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High Sierra Appalachian 75 Review | HileHighValley

High Sierra Appalachian 75 Review | HileHighValley

High Sierra Appalachian 75 Review

High Sierra focuses on building good quality, durable, feature-rich backpacks at friendly prices.  Their manifesto is to “inspire adventure in everyone” and they offer their backpacks at prices that make that possible.  High Sierra started as a family-owned company in 1978 and for almost 35 years continued to operate as a private organization until being acquired by Samsonite in 2012.  Samsonite has worked to grow the High Sierra brand presence overseas without sacrificing the company’s long history of quality and functionality.  For many years now, High Sierra has also had the enviable cachet of being the official supplier of bags to the US Ski, Snowboarding and Freeskiing Teams!  And as we’ve seen throughout our High Sierra Appalachian 75 review their products are well worth the honor.


Price Level:Inexpensive – Check Current Price Here



The Appalachian 75 is built for the consumer who is looking for comfort, both in the feel and fit of the pack and in the amount of creature comforts that can be stowed inside.  The wide, padded shoulder straps and hipbelt, contoured aluminum frame that can be molded to your shape, and highly adjustable harness mean even the heaviest loads can be made to fit comfortably.  The frame is adjustable to fit various torso lengths as well, so a sight-unseen purchase is not likely to leave you disappointed.  The back panel features Airflow channels to provide ventilation, something you are going to start appreciating when you load this pack to capacity and head out on your next adventure!


Storage and Organization

High Sierra likes to build bags that are user-friendly and feature-rich, and this one doesn’t disappoint.  This pack is narrow and tall, so one of the best features is the large zippered front access port that lets you get to your gear in the main compartment without having to dig down from the top.  Having the dual access can also help you get your load packed tighter and more neatly in a large bag like this one.  There are lots of pockets: dual zippered side pockets, dual mesh side pockets that will each hold a 1L water bottle, detachable phone/mp3 player pocket on the harness, a top lid with two zippered compartments, and a hydration sleeve with enough room for two 2L bladders if you needed it (with exits for hydration tubes on both sides of the pack).  There is a separate zippered compartment for your sleeping bag which has a removable divider if you’d rather make the main compartment larger.  Straps underneath the sleeping bag compartment are generous, long enough to hold both a tent and a sleeping pad.  The integrated rain cover is large and made of durable fabric, and fits into its own pouch at the base of the bag.


Size and Color Selection

The Appalachian 75 comes in three color choices: black with silver trim, navy with royal blue trim and dark grey with light grey trim and yellow highlights (sold as “mercury/ash/yellow”).  The harness and frame are highly adjustable, so even though the pack comes in a single size, it can be made to fit most adults.  The biggest complaint about sizing is that the waist strap is difficult to tighten enough to distribute weight to the hips if you have a waist size smaller than 32”.  It is an expedition pack, designed for 40-70 pounds of gear – think Philmont, primitive backpacking across Europe, or, as the name implies, hiking the length of the Appalachian Trail.  It’s not a pack for a small person unless you are particularly mighty!

High Sierra Appalachian internal frame 75L

Public Reviews

User reviews of this backpack were very positive.


The Good


So much gloating!  When you have a pack that is comfortable, roomy, versatile, durable and holds its own when compared to packs two or three times as expensive, you can’t help but rub it in a little.


Lots of pockets, lots of access, plenty of gear loops on top and sides, straps for sleeping pad or tent, hydration sleeve, rain cover, compression straps, adjustable harness…all the things you want from a backpack you are going to be living out of for a week or more.


The Bad

Sternum Strap Pops Apart

There weren’t many complaints about this backpack, but nearly all of them had to do with the chest strap.  Apparently, it doesn’t take a lot of pressure to pop that strap open.  It appeared that the people who had the most trouble had the pack loaded heavily (60+ pounds).  Broken straps and zippers are covered under High Sierra’s lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects, but the fact the chest strap popped open a bit too readily for some seemed to be more a design issue than a defective strap.

High Sierra Appalachian 75 Backpack

High Sierra Appalachian 75 FAQs

I’m small… I’m large… I’m average… will this pack fit me??

It’s always great advice to try before you buy when it comes to backpacks.  But if you just can’t do that, here’s the gist of the sizing advice culled from hundreds of reviews.

For women: High Sierra does make frame packs designed for women (with shorter frames and more curved straps) but currently none larger than 55L.  So if you are in need of a larger pack, you still might want to consider this one.  The official sizing says torso lengths of 15”-20” and waist sizes of 30” and up.  However, most people shorter than 5’6” or with a waist size under 32” have had trouble getting this pack to fit right with the weight distributed appropriately on the hips.

If you are a burly guy, this is a good pack for you.  People up to 6’4” have indicated they’ve been able to get this pack fitting comfortably, and waist sizes up to 48” have still not reached the limits of the hip belt.  However, a cautionary note again when it comes to the chest strap.  There were a higher proportion of men complaining about that strap popping open, maybe because they tended to carry more weight in the bag and it put more stress on the buckle.


Will this work as carry-on luggage for a plane trip?

No, it will not, it is way too big.  Even lightly loaded with the adjustable frame at its smallest and collapsible top lid collapsed, it still won’t meet the size requirements unless you get lucky and your ticket or gate agent happens not to notice what you are trying to lug on.  Plan to check it.  And don’t overpack it as a checked bag, because its generous size means it isn’t too hard to get it over the 50 lb limit and start incurring extra baggage charges.  Make sure you’ve invested in a travel bag for it or asked at the ticket counter for a plastic bag to cover it.  The loose straps can’t be removed or stowed to protect them from snagging on things…and High Sierra specifies that they won’t cover travel damage under their warranty.

How are the zippers?

Most of the feedback is that the zippers are large and they hold together well and take lots of abuse, even when you stuff the bag full.  Failing zippers are covered by the lifetime warranty.  Some people mentioned the zipper on the sleeping bag compartment tends to snag and is sometimes frustrating. (Note: the compartment will fit most compressible sleeping bags, but old-style bags should be hung underneath from the straps; there isn’t enough room in the compartment for them).


The Verdict

Overall, we found this backpack to be an excellent value.  It is a half to a third as expensive as its more ‘elite’ counterparts, but it is of good quality, durable and has most of the bells and whistles you would want in an expedition backpack.  With the exception of the few buyers who lost their patience over the sternum strap popping open, owners of this backpack are very happy with their purchase.  Nearly everyone raves about how comfortable this pack is, thanks to the generous padding and a highly customizable fit.  If you are looking for a good pack that you can enjoy using while feeling smug about the money you’ve saved, this one is for you

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