Friday, August 18, 2023

Dandee Packs - The Standard Pack Review

Article by Markus Zinkl

The Standard Pack (starting at $200.00)


Based near Boston, MA, Dandee Packs might be considered small-scale, but its impact in the realm of outdoor gear is certainly noteworthy. As a solo venture, Dandee Packs prides itself on the intricate art of handcrafting each and every backpack that leaves its modest workshop.

Embodying the spirit of a cottage company, Dandee Packs exemplifies dedication and personal investment. The upcoming review examines the attributes, design elements, and practicality of Dandee Packs' ultralight backpacks..

I used the pack for a couple of weekend trips and for my 13 day thru hike of the Via Alpina in Switzerland. where I used it to carry 4 days of food as well as tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, etc. 

In this evaluation, I delve into the realm of Dandee Packs' ultralight backpacks, appreciating the fusion of skill and commitment that yields gear with both functional finesse and minimalist charm. Whether you're a seasoned backpacking and fastpacking enthusiast or a newcomer seeking reliable equipment, this review shall offer impartial insights into the realm of ultralight fastpacking, as illuminated by Dandee Packs' distinct offerings.

Tech Specs

Sample Weight: 13,42 oz / 380 g (including all removables)

Removable Hipbelt: 1,08 oz / 31 g 

Height: 29,5” /  75 cm 

Width: 10.5” / 27 cm

Depth: 4.3" / 11 cm

Volume: 30L (Main pack + front- and mesh-pockets)


Main Pack: 2.92 DCF

Side Pockets: Gridstop

Back and Strap Pockets: Durastretch


The ultralight backpack from Dandee Packs presents an array of well-designed features aimed at optimizing your outdoor journeys.

Starting with its roll-top design, the backpack uses a G-buckle closure cleverly positioned at the back. This sidesteps the usual front-mounted buckles, ensuring unobstructed access when items are stored atop the pack. Also you can easily tuck away the excess webbing strap in the front pocket.

To close the main compartment there are two snaps on top and an additional buckle to close it, before you just roll it and fixate it with the G-Buckle shown below.

Comfort receives special attention through the inclusion of padded vest straps. These straps not only distribute weight effectively but also offer a comfortable wearing experience during extended treks. 

Adding to its functionality, the backpack integrates two shoulder pockets secured by snap closures. 

These pockets accommodate items like water bottles (500ml soft flasks or slim smart water bottles) and larger essentials such as smartphones and sunglasses. Water bottles can be secured by an elastic band on each side of the straps. 

Complementing the shoulder pockets are integrated shoulder top pockets, also secured by snaps. These pockets provide quick access storage for smaller items such as headlamps, hydration sticks, or small snacks. 

A substantial front mesh pocket takes care of items requiring frequent retrieval. Its generous size ensures versatility in stowing various essentials.

Gridstop side pockets, designed with drainage ports, add practicality. These pockets prevent water accumulation and offer adaptable storage options.

For those venturing into diverse terrains, the backpack incorporates a stashable ice-axe loop and a trekking pole attachment system, catering to different outdoor requirements.

Elastic side compression straps, coupled with a convenient attachment hook, offer flexible options for securing larger or longer items externally. You can easily unhook a strap and secure the item without threading it through from the top.

Organization gains an edge with a bottom pocket featuring a trash port. This adds a layer of convenience for storing various belongings. This pocket is accessible on the go with a large opening on one side. 

On the other side there is a little trash port, where you can cram in wrappers.

The backpack's adaptability extends to its removable 1'' hip belt, allowing users to tailor their comfort level according to preferences.

Innovative yet functional, the shock cord sit pad attachment on the back panel caters to additional gear-carrying needs. This lets you attach your sit pad to the back of the pack and use it as a back panel, which gives the frameless pack a bit of structure. Furthermore it can be easily removed during a break as a sit pad.

Ensuring reliable protection against the elements, the backpack boasts fully seam-taped construction, enhancing its waterproof capabilities.

Lastly, the backpack's stretch pockets incorporate a fold-over seam design, effectively preventing items from accidentally slipping out. I’ve already had some experience with this pocket design and like it a lot. It’s a simple yet effective way to prevent items from falling out.

Sizing and Fit

Dandee offers torso sizes from 17’’ to 21’’. This broad selection guarantees the best possible fit.

I went with my usual 19 inch / 48 cm torso length and the fit was spot on. I would recommend sticking to your measured torso length. 


One of the standout features that truly captured my attention was the exceptional comfort that the Dandee Packs backpack offered. Having tried out numerous packs, this one took the crown for being the most comfortable. But the comfort didn't stop there. The backpack's fit was remarkably snug, hugging close to my body without the need for load lifters. 

Even when loaded up with 4-days worth of food, the pack continued to impress, staying securely in place without relying on the hip belt. I actually did not use the optional hip belt once, because it carried so remarkably well.

The level of customization Dandee Packs allows is also great. It's not just about choosing from preset options; this pack truly embraces personalization. This feature allowed me to fine-tune the pack to my needs, making it an extension of my outdoor journey. You can also reach out to Dan to request unique customizations.

The commitment to an ultralight design didn't go unnoticed. With a focus on reducing weight, the backpack lighted the load on my latest fastpacking trips, making every step feel lighter.

The minimalist design philosophy was something I deeply appreciated. Despite its simplicity, this pack excelled in functionality. The innovative placement of the G buckle was a particular highlight, ingeniously attached on the backside of the pack to move out of the way when I had items secured on top of the pack.

The stretch mesh pockets on the shoulder straps over a simple snap closure system, which worked really well and made it easy to close. Furthermore all mesh pockets have fold over seams to prevent items from falling out. This also worked very well. If I would need to describe the pack with only one word, it probably would be minimalistic and this is carried out so exceptionally well.

The backpack's seam-taped construction added a layer of performance by making it remarkably water-resistant. Throughout rainy days, I was impressed to find no noticeable signs of water intrusion, which is a testament to the pack's construction and durablity.

Lastly, the build quality was a true testament to craftsmanship. The attention to detail and meticulous construction gave me confidence in the pack's longevity.

During my testing, I did identify a few areas for potential improvement. One notable concern was the upper sternum strap, which is not stretchable. I would like to see an elastic section in the strap. This would make it a bit less restricting on the upper torso. For sections I ran in the pack, I cinched the sternum straps to minimize bouncing. This worked well to reduce bouncing, but I would like to see a bit more give to be able to better breathe.

Another consideration was the strength of the pad attachment shock cord. While it functioned adequately, I couldn't help but wonder if a stronger shock cord would provide more reassurance when securing gear. I had to pull on the shock cord quite a bit, which led to quite a bit of excess shock cord I had to tuck away.

The attachment hook at the pad attachment strap actually did come off one time. I was able to easily reattach it tinto the socket.

From a material standpoint, I found that certain parts, like the left shoulder stretch pocket and the large front pocket, showed slight abrasion after extended use of about 20 days on trail. This led me to suggest exploring more durable stretch fabrics, such as Venom Stretch, to enhance longevity.


As an avid ultralight backpacking and outdoor enthusiast, I'm highly impressed by the Dandee Packs  performance. I want to point out again how well this pack carries. It actually kind of blew my mind how well it carries considering its simple design. Its unmatched comfort, tailored customization, ultralight design, and functional minimalism make it a remarkable companion for adventures. While small areas could benefit from refinement, the backpack's overall performance, water resistance, and build quality make it one of the best packs I’ve ever used. So I’ve been searching for an ultralight pack for your next fastpacking adventure, look no further.

Available at Dandee Packs here: The Standard Pack 

The products that are the basis of this test were provided to us free of charge by Dandee Packs. The opinions presented are our own.

Tester Profile

Markus Zinkl: I’m 33 years old and live in a small village in Bavaria, Germany. I started hiking and backpacking 5-6 years ago. Coming from trail running and with light and fast in mind, I started hiking and fast packing with ultralight gear . Over the years I tried and tested a lot of gear, always in search of weight savings. Although still trying to stay out of the ultralight rabbit hole. I spend most of my days off from work on the trail, with at least one 2-3 week thru-hike. Among the more well known trails I have hiked over the last few years are the GR221, WHR (Walker’s Haute Route), TMB (Tour du Mont Blanc), TC (Tour du Cervin-Matterhorn) and Via Alpina Switzerland. As you probably notice by now, I’m at home in the mountains. So if I’m not running or thru-hiking a longer trail, I’m probably somewhere in the Alps checking out some shorter trails.


You can read the running biographies of all the RTR testers here.

We welcome comments and questions in the comments section.

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