I am a big fan of Hill People Gear packs, especially their harness strap system. While most of their packs are to heavy for me to routinely use, I do have a Tara pack from them that I enjoy using because the harness system is so comfortable to hike in. I previously had an Ute and Umlindi from them as well, but they were just to heavy to justify using on trail for the majority of my hikes. That said I still really missed using the harness system!
The Tara pack I had is great, very comfortable, but it’s also just a bit smaller than I’d like. Its listed as a 16L pack weighing 1.44 pounds at 4Lx9Wx17H.
Between the harness system, and the front straps and side pockets this pack could be a perfect day pack for me if it had just a bit more volume. Enter the Mystery Ranch Gallagator pack.
I was able to find mine on sale for $75 with shipping. Its listed at 17.5Hx10.75Lx9W. 1.3 pounds stock and roughly 20L in volume. The material isnt as thick and durable, HPG uses 500d materials for the Tara vs 210d for the Gallagator, but thats still plenty in my opinion. I also really like the 3-Zip design that Mystery Ranch uses for their packs. It works as a top loader, or you can split it down the middle to get full access. It has similar outside straps and side pockets to the tara as well, with the added benefit of a small top pocket.
What I really wanted to do is to get the HPG harness system on this new pack. With the aid of a seam ripper, scissors, a lighter, and quite a bit of patience I was able to do just that.
Once that was done, I wanted to add a bit of structure to the pack. The Tara uses thick enough material and has a back pocket you can put a frame sheet into. I happened to use a sit pad from Gossamer Gear and cut it down to size to act as a lightweight frame sheet and to be able to quickly pull out and use as a sit pad when I wanted to.
I can even use the bladder toggle at the top for a bit of gear organization with some of the storage pouches I happen to have sitting around.
With a bit of shock cord and cord lock on top I was able to make a spot to strap jackets while out on the go.
I’ve put probably 25 miles on the pack so far and its performed admirably! I’d say the most I’ve had in it was probably 25 pounds, and I hardly noticed it was back there. At one point on a hike I even strapped my kids Camelbak to this pack and carried both around.
So far I am very pleased with this pack setup. I think it’ll be my go to daypack from here on out unless I need even less volume and can get away with something like a lumbar pack for the day.