|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – April 2009
Scramble up anything with the North Face's climber-oriented Spire 40 backpack.
This stripped-down, climber-oriented top-loader is a stable pack with excellent freedom of motion. During a series of overnights on Utah's Thousand Lakes Plateau, testers bent, piked, and reached for holds without the harness or hipbelt interfering–or the load shifting a centimeter.
The pack seems simple at first glance, with a single-compartment packbag and no hipbelt or wand pockets. Yet it also has refinements like a camera pocket with waterproof closure, a hidden front pocket with zipper access, and reinforced haul loops, ski loops, and gear loops on the packbag and hipbelt.
The backpanel, aluminum stay, and padded hipbelt are all removable for fast-and-light trips. The hipbelt and shoulder straps are thin but gratifyingly wide, providing good weight distribution. You'll need lightweight gear to use the Spire comfortably for overnights, but it's ideal for weather-intensive or slightly luxe day trips. $149; 2,450 cu. in.; 2 lbs. 12 oz. Thenorthface.com