Ribz Front Pack

Ribz Front Pack
$60, 12 oz. (small)
Sizes: Small (fits waists 26-36 inches), regular (fits waists 32-46 inches)
ribzwear.com

Backpacks are great. They’re an enormously efficient way to carry a lot of gear. The downside, of course, is that you cannot get at most of what’s inside a backpack without taking it off. For years, I’ve used a chest pack for my camera gear and tried other front carrier packs without really finding a system that I loved. The Ribz Front Pack has now solved one of my most enduring gear dilemmas by being everything I’ve sought: convenient, adequately roomy, comfortable, and entirely unobtrusive.

On a recent five-day trip in Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park, dayhiking, backpacking, and slot canyoneering, I used the Front Pack every day. It has two separate compartments, like small saddlebags. I kept my DSLR on one side and a second lens on the other side, with space remaining for numerous smaller items like a map, snacks, gloves, hat, sunglasses, GPS, etc. With 700 cubic inches dispersed between a larger pocket and a smaller one on each side (all four pockets zippered), the pack has as much capacity as I’d want in front of me. Adjust the harness once—it has padded shoulder straps and a thin, nylon strap that wraps around your back—and it fits every time you put it on. It rides low across your lower ribs and stomach, so it doesn’t inhibit movement or obscure your view of where you’re stepping (both significant downsides of camera chest packs). The Ribz is so comfortable that I wasn’t even inclined to take it off during breaks on the trail, whereas I’d routinely take off a chest pack at any opportunity. It’s a winner.

—Michael Lanza