At a glance
Plusses: Comfortable, slim profile, good ventilation
Minuses: Expensive, compression strap compatibility with poles
Features: The pack is close fitting but reduces contact with the body by using a foam back panel with channels cut into it to promote airflow. A central ‘chimney’ channel directs warm air up and away from the body. Body contact is further reduced by employing split shoulder straps and waist belt. Another good feature is the twin compression system, which stabilises the load from top to bottom by pulling one cord. The pack features the other usual features: hydration reservoir pocket, single hip pocket, mesh side pockets, rain cover and pole fastenings.
Fit: The back-length is non-adjustable, but the shoulder and hip straps are easily tweaked to achieve a comfortable fit. An ‘S’ shaped aluminium stay, which gives the back panel its shape, can be removed for a more form-flowing fit, though this does restrict airflow between the back and the pack.
Comfort: The air channels that direct heat out the sides and up the ‘chimney’ help maintain temperature, as well as keeping the load from pressing into the spine. They don’t prevent sweating completely, but Salewa claims the system reduces the back’s temperature by 1.6℃ after 15 minutes of use. The split shoulder straps are surprisingly comfortable, despite little padding, and in a blindfold test, I couldn’t differentiate between split and single straps. They too help with temperature regulation, as evidenced by the residual zebra sweat lines.
In use: Being a close-fitting pack, it feels stable and a 3-4kg load is barely noticed. With its tall, narrow shape and slim profile, the pack provides excellent balance, and moves well with your body when twisting and reaching. For difficult terrain and hands-on tramping or climbing up root ladders or bluffs, it’s ideal, and when jogging or moving quickly, there is very little bounce.
Its large single interior holds enough gear for light weekend trips, and I would have no trouble using the pack on such a mission. The hip belt is wide and supportive enough to enable a summer sleeping bag, food and equipment for two days to be carried.
The twin compression system effectively cinches everything tight to centre and stabilise the load. For simplicity and effectiveness, it is excellent and works equally well when the pack is full to ensure its profile is kept and it doesn’t bulge, as it does when half full.
It’s a durable pack, made from 100D and 280D nylon – tough enough to handle most scrapes and the rocky environment it is designed for.
The pack has an ice axe loop and two hidden hiking pole loops at the base of the pack, but there is no corresponding attachment near the top of the pack. Instead, the tools need to be held in place with the compression straps, which limits the effectiveness of the system; to access the tools, I needed to decompress the pack. I prefer the usual stretch toggle system for holding my tools in place.
The slanted side pockets are easy to access while wearing the pack, but I lost my drink bottle from here more than once when bending over.
Value: This is an expensive day pack, but because it is large enough to double as a lightweight weekend pack, the price can be justified.
Verdict: An innovative and comfortable pack for all your mountain adventures.