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Backpacks  !



From: Mike Horsley
Type of Gear: Backpacks
Name of Gear: Bora 40
Manufacturer: Arc'Teryx

Just a note on my experiences with the Arc'Teryx Bora 40. I went mountain hut hopping for 6 days/5 nights in the Stubai Alps in Austria last month. I needed only 40 - 50 liter capacity (2,500 -3,000 cu in), and I'm only 5'6", so I chose the Bora 40 over the larger Khamsin 50. Hut hopping alleviates sleeping bag, tent, stove, and most food. For the week I carried 23 pounds (6 of it food). The pack performed very well with the light load. I also used it to climb Scafell Pike (tallest in England - 3200 ft) and Mt. Snowdon (tallest in Wales - 3500 ft) with light day hike loads. Superlight construction always has me wondering about long term durability, but so far I'm very pleased. Recommendations: 1) If the foam padding in the back had verticle grooves, cooling might be improved, 2) I threw away the cute zipper pulls immediately. Overall it does the job in comfort.


From: Peter Zurla, 11/25/96
Type of Gear: Backpacks
Name of Gear: Andinista
Manufacturer: Wild Things

You mentioned the Wild Things Andinista (an internal frame, top loading pack which has a capacity of 5000 cubic inches, one main compartment, three pockets, and weighs a tiny 3 lbs, 8 oz..). What you left out was the zipper system which gives you 3 packs in one. 5000cu in. 3600 with 1 zipper open 1800 with both zippers closed (which means you can leave your summit pack home) They are also using technora as the pack fabric. If you think about getting one I would also tell them when you order it that you also want the compression straps.


From: John, 11/02/97
Email: "Cedar Mountain Sports"
Type of Gear: Backpack
Name of Gear: Flyte
Manufacturer: Osprey

Type of pack: Internal
Size: 4400
Number of pockets: 2
Max Weight carried by owner: 45lbs
Height of owner: 5'8"
Price: $280

If you like going fast and light this is the pack for you. I've spent an entire week and love this pack. The compression system with the various attachements for any type of activity make this pack a great pack for climbing, backpacking, winter travel and canyoneering. Osprey knows how to make a great pack for the dollars spent and competes with all the big boys. Try one on, you'll love it.


From: Ming Dong, 2/20/97
Type of Gear: Backpack
Name of Gear: Spectre
Manufacturer: Osprey

I read (Charles') review of the Flyte. So I went to the local Osprey dealer to check it out. They had me try on the newer, larger Spectre. The Spectre is very similer to the Flyte except:
- slightly larger capacity
- uses the more heavily padded belt from the larger packs
- has a side access zipper (Flyte is top loading only)
- slightly heavier (of course)

The dealer stuffed it with 45lbs of gear and had me walk around for 30 minutes. It felt great.

Compared with the Dana Killer B series, (I was looking at those too) the Spectre was stiffer and maintained its shape (form) better when stuffed with gear and strapped tight. I also found the hip belt more comfortable. Although it *is* heavier. Worth the added weight in my book. I did not care for the high-tech look of the pack. I was told the reason for the white stripes was because the special high strength fibers could not be dyed.

I bought the Spectre.


The Spectre (and the Flyte in 1997) is produced using a ripstop nylon with a spectre fiber grid for strengh and abrasion resistance. The spectre fiber is made of the same spectre material the Kelty White Cloud and White Phantom are made of.


From: Scott Crosson, 10/15/97
Type of Gear: Backpack
Name of Gear: Alpinisto
Manufacturer: Gregory

This is an internal frame pack, capacity 3600 cu in, has one pocket, weighs about 3 1/2 pounds and cost US $225.

I've had this pack for a little over a year now, and it seems to be holding up very well. It's quite comfortable for light alpine loads, even overstuffed for multi-day forays into the Tetons.

The padding is adequate and stays on your hips, and it cinches down really tight into your back for climbing--I've done 5.7 rock and AI3 ice while wearing it. The drop-out tool sleeves are very nice but everyone seems to be offering them nowadays. A tough Cordura crampon patch prevents holes (and, once nicked up, confounds neighboring sport climbers on the days you use it for cragging).

The removable foam bivy pad has saved my ass on a forced bivy last March, though I often leave it at home as it eats up some interior room if you're bringing along a lot of gear/clothes; it doesn't really offer any additional padding--the single-stay reinforced plastic sheets keeps stuff from poking you in the pack. The only big flaw is that this pack could definitely use at least one daisy chain.


From: Charles Garrett, 06/24/97
Type of Gear: Daypack/Light Overnight
Name of Gear: Attack 40
Manufacturer: Lowe Alpine

I recently bought the Attack 40 as a small pack that I could use when on my motorcycle. I bought it mainly because of it's low price. After bringing it home and checking it out, I found some features which might interest you. The pack uses a removable foam pad as it's frame. I found that this pad can be replaced by a Thermarest 3/4 ultralite pad. The pack also comes with an internal 2.5 liter hydration system. At 2400, the Attack 40 seems to be an inexpensive alternative for ultralight hiking.



From: Daniel Cantrell, 04/24/97
Type of Gear: Backpack
Name of Gear: Jet Pack
Manufacturer: Dana Designs

As a Dana owner you probably know about this already, but I didn't see it on any of the pages so I thought I'd drop you a line. Dana came out with a new pack line. They're smaller than the "Bs", and have no framesheet, only two "wands" that provide a surprising amount of support. I ended up with the Jet Pack, which is 3100ci, weighs 3 1/2 lbs, and is the biggest of the bunch (they're now making the Big Sky on this frame). I paid $218.00 plus tax.

The pack has two outside pockets, similar the Bridger & Terraplane, but they meet at the bottom ( a great place to shove your groundsheet), and the sleeping bag compartment has 2 spandura side panels which work wonderfully, making plenty of room for your bag (I was skeptical about this at first, but the stuff is tough as nails, feels just like the 1000 denier bottom, and handled 5 days worth of abuse in the desert without a scratch). The hipbelt is perfect. It consists of two pads about 4 or 5 inches long that allow you to load on your hips without restricting your movement. Like other Dana packs, it carries beautifully.

Like you, I've been searching for the perfect two pound pack for a couple of years, but I'm hard on packs, and the ones that I've tried are either not durable enough, or they carry like a stone. This pack weighs a pound more, but in my humble opinion it acheives a balance between weight, durability, and comfort that I have yet to see elsewhere.

My sole complaint is that the colors being offered by Dana this year are God-awful (Blurple, Mango, and Gnarly look as bad as they sound).

From: Daniel Cantrell, 06/06/97
Type of Gear: Backpack
Name of Gear: Jet Pack
Manufacturer: Dana Designs


I wrote to you about a month ago regarding the Dana Jet Pack, and you indicated that you were interested in hearing how the pack handled off trail. Here's the scoop.

I recently took off with a friend on a 4 day cross country excursion. We spent most of our trail time scrambling around (in between peak bagging,fishing, and generally farting around), probably covering about 17-20 miles off trail, and another 10 on intermittent tread.

The pack fit marvelously, though I did exchange the medium sized shoulder pads for larger ones when I bought it. The pack sucks right up to your back when you crank down on the load lifter, shoulder pad, and hipbelt straps. I didn't use the sternum straps once, which is unusual for me (though admittedly we encountered nothing over class 3 in the way of obstacles). The hipbelt took a little getting used to. The active frame FEELS like its pushing outward at the hips, and more than once I pulled on my hipbelt strap to tighten it, only to find out that it was tightly secured. It took some getting used to. The hipbelt seemed to transfer weight well, though with a light load (about 26 pounds) this was of little consequence. The big off trail plus for this pack was its stability. Once the straps are cranked, this pack doesn't move, and best of all, nothing about the pack's fit impaired or limited my movement (REALLY unusual).

The fabric was, as expected, forgiving of the several times I turfed, scraped, and slid up and down those rocks, and the outside pockets are a dream (I never realized what a pain it was to open the packbag to get at some necessary item until I no longer had to).

All things considered, I think this thing is more comfortable than my Alpine.


From: Joel Dobson, 10/9/97
Type of Gear: Backpack
Name of Gear: Reality
Manufacturer: Gregory

The Reality is the most comfortable pack I've used in about 35 years of toting packs around in the woods.

It is an internal frame pack, 4050 cu in, has 2 pockets, weighs 4 lbs, 13 oz, and cost $200.

I like minimalist backpacking, but with max comfort. I will sacrifice weight only for very important (to me) comfort gains. I refuse to carry more than 32 lb (exclusive of water) on my back for any trip of 4 days or less. My criteria for buying a 3 day pack then, are: 4000 cu in max, less than 5 lb., and excellent fit/comfort.

What I like about the Reality: 1. The molded back conforms very nicely to my back. 2. There is a very large front cargo pocket that will hold a rain shell, a water bladder, etc. When you open this cargo pocket you can see most of what's inside the main compartment because the two are separated by a heavy, wide-mesh divider that zips open giving you access to the main compartment. This is a god send. 3. The waistbelt is very comfortable as are the shoulder straps.

What I think could be improved: 1. Where the shoulder straps return to the lower part of the pack, they are too tight to my ribs. It doesn't cause a significant problem, but it is a little annoying. 2. The lid pocket opens only from the front of the pack (nearest your head). 3. The net pockets on either side of the pack are obstructed by adjustment straps that make these pockets unusable.

Overall: When shopping for a pack in the 4000 cu in category I compared the 3 packs I determined were most comfortable and servicable: the Reality, the Dana Bridger, and the Osprey Impala. In the store the Gregory won out for practical design, apparent comfort, and utility.

Since using it, I find it to have been an excellent purchase. One caution: keep the load under 40 lb; one time I was carrying a couple of full water bladders in addition to my normal 32 lb and I felt that I had exceeded the ability of the suspension system to give comfort.


From: Cory Silken, 10/10/97
Type of Gear: Day Pack
Name of Gear: Ice Sack
Manufacturer: Wild Things
Price: $ 145

This pack is a great mountaineering daypack! It has two axe tubes with straps to attach crampons in between. The main compartment is very spacious with three compression straps on either side and closes with two draw cords: a lower one and one atop an extension tube.

The pack has three pockets -- main, lid, map pkt. The lid pocket is +/- 400ci with ample room for lots of small items like a head lamp, small camera, goggles, etc. On the bottom of this pocket is convenient map pocket.

The material is quite tough and VERY water proof. I'm sure that it will be able to withstand any downpour when I seal the seams. Another plus of this pack is its weight. It comes in between 2.75 to 3 pounds and has a 3000 - 4000 cu in capacity.

There is no frame other than the removable foam back pad. Even though it is such a large daypack, when I remove the foam pad, it is compact enough to be lashed to a larger pack. The straps of this pack are quite comfy, and it is quite a large daypack, but I don't think that it is large enough, or sturdy enough (no frame), to carry winter overnight gear. Also, it does not have many external straps, When I want to carry more than will fit inside I use my Dana Terraplane Overkill instead.


From: Nat Papovich, 10/10/97
Type of Gear: Backpack
Name of Gear: Bridger
Manufacturer: Dana Designs

The Bridger is an internal frame pack; has 4 pockets and a capacity of 3300 - 4000 cu in; it weighs 4 1/2 pounds and cost $ 250.

Once you decide to carry lighter loads for ALL your backpacking, this is a good pack to have. Provided the fit is correct, many days worth of gear can be carried.

I have used this pack primarily for trips up to one week. It looks just like Dana's Terraplane. The suspension is recommended for up to 40 lbs. but only slight discomfort appears approaching 60 lbs. It has the full complement of Dana's bigger pack features like contoured straps, 1000d & 500d cordura, storm sleeve, top pocket, etc. The hipbelt may appear to be lacking in padding, but it wraps all over your hips, not directly on top, thus not requiring much padding. It rides very well and stable. Classic compression, stabilizer, and lifter straps abound. The front pockets hold two nalgene's a piece. A single alum. stay w/ plastic framesheet provide enough support for the loads you may feel like carrying. I have used it climbing as well, and it performs adequately. A somewhat clean profile makes arm movements smooth, and big zippers with 1000d cordura body make it strong. The Overkill version offered adds only 1000d in the pockets, yippee.

I recommend it highly for whatever you want.


From: james chizmadia, 11/11/97
Type of Gear: Backpack
Name of Gear: RED CLOUD
Manufacturer: KELTY

Weight: 5LB 7OZ
Capacity: 4500 ( to 5600) CU IN
Cost: 139.00




From: Coosa Carol Donaldson, 11/11/97
Type of Gear: Backpack
Name of Gear: ArcAltitude M-80
Manufacturer: Dana Designs

Weight: 3 lb 9oz (1.6 kg)
Capacity: 2300 ci (38 litres)
Cost: $219.00 (list)
Conditions: Lightweight backpacking

Although Dana describes this pack as a mid-sized pack for alpinist, skier, or extended day hiker, this top-loading pack works well for the lightweight backpacker as well.

The internals of this internal frame pack include two fiberglass rods, one end attached to a crossbar at the top, above the shoulder straps, the other incorporated directly into the integral hipbelt. These preflexed fiberglass rods channel the weight to the hips at the cusp of the pelvic bone. A fibreglass stay, just under the shoulder straps keeps the other rods and your pack flat across your back. The 'framesheet' is made of Dana's breathable Zephyr foam. With the usual Dana adjustment capabilities and the inter- changable shoulderpads, no matter which sized pack you choose for your body length and comfort, this pack will handle 30 lbs on your back and make it feel as if it's a lot less weight.

The M-80 has a Dana Shovit attached directly onto the pack (the JetPack has the capability of adding the Shovit). And the Beavertail Shovit has two strips of daisy chains. The ice ax loops are standard. There is a Hypalon crampon patch on top.

Additional information:

Medium: 3' 12" (1.7 kg) & 3100 ci (51 l)
Large: 3' 15" (1.8 kg) & 3300 ci (54 l)
Colors: Black, Burple, Spruce

Can be customized with additional Dana add-on pockets, wet/dry/bottle rib, etc.

Personal experience: I went from a medium external (JanSport Bryce) to the M-80 and from 35-40 lbs on my back to 25-30. The M-80 carries the weight so well that it feels like 1/3 to 1/2 the weight when I have it on my back. I have started using lighter equipment as a result of the smaller ci of this pack. I don't have my gear list down to 30 lbs for a 7 day hike just yet, but with time, I think I will.

I recommend that lightweight backpackers take a look at this top-loading pack.


From: Bill Gockeler, 12/29/97
Type of Gear: Backpack
Manufacturer & Name of Gear: Dana Designs ArcAltitude M-80
Weight: 3 lb 9oz (1.6 kg)
Capacity: 2500 ci (38 litres)
Cost: $199.00
Reviewer's Height & Weight: 6' 185 pounds
Conditions: 3-Seasons - All Conditions
Usage: Lightweight Backpacking

I purchased this pack for lightweight trips. It is really a wonderful pack. It is light and yet extremely comfortable.

The hipwing type belt is very comfortable, I was a little concerned about it as it looks kind of wimpy. For loads up to 30 pounds, it's a great pack.

I just recently returned from Mt. Washington and found it's body-hugging design quite nice during our ascent of Huntington Ravine - even with 35 lbs.

I would not suggest it for weights over 35 lbs, actually 30 or under is probably the best.

The beavertail shove-it feature is quite versatile for storing rain gear or other items that must be accessed quickly. Overall it's a great pack.


From: Ted Coleman, 06/20/98
Manufacturer: Macpac
Model: Rocketeer size 3
Suggested use: Climbing, Daypack, Skiing
Rated Capacity (Manufacturer): 2745 ci.
Capacity as tested: 2570 ci.
Weight (Manufacturer): 3 LB. 1 oz.
Weight as tested: 3 LB 15 oz.
Height unextended: 26 inches
Height extended: N/A
Access: Panel
Subjective load rating: 30-35 lbs.

Note: Capacity includes all pockets, lid, and main pack compartment(s). Capacity was calculated by filling the compartments with measured amounts of water. Weight is complete pack as shipped from the manufacturer. Height is measured with the pack stuffed as full as possible while still being able to fully close all draw cords, zippers etc.

Construction features: The main body of the pack is made from a material Macpac calls AzTec. It is a blend of cotton and polyester with waterproofing and wax compounds bound to the fabric at the molecular level, according to the Macpac literature. The fabric is supposed to be totally waterproof; in fact a picture in the brochure shows a couple people wading about chest high with their packs on. Nylon zipper and buckles. All nylon strapping is big, beefy and more than adequate. Stitching is 8 per inch and very neat. Interior seams are bound.

Suspension: Full width and length removable nylon frame sheet with one removable aluminum stay down the middle. The stay is easily formed to fit the curvature of the back. Shoulder straps are approx.. 5/8” thick by 2-1/2” wide firm foam covered in pack cloth and nylon. They are sewn directly to the pack at the top and are adjustable at the bottom. There are both load lifter straps and a sternum strap. 5/8” soft foam back padding runs full width and height. The waist band is approx.. 1” thick and is a two component system of closed cell on the outside and soft foam inside covered in nylon. Top and side compression straps complete the suspension system.

Fitting: The pack fit me (5’-10”) pretty good right out of the box. I put 26 lbs in it for a total of 30 lbs. including the pack and was happy with the feel and fit. The waist band is substantial enough to put the load on the hips and could even stand a few more pounds besides. There is a neat strap system that serves a dual function of both side compression strap and lower anti-sway strap. Really pulls everything in tight.

Amenities: Lots to offer here. Primarily designed as a climbing pack, it has numerous loops and attachment points for the different types of climbing gear. On the front of the pack is a 9”x11” zippered flat pocket for maps, the zipper on the side for easy access. Also on the front is a 15”x15” pocket, open at the top that can be let out by releasing the upper side compression straps. It can be let out far enough to hold a jacket, rope, or even a tent or a small sleeping bag, then compressed tight again by pulling the compression strap. Neat idea. Theres also a bungie cord on the front to stuff gear under.

Praise: Very well constructed. The AzTec fabric is like nothing I’ve ever seen before; real tough stuff. All the components work well together, and the pack rides very well for a framesheet.

Punishment: Biggest complaint: not adjustable for torso length. I would use the ladder system just like the Macpac Ravine I just got. The other thing I see that I don’t like is the storm flap covering the main panel zipper. It faces (in my opinion) the wrong way. If you were pushing through brush the flap would catch and open.

Final Verdict: A bullet proof little pack. Of all the packs from around the world I’ve had the privilege to review, the Macpacs are the finest thus far. I give it a 4-1/2 out of 5 stars.


From: Andrew, 12/21/97
Type of Gear: Internal Frame Backpack
Name of Gear: Finesse 97
Manufacturer: Osprey

Weight: around 4 lbs
Capacity: 3000 cu in (Medium)
Cost: $190.00
Usage: Lightweight Backpacking (Max weight carried approx 30 lbs)
Reviewer's Height: 5 foot 10 inches

Quite simply put, this pack is a top-notch performer. It is rugged, agile, and adept at handling a variety of load considerations; to these ends, I use the Finesse to carry all of my photography gear (large tripod tethered to the side), all of my regular Rocky Mountain day gear and it still has just enough room for my lunch, without crushing my crackers!

So impressed was I that I recommended it to a friend, who, upon talking with the salesman at a local, trusted outdoor retailer, decided to purchase the Finesse Pro.

Osprey has included such additions as their "Vector" system of interchangeable attachments allowing for various sorts of pack-volume additions as well as specialty attachments such as their "Vector Snow/Ice" that allows for better crampon attachment and the "Vector Chair," which is actually a folding camp chair that, like the other Vector additions, attaches to the rear of the pack via quick-releases. The Vector system, along with several, well placed compression straps, help this pack hand all your gear extremely well.

With any overexagerations aside and as my above "novel" should imply, this is a great pack for those who like flexibility in pack loads, durability, and comfort all in a nice, tidy package.

Note: make sure you spend enough time at the store or on your own making sure the pack's aluminium stay matches your back's curves, if not, it won't make any difference how well designed this pack is.


From: David Link, 06/20/98
Type of Gear: Lumbar Pack
Name of Gear: Hermon Monster Lumbar Pack
Manufacturer: Jandd Mountaineering

Weight: 32 oz
Capacity: 600 cu in
Cost: $64.95
Usage: Lightweight Backpacking (Max weight carried approx 30 lbs)
Reviewer's Height & Weight: 6'0", 230 lbs
Conditions = Summer - Moderate Conditions
Usage = Hiking & Backpacking

The problem: to get my traditional daypack to stay balanced and comfortable, it's gotta be full. The tendency: to overpack. Sometimes seriously. Hardly lightweight hiking.

The Jandd Mountaineering "Hermon Monster" lumbar pack has been the perfect solution. The pack has an HDPE framesheet and small aluminum stay, which combined with 4 compression straps guarantee that the pack rides the same whether it's loaded or empty. The cushy padded mesh hipbelt as found on Jandd's large packs combine with a nice fat lumbar pad for exceptional comfort. Two straps on the back of the pack allow one to hang a windbreaker or fleece jacket on the outside.

Jandd's construction is totally bombproof with heavy stitching and beefy zippers, so I expect this "handmade in USA" pack to last for a very long time.

Once I got over the mental hangup that this wasn't a "real" backpack, this became the obvious solution to my problem. I am now covering many more miles a day, and often forget that I'm even wearing it. And, I never overpack!


From: mkiley, 01/16/98
Type of Gear: Internal Frame Backpack
Manufacturer & Name of Gear: Lowe Alpine Attack® 60 Pack

Weight: over 5 lbs
Capacity: 4500 cu in

I brought in a Alpine Attack 60 a few months ago as a replacement for my 3 yr. old Snopeak 50. It is as most Lowe Alpine products - well made with a good warranty. However, despite its many good features eg. adjustable straps, padded flexible waist belt, detachable hood etc., it is a bit gimmicky.

It has 3 pockets on the inside but they don't go to the bottom. So when you pack them it is hard to remove items farther down when you reach down for them. The pocket at the back for the pad sticks to the pad when you try to put it in. If you wrap the pad in a plastic bag it slides in easier. The pad is too small for a mattress and too big for a sit pad. Hydration systems I find to be a gimmick anyway. Being a tall pack, the stuff at the bottom should be the last items you want during the day. Also the pack at over 5 lbs. is not that light.

In short, a nice pack for some people but not for me. I sold it at a discount and am still using my old Snopeak. The 50 liter model with the inside pockets cut out would probably be a better choice.


From: Steve "Sherpa" Luker, 03/20/98
Type of Gear: Backpack
Manufacturer & Name of Gear = Vortex "7000" series
Weight: 7 pounds 4 oz.
Capacity: just like the name says-7ooo cu. in. expands to a back-breaking 7,410 cu in.
Cost: around 350 i believe (got mine for 189)
Conditions: 4-Seasons - All Conditions
Reviewer's Height & Weight = 5''11' 140 lbs (soking wet after a big meal)
Usage = "Lightweight Backpacking"

This pack, made exclusively in salt lake city by "vortex" is a full-fledged Expedition pack that has no equal. I got it for dirt cheap (insider/local discount or something) direct from the six or so folks who make them.

This pack is Triple stitched with kevlar, yes kevlar (bullet proof material)at all stress points. Absolutely bomb proof. I first used it for back-country skiing in the wasatch range Of northern Utah every weekend. Perfect size for my skis, buckled down solid. Then, my buddy and I went climbing for a week. All my gear took up 1/2 (I swear) the Space (this was for one week!). Good thing too because my buddy got sick and we Had to bail, and I had to carry all his stuff except for his water and frame. The 7000 Handled it no problem.

Specifically, all the goodies are there- polycarbonite stays Molded suspension
500 denier cordura body
1600 denier ballistic bottom
Internal compression system (as if you'll ever need to compress anything in this Behemoth)
Ample daisy chains and ice axe loops (kevlar! Kevlar! Kevlar!)
Shovel pocket
Many many extras

This pack beats all other bags I’ve seen, heard about, used, or dreamed of. Find me One this big, sturdy, comfy, and this light, nevermind cost, I will buy a dozen. Vortex's guarantee is insane- if you don’t like the fit, or the way it rides or the belt Or harness are too loose, they will fix it. This story sums it up--I stood there and Watched as a guy brought in an older model pack and said "how much to put on a New belt, this one is getting to be too snug" the vortex guy grabbed it from him, Took it into the back, 5 or so later he came back "just put on a larger belt and Upgraded the padding and style for ya" free of charge! This pack was several years Old! "need it stitched agin?" The guy was too pleased about the belt to hassle these Guys for another round of kevlar on his bag.

Seriously...if you want a real expedition pack with extreme versatility, this is it. Hand made by some good guys who build them for themselves and their buddies, And sometimes a customer who needs the best packs you can buy. I do not work for vortex and this is not an ad for vortex, but I owe it to the fellas To give em a plug because their work is outstanding. E-mail me if you want to know More and ill try to get you in touch with vortex


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