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Gadling gear review: OutThere AS-1 Pack
That's exactly what I found in the AS-1 Pack from a company called OutThere, a start-up looking to challenge the big boys in the outdoor space. The AS-1 was designed by Mike Kloser, a world champion adventure racer, who has spent years competing in some of the toughest endurance events, in some of the harshest environments, on the planet. Kloser knew exactly what he wanted and needed out of a backpack, but since no one made what he was looking for, he went out and built it himself.
When using the AS-1 the word that kept coming to mind was versatility. The pack does so many things, and does it all so well, it is hard not to be impressed. Make no mistake, this is a backpack designed for the hardcore sport of adventure racing, but it brings a lot to the table for adventure travelers and backpackers looking to go light and fast as well. For example, the pack is made from lightweight, yet durable, water resistant fabrics, which help to protect the important gear inside, while shrugging off all the punishment that comes along with travel.
Of course, all of these options aren't very useful if the pack isn't comfortable to wear. Fortunately, the AS-1 excels in that area as well, thanks to a plethora of options for adjusting the fit. The easy to adjust shoulder straps, working in conjunction with a floating hip-belt and strategically placed compression straps, give you the ability to customize the pack to fit your body perfectly and once you have the fit set to your needs, it stays in place exceptionally well. The AS-1's back panel is well padded and designed to keep air flowing between the pack and its wearer, a combination that will be much appreciated on those long days on the trail. All of this adds up to a backpack that can easily carry large loads, without sacrificing comfort.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the AS-1 Pack was designed for use in adventure racing, a sport, which mixes trekking, paddling, and mountain biking through remote areas of the planet. For that particular use, this is without question the best pack available. But I think active, adventurous travelers will appreciate its versatility and attention to detail as well. For example, I wished that I had had this pack with me on a trek through the Himalaya last year and I know that backcountry skiers, climbers, snowshoers, and other outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy it as well. The AS-1 is one of those rare pieces of gear that you can purchase and use in all kinds of ways, making it a bargain at $189.