At a glance
Plusses: Durable, extendable capacity, comfortable under heavy loads.
Minusses Hydration port placement.
Capacity: 28-litres Weight: 850g
Features: A simple below the bushline pack with Macpac’s HeliumLite harness which features ribbed back padding for airflow and a mesh fabric overlay. It has a minimally-padded and removable hipbelt with pockets and mesh-lined shoulder straps. The pack is accessed through an extendable roll-top opening that can boost the capacity to 35-litres. There’s a large front mesh stash pocket, walking pole attachment points and a hydration reservoir pocket.
Fit: The HeliumLite harness is fixed length so it requires a little adjustment of the shoulder straps to get the hipbelt sitting over the hips correctly.
Comfort: The hipbelt and shoulder straps are not heavily-padded, but they still proved comfortable under loads up to 10kg and throughout the duration of a solid day’s walk. The pack sits quite close to the back, limiting airflow.
In use: The pack carries a large load – even before adding extra height with the extendable storm throat. That it seems larger than 28-litres, is probably because the roll-top closure makes it quite a squat package without the narrowing height provided by a traditional lid. It sits low on the back, helpfully keeping the centre of gravity aligned with the user. It felt stable with light or heavy loads over all terrain.
The walking pole attachment is easy to use and securely holds poles on either side of the pack, but – minor gripe – the tip loops are not tight enough to prevent poles coming loose during transit or when you drop the pack to the ground. The hydration hose port doesn’t look well-protected – it sits under a fabric cover that can be exposed to pooling water especially when the pack is not fully loaded. The base fabric is a tough 500-denier Cordura, suggesting it will handle some punishment.
The removable hipbelt is a good weight-saving feature but the pack was more comfortable and stable when it was used.
Value: A good price for a strong and comfortable pack.
Verdict: A fusion of the Macpac of old with the Macpac of today: the ability to carry heavy loads and a tough build mixed with lightweight design elements like the roll-top lid and removable hipbelt. It’s suitable for a range of short or long day trips.