Thanks to New Zealand’s fantastic network of huts, you don’t need a huge and heavy pack to go on an overnight trip.
With gear getting ever lighter, it’s possible to cram all you need for an overnight hut-based trip into a 26-litre pack, but most overnight packs are between 35 and 50 litres; the larger packs can also be used for longer trips. They typically feature a single compartment. It is possible to strap a tent onto larger capacity packs, but not onto the smaller models.
A front stash pocket or bungee system is used to store quick-access items like a rain jacket. There will also be stretch-mesh side pockets for drink bottles, as well as organiser pockets in the lid and on the hip belt and shoulder straps.
All packs have compression straps that provide stability and modify the pack’s profile to the amount of gear being carried. Some larger models may have straps long enough to attach a tent. Check this if it is important for you.
Harness and back panel
Some larger capacity packs have an adjustable back-length harness, although most are a fixed length. A ‘trampoline’ or a ventilated foam back panel provides airflow and muscle support.
Because loads can still be quite heavy, most packs in this category have a supportive and padded hip belt. Smaller capacity packs may have only a webbing strap.
Recycled ripstop nylon fabrics are common. The fabric must be durable enough to handle scrapes and knocks without tearing. Heavier, more durable fabrics are often used in high-wear or stress areas such as the pack’s base. Fabrics are treated with a silicon coating to provide water resistance. shoulder straps Padded straps contour around the neck and armpits to avoid chafing. Adjustable sternum straps help stabilise the pack and manage pressure points.
Aarn Mountain Magic 50 PRO $549
A pack offering stability, gear access and freedom of movement, and which has been pared back to reduce weight. It features Multi Balance Pockets, roll top closure, side pockets, hydration attachment loop and tube exit, cord-loc compression, twin trekking pole and ice axe attachments. Fabric 70D Dyneema, 210D Dyneema Gridstop base Capacity 50l Weight 1050g including pockets. www.aarnpacks.com
Lowe Alpine AirZone Trek 35:45 $499.95
This pack has front and side mesh pockets for maps, jackets and water bottles, upper and lower compression straps, and dedicated attachments for axes and walking poles. Other features include an integrated rain cover and water bladder compartment, and an extendable lid for an additional 10 litres of storage. Fabric 50% recycled 210D 6.6 Mini Ripstop Capacity 35+10l Weight 1600g. www.outfitters.net.nz
Big Agnes Sun Dog 45 $429.99
This women’s pack has a curved and contoured back panel and shoulder straps and an anatomical hip belt. There’s a zippered back panel for duffel-style interior access, a Hoist Compression system that pulls the load inward and upward for stability and comfort, and walking pole and axe attachments. Fabric Recycled high-tenacity Mipan nylon Capacity 45l Weight 1280g. www.gearshop.co.nz
ONE PLANET Hot Sauce $399
This pack has trimmed weight with its roll-top closure and removable bungee and compression straps. It has a compact Exact Fit Mid Lite harness offering support and ventilation, a hardened aluminium frame, walking pole attachments, water bottle pockets and internal loop and hose port for a hydration bladder. Made in Australia. Fabric 210D Diamondloc nylon with ripstop grid Capacity 50l Weight 1200g. www.oneplanet.au
Mountain Equipment Tupilak 37 $449
A lightweight pack for alpine adventures. It has a removable back panel and hip belt to reduce pack weight to as low as 370g. It has a cowl-lid closure, internal accessories pocket accessible from the inside or outside, high density EVA shoulder straps, hip fins and back panel, dual axe attachments with integrated pick pocket. Fabric 100D double ripstop nylon with 300D base Capacity 37l Weight 525g. www.outdooraction.co.nz
Big Agnes Prospector 50 $429.99
A men’s pack with a Hoist Compression system that pulls the load inward and upward for stability and comfort. It features a cored aluminium frame, compression moulded back panel and body-mapped foam padding, contoured shoulder straps, cut-to-fit padded hip belt, walking pole and axe attachments. Fabric Recycled high-tenacity nylon Capacity 50l Weight 1390g. www.gearshop.co.nz
Bach Daydream 40 $429.99
This is a crossover travel/hiking pack capable of carrying loads up to 18kg. There are multiple mesh pockets, ice axe/walking pole attachment points, a two-in-one laptop or hydration bladder sleeve, a padded back panel with central air channel, bottom access and a removable hip belt with pockets. Fabric 100D and 500D Cordura base Capacity 40l Weight 1390g. www.colorado-traders.co.nz
Lowe Alpine AirZone Camino Trek 40:50 $399.99
This hydration-compatible pack has stretch side water bottle pockets and a breathable back that helps to keep users cool and comfortable. Features include TipGripper walking pole attachments, ice axe loops, bungee stash system, top entry, and zipped front and base entry for easy access. Fabric 50% recycled 210D 6.6 Mini Ripstop Capacity 40+10l Weight 1530g. www.outfitters.net.nz
Lowe Alpine AirZone Trail 35 $299.95
The fixed AirZone carry system with a ventilated breathable back maximises airflow. It has single buckle entry, secure TipGripper walking pole and axe attachments, hydration sleeve and tube port, forward-pull hip belt with pockets and side stretch water bottle pockets. Fabric 50% recycled 210D 6.6 Mini Ripstop Capacity 35l Weight 1070g. www.outfitters.net.nz