A Review of the Osprey Ace 50 Youth Pack

Osprey Ace 50 Youth Pack

 

Osprey Ace 50 Youth Pack
The Osprey Ace 50 Youth Pack ready for action

My kids are finally getting to the age, and stature suitable for more extended backcountry excursions. This has been a much-anticipated point for me as a parent. When I think of my own childhood I hold most dear my memories of backcountry adventures especially backpacking trips with my grandfather in the Uinta Mountains. I want my children to have the same opportunity to experience the beauty of nature, and feel the sense of accomplishment you can only find through a backpacking trip. I want them to connect with nature like I did as a child. I will admit that his desire is somewhat self-centered (I really need my kids to like backpacking so I have an excuse to be in the mountains more frequently).

I have realized that if I want to go on more than one backpacking trip with my children then I better do what it takes to make the trip a fun experience. Part of this is choosing appropriate backpacking gear. The most important piece of gear is the pack itself. There is nothing that can dampen the mood of a backpacking trip quicker than an ill-fitting backpack.

With a couple packing trips on the schedule and a 12-year-old son chomping at the bit to come, I set out to find the best youth backpacking pack. My quest was simple, find a pack that fit well, was durable and didn’t break the bank.

After a lot of searching, I decided upon the Osprey Ace 50 Youth Pack. I chose this pack for several reasons. First, the pack was made by a company known for high-quality packs. Second, the pack is adjustable and can be manipulated to fit a child from 10 to 18 years old. This not only improves the fit of the pack for youth but also cuts down on costs because you won’t need to buy a new pack every few years as your child grows. Finally, this pack was just the right size at 50 L for most trips. It provides just enough space for all of the essentials.

I decided to order the Osprey Ace 50 youth pack off of Amazon. It cost $148.00. I typically like to inspect the gear I buy in person. Unfortunately, I could not find an Osprey dealer in my area that sold the Ace 50. When the package arrived I was impressed with the quality of the pack. the pack looked very sturdy yet felt light.

To test the pack out we decided to take a quick trip into Granddaddy Lake in the Uinta National Forest. This involves a 4-mile approach with a steep climb and then a descent into the Granddaddy Basin. It was the middle of June and we were hoping that we would catch the end of the cutthroat spawn and get in a little fishing while we were there.

Osprey Ace 50 Youth Pack
My 12-year-old son wearing the Osprey Ace 50 youth pack in the Uinta Mountains

I loaded up the Osprey Ace 50 Youth Pack with about 15 pounds of clothing food and gear for the trip (15 pounds is about 20% of my son’s body weight) and headed off. Everything fit well in the pack, in fact, there was a lot of extra room for more gear if needed.

The pack exceeded all of my expectations on this trip. My son continually commented on how comfortable the pack was. The straps on the pack were very adjustable. There is a slider for the backstraps that allows you to quickly adjust the height of the straps to better fit your child. this pack is designed to fit a child as young as 10 years old all the way up to adult sizes. It really only takes about 30 seconds to adjust this pack to the optimal fit. There are also several other straps that adjust the fit of the pack.

While on this adventure we experienced a few afternoon thundershowers. The Osprey Ace 50 comes equipped with a built-in rain cover. It was very easy to access in a pouch at the bottom of the pack. It covered the pack easily and kept everything dry.

This pack has now been used on several occasions. Each time it is used I am amazed at the versatility and durability of the pack. 12-year-old boys are not always easy on gear (just ask the tent my 12-year-old took on the last campout). This pack continues to look brand new even after significant abuse.

I would fully recommend this pack to anyone out there looking for a good quality well fitting pack for their son or daughter. The nice thing about this pack is that it will grow with the child. this is a good thing because with the quality this pack is made with it will be around for a while. The pack also comes is different volumes if you are looking for a pack that is bigger or would like something on the smaller side. You just really can’t go wrong with the Osprey Ace 50 youth pack.

 

 

 

New Balance Vazee Summit Trail Running Shoe Review

New Balance Vazee Summit

New Balance Vazee Summit

I have been left with a bitter taste in my mouth after running in New Balance Shoes in the past, but there has been nothing but the savor of sweetness and satisfaction with their new trail shoe the Vazee Summit.

Billed as a comfortable yet aggressive trail shoe with an instinct for wet and slippery surfaces, we wanted to see if these shoes live up to the hype. At Gear Professor we believe that you can’t make a good decision about purchasing a product unless you are armed with accurate information about how that product will perform. We also love getting our hands on new gear. Here is how the Vazee Summit stacked up:

Methods
As with all research it is important to start with a plan of how you want to conduct the study. For this review, we decided that we needed to test out these shoes on a variety of surfaces in both wet and dry conditions. To do this I took these shoes to the trails of the Wasatch Mountain range, the rugged coast line of California’s Crystal Cove State Park and all the way across the pacific to Taiwan.

Results
After this extensive testing it is safe to say that The Vazee Summit by New Balance is a shoe that can hold it’s own on a variety of surfaces: the results of the Vazee Summit testing are as follows.

Fit
When you first put on this trail shoe the unique tongue construction wraps your foot in billowy softness making your foot feel safe, protected and ready to hit the trails. This shoe fit my foot well. I like a snug secure fit and this met both of those requirements. If you have wide feet or prefers a lot of toe splay this shoe may not be the best choice for you. The shoes did seem to fit true to size.

Outsole
The outsole is made up of aggressive multidirectional lugs that are made with Hydro-Hesion Rubber construction. New Balance states that this rubber has a stickier grip on wet surfaces. We tested this claim out in multiple locations. First these shoes were taken to crystal cove state park where they were worn on the slick tide pool rocks. The shoes were tested along side a control of bare feet, and a pair of Solomon wings pro. Compared to the control and Salomon Wings Pro, these shoes performed well. I only fell once in them compared to the many times I fell in both my bare feet and the Salomon’s. These Shoes were also taken up steep wet trails in torrential rain on a trip to Taroko Gorge National Park in Taiwan. Again these shoes performed well on these slick surfaces. With each step I felts secure in my footing. The shoes performed well in muddy conditions as well. The lugs are spaced far enough apart that they did not hold onto excess mud. A huge benefit when you forget to bring a spare change of shoes and your friends decide to go to dinner right after you go for a long run in the mud. Nothing worse than walking into a restaurant with shoes caked in 4 inch thick mud.

Overall the shoes had good grip on wet surfaces, dry surfaces, and on both sand and gravel. Though the shoes are designed for the trail we tested them on the pavement as well. They had a generally smooth ride and were comfortable for shorter distances. The rubber on these shoes is quite soft and wear patterns were noticed early in the review. These shoes wore down at a rapid rate when we were testing them on hard surfaces.

Rock plate
The Vazee Summit sports a fore foot rock-plate for foot protection from sharp objects. The rock-plate was tested by jumping off of an 8-10 foot bolder onto sharp gravel multiple times as well as on some very rocky trails in the Wasatch Mountains. The rock plate withstood all of my best efforts to damage my feet.

Ride
With a 10 mm heel-toe drop the Vazee Summit trail shoes are not made for the minimalist. That being said these shoes did not have the large rubber box feel on my feet like some trail shoes tend to have. Even with the 10 mm drop and aggressive lug stack there was ample ground feel and responsiveness when using this shoe.

Conclusion
The Vazee Summit is a great trail shoe for multiple terrain types especially slick environments. It has a nice look and a snug, secure, comfortable fit. They are light and the rock plate protects the forefoot well. The rubber that is used on the outsole is great on wet slick surfaces such as wet rock or gravel but this makes the shoe vulnerable to wearing down rapidly. Overall this shoe looks good, performed great in a variety of situations, and had a nice responsive ride. New balance has definitely impressed me with the Vazee Summit trail shoe.

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Welcome to Gear Professor a site dedicated to testing and reviewing outdoor products. Our goal is to push each product we review to the limits and have fun doing it! Come back soon for a review of the New Balance Vazee Summit trail running shoe.