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ProView – Exped Impulse 15

Like many outdoor enthusiasts, I enjoy gear…lots and lots of gear.  I’m told I have too many backpacks.  However, I am always searching for the “swiss army” of backpacks that can perform for me in all locations and occasions.  Living in Washington State with the full four seasons and multiple climates I’ve yet to find the pack to rule all packs, but the Exped Impulse 15 is on track to become my go-to-pack for many of my future adventures.  

Exped Impulse 15

Product Description: Impulse is a versatile companion for a wide range of ambitious day tours, from all-day trail runs to alpine mountaineering and day hiking. The zippered main compartment opens wide at the top for easy access to clothing and larger items.

Offer price: MSRP: $119.00

  • Quality
    (5)
  • Features
    (5)
  • Durability
    (4)
  • Fit
    (5)
  • Breathability
    (3)

Summary

The streamlined aesthetics, low profile, and multiple storage options of the pack create a backpack with a high level of functionality.  The pack feels well made and has held up to many trips in the outdoors.  For day hikes, mountain biking, shed hunting, trail runs, and scrambling in the mountains this is a great backpack.  My only complaint is the breathability of the backpack on my back.  However, when I’m heading outdoors I suspect I’ll reach for the Impulse 15 more often than not.

Overall
4.4

Pros

  • Comfortable fit with wider shoulder straps
  • Large zippered main opening
  • Well designed organization of the inner pack
  • Durable exterior, especially the bottom of the pack

Cons

  • Minimal breathability
  • No pockets on the hip belt for the 15-liter pack (there are pockets on the 25 and 35 liter versions)
  • Cord compression system is extraneous and caught up my water bottle more than helping out with any load adjusting. 
  • Zippers and buckles are small and could be difficult with gloves on during colder seasons.
  • Material on the back of the pack is soft but causes sweaty back.

This summer the Impulse 15 has been my companion on numerous socially distanced day hikes and trail runs throughout Washington forests, mountains, and coastal areas.  

Fit/Comfort

The Impulse 15 is a streamlined daypack that, mile after mile, sat comfortably on my torso due to a “thermo-formed next-to-body foam panel” and internal foam board frame.  The downside of the soft foam pad is after hours on the trail exerting my back ended up soaked by the end of my trip.  The fit of the backpack is accentuated further with wide soft shoulder straps and an adjustable sternum strap.  The waist belt is a thin strap with a buckle which is common in smaller liter packs.  For my hikes, I tended to not use the waist strap, but during trail runs, I quickly snapped that hip belt otherwise the pack bounced around too much on my back.  There is also the option of removing the waist belt completely if desired.  On the exterior of the pack is a cord compression system to snug down your load.  I found little use for this system and more often than not it was catching up with my Nalgene or shell that I was trying to stow into one of the three exterior mesh pockets.  The colors offered by Exped are traditional (no eye-searing fluorescent colors here) and the labeling on the pack is minimal, both of which I prefer.

Features/Construction

The outside of the pack consists of a super-durable ripstop nylon with the lower bottom of the pack being further reinforced to protect the pack from whatever tree stump, rock, or scree field you drop it into.  On each side of the pack are stretch mesh pockets which are deep and snug enough for a 32 ounce Nalgene.  I never once lost my Nalgene as I barreled down a scree field.  There is also a long stretch pocket in the middle exterior to stuff a lightweight shell or fleece for easy accessibility.  Near the top of the pack is an external padded pocket for a cell phone, small camera, or snacks.  Lastly, on the exterior there are daisy chains on each side of the large mesh pocket.     

You access the main compartment of the backpack through a single large zippered opening at the top of the pack.  As you peer inside there is a small zippered pocket on the inside of the lid.  There is also a large zippered pocket on the frame side of the pack which can be adjusted to be the full length of the pack or converted into a medium-sized pocket.  Behind this larger pocket is the fabric sleeve to insert a hydration bladder and run the tube through a port on either side of the pack.  The last storage feature is a mesh pocket on the left inside of the pack which I found useful as the perfect spot for my collapsible tripod.  The 25 and 35 liter packs should be big enough to be used as an inner water bottle mesh pocket, but that isn’t the case for the 15-liter pack.  

Exped claims the outer pack material is highly-water repellent, but I was unable to test this feature as we’ve had no rain in Washington.  I can attest to the overall durability of the nylon pack, especially the bottom section which held up to rocks, trees, and scree fields.

The Final Word

The streamlined aesthetics, low profile, and multiple storage options of the pack create a backpack with a high level of functionality.  The pack feels well made and has held up to many trips in the outdoors.  For day hikes, mountain biking, shed hunting, trail runs, and scrambling in the mountains this is a great backpack.  My only complaint is the breathability of the backpack on my back.  However, when I’m heading outdoors I suspect I’ll reach for the Impulse 15 more often than not.

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About the Gear Tester

Outdoor Prolink Pro
Ryan Beachy
Search and Rescue

Ryan Beachy is a Physician Assistant and volunteer SAR member.  You can find him outdoors hiking, running, biking, and shooting photography.  He lives in Washington State with his wife, two daughters, and a feisty cockapoo.  You can connect with him on Instagram at @cascadia_argonaut.

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