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Monday, January 03, 2022

Review: Matador Freerain 32

 I was so impressed  by the Matador Beast that when I saw the Freerain 32 on sale at REI I snapped it up and bought it, guaranteeing that California will be in the drought for at least the next 10 years. I did travel to Antigua over Thanksgiving, so that gave me a chance to use the backpack in anger.

The backpack rolls up and stuffs into the provided stuff sack nicely, and is very compact. The distinguishing feature is that the hydration pocket is a separate, waterproof compartment, which means that a hydration pack failure won't create problems if it leaked. The external mesh pocket is much more useful than the one on the Matador Beast, and the backpack's main compartment and hydration pockets (which is also waterproof'd with a zipper) can both fit a Macbook Pro 16.

The backpack form factor is much better than the typical drybag form factor. That's because you can wear it and have both hands free for manipulating dinghies, lines, and recalcitrant kids. I discovered this one day when we had to manhandle the dinghy. In retrospect, on that day I should have taken the extra time to put the cameras and phones into the backpack and freed up an extra pair of hands to help with the dinghy! In any case, I got thoroughly wet, and all the contents in the backpack stayed dry.

Matador has stopped producing the Freerain 32, chosing to replace it with 2 smaller models, but you can buy this one from Moosejaw on closeout. The backpack itself is recommended.

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