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First Ascent Big Tahoma Backpack review
Written by Andrew Horton   
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First Ascent Big Tahoma
images/First Ascent

Seattle-based Eddie Bauer and Mt. Rainer masters Whittaker Mountaineering have teamed up on what they call the ideal lightweight backpack for the Cascade Mountain range and beyond. After its introduction, the First Ascent Big Tahoma has been the backpack of choice by seasoned mountaineer Peter Whittaker and his team of Mt. Rainier guides.

The result of the collaboration is the First Ascent Big Tahoma Backpack, an ultralight 70-liter three-day internal-frame pack that carries a wide array full of compression straps, a floating lid, an adjustable suspension system, and a removable hip belt. Sure, it’s a mouthful, but in a minimalist way (if that’s possible).

The Big Tahoma’s clean design is streamlined for endurance and performance, so there are few pockets outside the pack’s main compartment, floating lid, and two side pouches. Although this sleek backpack can get climbers up the mountain with all the gear they need, it can be cumbersome when the only choice for grabbing a granola bar is digging deep into the backpack. This is the trade-off for a no-frills, ultralight backpack for the weekend warrior and may be the approach Eddie Bauer and Whittaker Mountaineering had for the design.

On the trail, the Big Tahoma is a comfortable, lightweight pack that can be even lighter when the floating lid and hip belt are removed.

The straps are bulky, but they contribute to the overall comfort of the bag, while the hip belt does its best to carry the load and regulate balance.

The 210D nylon N66 Double ripstop and dimension-polyant sailcloth materials are durable, rugged, and provide the look and feel of more luxurious packs. The colors are a tan and tea and the materials give hikers the confidence needed to step out into the snow, sleet, and freezing rain knowing that their materials inside will be protected from the elements.

First Ascent LogoThe bag’s clips were flimsy, unreliable, and clumsy to use on the trail. Whether it’s climbing Mt. Rainier or stepping into the deep forests of Massachusetts, a fatigued hiker doesn’t want to wrestle a stubborn clip before setting up camp.

The First Ascent Big Tahoma Backpack carries a suggested retail price of $249.

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Andrew Horton

Andrew HortonAndrew Horton-Hall comes to with deep roots in the world of professional journalism, having covered breaking news and feature articles for newspapers throughout southern New England. After witnessing firsthand the power of positive publicity and promoting good causes, he decided to make the leap into public relations and marketing. He currently serves as a Marketing Coordinator at an international architectural firm in Boston and is studying for his MBA in Sustainability at Antioch University New England in Keene, N.H.

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