I have owned an Ostrum internal frame canoe pack for close to 20 years. It has been used extensively . It is still like new. In my opinion you cannot buy a better canoe pack.
I intended to order a Winisk or Quetico after doing all the obsessive online 'research', which is really just cyber-shopping (c'mon lets face it). Also on my radar were all the usual high-enders from other well respected vendors. I'll always try to buy local first and I guess Ontario is local enough to Nova Scotia; I do have family there and it is in Canada (I love you Ontario, you big, wealthy @#$%). Coming from a distance cycling (randonneuring) and trail running background I'm a bit too obsessed with light weight gear so a 7 pound canoe pack seemed outrageous to me... but hey, I have strong legs so.... Anyway, my questions were answered by Bill and Anne honestly and fairly promptly (there was a slight delay because they were out somewhere on a canoe trip. Can't fault them for that, nope). I decided to buy the big red, beastly 7 pound pack; the canoe carries the weight most of the time anyway and I do love punishment. The pack's first trip was a solo 6 hours of paddling and portaging on easy trails through some classic Scotian backcountry with the granite and the muck and the coniferous beauty. I went a bit nuts and stuffed the bag with the kitchen sink and all. Holy @#$% this bag is awesome! It carried the weight really well just as advertised. At points I even had the weight of the canoe on the top of the pack and it was still awesome, the weight transferred to my hips and my legs were doing most of the work. Single carries - macho man! - and the much more sensible double carries were as pleasant as could be. I hefted and tossed the bag with the handles like I've never dared heft and toss before, which made mucky and rocky take outs easier. I was happy as a clam to get the pack very filthy. On subsequent trips I carried way less gear and the bag cinched it all up very nicely. I'm a convert to internally framed packs now. No regrets on spending the big bucks at all. I'm sure it'll last a lifetime. Thanks Bill and Anne. Ostrom rocks.
I used the Wabakimi on a four day whitewater canoe trip on the Noire river recently and it performed beautifully. The strap and harness system is fantastic, making portaging a dream compared to some other packs I have used in the past. This pack has well thought out pockets, a well designed hip belt, and beefy strong shoulder straps. These features are all custom to my size, and the internal frame gives structure. Look no further, you have quality here!
My wife has had this pack for a season now and ready to write a review. First off the service received was beyond our expectations. All of our questions about sizing where answered promptly and a ton of time was spent with us. Secondly I still got the waist belt size wrong (careful about this when buying as a gift for your partner). Of course this was days away from our first planned trip and Bill shipped one out that day
The pack itself is intelligently designed with a great big pocket on top. Strapping on the side and handles everywhere! Seriously not sure how you could throw this in a canoe without having a handle available to lift out. The waist belt and shoulder straps are top of line and very comfortable.
Heavy duty material, intelligent design and comfort. Highly recommend this pack and will be buying one for myself this year.