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July 2020 Issue
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2020’s best mountain packs

Photo: Lowe Alpine
Whether you’re hitting the ski field or have aspirations for climbing a snowy peak, a dedicated alpine pack will help you achieve your goals. 

Ranging from day pack-sized with just enough to carry your essentials for a day of skiing or a summit push, to multi-day-sized packs with the capacity to carry everything you need for serious alpine endeavours.

The main considerations are weight and abrasion resistance. It’s common to see DWR-coated fabrics, usually in the 210-600 Denier range. Look for higher-denier fabrics in areas such as the base and at tool attachment points.

Weight saving is the name of the game with alpine packs, so expect harnesses to have minimal, or compressed padding. Air-flow-style harnesses aren’t necessary as you’ll be wearing more clothing.

A removable, or fold-away, hipbelt will allow easy access to your climbing harness.

Removable features
Many alpine packs have removable items, such as a foam bivy mat, lid, hipbelt and more. These help users lighten the load when climbing.

Gear storage
Mountain packs will have a variety of gear carrying features depending on end use. Climbing packs will require rope straps, pockets to make it easy to carry snow anchors, tent poles or an avalanche probe, ice axe loops and gear loops on the waist belt. Skiing packs will have many of these features, especially the ice axe loops, plus the ability to carry skis or snowboards.

Because mountain packs typically have a narrow profile, they can be top-heavy. Compression straps help create more stability by pulling the load closer to your back and cinching the pack down when it’s not at full capacity.

Exped Whiteout 55 $599.99
Single-compartment, roll-top closure, waterproof, abrasion-resistant, slim shape, cushioned backpanel, removable waist strap with dual adjust crush-resistant buckle, ice tool attachment points. Fabric Dyneema Composite Capacity 55l Weight 825g.

Macpac Sentinel 50 $449.99
ActiveX alpine harness, closed-cell foam back panel, removable bivvy mat, hip belt and frame, detachable top lid with pockets, dual ice axe attachments and webbing ‘V’ loops, haul loops and daisy chains for optional bungee attachment. Fabric Eco AzTec 8oz canvas, Cordura 500D base Capacity 50l Weight 2100g.

Aarn Peak Aspiration $415
Air-flow backpanel, Bio-Fit shoulder harness, internal dry-liner,
removable extendable lid, snowboard and ski carry system, twin ice axe and hiking pole attachments, snow shovel, helmet and crampon carry system. Fabric 500D nylon Kodura, 210D nylon base Capacity 50l, 55l, 60L Weight 1420g-1600g.


Lowe Alpine Halcyon 35:40 $359.95
Moulded back panel, rope compression system, pick retainer panel, reinforced ski slots, extendable lid, stiffened weather flap/compression system, lid pocket, zipped side-entry, removable hipbelt with gear loops. Fabric 330D Ripstop Nylon/840D Ballistic Nylon Capacity 35:40l,
45:50l Weight 1310g.

Cactus Outdoor Patrol Pack $449
Padded C-Lam harness and waist belt, front shovel pocket, ice axe loops, side pockets for shovel handles and water bottles, internal hydration bladder pocket, avalanche probe pocket, ski tail straps with side release buckle. Fabric C-Canvas Capacity 45l Weight 1390g.

Lowe Alpine Uprise 40:50 $369.95
HeadLocker ice axe attachment system, daisy chain with haul loop points, pick retaining panel, drawcord top entry, extendable roll-top closure, upper and lower compression, ski carry system, double thickness base panel, removable spring steel frame and EVA back panel Fabric 210D 4 Axis Ripstop Nylon Capacity 40:50l, 30:40l Weight 1100g.

Aarn Natural Exhilaration $295
Air-flow backpanel, adjustable back length, top opening, roll-top closure, water-resistant dry-liner, front compression, two ice axe and two hiking pole attachments, side ski straps, dual-adjust hipbelt. Fabric 500D nylon Kodura, 210 nylon ripstop base Capacity 33L, 36l Weight 1070g-1245g.

Macpac NZAT Summit 24 $199.99
Dual ice axe attachments and ‘V’ loops, zip-opening, removable foam back panel doubles as an insulated seat, top zip pocket with internal clip, sternum strap with whistle, daisy chain loop attachments, removable webbing hip belt. Fabric Eco AzTec 8oz canvas Capacity 24l Weight 710g.