Rated 2 out of 5 by tpsnj Returned this because...
We have the AT 35 for day hikes and I really like that pack so we bought the AT 55 for overnights. (The well loaded 35 doesn't work well for my wife but I'll post a review about that in the appropriate place.)
We are partial to this type of suspension system for 2 main reasons. 1. It is sooo much cooler for our backs. 2. Due to back issues, it is the only type that my wife can tolerate. A 3rd reason would be overall comfort.
Up until recently I only had the 55 out a couple times on short local day hikes and with light loads. A couple of weeks ago we were on the AT in NJ to do a trial run with full packs prepping for a section hike, and here the short-comings surfaced. Bean's only offers this in med and large, while apparently I need a small. Loaded to a total of 30lbs I found the top of the pack bouncing fore and aft and no amount of adjustments or repacking could remove it. My left shoulder was becoming more and more irritated and about 2 hours out we decided to turn around. I don't consider this to be a fault of the pack but simply a fitting issue. The med is just too long for those of use with short torso's. With very light loads the pack is actually quite comfortable, however...
The one fault I do find with the pack is that the internal frame intrudes so much into the space of the pack, making it unnecessarily difficult to pack and unpack it. This is made still worse by using a bladder, which I omitted on our trial hike to make more room, using the external side pockets for 3 - 1ltr bottles (plus tent poles!). Some re-engineering is definitely needed here.
I wound up replacing the 55 with an Osprey Atmos AG65 which uses this same type of suspension. I wanted to have the pack fitted to me at the store, but Bean's PA store didn't have any so I purchased elsewhere. I got the small and with the adjustable yoke was able to get a 'perfect' fit. With a full load it feels great around the yard, for whatever that's worth :) We also got the women's version in 50ltr. We intend to load 'em up and hit the AT again this Sunday for another shakedown run.
July 1, 2015
Rated 4 out of 5 by Kodiac15 perfect for 3 day adventure
My first hiking pack with the new internal frame system, definitely comfortable and helps distribution of air and keeps you cool but I feel you loose valuable space with the new frame system . Highly comfortable even when maxed out. I absolutely like the hiking pole holders they also work great for fishing poles and fly rod. Hoping to find a rain guard cover for the pack .
May 13, 2015
Rated 1 out of 5 by paddlesandportages Weak Internal Frame
The internal frame of this pack broke on a portage while I was carrying a Grummon. I was the only one out of 20 who had pack problems. This product was not synonymous with the level of quality I have come to expect from L.L. Bean.
October 13, 2014
Rated 1 out of 5 by HikeMountains Pack not Beanlike
I am a huge fan of LL Bean but feel they missed the mark on this one. I purchased this pack recently and used it on a 3 day backpacking trip in the White Mountains of NH.
I find it ironic that this pack's strengths are also its weaknesses.
First the strengths- this pack is very lightweight. The frame system does a great job of supplying plenty of ventilation on the wearer's back.
However, the lightweight comes at a cost of durabilty. I wore this pack for 3 days and it looks like it has gone through several seasons. I am very careful where I set my pack when removing but even with this effort a hole wore into the fabric of one of the water bottle carriers. Also a durability concern is that the internal frame is the low point of the pack. This lowpoint is what contacts with the ground when setting the pack down. I noticed after three days of use the fabric covering the bottom of the frame frayed.
Another concern I had regarding the internal frame is the amount of space it consumes in the pack main compartment. I found I had to wrestle to get my 20 degree sleeping back (in a compression sack )under the frame and into the pack.
The pack was reasonably comfortable with a 25-30 pound load but I found it necessary to adjust it frequently.
One of the biggest reasons I shop nearly exclusively for my outdoor gear at LL Bean is their satisfaction guarantee. I returned this pack and purchased a White Mountain 65. This pack appears to be more durable and much more spacious. The small weight penalty over the AT 55 should be worth it. I am looking forward to trying it in the field.
September 21, 2014
Rated 4 out of 5
by fchin3044 Men's 55 Pack Medium
A great looking and durable back pack. The suspension system is a plus but beware, the arch of the aluminum brace takes up a large amount of interior space. Its like having a big lump in the middle of the pack thus, hindering amount of things you can put in. I recommend to LL Bean Co. that the suspension be more like the AT 35 pack which has less of arch. If you want more space then get a pack without the suspension. If you want comfort, stability & moderate space then get the suspension system. PS: I would have opted for the larger size but my torso does not meet recommended LL Bean guidelines.
May 31, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by clxt The best pack i have ever owned
I no longer have to strap any thing on the out side of the pack that i don't want to get wet. The pouch on the front of the pack holds both my rain fly for my tent and my poncho , it fits all of my gear because it is the men's large and it can hold 58 liters. Also the two elastic strings with the hooks at the ends that are located on the front of the pack hold my snow shows for hiking in the winter. It is also the most comfortable pack i have owned. It is a little pricey for me but it is worth it.
June 29, 2013