MontBell Lightweight Alpine Pack 60, $179
Although MontBell is a company dedicated to the principle of “fast and light,” this pack practically forces the user to go heavy. The large-capacity sack is relatively shapeless and there are too few compression straps. As a result, unless the bag is completely filled, it cannot escape being bulgy, bloused, and bottom heavy. The internal frame consists of a single spine-length aluminum stay that is easily removed. There’s also a narrow, nine-inch removable foam pad that folds open lengthwise to a whopping four feet, but we found it more useful as bivy insulation when cut in two and laid the other way (18” by 24”). Although the Lightweight Alpine Pack is only available in a single size, its hipbelt can be adjusted higher or lower to tweak the fit. The hipbelt can also be removed entirely (a nice option for climbing, especially with a hipbelt this thin and stiff). Loops and lashes are included for attaching tools and
, but the tool lashes require actually threading a buckle, and crampons mount on the pack lid, a less stable and top-heavy configuration. There’s no special sleeve or pouch for a hydration system.
Internal frame. Adjustable/removable hipbelt. Removable foam pad.
Shapeless design. Doesn’t compress down neatly. One size only. No hydration sleeve.