In the world of backpacks, there is a niche category of products that positions compartments and pouches over the chest. Called “frontpacks,” these gear-carrying modules are made by small companies like Aarn Designs, Syncpack, and LuxuryLite.
You usually wear a frontpack in tandem with a backpack. The theory is that a load up front will move weight forward on the body to counterbalance a heavy haul on back.
Easy access to food, a GPS device, a camera or sunscreen is another advantage. (I have a review of five frontpack models here: gearjunkie.com/frontpacks)
A recent entrant into the frontpack realm, Ribz Sportswear of Coronado, Calif., offers a pack with up to 600 cubic inches of usable space. The company’s namesake Ribz pack has four large zippered pockets mounted in a vest configuration and sewn on a suspenders-type harness.
Loaded up, the pack can tote a half-day’s worth of gear or add significant capacity for a long trip. I put in energy bars, a map, a compass, a small camera, a hat, survival items, sunglasses, and a few other small essentials.
In my test, the Ribz pack (www.ribzwear.com) carried fine. It distributed a load on my shoulders and put weight comfortably up front.
Wide shoulder straps made of heavy-duty nylon are designed to distribute weight yet remain comfortable when worn under a backpack harness. To connect the two compartments, the RIBZ pack has a low-profile strap in the rear that fit under a backpack with little issue.
The Ribz pack, which costs $65, is beefy and well-made. The nylon fabric is durable. It weighs 10 ounces and wears light and comfortably alone or with a pack.
If you’re in the market for a frontpack, Ribz Sportswear is a solid new up-front option.
—Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.