EMS Feel Free Pack Review

EMS sent me their Feel Free pack, to see what I thought about it. I found that it works great as a day-pack on the trail or as a portable office command center. It is not a technical back-country pack but its versatility certainly makes it worth a look.
The Facts
The Feel Free is 1,950 cubic inches and weighs in at 1 lb 12 oz.  It has a large main compartment with a hydration bladder pouch and a smaller compartment with plenty of pockets for pens, cell phones and the like.

 This front pocket is ready to organize your gear.

It has two mesh water bottle pockets on the sides with a kangaroo type pouch on the front along with two compression straps.  The pack also has some trail friendly features like an integrated chest strap whistle, and hydration tube holder on the shoulder straps.

This keeps your water where you want it.
Yes that is a whistle.

Versatility is good:
I received the pack mid week with no hikes in sight; this was when I saw how versatile it can be. The hydration bladder pouch makes a great laptop pouch; the front pouch has separate pockets that fit an iPad, pens, mice, cords and anything else you might take to work. The Fee Free officially replaced my old corporate laptop bag. I have taken it to work every day and it is a lot less clunky and more organized than anything else I have used. Ok, enough about the office; this blog is about being outside.
I packed up the Feel Free for a few miles worth of hiking on the Mount Holyoke Range. I found the variety of pockets kept extra clothes, food and gear extremely organized and accessible. It also has good padding and felt very comfortable on the trail. One of my favorite features is the fleece lined pocket on top of the pack. It is great for storing sunglasses, cameras or anything you want to quickly access while walking.

You will wonder what you did without this pocket.

The Feel Free doesn’t have enough volume for multi day trips or winter hikes but it works great for just about every other hiking situation.

What could be better?                                          
Of course no gear is perfect. The kangaroo pouch was probably designed to store snacks or easy to access gear. However, it has an open top with no closure so I did not trust putting anything expensive in it out of fear that it would fall out. If it had some sort of closure it could be a great feature.

The kangaroo pouch means well

I also don’t see the function of the front compression straps. Most packs have these straps on the side which are great for carrying trekking poles or other clunky gear.

Front compression straps
The Verdict:
The Feel Free pack looks great and serves a variety of purposes. I recommend checking it out; especially if your budget only lets you buy one pack.
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2 thoughts on “EMS Feel Free Pack Review

  1. Great review! Does this pack offer any type of water resistance? Also, you mention you wouldn't recommend it for winter hikes, but could it potentially suffice for short winter outings?
    Thanks!

  2. Thanks! I don't think the pack has any built in water resistance. I always recommend a pack cover or stowing your gear in water proof bags. It could certainly work for short winter hikes. I don't think it is a good winter pack for longer outings because it does not have the volume to store bulky winter gear and there is nowhere to store snowshoes, skis or crampons.

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