When I was first contacted to do this review, I heard the word “pack” and agreed immediately, not 100 percent sure of what exactly it was that I was being sent in the mail.
When my RIBZ arrived, I was still a little baffled. It is safe to say that there is nothing else like this on the market right now. The “Front Pack” by RIBZ is designed for the avid sportsman that needs to have critical gear in a quick and ready location.
This clicked right up with my first impression that it works a little like web gear (or LBE) did for me in the Army — a vest that serves to keep your most important items (like water, first aid, compass, etc) handy and close to your body.
If I could get back all of the time in my life I have spent digging through a backpack for something small and elusive. The Front Pack works with a traditional backpack so you can put your small camera, compass, suncream, etc into the front where it is accessible. I also like the fact that you can get to all of this stuff while standing without removing anything.
Despite the attractive logo sewn on the side, I don’t see international travelers wearing this around the hostel. It looks a little too “functional” — which it is. The outdoor applications for travelers, however, are exciting. On most long treks where you are restricted to carrying just one bag on your back, this increases your storage options and comfortably puts things within easy reach.
When I first saw the RIBZ pack, I thought of fishing in rivers and streams. The water-proof nylon material seems to be perfect for getting-wet applications like fishing, kayaking, caving, and even skiing/snowboarding. I would like to take this caving with me. Unlike carrying a traditional “day pack” it doesn’t increase your form factor and stays close to your body.
Pros and Things I Like
- I like the heavy duty zippers with widely spaced teeth to grind through dirt, snow, or whatever else gets inside.
- I like the fact that there are two ways to access two separate compartments on both sides of the vest.
- Velcro in the back makes the whole system adjustable to how many clothes you are wearing.
- The main inner compartment has smaller organizing dividers for sliding a GPS or phone inside.
- Works in conjunction with your existing backpack.
Cons and Nit-Picky Things
- The material that the pack is made of is very noisy — not good for sneaking up on wildlife. After speaking to the creator of the pack on the phone, he told me of a silent version that is now available.
- The narrow straps get easily twisted up when not wearing.
- I would rather see a backpack style buckle on the front rather than a zipper that might be hard to get started under certain conditions.
Overall I think the potential and application for this unique RIBZ pack are exciting. The creator of the pack, Ray Richardson, is an avid backpacking and outdoors enthusiast. He has managed to create a product that fills a very unique niche.
The RIBZ Front Pack was co-created by one of the most decorated Navy SEALs — Frank Thornton, a man who has carried loads in Southeast Asia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He knows his stuff — thumbs up! You can read more about the RIBZ Front Pack and see some great photos here: http://www.ribzwear.com/
Disclaimer: To write this review, I received a demo unit of the Ribz Front Pack. It was later given away in a reader contest via my blog, VagabondingLife.com.