Ozark Trail 45L Montpelier – review

Ozark Trail 45L Monteplier backpack

I purchased this pack Friday for a weekend backpacking trip at Walmart for $47.  Jen and I wanted to explore Beavers Bend State Park in Oklahoma.

For our previous trips I’ve used regular backpacks. However, after noticing how much more comfortable Jen’s pack was on hikes, along with it’s better storage and organization, I decided to get a hiking backpack for myself. Friday, I was pretty proud. I had a pack and it held more than we needed, was cheap, and was mine! But that feeling of pride wore off quickly as the packs short-comings were revealed on the trail.

Design and characteristics

Organization and compartments:

Brands like the North Face, Kelty or Columbia no doubt spend a great deal of time focusing on design. You can tell that Ozark Trail, who make much of Walmart’s outdoor gear, puts less thought into design.  The difference between a better name brand backpack, and a cheaper one like this, is apparent in the functionality of the design.  For instance, the Ozark Trail 45L pack only has three zippered compartments, one large and two small.  This means that you have to put almost everything you bring into one compartment. That’s not so bad if you’ll take everything out at camp and only pack up to leave.  But if truly backpacking, moving along a trail and setting up camp each evening, this is a pain in the butt.

The Ozark Trail 45L next to the Columbia pack at camp

The ease of the Columbia pack, made me regret this. You need that pair of socks at the bottom, get ready to repack the entire backpack. A front zipper would be awesome, and what is frustrating is, that there is ample space for it.  Either the people at Ozark Trail didn’t consider this, or skimped, on this simple yet awesome design feature, that could have made this a nice backpack instead of a mediocre one.

Ventilation and Ergonomics:

I have a 33 inch waist , when I first put this pack on, the hip buckle wouldn’t close enough to fit me.  Luckily Jen hacked this pack, so the strap would fit my waist .  This Ozark Trail pack was designed to fit a waist 36 inches and above. If you are like me, and have a smaller waist, you’ll have to modify it too. To fit it smaller, you’ll have to remove the first line of stitching that attaches the strap to the hip padding. There are several lines of stitching so this doesn’t compromise the integrity of the pack.

Once on, the pack breaths well, allowing air to move between your back and itself when moving, which reduces sweating. It is lightweight, made of a weather resistant material and included a rain cover tucked away at the bottom of the pack, a feature Jen’s more expensive Columbia pack lacked. The straps had plenty of padding, as did the back portion.  I found strapping my camel back to it very easy.

Quality.

The pack didn’t tear or break over the weekend which is more than I can say for some other gear I have tried.  Sadly though, last night while cleaning it, the aluminum frame inserts lost their rubber ends making them rather sharp, and the frame insert no longer fits properly. I will  be returning this pack because those frame inserts no doubt will now cut holes in the pack.  Upon looking closer, I realized this is going to be a problem for this pack, as the rubber end caps aren’t glued on. If you take them out to remove them, glue them before putting them back.

Overall.

This pack is okay if you are doing a simple car camping trip and just need a bag to haul your clothes that also looks neat.  Personally, even for car camping I would pass just because of the design flaws.  There are numerous backpacks on Amazon in the same price range with superior quality.  I feel that buying this pack is just risking throwing away your money on something that won’t last and will be a headache while it does.

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A Web Developer by trade, find me on Github
A motorcycle enthusiast at heart.
Most days I’d rather be in the woods anywhere.