High Sierra Pathway 50 – Review

High Sierra Pathways 50













  • Stable
  • Comfortable
  • Lots of space
  • Front Carry Handle
  • Internal frame


  • You will sweat under the pads
  • Space could be a bit more segmented
  • Reverse zipper?
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Now I have had a rucksack that I have had since 1993. What brand? I couldn’t tell you it was bought at Sam’s Club and it has moved to San Diego with me. I used it for carrying my clothes when trucking. I even used it for camping. It is still a great bag but at last, the clips on the hood have broken. Both sadly snapped in the last 2 years. All I can say is look out of car or truck doors. They are not kind to clips at all.

So with my camping becoming more and more frequent in my life, then add the Camino walk that is coming up in 5 years I figured I needed a new bag and I looked for quite a while. I saw an impressive 100-liter bag at Cabela’s and I know I will be picking that beast up for my deep hikes I will have soon. I also know I will need to start finding a daypack soon too so that when I want to do light treks. Yet at the moment, I wanted a good size bag. Who knows maybe I am overcompensating for something, and I will let y’all debate that on your own time.

The High Sierra Pathway 50 Internal frame Backpack

The backpack I settled on is the High Sierra Pathway 50 liter bag. It isn’t the most expensive bag I could buy by any means. Yet this bag also is a good starting point. I can here and then go up as my experience increases. It has an internal frame because there were several times I walked with a half-full rucksack and that puppy would just swing from side to side even with the waistbelt clipped and shoulder straps cinched. A framed bag would provide me with more support and weight control.

I finally settled on a 50-liter bag that would probably be the best fit for me. So, I started looking for a bag that I could also afford and was around 50 l. I found lots of really awesome bags that were $200+ dollars. Yeah, I believe they would do everything I wanted it to do. Which is hold my clothes and other essentials, but I really couldn’t grasp what extra value I could get from those more expensive bags. Well, correction I know many of those bags are insanely light then you have the materials. So that could be the case for the extra value. I just don’t know if I could justify the cost to the banker. On top of that, I have only been exposed to one bag for the past 25 years so I really don’t know what I want and don’t want in a bag. So now that I have completely discredited myself on this bag let’s look at it.

The High Sierra Pathway 50

The High Sierra Pathway is called a top load internal frame pack. The reason is obvious. The access to the main compartment is from the top. There are actually bags that you can load up from the front like the High Sierra Classic 2 Series Summit 40, so there are options for how you can load up your backpacks. This option allows you to work from the bottom up or if you forget a heavy item, you can. Use the side option and not have to pull everything back out.

The internal frame, if you aren’t sure what that is about, is a means of helping your back out. Many times with bags with no internal from your back is doing a lot of the work. Yeah, you have the majority of the weight resting on your hips. However, the frame helps support your back too. The frame also stabilizes your bag. That way it isn’t swinging from side to side as much. This causes you to burn more energy and it tires out your back muscles more. So when you have a framed pack whether it is an internal frame or external frame you are able to carry more and not worry about it swinging all over the place.

The Yellow bar in the middle is the frame

Pathway 50’s Pockets

The High Sierra Pathway 50 has pocketed a total of 11 different pockets. Some of the pockets are internal while you also have the handy external pockets.

  • Two side external mesh pockets that can hold items like water bottles.
  • Two side external zipper pockets that can hold maps or other items for easy access.
  • 1 large external zipper pocket in the front
    • Inside if here there are 3 extra pockets with of them being 2 mesh pockets
  • Inside the main compartment is the big open well type of pocket
    • A pocket for your hydration bladder.
  • 1 pocket on the hood of the bag


The High Sierra has two handles for you to hold on to there is a normal “D” loop handle on the top of the bag so you can hang it off the ground. Then there is another handle on the front so that you are able to hold the bag more like a duffle bag. Both appear to be very solid and I don’t see them letting loose any time soon.

The front handle I am completely digging because I don’t have to bear hug my bag anymore. I can carry it like a bag, not a 50-pound toddler anymore.

Trekking pole loops

High Sierra Pathway 50 Trekking pole holders
The Four Green loops are Hiking pole loops

If you use trekking poles if you don’t want to hold them all the time then you can attach them to your High Sierra Pathway 50. There are loops for the feet and adjustable loops for the handles

Load stabilizing straps

If your Pathway 50 isn’t packed solid, that is alright. High Sierra added load straps and load lifter straps so that you can keep the swaying to a minimum. Using that in conjunction with the internal frame

Internal Frame

The frame is an aluminum rod that runs up the middle of your back. You don’t feel it when you are wearing the pack. Yet when you take the pack off you see this bright yellow bar sitting right where it needs to be. You can remove the frame if you choose by accessing the frame from the inside of the bag. So if you need to wash the bag it will fit easier in the washing machine by removing the frame.

Back cushions

Now if you are carrying a little camp stove and other hardware, there is a chance that you are going to feel the harder elements digging into your kidneys as things shift and adjust. The High Sierra Pathway 50 has your back in mind and knows that it will be working. Therefore, the bag has nice thick cushions on the major areas you will have pressure.

You have the shoulder straps which have an airflow weave on them so you won’t get soaked with because of the heat.

You can see the back cushions are plenty and thick

There is the upper back padding that helps with your trapezius muscles then there is a big thick cushion for your lower back. The waist belt also has plenty of padding so that your hipbones aren’t screaming in pain by the end of the day.  All of the padding and cushions on the Pathway 50 have the airflow mesh to help keep your cool. I took a little 4-mile walk with the bag didn’t really have any weight so I put 25 pounds of books in the bag and topped it off with some clothes just so that I could experience the bag full.

Do you sweat with the air-cooling weave? Yup, you do. Now, I am a sweat-producing machine. I start dripping sweat if I am in the weather that is above 65 degrees. I am very much an air-cooled being. Therefore, when I went walking it was about 55 degrees outdoors. After a 4 miles jaunt, you could see where the pads sat on my back. Now it wasn’t soaked but my shirt was damp enough to see the wet spots.

3-liter water bladder space

Now if you are going to hike a long distance you want to be able to get something to drink. Many people have water bottles and canteens with them. One of the more popular ways to stay hydrated is to have a water bladder with you. The Pathway 50 has a compartment that allows you to hang and store your water bladder. There is a flap on the top of the bag for your hose to go out of. Where you hang your straw? That is the question. The only place I could find was under the load lifter strap

Other key points


The Pathway is water-resistant in away. If you are walking through thick fog or a light drizzle your contents will be ok. If you are in a downpour, you are getting wet and so are the contents in your bag.

Sleeping bag straps

There are sleeping bag straps connected to the bottom of the bag. They will hold a small or thin bag I am not seeing these straps holding a thick bag like my Coleman Oak Point Sleeping bag. Therefore, I may add some thicker and longer web belts so that I can actually carry my bigger bags.

Plenty of loops

As anybody who is walking around you will want to have some extra loops to connect quick access carabiners. On the front handle, there are four loops for having carabiners hanging down the center of the bag so you don’t have to worry about too much weight to one side. Then there are plenty of other loops that may not be expressly meant for carabiners but you can put them on there too. I think I will be doing some small modifications to this bag to add more loops too.

Lots of loops for your clips

High Sierra Pathway 50 Specs

Body Dimensions: 23.0″ x 12.5″ x 9.0″

Weight: 2.9 lbs.

Fits Torso: 18″ – 20″

Capacity: 50 liters/3050 cu in

  • Deep zipper access to large main compartment
  • Large front zippered pocket with internal organizer
  • Hydration compatible up to 3L sold separately
  • Padded air mesh back panel with an internal frame and AIRFLOW technology
  • Padded air mesh shoulder straps with adjustable sternum strap and load-lifter
  • Padded air mesh adjustable hip belt
  • Daisy chain and adjustable trekking pole loops
  • Bottom compression strap sleeping pad attachment

So, that is my new bag. I like it and I have taken it out on a couple of little test runs will be really using it this spring when I go camping and You will probably see it if you are going to the Camp and Coach with me in May. If you are looking for a good starter bag this right here may be a good start. If you are shorter than 6 foot though you may look at a smaller bag and if you are over 6’ 2” then you might look at a little larger bag. This one fits me from my shoulders to my back and I am not seeing it stretching out any. Therefore, if you are interested I would recommend you snag one.

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About Bryan Goodwin

I like being able to help people find their "why" and achieve the personal freedom they desire. Besides writing for Relaxed Male I also am a life coach. By helping men find the leader that is found in each and every one of us. I do this by encouraging men to get outdoors and find the balance they are missing. Realize that they need to be in contact with the outside as often as they can. It is not only good for them but for their families and relationships.

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