Gear Review Update: Ribz Front Pack

June 12, 2013  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , ,   |   8 Comments
Ribz Front Pack

Ribz Front Pack

Ribz Front Pack
$60, 12.5 oz. (small)
Sizes: Small (fits waists 26-36 inches), regular (fits waists 32-46 inches)

The Ribz Front Pack won me over when I first started hiking with it more than a year ago because it keeps my DSLR, a second lens, and assorted smaller items in a readily accessible place: right in front of me. So it has replaced a bulky camera chest pack I had worn for years because it’s comfortable and holds more while being less obtrusive. I’ve carried the Front Pack on virtually every backpacking trip since. Now the newly updated version sports subtle but laudable design changes that actually improve upon a piece of gear that I considered nearly perfect before.

What’s new? The harness was tweaked for a better fit, and a locking slider was added to the shoulder pad and a stabilizer to the back to help prevent its crossing straps from tangling like cooked spaghetti when you’re not wearing it. What hasn’t changed? Its two saddlebags—each with a larger and a smaller pocket (all with a zipper)—have a total of 700 cubic inches of space, easily housing my DSLR on one side and my second lens on the other side (to help balance the weight), with space leftover for numerous smaller items like a map, snacks, gloves, hat, sunglasses, GPS, etc. The adjustable harness fits every time you put it on after adjusting it once, and the whole unit rides low across the front of your torso, not inhibiting movement at all or obscuring your view of where you’re stepping (as camera chest packs often do).

One caveat: I avoid overstuffing the pockets because I don’t like having them bulge outward far enough to get in the way of my arms swinging when I hike.

See my original review of the Ribz Front Pack as well as other reviews of daypacks and other hiking gear and backpacking gear that I like.

NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.

—Michael Lanza


8 Responses to Gear Review Update: Ribz Front Pack

  1. Paul   |  October 28, 2013 at 6:45 am

    This also might be great to combo along with a child carrier backpack. I always find that it is a challenge to fit everything in the baby backpack and this added space might really come in handy!

  2. Don   |  June 12, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Dave, you said you wore the pack while backpacking. Does it interfere with the sternum strap or waist belt of a backpack? Is the pack waterproof?

    • MichaelALanza   |  June 12, 2013 at 7:36 pm

      Very good question, actually, Don. No, the Front Pack is not at all connected to a backpack, but it fits in a way that does not interfere with a backpack’s fit or cause discomfort because of buckles or other parts overlapping and pressing into skin. The Front Pack harness is designed to fit underneath a backpack, but it does not connect in any way to a backpack.

  3. Dave   |  June 12, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Mike, would the Ribz pack work to carry a DSLR on a mountain bike? Thanks in advance for your help!

    • MichaelALanza   |  June 12, 2013 at 10:09 am

      Dave, I have not tried biking with it, but I suspect the pack rides low enough that it could get in the way of your legs pedaling. Probably more convenient to carry a camera in a small biking backpack, because you have to stop to shoot, anyway.

  4. Linda   |  June 12, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Umm, I’m really intrigued by this. BUT…have you seen women wearing it? I wonder how comfortable it would be. I guess you can adjust it up or down so it could be more of a belly pack than a chest pack?

    • MichaelALanza   |  June 12, 2013 at 10:11 am

      Good question, Linda. I have not seen a woman using this front pack. However, it does ride low, more across the belly; it’s definitely not a chest pack (which is why I like it). To some extent, you can adjust how low you carry it. You might email Ray at Ribz through its website and ask that question.

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