What We’re Testing Now: A Weight-Eating Pack That Doesn’t Skimp on Comfort
The Mountainsmith Cona 65 makes easy work out of heavy loads.
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I’m a multiday maximalist. What does that mean, exactly? Basically, no matter how long the trip—although I am talking weekends here, not weeklong epics—I stuff my pack with comforts that will keep me happy on the trail. That means luxuries like a camp chair, comfy shoes for the end of the day, and hot chocolate for every party member.
All that stuff adds up to a lot of weight, which I’m (usually) happy to tote. To do that, though, I need a pack that can handle the load and keep me comfortable at the same time. In that respect, my first impressions of the Cona 65 are good ones. This pack—which is slated for release in spring 2022 and will retail for $290—has the suspension and padding to handle being stuffed to the brim.
On a three-day, mostly off-trail hike in the northern Wind River Range of Wyoming, I loaded the Cona up with about 30 pounds. The route, which traversed seemingly unending talus slopes and steep, switchbacking trails, was hard enough on my feet. My back, though, held up just fine. The Cona has an exceptionally plush upper-back yoke (which slides up and down to adjust for different-size torsos, from 21 to 17 inches), pillowy shoulder straps, and a lower-back pad and hipbelt that are are equally mattress-like. Its wide metal frame, which runs through the backpanel, easily transferred weight to my hips.
The Cona has a sleek, durable exterior made of 420-denier nylon that picked up some dirt, but no rips or abrasions, in the Winds’ notoriously gear-chewing terrain. Its two hipbelt pockets can hold snacks for an entire day, but other organization is fairly limited. (Its two internal drysack separators, though, could come in handy in wet conditions.)
We’ll continue to test the Cona in other locales, and with more weight. I have a hunch this pack will be able to handle it.