Mountaineers who need overnight capacity or who carry huge day loads found the Alpinisto 50 an able hauler. “Laden with rope, screws, layers, axes, water, a big thermos of coffee, food, and a helmet, it felt totally stable,” reports our Colorado tester, who used this top-loader while ice-climbing in Boulder Canyon. The pack’s narrow profile aligns the payload with the wearer’s center of gravity and allows for unrestricted arm movement. And a supportive suspension design combines a plastic framesheet with an aluminum stay that transfers the load to the hips; a central cross-stay also keeps the pack from barreling when it’s stuffed with weighty gear.
But for light-and-fast summit bids, the Alpinisto morphs into minimalism: You can remove the lid, framesheet, stay, and bivy pad to shave a pound and a half. Our tester praised the smart, climbing-specific features: The hipbelt is cut high to integrate with a harness, and gear loops are big enough to hold about a dozen screws (eliminating the need to store them inside the main compartment). The external crampon pocket is backed with a TPU panel to keep points from penetrating into the pack, and when empty, it collapses flat to reduce clutter. The body-hugging, molded backpanel sheds snow (so it doesn’t collect moisture and freeze) and buckles are glove-friendly. Downsides: The skinny shape easily becomes top-heavy (careful packing is required to keep weighty items down low), and capacity is meager for weekend trips (a sleeping bag barely fits alongside climbing gear). $229; 3 lbs. 10 oz.; 50 liters; gregorypacks.com
The Alpinisto was updated for 2009. Features are the same, but the bag got an aesthetic update as well as a new fabric combo that is stronger and lighter.