Review: Sandhill 45 – A barely-there backpack

For the last six years, I have used the same 65 liter backpack. No matter if it was a one night trip or a 3-week trip abroad, I packed that bag to the brim with everything I thought I needed. While it is a solid bag, I was always thinking that I didn’t need to carry all of that stuff. That’s when I realized I needed a smaller backpack. Enter the Red Fox Sandhill 45.

This backpack is a gem.

The Sandhill 45 is clearly designed to be lightweight, but there is no sacrifice of comfort or functionality. It fits incredibly well. It is practical. It has the right number of pockets, and plenty of loops, straps, and daisy chains for outer attachment. The color is muted and earthy. This bag will accompany me on many wonderful adventures.

The Sandhill 45 and its discontinued counterpart, the Racer 40. This pack is a new and improved version of an already amazing backpack.

The Sandhill 45 and its discontinued counterpart, the Racer 40. This pack is a new and improved version of an already amazing backpack.

Size and Compressability

This is one thing I love about the SandHill 45. It’s a great size for a couple night trip, with very little excess space to over-pack. Plus, it’s super light and compressible so during the day, I was able to leave my extra stuff at camp and take it on some nice day-hikes in a trimmed down configuration. The pack itself only weighs 2 lbs., 12oz. (less than half the weight of my old pack), making it one of the lightest bags of this size on the market!

Comfort

At full capacity, the bag weighed in around 30 pounds. Being a 125 pound, 5’6’’ tall woman with decent muscle mass, this felt like nothing! The waist belt isn’t overly padded, but provides just the right amount of support on my hips to relieve my shoulders of holding the brunt of the weight. It’s hydration compatible and has some easily reachable pockets on the sides and on the waist belt so the essentials are always at hand.

Suspension

The frame and suspension on this backpack are superior to any I have ever worn and are the key to the above mentioned comfort.  The Sandhill uses a technology called Acti-Vent that utilizes a wire internal frame and a suspended mesh backing that fully carries the load away from your back.

Note the curved nature of the wire frame, keeping the pack fully lifted from your back.

Note the curved nature of the wire frame, keeping the pack fully lifted from your back.

The wire hoop circles the back circumference of the backpack, creating a super-lightweight frame.  The elastic mesh is stretched over the hoop, which evens out the weight distribution of the bag, while suspending the bag away from the back. This system also allows for maximum breathability. All I can think of when I put it on is “WOW, this is comfortable!”

This is the lightest-weight backpack I have ever owned. It’s also the smallest pack I’ve ever taken out for a multi-night trip. The freedom I felt carrying only what I needed, added to the comfort of a pack that felt light and fitted, causes me to exclaim this backpack is one of the best on the market. The only downside that I see in the pack is also one of its up-sides. This isn’t a pack that I would use on a week-long backpacking trip. It’s too small to carry everything that one might need for an extended period in the backcountry. But for what it is, which is a lightweight, mid-size backpack, it is ideal. Luckily, this pack comes in both a 45 liter and 65 liter, so for those longer trips, you can still take with you the comfort and lightness of the The Sandhill.

The only question I have is, can it withstand the weight of the wild? I’ll let you know next time…


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