Bought this pack late last season, have...
Bought this pack late last season, have not used yet. Question is: the "heat moldable" hip belt: if I'm not near a store with a heat thingie to mold it, how will the unmolded/unheated hipbelt feel? Stiff, uncomfortable? What's the deal on the whole heat moldable thing, anyway?
It's not absolutely necessary to have the belt molded. It's basically just going to form to the exact shape of your hips bones. Even with the molding, new is new- expect it to be a little stiff, but as you use the pack, you'll soften the materials up and break in the whole suspension system to fit your body.
The moldable option is an added bonus if you can do it, not necessary, but really nice if you can do it. The belt will feel like any other belt off of the shelf, not any stiffer than that. And certainly not uncomfortable. The molding just gives you that "broken in" feeling right away.
I just got done with a 5 day hike on the Appalachian trail with 30 lbs and have not had the hip belt molded, it was still super comfortable. As you were it more and more it begins to mold to your hips anyways. From what the guy in the shop told me is that the heating process just speads it up!