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2018’s best packs

Image of the October 2018 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more articles from the
October 2018 Issue

Whether you’re carrying food and gear for several days or you need a small pack for day trip essentials, our 2018 guide has everything you need

How to buy your next pack

Capacity

Multi-day packs are normally between 50 and 90-litres, overnight packs will be 30-45-litres and daypacks up to 30-litres. Multi-day packs will have a single or double compartment. The lid is often extendable, creating up to 10-litres additional storage. Pockets on the front, lid, side and hip belt provide ample gear storage.

Harness and shoulder straps

The harness keeps the load stable, directed to your hips and allows freedom of movement. A suspended mesh or ventilated foam back panel promotes airflow while supporting the back muscles. Smaller capacity packs will have a fixed-length harness, whereas larger capacity overnight and multi-day packs will have an adjustable harness.

Shoulder straps

Shoulder straps should curve over the shoulders, contouring around the neck and under the armpits. Adjustable sternum straps sit across the centre of, or just above, the chest.

Hipbelt

Fitted correctly, the hip belt will sit just above the hips so that 80 per cent of the pack’s weight is supported by the hip bones. The belt pivots to move with the body, ensuring a natural gait and aiding stability over uneven ground. Smaller hydration and daypacks will have nylon straps for stability rather than support.

External storage

Straps, gear loops, stash pockets and daisy chains allow tents, walking poles, ice tools and other essential equipment to be carried outside the pack for easy access. These features are common on alpine, overnight and multi-day packs.

Fabric

Nylon fabrics tend to be lighter and protect against the elements. Canvas packs are heavier, but more durable and tend to be longer-lasting. High denier nylon and canvas is used in high-wear areas like the pack’s base, with lighter fabrics used on areas that receive less abrasion.

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Multi-day Packs

 

Cactus Outdoor Hector $649
Single main compartment, modular harness system, single axe/walking poles attachment point, zippered front pocket, removable lid converts to shoulder bag, 3D-formed framesheet, seamless front panel, made in New Zealand, lifetime guarantee. Fabric C-Canvas. Capacity 65-litre. Weight 2920g. www.cactusoutdoor.co.nz

 

Macpac Cascade 65 V2 $549.99
Liberator harness, base compartment divider, underlid pocket, zippered front pocket, optional bungee overload system, dual ice axe attachments, hydration compatible, stretch mesh bottle pockets. Fabric Eco AzTec canvas, 500D Cordura nylon base. Capacity 65-litre. Weight 2550g. www.macpac.co.nz

 

Lowe Alpine Cerro Torre 65:85 $549.95
Award winning Axiom 7 back system, top and separate sleeping bag entry, rain cover, stretch side pockets, hip belt pockets, walking pole and tool attachment points. Fabric Trishield Grid, 420D nylon. Capacity 65+20-, 75+25-litr.e Weight 2620g & 2770(m), 2600g (w, 60+20). www.outfitters.net.nz


Osprey Aether AG 70 $429.99
Ventilated Anti-Gravity harness, customisable fit, suspended mesh back panel, removable lid converts to day bag, hiking pole and tool attachments, organiser pockets, external hydration sleeve. Fabric 210D nylon dobby 500D nylon base. Capacity 67-, 70-, 73-, 76-litre. Weight 2341g, 2413g. www.ospreypacks.com

 

Lowe Alpine Manaslu $499.95
Axiom 5 back system, front, top and lower access, rain cover, front stash pocket, daisy chain lash points, hydration compatible, hiking pole and tool attachment points. Fabric 210 Micro Rip, HydroShield. Capacity 55+10, 65+10-litre. Weight 2430g(m), 2230g (w, 55+10). www.outfitters.net.nz

 

Osprey Levity 60 $349.99
Layered mesh Exoform harness, top lid with zippered pocket, front rainwear pocket, dual access side pockets, main compartment compression strap, gear attachments, safety whistle, 6065 aluminum frame, breathable mesh back panel. Fabric 30D Cordura Silnylon ripstop, 210D nylon base. Capacity 60-, 63-litre. Weight 890g, 920g. www.ospreypacks.com

 

Lowe Alpine Diran $399.95
Axiom back system, top, front  and separate sleeping bag entry, rain cover, bellows side pockets, walking pole and tool attachment points. Fabric 300D Nailhead, 300 denier dobby polyester. Capacity 55+10-, 65+10-litre. Weight 2240g(m), 2180g (w, 55+10). www.outfitters.net.nz

 

Montane Yupik 65 $349.95
ZephyrAD adjustable ventilated back system, rear lid pocket, mesh pockets, removable rain cover, lid clip loops, expandable hip fin pockets, compression straps, hydration compatible, stretch mesh bottle pockets, double tension waist belt. Fabric 100D triple ripstop, reinforced nylon base. Capacity 65-litre. Weight 1598g. www.furtherfaster.co.nz

Overnight Packs

Fjällräven Kaipak 38 $359.90
Top loading with a fixed back-length carrying system, adjustable top lid with two pockets, zippered front pocket, side compression straps, attachment points for trekking poles or ice axes, removable hip belt with pockets, chest strap with whistle, rain cover included. Fabric G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco Capacity 38-litres Weight 700g. www.fjallraven.co.nz

 

Lowe Alpine AirZone Trail $269.95
Airzone harness, top, opening, stretch mesh side pockets, front, top and stretch hip belt pockets, hydration compatible. Fabric 210D mini ripstop nylon Capacity 25-, 35-litre Weight 1270g. www.outfitters.net.nz

 

Montane Halogen 33 $199.95
Alpine or overnight pack with ZephyrFX ventilated back system, hydration compatible, lid pocket, stretch mesh bottle pockets, AirMesh shoulder straps, compression straps, ice axe and walking pole attachments Fabric 210D nylon with DWR, 420D nylon base. Capacity 33-litre. Weight 830g. www.furtherfaster.co.nz

 

Montane Wmn’s Oxygen 32 $199.95
Alpine or overnight pack with women’s-specific fit, ZephyrFX back system, hydration compatible, front access, multiple compression straps, dual walking pole and ice axe attachments. Fabric 210D nylon with DWR, 420D nylon base. Capacity 32-litre. Weight 855g. www.furtherfaster.co.nz

Day Packs

 

Lowe Alpine Aeon 35 $299.95
Top and side opening, large stretch front and hip belt pockets, side compression straps, walking pole and tool attachment points. Fabric Trishield 100D, 210D Taslan Dobby Capacity 35-litre Weight 1000g. www.outfitters.net.nz

 

Macpac Fiord 28 $259.99
Breathable HeliumLite harness, removable hip belt, extendable roll-top fastening, compression straps, compression panel on front. Fabric Titan Grid 100D nylon dobby with silicon coating Capacity 28-litres Weight 850g. www.macpac.co.nz

 

Fjällräven High Coast 24 $134.90
Drawcord opening, secure steel hook closure, detachable chest strap, waist strap and foam frame sheet can pack into front pocket, side compression straps, zippered front pocket, two side pockets, inside zippered security pocket with key clip. Fabric G-1000 Lite Eco, G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco Capacity 24-litres Weight 454g. www.fjallraven.co.nz

Alpine Packs

 

The North Face Phantom 50 $400
Lightweight alpine pack with removable PE frame sheet, detachable flip-forward lid, tool keepers with covered tips, reinforced ski loops for A-frame ski carry, reflective webbing, removable hip belt, hip belt pocket and tool loop, hydration compatible. Fabric 210D high-tenacity nylon, 840D IronLite nylon Capacity 50-litres Weight 1077g. www.thenorthface.co.nz

 

Ascent 40:50 $349.95
Double Head Locker axe attachment system, top and lower entry, removable hip belt, WebCatcher fastening system, moulded foam harness, removable frame, wide ski slots, compression system. Fabric HydroShield 330D, 420D TriShield Dura Capacity 40+10-litre Weight 1420g. www.outfitters.net.nz

Hydration Packs

 

CamelBak Helena 20 $189.99
Women’s-specific design, mesh back panel, anatomical S-curved harness and shoulder straps, main compartment with separate essentials pocket, stretch stash pockets, hiking pole attachment, 2.5-litre reservoir included. Fabric 70D x 160D nylon dobby, 400D nylon plain weave Capacity 17.5-litre, plus 2.5-litre hydration Weight 680g. www.camelbak.com

 

Macpac Amp 12hr V2 $149.99
Moulded foam back panel for airflow, stretch front stash-pocket, blinker light attachment, 360-degree reflectivity, valuables pocket, mesh shoulder strap pocket, wide stability hip belt, squeeze flask included. Fabric Titan Grid, 100D nylon dobby with silicon coating Capacity 7-litre, plus 2-litre hydration Weight 480g. www.macpac.co.nz

 

CamelBak Rim Runner 22 $189.99
Diamond mesh harness, removable webbing hip belt, organiser pocket, side pockets, four point compression, lashing points for extra gear, reservoir included. Fabric 70D x 160D nylon dobby, 400D nylon plain weave Capacity 19.5-litre, plus 2.5-litre hydration Weight 730g. www.camelbak.com

Travel Packs

 

Lowe Alpine AT Wheelie $549.95
Wheeled duffle, wide alloy handle, alloy top and side grab handles, tamperproof lockable zips, load locker straps, moulded flat back. Fabric Travel Shield Grid 420D with TPU coating Capacity 90-, 120-litre Weight 4020g. www.outfitters.net.nz

 

Osprey Rolling Transporter 90L $449.99
Weather-resistant fabric with overlapping rain flaps, HighRoad Chassis with oversized wheels, U-zip opening, internal mesh pockets, internal compression straps, external pocket, grab handles, lashing points. Fabric 420D nylon hex rip, 900D packcloth Capacity 90-litre Weight 3500g. www.ospreypacks.com

 

Fjällräven Splitpack Extra-Large $429.90
Zip-up duffel with two compartments, zippered mesh dividing covers, padded shoulder straps with ventilating mesh, padded back panel, three inner zip mesh pockets, two outer zip pockets, robust handles on short ends. Fabric G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco Capacity 75-litres Weight 1550g. www.fjallraven.co.nz

 

Lowe Alpine Kulu $399.95
Fold-away hip belt, rain cover doubles as a harness cover, top, bottom and full front opening, twin grab handles. Fabric 420D Nailhead Polyester Dobby Capacity 55+10-, 65+10-litre Weight 2220g. www.outfitters.net.nz