Review: High Sierra Cirque 30 Daypack

One of my favorite activities during the spring and summer months is to go hiking.  I don’t mean just for a afternoon hike, but all day.  Just pack a lunch, thermos full of coffee and a bagel and head out the door for a long hike in the woods.  Of course you have to make sure that you have a jacket, some raingear, sun block, a hat, water and maybe even a tent and bedroll for a quick overnight in the woods.  Some daypacks barely have enough room for this kind of activity and  if you are a scout leader and like to have extras in your pack for the kids who forgot everything on the list you told them to bring for three straight weeks a small pack just won’t do.  That’s where High Sierra’s Cirque 30 Daypack comes in.

The 30 in Cirque 30 stands for its capacity.  This pack will hold 30 liters full of gear in it’s main compartment.  Plus it even has some smaller compartments and even has the ability to hang stuff via caribiners and the included soft tiedown.  The best thing about having this much room is if you have a extra poncho or two plus a extra lunch or extra clothes to change into, you will have the space in this spacious pack.  Depending on the weather, you can probably go at least a couple days.  Beyond that however, I would look towards a much bigger backpack.

What good is hauling all of this stuff with you if you can’t have a drink?  That’s why High Sierra has the ability to carry a water bladder.  This lets you get a drink without having to use your hands.  There’s no clip for retaining the hose, but the pack had a elastic loop on each strap that could be used to retain the hose. Plus, for when you stop, you can also have 2 liters more water in mesh pockets on either side of the pack.  If you  purchase High Sierra’s 3 liter reservoir, you can have a total of 5 liters of water in this pack.

Another nice feature of this pack is the media pocket.  I plan to use this for holding my iPod or Cellphone when on hikes.  It actually has a little opening for passing a set of headphones through.  This way I can listen to music while it’s sitting in this convenient pocket.

The nice thing about this pack is that it has features that are not normally included on daypacks.  The sternum strap keeps the main straps where they belong and the waist belt helps transfer the pack’s weight to your waist which is a lot stronger than your shoulders.  The main straps also have adjustable load lifters which help transfer the load off the top of your shoulders and on to the front of your shoulders.  Any great pack has these features.  These features help you stay comfortable longer than packs without.  Since this daypack is larger than most, these features are really appreciated.

Of course the best test of a pack is to wear it.  I threw some clothes in the pack and wore it while I walked around the neighborhood on a long walk.  It was almost like I had nothing on my back.  The straps were plenty comfortable for the short hike I took.  I appreciated the ample padding on the straps and the fact that the waist belt also had good padding as well.  Plus, for guys who have a little around the middle, the waist belt has enough adjustment to fit.  I can’t wait to take this with me to camp with my son this year.

The back panel is padded, but is very rigid.  This helps keep you comfortable by shielding your back from the contents of your pack.  That way you won’t feel the first aid kit’s box digging in your back for the first 5 miles.  Plus the panel has nice airflow channels to help channel the air to your back so you stay nice and cool.

There are a few features that while they are nice to have, I could live without.  One is the compression straps on each side of the pack.  While they do make it easier to pack extra things into the pack, they tend to get in the way when trying to get things out of the pack.  The one nice thing about the straps is that you can stuff a jacket or raincoat and cinch it down to secure it.  Other then that, I could live without these.

The flap that protects the zipper from rain also makes it more difficult to get things out of the pack, but I would much have a dry sweatshirt than a wet one, so I kind of like having these!

High Sierra is a interesting company.  Their packs are very popular even here in the city.  I have seen them on the bus at least 3 different times just this week.  So it’s not surprising that they have a presence on Facebook as well.  You can go to their Facebook page and share how you use their products as well as tell them what you think about causes that they support.  You can also follow the adventures of Team Luna Chix and see pictures from other events that High Sierra have a hand in supporting.  Plus, if you go and participate in the High Sierra community, you may have a chance at winning a pack.  All you need to do to participate in High Sierra’s Facebook community, is go here and like their page.

The Cirque 30 is available on for $52.99.  Not bad for such a well built daypack.

What I liked: Sternum strap and waist belt plus the 30 L capacity make this a pack suitable for scout leaders and parents leading kids in the woods on a all day hike.

What I didn’t care for: The compression straps need some quick release system to help get things in and out of the pack.

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About the Author

Joel McLaughlin
Joel is a consultant in the IT field and is located in Columbus, OH. While he loves Linux and tends to use it more than anything else, he will stoop to running closed source if it is the best tool for the job. His techno passions are Linux, Android, netbooks, GPS, podcasting and Amateur Radio.