Gregory Makalu Pro 70 (www.sethhughes.com)
The large lumbar pad is great for load transfer. (www.sethhughes.com)
[lightweight load monster]
This single-compartment sack is essentially a minimalist mountaineering pack. The goal: Haul big loads with utmost efficiency. The payoff: One tester carried 60 pounds while leading a wilderness-therapy program in Utah, and praised the excellent load transfer. The key is the lumbar pad. “It lets me put almost all of the weight on my hips, and the rubber coating makes it stick,” says another tester.
Fit is exceptional, and each shoulder strap pivots independently on the frame, which enhanced stability during glacier post-holing, ski approaches, and rock scrambles. The barebones, top-loading packbag is strictly for nonfussy packers, which suited a tester who carried it in the Sierra and up Denali. “Just open the top and dump in bulky items,” he says.
Other testers wished for another access option and/or more outside pockets; there are a few alpinist-friendly features (like gear loops and a crampon patch), but just two external pockets (huge mesh ones for your water bottles). Bonus: Even after grindy canyon-hauling and weeks of carrying sharp tools, the ultralight Spectra fabric (similar to Dyneema) showed little wear.