A balanced fusion of the innovative and practical, the Backcountry 65 is a very light (1590g) and well-built load hauler.
Exped has taken a dry-bag approach to the Backcountry; all seams are firmly sealed with bonded tape and its four zips are all the waterproofed variety. A roll-top closure, capped by a conventional lid seals the deal and offers a fairly bombproof pack that might be ideal for tramping in the wettest places. Seam-taping has the benefit of adding considerable strength and protection to stitching.
A simple laminated foam back panel is supported by an internal sheet of polypropylene, along with two removable tubular stays. It’s a utilitarian approach that’s comfortable, but not plush. It was adequate with a three-day tramping load and would remain comfortable for longer trips.
Further adding to the uniqueness of this product, it can be opened via two long side zips or a velcroed closure for convenient access to deeply buried items. Opening both zips and the velcro allows the whole front of the pack to be opened. I’m not sure why this is considered a valuable feature – one zip for quick access would be sufficient. The velcro panel has a flap over it to deflect rain, but this opening does seem to compromise the waterproofing of the pack generally – especially in times of accidental immersion, or very heavy rain. As such, I’d still use a pack liner, but at least you can be assured you probably won’t have a puddle in the bottom of this pack at the end of a long, rainy day.
Releasable compression straps with light but sturdy aluminium buckles and a tough 420 denier fabric ensure longevity, although once the internal coating abrades, the fabric itself will leak. An external daisy chain and tool-specific attachments allow an ice axe and hammer to be carried but, as with many modern packs, no dedicated crampon patch is provided.
The Backcountry takes a novel approach to pack design, but has room for improvement.