Gear Review: Exped Thunder 50 Backpack

If you are a fan of EXPED, you may have recently seen my post on the new Thunder 50/70 backpack at http://www.exped.com. If you don’t visit the site there often, or if you are new to the brand, then here is a great new pack that I’ve had the opportunity to test and use extensively up to it’s recent release this Spring.

In the summer of 2013, we sat around the table looking at all our backpacks and asked each other what it was that we wanted next.  We had a strong selection of waterproof packs (Torrent and Cloudburst), packs capable of fast, light, and even wet alpine ascents (Mountain Lite , Core, Mountain Pro), and we had our fast and light backpacking option with the coveted Lightning 45/60. Right then and there we knew we needed another backpacking option that remained lightweight and capable of carrying overnight loads for a long weekend or multi month treks along the great long trails of the world. A pack that would provide the user with the ability to organize their gear for the trip in, yet be light and comfortable enough to wear for day hikes or summit attempts away from base camp.

The Thunder was born.

Exped Thunder 50 at the intersection of South Kaibab and the Tonto Trail as we descended to Bright Angel Campground in the Grand Canyon

Exped Thunder 50 at the intersection of South Kaibab and the Tonto Trail as we descended to Bright Angel Campground in the Grand Canyon

Designed by using our T-Rex suspension platform from out Lightning pack, the Thunder is the younger sibling trying to one up the other by providing more packing and storage options for those that like a little extra organization when they venture out.  The Thunder, available in 50 and 70 liter options, sports an expandable top collar with floating top lid along with easy rear zippered access to the inside of your pack for easy packing, unpacking, or grabbing that sandwich you stuffed in the middle of your bag somehow. On the back of the rear zippered access you have a stretch pocket that is perfect for storing dirty footprints, wet rain fly’s, or your jacket for easy access when a storm moves in all to quick.

My wife and I tested the Thunder 50 on several outings last summer, and I recently used one in the Grand Canyon in March. The packs are lightweight, and we could dial in the suspension to fit us perfectly with the adjustable torso of the T-Rex frame. What was even better were all the compliments we received during our trips from passing hikers. Many of them were impressed not only by how good they looked, but by how light and minimalist they were while providing just enough organizational features for those that like to have a pocket or two for quick and easy access to their gear. One of the best organization components that you will find on the Thunder is the hip belt pockets. We all loved the generous size and usability of these pockets on the Lightning packs that we made sure to carry them over. The pockets are capable of holding larger point and shoot cameras like the Canon G series that I use and plenty of snacks to keep you fueled for long days of hiking.

If you are ready to lighten your load, but keep some organizational features, the Thunder is the perfect choice for your upcoming adventures. With heavy load carrying capabilities, strong lightweight, and weather resistant materials it is perfect for through hikers and weekend warriors alike. It’s adaptable to a variety of trips with its various compression straps and load attachment points, making it perfect for a backcountry fishing trip or loading up for a week of trail work. Looking to scale a peak? No problem, the ice axe loops, daisy chain, and floating lid easily adapt to your load and gear, allowing you to carry all the critical glacier gear needed for a safe outing.

Hiking up towards Indian Garden Campground with the Exped Thunder 50 on our final night in the Grand Canyon.

Hiking up towards Indian Garden Campground with the Exped Thunder 50 on our final night in the Grand Canyon.

Movie Monday: Finding Two Wheeled Freedom In the Cowichan Valley

Wow! Pretty sure I just decided that my next road trip will head North to Vancouver Island for some mountain biking! This great video uses no special affects and shows real riders, riding real bikes, in a way that 99% of us can actually relate to all in a perfect Northwest setting.

Trip Report: Mt Defiance

We set out from home and headed straight in to a rainstorm, not exactly confidence inspiring hiking weather, especially when you plan to summit a mountain.

The hordes of unprepared hikers (no jackets, water, packs, and bad footwear for the conditions) and swirling clouds overhead all disappeared as soon as we passed Mason Lake. Grey skies turned to blue as we scrambled up the steep, snow-covered slopes. A party of four was just leaving the summit of Mt Defiance as we topped out, providing us with a uninterrupted summit as we enjoyed lunch and distant views in to the Cascade Mountain Range before retracing our steps for the trek back to the car.

All in all, we could not have asked for a better or more perfect day exploring in our backyard.