Cambelbak Franconia LR 24 Backpack Review

The LR 24 from Camelbak is a spacious lumbar pack designed to comfortably carry heavier loads of food, water and gear for an all day outing on the trail. It packs lots of storage, the new Cruz LR reservoir and an air suspension back panel designed for maximum ventilation, but does it hold up under the often brutal conditions of year round use? Here is my review.

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The Franconia LR 24 is one of the largest packs in the Camelbak line, toting a 3 liter water reservoir and 21 liters of internal storage space for equipment and supplies. This being the case, it’s designed to support extra weight by utilizing a taut mesh back panel, stretched over an aluminum frame. This forms a springy yet sturdy suspension that shifts the weight of the pack onto the hips. The pack’s two primary gear compartments come with internal dividers for organization, double zippers, an expandable quick stash compartment on the back, daisy chain connections on the top, two hip belt pockets, a dedicated reservoir compartment and two water bottle pockets; one on each side. There are even accessory straps located on the base of the pack, great for attaching large pieces of equipment to the outside. The hip and shoulder straps are reinforced with foam padding for comfort, and each is adjustable, including the chest buckle positioning. The pack is constructed primarily of a durable textured nylon (200 and 400 denier), weighs 2 lbs 10 oz and retails for $160, including the reservoir.

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What I liked

For winter hiking and long hauls a good mid sized pack is priceless. The Franconia lands right in that sweet spot, making it a flexible pack that can be used in any season. It’s not so large that it’s heavy, gets caught on trees or throws off my balance, but it is large enough that I can pack in multiple winter layers, crampons, rain gear, extra food, or even a hammock and tarp if I plan on lounging around on a mountain side. the primary compartment drops gear low in the pack, right where it’s wanted, and it allows for bulky gear to be stuffed down and compressed with the external compression straps. I never found myself needing an extra room, and if I did I could easily strap it onto the outside of the pack in a pinch.

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Even better than the amount of storage is the fact that once I pack all of my gear, it’s going to stay organized thanks to the wide assortment of pockets and internal organization options. I’m able to stuff all of my large, bulky items inside my main compartment while dropping smaller items like my phone, keys and wallet in the smaller back pocket, utilizing the smaller divisions within to keep them straight, and I can stuff snacks and accessories in the hip belts for easy access on the move. Everything always had a place and getting to it is easy thanks to the smooth double zippers and wide opening compartments that reveal the contents within.

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As far as comfort goes, I never really even noticed I was wearing the pack. Loaded down with food, water, cameras, winter gear, first aid kits and more, the pack did an excellent job of keeping the weight off of my shoulders while not flopping around on my back either. Where the pack does contact the body, the pads are wide and soft, evenly distributing the weight and practically eliminating any presence of pressure or tension. The load straps allow the pack to be pulled close to the spine, improving balance while reducing sway, and the soft springy back panel allows for ample ventilation along the back while keeping lumpy gear inside the pack from contacting the spine.

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The aluminum frame does an excellent job of distributing the weight away from the shoulders too, moving the weight straight down to the hips, exactly where it’s wanted. This prevents the pack from pulling down on the shoulders and neck, which creates tension, often headaches, and eventually pain. The result is a comfortable, stress free hiking pack that easily supports loads of up to 30 lbs without becoming overbearing.

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Camebak has been around for a while now, and in their experience they’ve learned how to build a durable pack. The Franconia isn’t an exception. All around, the pack is built out of heavy duty materials, primarily 200 denier rip-stop nylon and 400 denier standard nylon. This paired with reinforced stitching, durable zipper pulls, thick nylon webbing and beefy clips makes for a pack that’s capable of taking years of sustained abuse. The aluminum frame it stout and has so far managed to handle heavy loads without buckling, and the external straps handle heavy weight without the stitching stretching out. I’ve drug it across rocks, hung it up on trees, dumped it in the mud, huffed it through the snow, and it’s taken it all with nary a sign of wear. it also cleans up quite well also, easily dispelling clay mud with little effort.

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The patterned/textured fabrics, unique color pallet and overall aesthetic of the pack makes for a good looking sack. The contrasting gear straps along the bottom add a touch of flair at a distance while the subtle details in the fabric shine through up close. It looks great.

What I didn’t like

My only real complaint comes from the shape of the bottom of the pack. It’s angled, and surely meant to allow for an extended range of motion, but it also makes the pack nearly impossible to stand upright on the ground. It’s very tipsy as there is no flat bottom surface to balance it on, often resulting in the pack dropping over into mud puddles or debris. It’s best to learn hang the pack up in a tree or lay it flat on the ground on it’s back, but on muddy or wet terrain, that’s less than ideal. This makes rummaging through the pack a little more tricky, as you’ll need to stabilize it yourself or lay at an extreme angle against a rock or tree to make it stand.

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Overall

The Franconia LR 24L lands in a wonderful spot. It’s large enough for hiking year round, yet small enough to cinch down for mountain biking or commuting. The organization system allows for lots of small items to be stashed inside (mountain biking tools, tubes and pumps) or larger items to be strapped to the outside (trekking poles, camp seats and soggy rain gear). It’s extremely comfortable and performs exceptionally well with heavier loads, and yet it still manages to save space for the large, easy to use 3 liter water reservoir. It looks great, has held up very well, and manages to be a do it all pack, without making any real sacrifices in the process.

Highly recommended

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For more information on Cambelbak and and their wide range of gear, check out their website, https://www.camelbak.com/

For information on our rating system and our testing procedures, check out our About us/ Contact us page.

I want to extend a huge thanks Camelbak for providing this product for review. We couldn’t do it without their help. Our full disclosure can be found here.

Thanks as always for reading! Don’t forget to follow our blog for future updates and reviews. If you have any questions, comment below, send us an email, or find us on Twitter or Facebook (links on the right).

 

 

 

 

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