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Arc’teryx Needle 65, $299
An alpine pack must be part backpack, part climbing pack; unfortunately, this pricey model from Arc’teryx is more the former than the latter. The workmanship is a thing of beauty and the packbag fabric is bomber, and whenever we had to fish something out, we appreciated the fact that it’s light-colored on the inside. In backpacking mode, we liked the large cargo pocket with the zipper running down the sack’s full length, but for climbing we’d have gladly traded it and the extra ounces for a hydration pouch. The suspension system is plush and thickly padded, but the hipbelt is thick to the point of being stiff and bulky — again, overbuilt for climbing. Additionally, while the dual-stayed V-suspension is removable, the cushy back padding is not, and therefore unsuitable as a bivy pad. Furthermore, there are no ice-axe lash straps included (just loops) and no
Internal frame. Clean design. Well made.
Overbuilt for climbing. No removable foam pad. No crampon attachment system. No pouch for a hydration bladder. Expensive.