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View Full Version : Hero's Journey vs MEI Voyager



Chris_H
11-21-2016, 09:55 PM
I don't have a Hero's Journey, but I'm looking to be convinced. I have a number of other TB bags and love them all. I have EDC type bags though; Super Ego, Empire Builder, Synapse 25 (which is really great btw), not travel type bags. I also have a MEI Voyager which has served well as a functional, if simple (basically one big pocket), travel bag. And for whatever it's worth, a Red Oxx Airboss that I like. So, can someone who's got a Hero kind of fill me in on what's great about it? Basically what makes it worth 3x another bag that also has an internal frame, shoulder straps, and a hip belt? Looking for honest opinions, thanks :)

tpnl
11-22-2016, 09:14 PM
For me, it's really about the versatility, design and workmanship of the Hero's Journey that sets it apart from other framed backpacks that seem to be similar.

It is 2 bags in one that can be carried in many different ways:
- All in one
- Main Bag as a 3 way convertible Max Carry-on luggage - carry as backpack, shoulder bag or by any one of 3 handles
- Top Bag as a 4 way convertible Personal Item and Daypack - carry as a backpack, shoulder bag, by handle and as a waist bag
- One Bag that can accommodate many uses Cases - Business (Top Bag as briefcase), Luggage (Main Bag Carry-on and Top bag Personal Item), Sightseeing Daypack (Top Bag as backpack) and Hiking (Main Bag with internal frame)

With all this versatility, you might think it would be clumsy - the fact that it is not is due to the careful design that went into the bag. Here are some of the ones I think are important:
- Thoughtfully placed handles to easily put the bag in and out of overhead compartments or underseat - don't underestimate this
- Adjustable internal frame
- Ability to expand the Main Bag to have one main space or 2 divided spaces - similar to the A30/45 - less digging to find items
- 2 inner zippered pockets in the main bag
- Removable padded hip belt - not all dedicated packs have this
- Halcyon fabric with UHMWPE fibers - one of the strongest fibers known to man and almost impossible to tear - very durable
- 3 compartment small briefcase - added versatility
- Padded handles - often forgotten and needed for heavy loads that this bag can handle
- Breathable back padding - usually standard in most packs
- Compression straps - usually standard in most packs
- Optional Side Pockets for additional items - not always available
- Straps to add a sleeping bag on top - nice add
- light at about 4lbs
- can hide shoulder straps in back pocket that can also be used for small laptop - other items

The only thing that may be missing, IMHO, is an upper adjustment (load lifters) to the shoulder straps

While there are similar cheaper backpacks that may look similar, none seem to have the versatility of the TB HsJ.

However, if you do not need the additional functionality or do not need it for all the scenarios on a regular basis (Business Briefcase, Hiking, Airline Travel, etc), other bags may be worthwhile looking into.

Edit:
Also, an "all in one" solution usually involves some compromises compared to a dedicated purpose bag (think Sports Car vs Sports Sedan). The HsJ, IMHO, has minimal compromises. But, in the end, if you are truly serious about all those scenarios, get a dedicated version for each activity - e.g. A45 for Airline Travel, Guide's Pack for Hiking, Cadet / Pilot for Business, etc. That will cost a bit more though and be less flexible if switching between activities e.g. going hiking at a destination right after your business trip is done :)


Hope this helps
Cheers

GrussGott
11-26-2016, 01:54 PM
The only thing that may be missing, IMHO, is an upper adjustment (load lifters) to the shoulder straps

It's the load lifters that have me pausing.

Last week I had my A45 on an RJ and it's amazing how it juuuusssst fits into the overhead - a few times my wife thought the bin door wouldn't close, but it did every time! And then I used it multiple times to do heavy grocery runs - you wouldn't want to go more than a mile like that as it's much too heavy on your shoulders so I'd really like the hip belt ... but I haven't bought the A45 one yet because without the frame it doesn't make a lot of sense (am I wrong? Does it help much?).

Like the OP I have another bag that I use for heavy loads, the Mission Workshop Rambler: weather-proof, internal frame, expandable to 45+ liters, removable padded hip belt, etc. But The Rambler works best in biking scenarios and you certainly couldn't use it fully expanded as a carry-on. That said, I've carried some very heavy loads quite a ways in there and it's SUPER comfortable ... but it's not a travel bag like the A45 is.

So that brings me to the Hero's Journey - it will certainly work for travel, but I'm still not sure about the heavy loads. The HsJ hip belt doesn't look that robust - I'd be concerned that it can't support 50+ lbs ... and the lack of load lifters seems to indicate heavy loads for miles weren't part of the design consideration. It looks like an upgrade to the A45 as a travel bag if, say, you were going to hike across town, or between towns, i.e., better than an A45, but not a true hiker that can also travel.

@tpnl - I'm curious to get your thoughts, is it a 50+lbs for miles bag?

Quotidianlight
05-15-2017, 09:48 AM
It's the load lifters that have me pausing.

So that brings me to the Hero's Journey - it will certainly work for travel, but I'm still not sure about the heavy loads. The HsJ hip belt doesn't look that robust - I'd be concerned that it can't support 50+ lbs ... and the lack of load lifters seems to indicate heavy loads for miles weren't part of the design consideration. It looks like an upgrade to the A45 as a travel bag if, say, you were going to hike across town, or between towns, i.e., better than an A45, but not a true hiker that can also travel.

@tpnl - I'm curious to get your thoughts, is it a 50+lbs for miles bag?

I hitchhiked from Texas to Florida and am still on the road with my Hero's journey. I have a few thoughts. First the disclaimers, I am a 5'8" woman, who is out of shape but strong. Second, I had the folks at REI take a look at the bag on me and it fits but just barely, the length of the bag is a hair too long so I must tighten the straps pretty hard to keep the back from riding my butt.

They weighed my pack in Austin and I was at 41 pounds (TB says the pack is built to carry 30... oops). It felt heavy. It felt heavier than my old ULA pack. When I removed everything from the top and the weight was the same, it didn't feel as heavy but I still needed to start bailing gear. Once I got it to 35lbs, it was easier to get the pack to ride better. I still feel the shoulders for anything over a couple miles if the top has food or water in it, but I can grab it and go if needed. From the side, when the top has more than a few items it pulls the pack away from my shoulders and makes the pack feel heavier than it would with load lifter straps. Which brings me to my suggestion for tom bihn, this pack NEEDS removable load lifter straps. Even at 30 pounds weight (I keep trying to get under 30 darn it), that top pulling away from the body does the bag a disservice. That said, when the top is zipped off, the heavier weights are totally comfortable. I still wouldn't go over 40 though. The hipbelt and back sheet aren't robust enough for 50+ imo. Otherwise, the pack is amazing. The other compromises work and make total sense. The versatility is amazing on the road and while I didn't think I'd use most of the accessories, I have used them almost daily. I really do love this darn bag. My plan is to find a bag maker who can add removable load lifter straps. I hate to do it and if someone at TB is creating an accessory for the job please let me know. While it would be best sewed to the bottom of the briefcase bag, I think the loops on the top could be used for it.

tpnl
05-16-2017, 09:30 AM
FYI - a while back, I did try using two 1" regular Waist straps (e.g. comes with Synapses and SAs) to act like load lifters. I was able to fit them on the loops of the removable top bag and then latch them onto the shoulder strap webbing (same webbing used to attach the chest straps).
It worked for me but I did not try it with a heavy load. Note that, no matter what, the heaviest items should go on the bottom of the main bag. Anything above the shoulder straps is like having a free weight hanging from your head (and also one of the reasons why the load lifters help to secure that load closer to your center of gravity reducing problems due to swinging weight).

If you have two waist straps or at least some spare webbing, you can try this to see if it works for you.

Hope this helps
Cheers!

Darcy
05-17-2017, 03:04 PM
Starting off so we’re all on the same page: we’re defining “Load lifter straps” as adjustable, diagonal straps which begin roughly midway on the length of the padded shoulder straps and connect more-or-less at the top of an internal or external frame. From a Boy Scout guide to backpacks:

“Load Lifters - Part of the shoulder strap and is used to lift the pack's weight off the shoulders.”

There’s something akin to a “sky hook” in this concept of load lifter straps: how, exactly, does the load get “lifted”? Where’s that weight going? Who, if not the wearer, is lifting this weight? Who, if not the doer, is performing the action? Does free will exist? (We did get philosophical… did I mention there were ciders involved?)

With a large capacity external or internal frame pack, there can be some advantage gained by bringing the top of the load closer in towards your shoulders and thus closer to your center of gravity, and some folks swear by load lifters on the big packs they carry.

But with an entirely frameless pack, there’s nothing rigid for the top end of the “load lifter” to pull against, and when you tighten these straps you end up simply distorting the soft, unstructured top portion of the pack, distending it over your shoulders to no avail. That applies to packs like our Guide’s Pack and Hero’s Journey, where the internal frame ends roughly where the padded shoulder straps attach and does not continue any higher up (as a frame/frame sheet typically would in a larger pack intended primarily for backcountry use).

The Guide’s Pack has a short internal frame because it’s a fairly small daypack; the Hero’s Journey has a short frame because the main part of the bag cannot exceed carry-on requirements. If we added “load lifter” straps to the Hero’s Journey, they wouldn’t really help “lift” any weight – they’d just distort the soft top of the pack and would do little or nothing to keep the pack’s weight closer to your CG. On the other hand, if we added a longer frame to the Hero’s Journey, it wouldn’t be able to perform the intended purpose for which it is designed: to function as a carry-on bag for inflight travel, then at one’s destination as a backpack for hut-to-hut hiking.

There are a few things that one can experiment to make the load in a Hero's Journey as comfortable as possible:

1) Keep your weight down by traveling light. The evening before my first overnight backpacking trip with the Hero’s Journey, I packed it, weighed it, removed stuff, weighed it again, and removed even more stuff. In the end, I didn’t sacrifice safety or (that much) comfort to reduce the weight of the pack down to the 26lbs (if I remember correctly) that it eventually weighed. For me, 26lbs was totally doable and comfortable especially considering that some of that weight was camera stuff: 26lbs might be too heavy for other folks to comfortably carry or light enough that they’d actually pack more gear.

2) Pack the dense stuff (cookware, stove, food) closest to your body. Whether you pack it up high or down low will depend on your body type and what sort of hiking you’re doing. Good to experiment and find what seems to work best for you. See our blog post on Packing For Ideal Weight Distribution (https://blog.tombihn.com/packingforweightdistribution).

3) Use the side compression straps. This can go a long way towards keeping the load stabilized and close to your center of gravity.

4) Use the padded hip belt and fit it properly to your body. That means: put the loaded pack on. Bend forward. Clasp the hip belt closed, then tighten it to fit your body. Stand up straight.

5) Use the sternum strap and make micro-adjustments throughout the day (see the above-linked blog post for more on that).

Quotidianlight
05-18-2017, 06:56 PM
[QUOTE=Darcy;143305]Starting off so we’re all on the same page: we’re defining “Load lifter straps” as adjustable, diagonal straps which begin roughly midway on the length of the padded shoulder straps and connect more-or-less at the top of an internal or external frame. From a Boy Scout guide to backpacks:

QUOTE]

Thank you, really great information and I completely agree. The closer I got the pack to 30 pounds the better it carries (btw: finally at 30lbs yesterday!!!) and it actually carries amazingly with the pack on the back and the top cross body. I actually don't think the pack needs load lifters in the truest sense of the word but rather something to keep the top from slouching back. It's the slight backward slouch that throws the weight off. IME, it happens once I have about 4 pounds in the top or anything small and weighty (like my 1lb recorder). It is the best place for my purse type items and water so I'm usually around 5 pounds in the top and it definitely feels better zipped off with that much weight. Given the sacrifices by having the shorter frame I think a pseudo load balance strap of some sort could do the job just fine. Hmm.... btw, I am really impressed with this bag for urban travel. Some of the minute details become huge pluses in field.