Explore merges the proven big-load stability and durability of our Expedition pack with organizational and ease-of-access features. With its dual frame-stays and stout hip belt, Explore is an excellent choice for long, self-supported backpacking and mountaineering trips. It is possible to gain access to any part of the pack on the fly and with the extendable lid, Explore’s capacity for extra or oddly-shaped gear is substantial.
The main compartment is both traditional top-loading and dual-zipper access panel-loading. A top loader allows extra gear to be stuffed in through the top and the extendable lid simply rises up to accommodate it all - very useful on gear-intensive, long trips. But access to things in the middle or bottom of a top loader can be challenging - but not with Explore. The entire front panel can be opened by way of two vertically oriented zippers and a velcro closure at the top. And if it’s just that one item of clothing that’s needed, one zipper can be partially opened for quick access. Explore is built to stand up to abuse with polyurethane-coated, 630-denier Oxford nylon throughout.
On the outside of the pack, short pleated pockets, one on each side, hold tent poles, trekking poles, water bottles, etc. Another pleated pocket on the outside of the pack bag expands to hold wet rain gear, climbing skins and other things that might need to be kept out of the main compartment. Compression straps, two on each side, hold the load against the frame and secure items placed in the pockets, such as tent poles, wands, etc. Two vertical daisy chains, with ice axe loops at their bases, secure ice tools or trekking poles. The top lid is extendable via four straps and equipped with two zippered compartments; one large one on top and another envelope pocket underneath. Four loops on top of the lid allow items to be strapped there, such as crampons. A compression strap is positioned across the top of the main compartment to keep gear under control and reduce sway. A haul loop is placed between the stays for lifting the load to a knee and securing the pack on steep terrain.
Inside the main compartment is a hanging pocket, placed against the frame, which will accept a hydration reservoir and/or other items that need to be separated. Another small mesh pocket is placed on the inside of the back panel. Exit ports for a drink tube, one over the left shoulder and another over the right, offer quick access to hydration.
Explore’s suspension system is centered on two parallel aluminum stays, the bottom end of which are anchored in the polyethylene-reinforced lumbar pad of the hip belt. This frame-stay-to-hip-belt complex does a superb job of stabilizing the load against the wearer’s back and smoothly transferring the weight to shoulders, sacrum and hips. Shoulder straps are built into a foam-padded yoke, which slides along the stays to achieve an exact mirroring of the wearer’s torso length. At the top of the stays, a pre-curved T-bar creates space for the back of head, even when the lid is extended around a large load.