If you are a UL gear lover, you might already be familiar with the website Drop (formerly known as Massdrop). Recently, Drop has started designing and producing a handful of their own products. Some have been in collaboration with already existing companies (the Massdrop Klymit Pillow X), and some have been entirely their own (the Pine Down Blanket). Most recently, Drop announced the preordering of 2 products designed by Canadian thru-hiker Dan Durston: The Drop X-Mid 2P Tent and the Drop 40L Backpack. While we are hoping to check out the Drop X-Mid in a future review, today we are taking a look at the new Drop 40L Pack.
The Drop 40L pack is lightweight pack designed to be both highly functional, accessible, and affordable (pre order price is $120). Made from VX07 and VX21, the small/medium version of this 40L pack weighs in at 29oz. The Drop 40L is a framed pack, and its suspension comes in the form of a 3oz aluminum (and removable) inverted U coupled with a .6oz foam pad for extra comfort and structure. While a fairly simple design, creator Dan Durston states that “nearly every aspect of the Drop 40L is designed for rapid access.” This rapid access is shown in the 2 built in hip belt pockets, 2 built in shoulder pouches (1 with a zipper pocket), a deep “quick pocket” (that also has a zippered pocket), and a angled pocket on the opposite side.
The pack also comes with load lifters and a rather unique front pocket. While not waterproof, the pack is highly water-resistant.
- Materials: VX07 and VX21
- Weight: Small/Medium is 29.7oz and Medium/Large is 30.9
- Internal Volume: Small/Medium is 40L and Medium/Large is 43L
- Carrying Capacity: 40lbs
Things I like:
Side Pockets: The side pockets are wonderful and really make this pack special. On one side is the QuickPocket. It is large and deep, and the attached zippered side pocket can be easily accessed 1 handed while hiking. The zippered side pocket is surprisingly spacious (I’d estimate 1L+ of storage) and while its volume does decrease when water bottles are present, it still contains plenty of room for a phone, map, snacks, or anything else you’d need easily accessible while on the move. While I’m not a huge fan of the hip belt pockets (we’ll get to those later), the zippered side pocket helps makeup for their inadequacies.
On the other side of the pack is an angled side pocket. As the name suggests, the pocket is cut at an angle. This provides depth and security from the tall side while allowing easy grabability from the short side. While very simply in its design, it makes accessing water a breeze while hiking. No need to stop to hydrate!
Comfort: The Drop 40L is comfortable. The padded shoulder straps and hip-belt are the right levels of supportive, and the load lifters allow for easy adjustments. Sure it's not luxurious, but for the price and weight, it does invest thought into wearability.
Exceptionally Cost-Effective: For someone looking for an inexpensive entry pack into the realm of ultralight packs, this is a great option. While I’ve certainly debated the value of some of the higher price point packs I’ve purchased over the years, there is no doubt in my mind that this pack is worth $120!
Things to note:
Front Pocket: While very distinct and attractive looking, I haven’t quite figured out the utility of the front pocket. I certainly like the idea of having a secure pocket for my smaller items, but due to the pocket’s length and lack of volume, any smaller item that gets added simply falls to the bottom and becomes difficult to access and organize. While it seems perfect for a tall item like a map, since the pocket can’t be accessed without first taking off the pack, storing a map there wouldn’t ultimately be super useful (unless you so infrequently look at a map that it doesn’t matter). As an avid fanny pack user, I considered transferring items from my fanny to the front pocket. I ultimately reconsidered, as such a move meant transferring my most utilized items from a spot of immediate access to a spot of more difficult access. While I’m sure I could eventually find items whose ideal location would be the front pouch, such items are currently alluding me.
Mini pockets: While I certainly enjoy minimalism as much as the next UL backpacker, I am struggling a bit with the size of the hip belt pockets. They are a bit smaller than I am used to, and many of the items I typically carry simply don’t fit. While the hip belt pockets do technically fit my iPhone 8+, its a bonafide struggle. If you are familiar with the old Hyperlite pockets (before they made them bigger), these are pretty much the same size. Great for snacks, not ideal for phones. However, as mentioned earlier, the zipper pocket on the QuickPocket does provide a good alternative for your phone.
Removability: While you can remove the front pocket, foam pad, and frame, you can’t remove the hip belt, hip belt pockets, or shoulder pouches. While this is certainly the case with other packs, it's certainly a bit inhibiting if you’re of a more modular mindset.
For the cost, this pack is hard to beat. It's intelligently designed and seems capable of handling anything from the casual weekend trip to a not so casual thru-hike. Interested but have questions? Designer Dan Durston has been actively answering questions about the Drop 40L for months, and would happily answer yours!