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Wild Things Ice Sac, $199
Solid, clean, functional, and lightweight — Wild Things has hit every base in its bid to create a real alpinist’s pack. There aren’t a lot of extra bells and whistles on this beauty (well, that’s not exactly true, there’s a nifty whistle molded into the sternum strap), just basic, well-crafted, alpine essentials. The Ice Sac does not have an internal frame, but the pack is such a streamlined bullet that it’s hardly missed. In the true spirit of minimalism, the manufacturer has made a little go a long way: the foam back padding is removable and unfolds into a substantial bivy pad (11” by 46”). There’s also room inside the foam padding’s pouch to sneak in a hydration bladder. The shoulder straps and hipbelt are not overly sized or overly padded, and as a result, we found this pack to be somewhat less comfortable with a heavy load. On the other hand, the fact that the hipbelt can be stripped off for climbing makes it less bulky. The tool and
attachment systems are clean and foolproof: tool tubes with buckles, crampons strap securely between the tubes. We appreciated the fact that Wild Things didn’t use an extra thread beyond what was absolutely necessary, but we felt there were two places where they could have relaxed a bit: Using Fastex buckles on the compression straps (at least along one side) would have added function — for quickly lashing ropes, etc. — without much extra weight or complexity. Also, the male sides of the tool tube buckles (the sides that sometimes break and need to be replaced) should be threaded rather than sewn through. But even with these foibles, this pack embodies the alpine spirit, defining fast and light.
Durable, clean, no-frills design. Removable foam bivy pad. Removable hipbelt.
No internal frame. Tool tube buckles are sewn through.