View Full Version : Complete 2016 Seekoutside Divide 4500 Review

02-01-2016, 14:45
2016 Seekoutside Divide

I will start off by saying that I have exclusively used Seekoutside packs for the past year and that they have a system I continue to be very pleased with. Functionally this system has worked overall the best for me during last 6 or 7 years of searching for a pack system that I can use to backpack with as well as a hunting pack platform.

I will begin by touching base on what features all of their packs are built upon and then go into reviewing the features of the new 2016 Divide 4500 pack that I have had and gotten to use about 25 miles total so far.

Articulation in the belt, frame and shoulder harness
3 areas this pack system allows you to move where my previous rigid frame systems did not are in the frame itself has a center pivot connection, the shoulder harness moves as well as the belt attachment. It allows the hips to move and the shoulders to move far more than a rigid system. Put on your most rigid pack and bend down to pick up a stick. If you can't it doesn't allow you to move. The way the harness and belt attaches allows their system to provide you with freedom of movement and continue to support the pack weight fully. The belt attaches on the 2 outer sides of the hips and this does the best job of any belt system I have used to spread the weight your carrying across your hip area and down into your legs. I have zero belt slip and I do not have to overtighten the belt like I did with other lumbar and hip pad systems.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v454/bgoode/2014/21E11BF9-3C20-4F76-ADE9-17D4D6CE1E46_zpsdbwxevhv.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/bgoode/media/2014/21E11BF9-3C20-4F76-ADE9-17D4D6CE1E46_zpsdbwxevhv.jpg.html)
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v454/bgoode/2014/B753DBDB-1B3D-4F12-A7A2-B5CE4368108D_zpsb6iqql9s.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/bgoode/media/2014/B753DBDB-1B3D-4F12-A7A2-B5CE4368108D_zpsb6iqql9s.jpg.html)
Speaking of the belt one reason I have determined this belt does not slip is that a lumbar pad system is forming a 3 point connection or a triangle shape around you contacting at the front of the hips and middle back. When your body moves unless you have a shape that this triangle locks into, ie a pronounced lumbar area the gaps between your outer back hip area and the lumbar pad allow the belt system to work downward on you. These gaps form an imperfect seal around you if this is a better description. The full wrap system itself seals around your waist area and does not allow these open pockets around your body therefore no slippage. Lumbar pad systems slip down on me because of the 3 point contact in the belt VS the complete contact that seek outside full wrap belt has.
Also packs that connect in the center of the back tend to place their weight in this one area and in time causes my hips to inflame from that being the primary pressure area over time. Imagine carrying someone on your back. Would you rather have the wrap their legs around you or place their knees in your lower back? This was not a consideration for me until 15 miles with a wrap system but the pack supports were in the center area started to cause my pain. I sold that pack and now I know for me what combinations in a belt system I have to look for.

One way I use the articulation in a backpacking trip is to loosen the harness and allow the pack to fall away and let my back cool some. The full wrap belt does not change the load support when doing this. I could not do this with my older rigid frame system or the lumbar belt system. The lumbar belt system would change the pressure points and not allow the same comfort as this full wrap belt system does. Literally the pack support around your hips does not change when letting the pack fall back. This is also an example of what happens when you pitch forward to scramble up or over or under terrain.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v454/bgoode/2014/64A1274D-2A79-438D-9FF4-FFD3B607DA25_zpsprnwo8m1.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/bgoode/media/2014/64A1274D-2A79-438D-9FF4-FFD3B607DA25_zpsprnwo8m1.jpg.html)

If you have never had a pack that has waterproof materials you don't know what your missing. Having a true waterproof material means no need to carry a rain cover than cuts your pack contents and no poor performing pack cover worry. True waterproof material also means no weight gain from a water absorbing material and reduces your need to have waterproof stuff sacks.... That also reduces pack content weights. The one thing I didn't expect from the Xpac material was that it was more pleasant to pack and dig into than the cordura material we al all familiar with. The Xpac marerial is more of a slick material and things go into and out of it noticeably easier in my experience. It also has stays open more than my previous packs made from cordura. This I noticed in that I wasn't becoming irritated in continually moving the pack material out of my way if needing to dig into it.

Now - the features of the Divide Pack itself I really like.

The spec size of the Divide is 4500. That on paper is deceivingly large. The advantage of the roll top design is that the top can be rolled down to the 24" frame height and is 3300-3500 ci range. Think about the divide as a 3500 ci pack with an extension collar to get you to 4500 and all of a sudden it is an advantageous size!! It compressed well at the lower volume with the 2 side compression and the over the top compression straps. The shape of the Divide bag is larger at the top and smaller at the bottom. This allows for a bear canister if needed in the top but I found it did 2 things for me. Made packing easier with the larger opening and was easier to force the heavier items up into the upper portion of the bag to have my carry weight higher up.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v454/bgoode/2014/2BE5B90A-33E1-46E0-AE59-9DA819997836_zpstn33crz8.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/bgoode/media/2014/2BE5B90A-33E1-46E0-AE59-9DA819997836_zpstn33crz8.jpg.html)
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v454/bgoode/2014/3A02CC91-FCF8-4222-8C90-104AE5CBA0DB_zpszeorpvds.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/bgoode/media/2014/3A02CC91-FCF8-4222-8C90-104AE5CBA0DB_zpszeorpvds.jpg.html)
Here is a shot showing my full winter load. And I still have more room in the pack for added food.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v454/bgoode/2014/A54F35DF-8162-433E-A0C4-E0384B8CDA48_zpsqk869odw.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/bgoode/media/2014/A54F35DF-8162-433E-A0C4-E0384B8CDA48_zpsqk869odw.jpg.html)
Here you can see that the brown 3900 Unaweep pack does not look any differently than the Grey Divide 4500. Yes the 3900 has a touch more in the pack but overall is it not a difference that I would choose the 3900 based on the volume spec being smaller.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v454/bgoode/2014/6F3ECA9F-86F3-45FD-A4A3-C45F3BE69155_zpsitjdmcfl.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/bgoode/media/2014/6F3ECA9F-86F3-45FD-A4A3-C45F3BE69155_zpsitjdmcfl.jpg.html)

Bottle pockets
The bottle pockets have been improved in that they have a larger pocket that can hold more and a true bottom and not a tapered shape that is in my other Seekoutside pack bags. The new shape it really holds 2 larger 1 liter bottle better. The older shape held 1 liter and a smaller size really well. You can still reach back and get water in and out as you walk. 1 liter at a time in each pocket is much easier to do this with than when 2 liters are in each pocket. The taller skinnier smartwater shape corrects this and for me will more than likely be the way I go if I need to carry 2 liters in each pocket (humid summer season here in the South).

Mesh outside pocket
What I like about the mesh pocket is that it is made from a durable mesh material, it is spacious without being too large, you can see the contents and you are able to close off the opening to prevent items from working out of the top. This mesh pocket I can say has spoiled me after 1 13 mile trip. I only had to go into my pack after we settled in for dinner. All my daily items plus some was stored in the mesh pocket and it was in no way crowded. I also like the material that was chosen for the mesh material because if torn it can be repaired easily by hand with common paracord innards or even fishing line.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v454/bgoode/2014/89367007-435B-4523-A8F6-D828172DBE1A_zpssvph6euc.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/bgoode/media/2014/89367007-435B-4523-A8F6-D828172DBE1A_zpssvph6euc.jpg.html)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v454/bgoode/2014/B7AA43C7-26A7-4309-9560-14061E9664C9_zpseaanpotk.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/bgoode/media/2014/B7AA43C7-26A7-4309-9560-14061E9664C9_zpseaanpotk.jpg.html)

Buckle change
The buckles used on the Divide pack are an alloy flat buckle. It uses a hook on 1 end and a tri thread system to tighten on the other. For the Divide pack I really liked this buckle. It is simple, I don't see it breaking ever and was easy to use with gloves on.
This shows the buckles Iím referring to
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v454/bgoode/2014/193F0B21-7D94-4A6D-9E31-54E8EEFFF201_zpskx58ufgs.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/bgoode/media/2014/193F0B21-7D94-4A6D-9E31-54E8EEFFF201_zpskx58ufgs.jpg.html)

I found that attaching my closed cell pad on the bottom of the pack I liked these buckles better than the clip style buckles that are on the other packs.

Upper intrusion bar
One common issue with packs in the lighter weight category is pack "barreling" or the pack bag rounding out when full and pushing the pack itself away from your center of gravity. This happens more so with framless packs but due to the minimal yet substantial frame design this was one side effect from the older Seekoutside system. This has been corrected and I can say vastly improved the pack staying close to your back. I was shocked at how well this 2.5 oz addition did to improve the feel and carrying ability when the pack is full. This is also an addition that can be purchased separately and will retro fit any of the Seekoutside packs.
This is a decent load and the pack is not being pushed away from my back.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v454/bgoode/2014/82C684FF-036F-48F0-90BF-06DC767A6AEF_zps8p3vxh96.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/bgoode/media/2014/82C684FF-036F-48F0-90BF-06DC767A6AEF_zps8p3vxh96.jpg.html)

Overall carry comfort
In light weight backpacking you spend a lot of time choosing lighter pack loads. The last perk I must mention about this pack system is the overall ability to carry loads well. This pack you literally can not tell much difference in a 20lb load or a 26lb load. And with 2" to 4" frame extensions it has the ability to carry 40lb up to 100lbs. I use this same system but in another configuration to carry heavy bulky loads when hunting (treestands, bags of mineral, ect.).

All in all I would have never thought that this system back in early 2015 would have changed my outlook on how packs should function, overall weight and carry comfort as well as influence me on what I don't like about packs that I at 1 time loved! If your wanting a performance pack and you find that you are still not totally happy with what you have take a good hard look at the seek outside system. It may change what you prefer a pack to do for you.