Catering to trampers seeking an ultralight pack, Aarn’s Mountain Magic utilises award-winning designer Aarn Tate’s Bodypack concept to create a product that is peerless in the market.
I’ve used three different models of Aarn packs over the years and the Mountain Magic would have to be my favourite for its respectable weight (1550g) and its versatile design. Without the Balance Pockets, you have a lightweight 38-litre day or overnight pack that has ice axe and trekking pole carrying capacity and a removable waterproof liner. Add the pockets (also waterproof-lined) and you have a further 12-litre capacity, a balanced walking posture and ease of access for items during the day or while on-the-trot.
Initial adjustment of this pack is crucial to get the Balance Pockets sitting correctly and balanced. At first I felt like Houdini mid-act with a medley of straps and buckles surrounding my chest. You soon get used to it and you’re unlikely to find a pack that’s more comfortable.
The pack’s harness structure is provided by a couple of aluminium staves forming a ‘T’ shape, which is surrounded by a wire sub-frame and covered with a thick springy mesh. The mesh is a little rough on the surface, but it’s hard wearing and breathable – good for airflow over the back. The sub-frame is flimsy and is designed to give the pack shape rather than bear weight, but I found I had to be careful packing; get too vigorous trying to cram things in and it has a tendency to buckle. It’s a trade-off for a lightweight product.
The waistbelt has tool holsters/racking on the main sack and a tensionable lash-cord lets you stow overflow items or compress the pack.
A couple of snow-stake pockets would increase versatility. I’d also like to see a dedicated crampon attachment point, but for lightweight trampers and general use it’s an impressive pack.