Gear Review: Mountainsmith Lariat 65 Multiday Pack

Mountainsmith Lariat 65 is a big-load bargain pack that'll last.


“This pack is like my VW diesel,” raves a tester. “It’s not flashy, but you get last-a-lifetime engineering without chic-brand sticker shock. My Jetta chugged past 120,000 clicks of mountain driving without a breakdown; the Lariat’s rugged materials and construction should cover the equivalent in trail miles.” He carried it on a number of trips, highlighted by a four-day bushwalk in Tasmania’s Walls of Jerusalem. The heavy-duty nylon packbag held up to exotic thorns and prickly bushes, as well as a bushy-tailed possum that chewed through a lesser ultralight. The organization is big-load friendly, with a wide, draw-string closure on the extendable collar (which adds an additional 13 liters of volume) and a U-shaped, duffle-style front panel for versatile access. A detachable summit pack let our testers carry week-plus loads. The uncluttered feature set includes a hydration sleeve and two handy mesh side stuff-it pockets that are big enough for 1.5-liter bottles. And the suspension system would satisfy haughty German engineers: Our tester carried 50 pounds for hours without discomfort. Credit the stiff, wide, no-sag hipbelt, which has side adjustment straps that snug the plush, precision lumbar padding into your lower back like a firm bearhug. The pack fit testers with torso lengths from 17 to 22 inches, and easily fit even our 6’6” tester. $200; 4 lbs. 13 oz.; 65 liters; 1 size;