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.
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.