|Price||$275 List||$270 List||$145 List||$149.95 at Backcountry|
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|$139.96 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Customizable, great fit, comfortable, solid feature set||Durable, comfortable, well-designed pockets, carries light and heavy loads well||Simple design, inexpensive, durable||Very light, large volume, versatile compression system||Great for medium loads, inexpensive, thoughtful set of features, external storage and lashing options|
|Cons||Expensive, lacks adaptability, lots of extra straps when compressed||Large capacity makes it less versatile||Foam pad falls out easily, shoulder straps lack support||No frame, poor comfort for medium loads||Heavy, less durable than others|
|Bottom Line||This is a customizable, extremely comfortable, lightweight pack with a custom fit||This pack wowed us with its perfect set of features, comfortable design, and carrying capacity||A lightweight, simplified version of our favorite pack from this same company, making a durable, well-designed option||For the ultimate lightweight pack, this pack steals the show with its entirely frameless design and streamlined set of features||This incredible pack has tons of features, carries medium-sized loads well, and is comfortable to boot|
|Rating Categories||Chicken Tramper 35...||Gossamer Gear Mariposa||Adventure Equipment...||Granite Gear Virga 2||Osprey Exos 48|
|Weight-to-Volume Ratio (35%)|
|Comfort to Carry (25%)|
|Specs||Chicken Tramper 35...||Gossamer Gear Mariposa||Adventure Equipment...||Granite Gear Virga 2||Osprey Exos 48|
|Measured Weight||29.8 oz||30.5 oz||24 oz||18.5 oz||37.6 oz|
|Stripped Weight||28.3 oz||30.5 oz||23 oz||18.5 oz||33.9 oz|
|Claimed Volume||35 L||60 L||54 L||50-58 L||48 L|
|Measured Main Pack Volume||38 L||48 L||45 L||41 L||40 L|
|Measured Volume Total (minus hip belt and shoulder strap pockets)||38 L||64 L||53 L||49 L||59 L|
|Measured Volume Stripped (minus hip belt, shoulder pockets, and removable lids)||38 L||59 L||53 L||49 L||53 L|
|Average Weight-to-Volume Ratio (grams/Liter)||21.7 g/L||14 g/L||12.8 g/L||10 g/L||18.9 g/L|
|Carrying Comfort 15 pounds||Good||Great||Great||Good||Good|
|Carrying Comfort 30 pounds||Great||Great||Poor||Poor||Great|
|Frame Type||Removable carbon fiber||Foam pad/ removable stay||Removable foam pad||None (foam pad)||Tensioned Frame - AirSpeed SL Suspension|
|Fabric||X-Pac VX21 210D Nylon||70 & 100 denier Robic nylon||210 Robic nylon, 400d Robic Bottom Panel||Cordura||100D high tenacity nylon, 100D high tenacity ripstop nylon|
|Main Pack Pockets||3||4||3||3||3|
|Hip Belt Pockets||0||2||2||None||None|
|Single Hip Belt Pocket Capacity||n/a||4||2 cliff bars||N/a||N/a|
|Shoulder Strap Pockets||No||No||No||No||No|
|Whistle on Sternum Strap||Yes||No||No||None||Yes|
|Internal Hydration Sleeve||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Bag Sizes/Torso Lengths Available||S, M, L, or Custom sizing||S, M, L||S, M, L, XL||Long, short, regular||S, M, L|
|Mix and Match Hip Belt Sizes||XS, S, M, L, XL||S, M, L||S, M, L, XL||No||No|
|Can Easily Strip Off Frame and Hip Belt||No||Good||No||No||No|
|BearVault BV500 Compatibility||No||Good||Ok||Ok||Just OK|
|Lid (aka Brain)||No||No||No||No||Yes, Removable|
Our Analysis and Test Results
With its extremely lightweight materials — the 210D nylon and airy mesh pockets — and a simple design, one would think this pack would excel in this metric. Our measured volume for the Tramper 35 L came in higher than the company's website claims.
With pockets and the full roll-top engaged, we measured this pack to carry about 38 liters when fully packed. In terms of weight, the Tramper came in at 29.8 ounces; once the back pad was removed, it measured in at 28.3 ounces. This means that the pack's weight-to-volume ratio average was 21.7 g/L, which is a lot higher than many of the packs in this review. The explanation for this is the fact that the pack has a fairly small capacity, compared to the 40 to 50-liter models that are also in this review.
Load Carrying Comfort
The fact that the Tramper was hand-crafted to fit our lead tester's dimensions plays a major role in the impressive scores it received in this metric. Not only did this pack fit us like a glove, but it carried extremely well with both heavy loads and lighter pack weights. The shoulder straps and hip belt are lightly padded to the point where they add comfort but do not add any bulk. The removable foam back pad and built-in lightweight frame make the back panel comfortable and well-cushioned.
We were impressed by this pack's carrying ability with heavier loads of 35 pounds and over. When carrying a light load, the pack didn't impress us quite as much, as it rode a bit high and didn't settle onto the hip belt as much as we would like.
What makes the Tramper 35 stand out from the rest in this review is its highly customizable design. When you order a pack from this small company, you get to decide what additional features you want, such as colors, accent colors, mesh colors, shoulder strap style (J strap or S strap), hip belt size (extra small to extra large, and a custom option at no extra charge), and torso size (small to large, as well as a custom option, which again, is no extra charge). You also have the option to add on accessories, such as a fanny pack, shoulder strap phone pocket or water bottle holder, and removable hip belt pockets.
Each pack comes with a standard removable foam seat pad that doubles as extra padding in the back. It also has a large mesh storage pocket on the outside, which is useful for holding extra layers, snacks for the day, and other items you may want within reach. It also has two side water bottle pockets, which we found were roomy enough to hold other items as well.
In addition to the basic feature set described above, the Chicken Tramper also has side panel shock cord, which is meant for holding extra items like sleeping pads, trekking poles, and tarps. Their website claims that this cord is not meant to be compression cord, and we found that to be true when trying to consolidate the pack size when it was partially empty. The pack also comes with ice axe loops on the bottom and a re-enforced base, making it a solid option for mountaineering endeavors.
Like many roll-top packs with external storage options, the CT 35 is very adaptable. The pack, when fully stuffed to the gills, has a little over a 40-liter carrying capacity. We were able to fill the external storage pockets with a little under 10 liters of extra gear; this was mostly extra layers, when the main body of the pack was full of food for longer trips. We found the Chicken Tramper performed best when it was full of gear.
On the other end of the spectrum, when we tried to pack this 35-liter down to a smaller capacity pack, we ended up with a lot of extra straps and a roll-top that was a little bit hard to secure. It is a fairly minor detail, but the stiffness of the fabric made it hard to roll the top closed and secure it when it wasn't full of equipment. We found that packs with roll-top closures that secure on the sides, rather than over top, seemed to cinch down over smaller loads better.
The fabric used in the construction of this novel pack is unlike any other materials we've seen in our ultralight experience. Chicken Tramper uses X-Pac VX21 nylon, which is extremely abrasion resistant and claims a 210D face layer. We had no issues with the durability of this fabric during our test period, though as can be typical with mesh external pockets, they can snag on low hanging branches.
Besides the fabrics used, the overall construction of this pack is impressive. All the sewn attachment points are robust and withstood our excessive use and testing process.
Because these packs are hand made to suit your exact dimensions, the Chicken Tramper 35 comes with a high price tag. However, high quality materials are used and the thoughtful design accounts for the premium price. We would recommend this well-made, and lovingly created piece of equipment for those who have been backpacking for a while and know the ins and outs of their kit. This is a pack designed for specific uses and is high tech, making it a bit more expensive than some of the other introductory packs in this review.
We are officially big fans of Chicken Tramper. From the pack to the accessory fanny pack, we love the design, features, and materials used. Though it took some time to get our custom pack in the mail (as it does with any custom order), it was worth it. It needed very little adjusting to get the fit right since it was designed to suit our torso dimensions. The features set is clean and useful — you can tell it was designed by someone who has put their time in on the trail and narrowed in on the features that matter. We are big fans of this pack, especially if you want to pay a little extra for a custom, well-made piece of gear that will last.
— Jane Jackson
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