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Backpacker Magazine – May 2013

Gear Review: Field Test More Packs

Find the best pack for your needs with these four field-tested models.

by: Nancy Bouchard

Mountainsmith Apex 80 (Photo by Ben Fullerton)
Mountainsmith Apex 80 (Photo by Ben Fullerton)
MHM Fifty-Two (Photos by Ben Fullerton)
MHM Fifty-Two (Photos by Ben Fullerton)
Mammut Heron Light 70 (Photo by Ben Fullerton)
Mammut Heron Light 70 (Photo by Ben Fullerton)
Kelty Red Cloud 110 (Photo by Ben Fullerton)
Kelty Red Cloud 110 (Photo by Ben Fullerton)

[most durable]
Mountainsmith Apex 80
“I carried 75 pounds over cheese-grater volcanic rock in the Cascades and the Apex was tortoise-shell tough,” reports a tester of the pack’s 420-denier ripstop nylon and snag-resistant mesh pockets. The boomerang- shaped hipbelt pads earned comfort props. $210; 4 lbs. 13 oz.; mountainsmith.com

[killer cushioning]
MHM Fifty-Two 80
“Luxurious padding made carrying 65 pounds easy,” raved one tester after a Mt. Hood trek. Triple-density foam in the shoulder, hipbelt, scapula, and lumbar pads has stiff top and middle layers (for structure and load transfer), while pillow-soft foam adds comfort. $280; 6 lbs.; mhmgear.com

[climber’s choice]
Mammut Heron Light 70+15
Alpine-oriented testers loved this sleek pack’s back-hugging frame. “It handles monster loads in steep, off-trail terrain with great load transfer and stability via a pivoting hipbelt,” said one tester after a five-day climbing trip in Wyoming’s Wind Rivers. $269; 4 lbs. 15 oz.; mammut.ch

[hero loads]
Kelty Red Cloud 110
With a remarkable capacity-to-weight ratio and svelte profile, the Red Cloud totes XXL loads with comfort and stability. The polyester/nylon pack cloth proved extremely durable, even when the pack was dragged up sharp granite ledges in Yosemite. $239; 5 lbs. 13 oz.; kelty.com

Know Your Torso Length All you need is a friend and soft tape measure. Learn how at backpacker.com/torso.

Maximize comfort Learn how to use all of your pack’s straps to improve the way it carries at backpacker.com/packstraps.

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