The Tatonka Bison 75L was an ideal size to carry all the gear I needed for a week-long roar mission. Its harness system is designed to take the weight off your shoulders and transfer it onto your hips.
Reviewed by NZ Rod&Rifle Editor, Simon Gibson
Heavy Load Expert
The first thing I noticed about Tatonka’s 75 litre Bison pack when I picked it up was its weight. Or should I say the lack of it; at 3.2kg it’s lighter than many similar-sized packs. This is however not a pack for light loads – it’s designed to carry 20kg and over, which is where its name, Bison, comes from.
A key to the Bison’s light weight is the extensive use of Cordura - which is not only an extremely strong, abrasion-resistant material, but also does not retain water, so dries very quickly. A 100 DEN weight material is used in the body of the pack while a much heavier 700 DEN material is used on the base, where the bulk of the wear will occur.
Tatonka’s well-known X1 harness system is used on the pack; it’s designed to take the weight off your shoulders and transfer it onto your hips. It has good lumbar support and its different grades of foam provide a very comfortable fit when you are carrying a big load. The shoulder straps are well-padded and wide to distribute the load and there is a chest strap to hold them on your shoulders. There’s plenty of adjustment for the harness position on the pack body, to cater for different user heights, and the hip strap is both wide and well-padded; it works really well.
The Bison is especially designed for long trips with lots of gear and is divided into hood pocket, main and base compartments. I liked the wide, front-opening lid which opened the front of the pack up - a bit like a suitcase - meaning once in camp it was easy to find gear easily without emptying the pack’s entire contents out. You can also of course use this feature to pack your gear, instead of using the traditional top opening. All the zips have tabs sewn onto their pull tags, allowing easy operation with gloved hands.
Like almost all packs the Bison is not waterproof, especially with the zips allowing front and bottom access, so a dry bag liner or a traditional large plastic liner is essential to keep your gear dry in wet weather.
Side and bottom compression straps keep bulk down once loaded, and there are other straps for attaching an ice axe and other bits and pieces.
In addition to the good-sized hood pocket for camera and binos storage, there is a pocket on the back of the pack, and also side pockets with expansion pleats. Inside the top hood of the pack there is a well-marked first aid pouch which can of course be used to hold anything you want.
In the field I found the Tatonka Bison 75 litre pack to be the perfect size to carry all my gear on a week-long roar mission. The harness system worked really well, distributing a big load, and while I couldn’t of course escape the weight it was well distributed and caused no problems to my back or shoulders. The use of Cordura to reduce the pack’s weight is a great feature, as is the fact that when wet the weight of the pack didn’t increase. Overall I felt it was a well-designed piece of kit which certainly very comfortable when carrying a big load.
Tatonka stand behind their products and offer a comprehensive 2 year warranty.
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