Climbing via sandstone canyons in Moab, mountaineering via the Grand Canyon’s Havasu Backyard, wading up the frigid, limestone cliff-flanked waters of Oak Creek, and hauled on a 120-mile bikepacking journey via a swath of Arizona excessive nation — Thriller Ranch’s Gallagator 25 shortly grew to become my favourite daypack for a large swath of adventures.
Thriller Ranch is thought for overbuilt heavy-haulers. However for some time now, the model has expanded into progressively lighter-weight packs. Its newest daypack sequence, set to launch on January 3, 2024, apes the producer’s iconic tri-zip design — however trades the extra strong frames and hip belts of predecessors just like the Coulee and Scree, for an ultralight construct with a working vest-style harness that provides supreme flexibility in gear storage and entry alike.
In brief: Thriller Ranch’s front-man daypack sequence for spring 2024 is emblematic of its regular enlargement into lighter-weight choices to spherical out the model’s heavy-duty heritage. With improbable gear accessibility and a vest-style harness that provides a cosy carry even sans hip belt, the Gallagator lineup makes a wonderful funds different to a few of Thriller Ranch’s different daypacks — with sleeper utility for cyclists.
Thriller Ranch Gallagator 25
210 Ropbic Nylon with DWR-coated zippers.
Working vest with load-lifters
Additionally accessible in 10L, 15L, and 20L sizes (beginning at $89)
High quality DWR coating
Comfy working vest-style harness
Easy accessibility to gear
Easy accessibility mesh pockets
Frontal daisy chain and compression straps for exterior storage
Hydration reservoir suitable
No torso adjustment
Vest-style harness gained’t be for everybody
No rain fly
Mesh pockets solely accessible on 25L model
Slender reservoir pocket
No hip belt
Thriller Ranch Gallagator 25 Overview
An ‘In Vestment’
I have to admit some bias: As a person with the B-cup bust of an aspiring greenback retailer Jason Momoa, I really like working vest-style harnesses.
I’d argue they’ve extra utility on something in need of the heaviest-hauling packs than shoulder straps. Granted, I’m pleased to cinch down shoulder straps in powerful terrain, and shift slightly extra weight to my shoulders, if it means I can maintain a pack cosy and shifting with me. However with vest harnesses, no matter weight you’re carrying up high is routinely extra distributed, and tends to maneuver with you higher.
My first foray into them was additionally Thriller Ranch’s: The Bridger. Whereas testing the 65L model for GearJunkie, it shortly grew to become my go-to backpacking pack — largely for the vest. The Gallagator is shortly following the identical pattern.
As a frameless pack with no hip belt, the vest harness performs strongly to the Gallagator’s favor, permitting it to haul heavier hundreds than I’d normally wish to pack with no hip belt or adjustable body, by as an alternative opting to maintain the burden cosy and distributed topside.
Just like the Bridger, the Gallagator’s vest additionally comes with cinchable chest pockets. On a latest canyoneering journey, the place I needed to cease and take product pictures in between rappels, I appreciated the power to shortly entry the lens in both chest pocket. The twin chest straps for the vest, when buckled over my digicam strap, additionally made for a handy strategy to maintain the digicam from dangling about.
Granted, the Gallagator’s vest harness gained’t enchantment to everybody. Cumbersome or angular objects can really feel bizarre towards your chest. The spring within the shock wire cinch on one pocket additionally managed to slide out one way or the other. Moreover, it stays to be seen if the pack can be in sufficient brick-and-mortar retailers for a lot of to get a great likelihood to attempt earlier than they purchase.
Even so, the Gallagator’s harness is a outstanding in-vest-ment for a hip belt-less pack.
Simple Entry, Simple Stow
The Gallagator’s vest pockets are just the start of an over-engineered strategy to gear compartmentalization. Thriller Ranch’s tri-zip design is deservedly iconic. Boasting straightforward, grip-and-rip entry to the highest or entrance of the principle compartment, it affords improbable gear accessibility.
Nonetheless, there are just a few Thriller Ranch packs the place the majority of the zippers and waterproof liners can require slightly muscle to get open. The Gallagator ain’t certainly one of them. Omitting the water resistant liner, it opts for much less protecting, however smoother opening DWR-treated YKK zips.
Inside, the hydration reservoir pocket, as is commonly the case for Thriller Ranch, runs a bit slim. Whereas most any 2L hydration reservoirs will match, you’ll probably desire a narrower collapsible bottle just like the Hydrapak Seeker to bump the interior water storage as much as 3 L.
As a consequence of the tri-zip, the pack’s lid affords a triangular zip compartment. Nonetheless, I discovered it spacious sufficient for a daypack, particularly one which places a lot effort into making all of the gear it stows accessible.
The pack’s aspect mesh pockets can comfortably swallow Nalgenes or two 1L Smartwater bottles apiece. Notably, although, whereas the pocket’s large webbing makes it straightforward to attract a bottle, it additionally permits lone slim-body bottles from sliding out whenever you bend ahead.
The entrance of the pack sports activities a daisy chain full with twin elastic loops up high, and cinchable webbing loops on the underside. Mix that with two compression straps working throughout the pack’s face, and 5 different gear loops distributed throughout the pack in addition to — and the 25L affords a real glut of exterior storage.
Any pack with no body or torso adjustment isn’t distributing any weight. These topmost straps aren’t lifting any load. They’re simply cinching the pack nearer to your physique.
The Gallagator is not any exception. With the vest-style harness, I discovered it greatest to buckle the chest straps and draw the shoulder straps to a degree the place it feels just like the vest is securely cupping your chest — earlier than selecting up the additional slack with the load lifters.
How did it carry as soon as totally loaded? Safe as Fort Knox and cozy as a dream — with just a few stipulations.
I packed the bag in a wide range of methods: putting my laptop computer alongside the again, working a hydration sleeve within the reservoir, filling the underside half of the bag with a digicam bag, stuffing two sleeping luggage into the principle compartment, and so forth.
Whereas my heaviest load with the pack was solely round 22 kilos, weight was by no means near a difficulty. Packing, nevertheless, might be.
The 2 ridges of padding working down the again present quite a lot of leeway. Nonetheless, once I ran bigger, slim hydration reservoirs whereas underfilling the pack with an abundance of wierd, lumpy gadgets (a battery pack, digicam, range, trowel, and so forth.) and no additional garments or sleep system to refill the additional house — I discovered that the frameless pack bowed out alongside the middle of my again, and let the exhausting corners of wierd gadgets dig into it.
After all, if that implicitly feels like a nasty strategy to pack, you can be genuinely hard-pressed to make the Gallagator uncomfortable.
Gallagator: Surprising Bikepacking Hero
Any likelihood I can take somebody much less skilled out bikepacking, I’ll. This makes me the default pack mule.
Biking backpacks is usually a powerful factor to get proper. For brief rides, something works. Because the mileage ups, so do the complaints from my again about being hunched over and weighed down.
Nevertheless, on a latest journey bikepacking about 120 miles across the mountains north of Flagstaff and thru the valleys of Sedona, Ariz., the Gallagator proved to be an sudden high contender for a bikepacking backpack.
Actually, 25 L is on the excessive finish, volume-wise, for a bikepacking pack. After I used that quantity to hold the majority of the water for 2 folks, my again was fast to complain. Nonetheless, once I repacked it with my digicam equipment, a sleeping bag, a Nalgene in both pocket, and a windbreaker for the drops into chilly valleys, the Gallagator shined.
Like most bikepacking packs, the Gallagator is available in clutch for bulk, not weight. Not like most different bikepacking packs, it supplied extremely fast entry to any gear. With a lens in both chest pocket, an additional high drying on the surface, my snacks and digicam one zip away, and my sleeping bag filling out the pack, it lower down tremendously on the period of time I spent rummaging via my saddle bag or panniers.
Even with all the burden carried topside, the well-ventilated vest stored my chest comparatively dry, cumbersome gadgets cosy to my physique, and the load comfortably distributed throughout my chest, again, and shoulders — making the Gallagator a darkish horse choose for journey cyclists seeking to make their gear carry system extra versatile.
I’ve packs with frontal entry. I’ve packs with removable daypack lids. Even so, the Gallagator has shortly come to dwell within the tenting go-pack in my trunk. Folded, it eats much less house than my favourite fleece. And whereas the notion could shock ultralight snobs, lower than a pound and a half of weight is suitable for all of the added versatility.
Whereas full wilderness backpacking stands out as the face of out of doors journey today, combined adventures are each bit as in style. Not everybody may need the time, gear, or want to hit the lengthy trails.
Enter the combined journey: 4 days backpacking with a buddy or three round a mountain; an evening again on the town to go splitsies on a lodge room, and slightly too exhausting on the bar; a morning on the native airport’s automobile rental; and a street journey as much as one other space for some automobile tenting, fishing, day hikes, MTB rides, or no matter else floats your boat.
That’s the place the Gallagator shines. You possibly can stash these occasions when backpacking will get back-burnered for day hikes, when tents are up and it’s time to discover the realm, when camp offers strategy to an evening in town, or whenever you wish to hire an MTB for a day with out bringing your common bike luggage.
For me, it’ll be there for when it’s time to stash the bike or the principle bag. In spite of everything, it’d be inadvisable to scramble to the creek under down that sketchy hill, with all that. And my sort out, rod, digicam — and, most significantly, my fish — might all be snugly one zip away.