Our tester loved the "load and go" simplicity of this single-compartment pack. After a heavily laden overnight on the south slopes of Longs Peak, he reported "no pack-flop at all when I jumped rocks and creeks," and credited the shallow, back-hugging pack shape and suspension, which consists of a dual-density framesheet, twin aluminum stays, and closed-cell foam bivy pad. The framesheet, stays, and pad are all removable, so testers could beef up support or shave ounces, depending on the trip.
The thin, soft-flexing, removable hipbelt did a decent job of transferring weight, but like most climbing packs, the emphasis is on freedom of motion, low bulk, and easy high-stepping. Stripping all frame and hipbelt components trims almost two pounds.
The narrow packbag proved tight for bulkier sleeping bags, but quick-release compression straps and a front bungee net compensate. The top lid extends for high stacking, plus you get the usual gear loops and tool attachments. Bummer: no hipbelt or bottle pockets–although a hydration sleeve located in the top lid makes refilling easy, even with the pack loaded. $249; 3,661 cu. in.; 4 lbs. 4 oz. Arcteryx.com
For speed and physical economy on the mountain, this lightweight alpine focused pack has room for the essentials and leaves the superfluous features at home. How fast and how light is up to you, with strippable suspension components and a removable top lid.
Top loading • Large removable top lid • Removable laminated dual density framesheet • Twin removable aluminum stays • Composite horizontal frame members • Four side compression straps • Removable hipbelt with thermoformed hip pods
• Laminated shoulder straps • Two Axio™ ice tool holders • Two modular ice axe keepers • Hypalon™ reinforced pick sleeve • Glove friendly snow-shedding buckles