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December 2021 Issue
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Macpac Cascade 65 V2



Our Rating:

Best for heavy loads and rough conditions

At a glance
Plusses: Durable, highly water-resistant.
Minuses: Heavy

2550g / 65 litres

Features: Made from 8oz AzTec canvas, this Cascade has a feeling of durability which is carried through the rest of its design and construction. It has two compartments, a sturdy frame, adjustable harness and pivoting hip belt. The lid, front and stretch side pockets keep it user-friendly. Double side compression straps allow secure mat, snow stake or tent attachment. There are two ice-axe/pole attachments and an optional bungee cord (supplied) for overflow. 

Fit: Macpac has a reputation for quality and attention to fit and the Cascade is no different, with an adjustable back length, but also in three separate sizes so you can really dial it in to your body shape. 

Comfort: The pivoting hip belt is a point of difference, meaning that with a heavy load the pack moves with you a little more than it does with packs with fixed hip belts. This adds weight and expense, but does make it comfortable, especially in awkward terrain. The hip belt is wide around the hip bones, which may not suit everyone. The frame is the stiffest and most supportive of the packs reviewed and the best to handle heavy loads and extended trips. 

In use: While this is a heavier pack than those using lighter fabrics and more basic frames, it’s also by far the most waterproof, which is a good thing in New Zealand. (Still, a pack liner is recommended). The frame includes an alloy rod which runs around the sides and top to create a boxy shape. Even when the pack wasn’t completely full, it stood quite tall and the right-angled corners made it catch on bush more than a conventional design. 

Value: The base price is expensive, but it can be bought for $385 via the Macpac Club price (membership is free). At the discounted price, you get a lot for the money. 

Verdict: Strong and supportive, this pack has the feel of a reliable workhorse that will go the distance in any weather.