I got a TNF Phantom 38 pack. It is designed for mountaineering. There is a larger version, called the Phantom 50. It is designed to be a reasonably lightweight pack with high quality lightweight materials. The volume is 38 liters (2318 cubic inches) and it weighs 1049 grams (2 lbs 5 oz). It is made of 210D nylon and 840D IromLite(tm) nylon. There is a hydration sleeve, and a way to route a tube outside of the pack. There is a small velcro loop at the top inside of the pack to secure a hydration bladder. The pack is made in Vietnam.

Back view

phan38 back

This is a view of the back of the pack. Many features of the pack are visible. Where the pack says 'Summit Series' is a inner flap of material and adjustable straps. These are used to secure up to two ice tools. There is a small adjustable cord on each side of the upper area of the pack where the shaft can be secured. If the tool is longer, it can be secured with the two black compression straps on each side of the pack. There are black robust gear loops on either side of the pack, near the bottom. Perhaps these are the 'Reinforced ski loops for A-frame ski carry' that TNF speaks of.

Pack front

phan38 front

This is the front of the pack, i.e. the part which rests against your back. The lid is on the pack. The hipbelt is removable and is secured with velcro. There is some ability to adjust its height, but the interior velcro is only the height of the belt, so it won't be very secure if moved significantly. There is a small zippered pocket on the right side of the belt, and a gear loop and a very small loop on the right side. There are also very small loops near the pack side on each end of the belt. The belt looks to be reasonably comfortable and supportive. The shoulder straps have tensioners that attach to the top of the pack. There is an adjustable sternum strap. The part of the pack that rests against the back is contoured and made of some kind of breathable material.

Pack lid

phantom 38 lid phantom 38 lidless

The lid has two separate zippered compartments. The outside zipper is a urethane coated zipper which is reasonably waterproof. The inner zipper has a conventional zipper pull, unlike the rest of the zippers on the pack. The lid attaches to the pack with two adjustable black straps, and is removable, like most modern packs, and the pack can be closed and a small flap can cover the top when the lid is removed. The zippers pulls are made of cord with a reinforced rubber cover for the tip, likely to save weight. The second picture shows the pack without the lid. There is a strap attached to a flap that says 'The North Face' that attaches to the black tensioner to secure the lid. The cord used to close the top of the lid is very lightweight and has a odd arrangement used to secure it. It does not seem as robust as a nylon toggle. Also the ends of the cord seem to be knotted and covered with heat shrink tubing.

Pack frame

phan38 frame

The framesheet is a thin sheet of polyethylene with holes in it to reduce weight. There is a roughly U shaped piece of spring steel perimeter. There is a cross piece of spring steel about 3/4 of the way up the framesheet. The U shaped piece of steel is secured with a velcro closure at the bottom of the framesheet. This is pretty light and much more substantial than my TNF Polar Circus pack's framesheet.

Overall, the pack seems well designed with reasonably robust materials. The pack is well constructed. There has been a great emphasis on reducing weight, based on the lightweight zipper pulls, the somewhat flimsy cord tightening system at the top of the pack, and the lightweight framesheet construction. The back seems reasonably well ventilated. It would have been nice to have more vertical adjustability of the hip belt with more velcro on the main body of the pack where the hipbelt attaches.

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