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October 2023 Issue
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Aarn Pace Magic 40



Our Rating:

Best for fast travel over challenging terrain

40l + 3 / 850g

Plusses: Comfort, storage options, ingenuity 
Minuses: Price

Features: This fast-packing addition from Aarn is heavy on features and light on weight. Most notable is Aarn’s trademark front storage – two stretch shoulder-strap pockets, and two zipped pockets on the hips. Two side pockets, a stretch mesh back pocket, top zip pocket and an internal hydration sleeve round out storage. External loops provide attachment points for two hiking poles and an ice axe, and Aarn’s U-Flow harness system and framed back suspension provide comfort and ease of movement. 

Fit: With its thin profile, the pack fits close to the body. Twin buckles on the hip harness and chest provide fine tuning for a snug fit with no pressure points. The broad chest straps are a light, yielding mesh which fitted me comfortably, but may be obstructive for some women. 

Comfort: Aarn’s comfort is legendary, and the Pace Magic is no exception. Hip comfort is superb as the twin adjustment buckles allow users to really contour the strap in that area. Likewise, the broad shoulder straps distribute pressure evenly across the chest, while the stretch in the straps allows a wide range of shoulder movement – ideal for trampers on technical routes, or for those who hike with poles. 

In use: It’s designed for light and fast travel and combines the on-the-go accessibility of a hydration vest with a traditional pack. The hip pockets are generous, large enough to stash a range of quick-access items. I stored spare camera lenses, my PLB and snacks. The shoulder-strap stretch pockets are less versatile, but are suitable for muesli bars, energy gels, sunglasses and other small items. Anything more and the bulk of stashed items can press against the chest.

It’s a narrow roll-top pack, and organisation is essential to prevent trackside unpacking, but with plenty of pockets, it’s easy enough to keep needed items at hand.

The pockets aren’t waterproof, so users will need to take care with storage in the wet. This is a pack that moves with you, and can be worn all day without discomfort. 

Value: It is relatively dear for a pack of its capacity, though its well-designed features and comfort add value. 

Verdict: Maximum comfort and convenience define this lightweight pack from a Kiwi favourite.