For long weekend or week-long tramps where plenty of food and equipment is packed, you’ll need a large-capacity pack that can comfortably carry heavy loads.
Multi-day packs have capacities between 50l and 80l, though, as other tramping gear has become lighter and more compressible, it’s possible to use 50-65l packs for most multi-day trips. Packs in this category will be either single or double compartment, with the lower compartment usually used to hold a sleeping bag. Numerous pockets provide ample storage.
Some pack lids are detachable and designed to be used as a day-pack – for side trips to a summit or excursions from the hut. This allows users to fine-tune pack weight: leave it at home if it won’t be needed, or carry it and use the lid on short side trips. Some lids are also extendable to increase the overall capacity of a pack.
The harness keeps the pack stable and – when fitted correctly – will transfer the weight of the load onto your hips. They are usually adjustable to suit the user’s back length. Fixed harnesses usually come in several sizes to ensure a good fit. A suspended ‘trampoline’ mesh or ventilated foam back panel promotes airflow and supports the wearer’s back.
A padded hip belt cups the top of the hips so that around 80 per cent of the pack’s weight is supported by the hip bones. The belt can be easily tightened or loosened, and it should pivot so the pack moves with the body – this aids stability over uneven terrain and reduces fatigue associated with carrying heavy loads.
Compression straps, gear loops, stash pockets and daisy chains allow tents, walking poles, ice tools, clothing and other equipment to be carried outside the pack.
Most packs are made from nylon, a material that is lightweight, strong and water-resistant. Canvas packs are heavier but also tougher and longer-lasting. Extra-durable fabrics are used in high-wear areas like the pack’s base. A PFC-free durable water repellent (DWR) coating will be applied to increase water-resistance.
Top access is standard, but it’s also common to have front zippered access, making it easier to find items. This is convenient, but tends to add weight and can compromise water resistance.
Packs are water-resistant, not waterproof, so extra precautions are required. The best bet is to use a waterproof pack liner or dry bag to keep gear dry. Some packs have a rain cover, but these are generally insufficient on their own to protect the gear inside.
Lowe Alpine Cerro Torre 80:100 $699.95
A heavy-load carrying pack with VT Flex carry system, wrap-around harness, adjustable back length, removable daypack lid, walking pole and ice axe attachment, zippered front and lower entry, side and front stash pockets. Fabric 210D ripstop nylon, 500D base Capacity 65:85l, 80:100l (m); 60:80l (w) Weight 2900g (m), 2800g (w). www.outfitters.net.nz
Lowe Alpine Manaslu 65:80 $599.95
A heavy-load carrying pack with VT Plus carry system, wrap-around harness, walking pole and ice axe attachment, front zippered access, rain cover, side mesh and front stash pocket, daisy chain lash points, hydration compatible. Fabric 210D micro ripstop nylon, 500D base Capacity 55:70l, 65:80l (m); 50:65l, 60:75l (w) Weight 2350g (m), 2160g (w). www.outfitters.net.nz
The North Face Banchee 65 $500
Expedition pack with self-equalizing adjustable load lifters, full-trampoline back panel, T6 aluminium frame, 8+ pockets, hydration sleeve, lash points, two tool keepers, sternum strap with whistle buckle, stretch side pockets, front stash pocket. Fabric 70D nylon, 210D base Capacity 65l Weight 1474g. www.thenorthface.co.nz
Osprey Aether 65/Ariel 65 $499.99
A heavy-load carrying pack with Fit-on-the-Fly hipbelt and shoulder straps, adjustable torso length, injection-moulded backpanel sits close to the body, front zip access, hydration compatible, zippered sleeping bag compartment, ice axe loops, rain cover. Fabric bluesign-approved 420HD nylon Capacity 65l Weight 2230g (Aether, m), 2120g (Ariel, w). www.southernapproach.co.nz
Aarn Featherlite Freedom Pro $449
Designed for long-distance trails with reduced weight Flow Frame, Bio-Fit shoulder harness, single compartment with roll-top closure and water-resistant dri-liner, stretch front and side pockets, 12 accessory attachment points, hydration compatible, carries up to 18kg loads. Fabric Dyneema ripstop nylon Capacity 50l, 55l Weight 1260g, 1355g. www.furtherfaster.co.nz
Lowe Alpine Diran 60:70 $429.95
A heavy-load carrying pack with V-Trax carry system, adjustable back length, forward pull hip belt, extendable lid, bellows side pockets, walking pole attachment, multiple entry points, lash points, front grab handle, hydration compatible. Fabric 420D dobby, 450D base. Capacity 45:50l, 55:65l, 60:70l (m); 40:50l, 50:60l, 60:70l (w) Weight 2270g (m), 2180g (w). www.outfitters.net.nz
Lowe Alpine Airzone Camino Trek 40:50L $389.95
A moderate-load carrying pack with top entry and with extendable lid, Airzone back system with ventilated panel, AdaptiveFit hipbelt for stability over uneven terrain, hydration compatible, walking pole attachments, ice axe loops, double side compression, internal lid pocket, hip belt pockets, bungy lash system. Fabric 210D micro ripstop nylon Capacity 40:50l Weight 1530g. www.outfitters.net.nz
Montane Naukan 60 $310
Adjustable ZephyrAD back system, mesh panel, pre-curved aluminium frame, off-centre chest harness, bivi opening with quick release adjustment, two large front expansion pockets, wand pockets, compression straps, walking pole attachment, hydration compatible. Fabric 70D ripstop nylon Capacity 60l Weight 900g. www.furtherfaster.co.nz