The Wetfoot Blog

Monday, January 2, 2012

Gear Review: The Cooke Custom Sewing Hybrid Line



Ah, the Canoe. As described by the great Bill Mason, there is no object on earth that is more graceful and versatile than the Canoe. The practice of painting elegant paddle strokes in the water, transfer your craft and its contents on to your shoulders and slog two miles over mud and mountains to a completely different river system is truly a beautiful capability of the canoeist. However, this functionality could not be possible without the canoe packs that haul our pounds of staples, gear, and the 50 oz. coffee press we canoeists so desire. That is why the canoeing world must pay tribute to the Cooke Custom Sewing Hybrid line of canoe packs, undoubtedly the best of its kind. Cooke Custom Sewing Hybrid Line

The Pros:
Each Hybrid pack has similar features to a backpacking style backpack, making CCS Hybrids some of the most comfortable canoe packs for those long portages in the wild backcountry. CCS covers all the bases with a padded foam back, contoured shoulder straps including a sternum strap, a padded hip belt, and load lifter straps to keep the pack high and tight to your body. The Hybrid series also employs the “brain” function found on most backpacking style packs. The zipper pocket on the top of the pack adds 500-550 cubic inches of space (not to mention they are handy for holding the many small accessories canoeists carry). All in all, these packs are tough. I have paddled over 3,000 miles with CCS Packs, and I have had absolutely no issues with straps breaking or seams ripping. On the right and left hips of the pack, there is a small pocket that is great for fitting a water bottle, or sliding in the head of a shovel – easily accessible and ready to use. Forget your whistle? Don’t worry, the sternum strap of the Hybrid series has whistle style buckles.

The Cons:
As with any pack there is a risk of the fabric on the body ripping or being punctured, but this is easy to repair with a Speedy Stitch. In comparison to other canoe packs that use a traditional leather strap system, the plastic buckles are prone to break more easily, but the ability to comfortably adjust the shoulder straps is well worth the risk.

Here’s a Quick Recap.
Pros:
- Comfortable strap system and built in padding
- Similar features to a backpacking style backpack
- Tough design and materials
- Useful pockets
- Whistle buckles
Cons:
- Pack body can be punctured or ripped
- Plastic buckles can break

Dan Cooke’s Hybrid Series is a testament to the rugged capabilities of a canoe expedition paired with practical and comfortable features. Dan’s commitment to canoeing and the quality of his products are the reason why CCS Hybrid and traditional packs go on every Camp Manito-wish canoe trip, from 3 days in the beautiful Northwoods waterways, to 45 days in the Canadian Tundra.

Mike Dietrich is a trip leader at Camp Manito-wish.

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