High Sierra Sports Sentinel 65 Review

High Sierra Sports launched the Sentinel 65 at the Outdoor Retailer show in August.  After a 3 day backpacking trip to the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming, we determined this is one of the best backpacks you’ll find for the money.  The pack has almost 4000 cubic inches of storage space, weights under 4 pounds and retails for $130.  We found the pack on line at Ramsey Outdoors for $99.99

Field Testing in The Wind Rivers of Wyoming

Sentinel Specs from High Sierra
The Sentinel 65 boasts a 65-liter top-load main compartment with a gusseted drawstring closure and adjustable top lid. Features include front-load sleeping bag compartment with divider; Ergo-Fit™ shoulder harness, with adjustable load-lifters, is constructed with Vapel™ mesh Airflow™ and high-density foam padding; dual, contoured aluminum frame bars adjust to fit your back; molded foam back panel with Airflow™ channels to keep your back cool and dry; hinged front pocket holds ropes; removable media pocket; dual mesh pockets hold 1000ml water bottles; and tuck-away rain cover.

External Load – Back View

I had the Sentinel 65 loaded both internally and externally for our trip.  Temperatures were below freezing, so we had to bring extra gear, and hence filled the pack to the brim.  The loaded pack weighed in at 57 pounds.  The ERGO-FIT shoulder harness can be quickly adjusted.  I’m 6 feet tall and I had it on the highest setting. 

External Load – Front View

I was able to attach my tent and sleeping pad to the bottom of the pack using the lower compression straps on the pack.  The daisy chains allowed me to clip a water bottle and other miscellaneous gear to the backpack.  You can see the hinged pocket just above the royal blue sleeping pad.  You can expand the hinged pocket using the side compression straps, so you can fit a rope or your garbage bag on the outside of the Sentinel 65. There’s a small, zippered pocket on the outside of the hinged pocket and another zippered pocket on the top of the pack.

 Sleeping Bag Compartment

The Sentinel 65 features a front-load sleeping bag compartment.  I was able to fit my compressed sleeping bag and a stove in this compartment.  If you have a large sleeping bag there’s a zipper that separates this pocket from the main storage area, so you can get more room. 

Built in Rain Cover

The Sentinel 65 features a built in rain cover, which is stored in a pocket on the bottom of the pack.  The rain cover is large enough to fit over items you may have strapped to the outside of the pack.  You can also use the cover to help protect your pack and gear while traveling.

 

PROS

For the price, this pack is loaded with features: hydration bladder holder, media pocket, built in rainfly and easy ERGO-FIT shoulder harness adjuster. The Sentinel 65 is a great backpack for those getting started in the sport or those who backpack infrequently.  I think it would also make a great climbing pack, because it’s light and has plenty of pockets to selectively store your gear.

 
CONS

The 57 pounds I had loaded in Sentinel 65 was too much to comfortably carry.  Structurally the pack held up find under this weight, but the shoulder harness pinched my chest and I could never really adjust the pack to fit comfortably.  I would try and keep your load weight under 40 pounds.

Those who backpack with a lot of gear will find the storage capacity of the Sentinel 65 is on the small side.  If you’re traveling light or are just on an overnight trip, the pack is fine; however for extended trips you may want a larger pack.

 

BOTTOMLINE:   SUPERB VALUE BACKPACKING PACK


Buy the High Sierra Sentinel 65