Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Triple Aught Design has ventured into the outdoor pack realm with its launch of the Spectre series. The Spectre packs are designed to be lighter weight and modular while still maintaining the durability that TAD enthusiasts expect in their gear. What’s intrigued me about TAD in the post Patrick Ma-era is that they haven’t been afraid to step outside of their comfort zone; developing new designs in advanced materials for different philosophies of use. The San Francisco based company sent me their Triple Aught Design Spectre 34L after I handled the 22L liter version at Overland Expo West. I’ve carried it for a few weeks now; mostly on hikes and for a long weekend trip as my travel/EDC pack.
I’ve had it for a short period, but a few things stand out about this bag. First, the harness is removable and adjustable; similar to the Futura harness on some of Mystery Ranch’s offerings. The major difference is that the TAD harness is one size fits all within the adjustment range whereas Mystery Ranch makes its Futura harness in different sizes (S-XXL).
The larger packs in the line (34L and 46L) include a removable waist belt. Here is a TAD video showing how to adjust the packs, which should give you a good feel for the possibilities.
The 22L has a belt but it’s non-removable. In my opinion, a pack that size doesn’t need a belt and even if you feel it does, it should be removable by the wearer. It’s one of the few mis-steps TAD made with this new line and it’s one of the reasons why I opted to evaluate the 34L. My 1st Generation Litespeed is safe in the stable for now although I’m looking forward to the release of the Axiom 18L later this year. But I digress.
The Spectre 34 has other notable features. TAD included anchor points on the exterior and interior of the pack for their line of Spectre accessories that have been released. They include a transporter tail, external hydration pocket, and a version of the OP1 and GPP2 pouches in the new LS-42 material.
Ah yes, the new material. Dimension Polyant LS-42 is a sailcloth that consists of a random array of non-woven filaments versus the familiar X-Pac diamond rip-stop pattern that we’ve seen in some of the recent TAD offerings. What does that mean exactly? It’s highly water-resistant, abrasion resistant, and very unique looking. Honestly, I didn’t think I would like it but it’s absolutely stunning in person; especially with the Ranger Green webbing. Also, by using lighter weight materials, TAD shaved nearly a pound off this pack compared to the Fastpack EDC. At 56 ounces, I wouldn’t call the Spectre 34 “light” – especially compared to similarly sized packs made especially for trail use. But, if you were looking for a lighter weight pack from TAD, this is it.
Overall, my general impression of the pack after carrying it for a few outings both on-grid and off is favorable. I love the modular design in an outdoor pack. The Spectre is about as waterproof as a non-dry bag can be, which is a real asset out on the trail. Accessories can add storage options but the organization that the Spectre does have is really well done. The stretch side pockets will secure a full-sized Nalgene. The vertical side zippered pockets will completely enclose my tripod, which is a first. The harness is good but it’s not as comfortable as the one on my Hill People Gear Connor. But, to be fair, that’s a pretty high bar that few manufacturers come close to meeting. Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting out more with this one.
The Triple Aught Design Spectre 34L retails for $275. The LS-42 only comes in the one color at the time of this writing but the webbing is available in Wolf Grey and Ranger Green. The pack can be purchased directly from TAD here. Look for a full review later in the Summer.