In preparation for my soon-to-begin 2018 season, I went shopping for a new pack, as my trusty old REI Stoke 18 is on its last legs. I found something that will do the job, but was surprised at how difficult it is to find a pack that meets my simple needs:
- 15-20 liter main compartment
- This is enough space for a normal winter day or an epic summer one.
- 2 tool attachments
- I don’t do too many things that require two tools, but when I do, it’s nice to be able to strap them to my pack.
- Stash pockets
- I need to be able to get to food and store small items without taking my pack off, or having stuff in my pants pockets bumping against my leg. Why do no mountaineering packs have stash pockets? Even people doing “Extreme Alpine Assaults” need to eat and store things.
- External attachment points
- Sometimes I can fit crampons inside my pack, but sometimes I can’t or don’t want to.
- Sternum strap and waist belt
- They don’t need to be super-substantial, but the pack needs to not flop around while jogging.
- Reasonable durability for the cost
- If it costs $100+, it had better last at least a few years.
- Nothing else
- Many packs have all sorts of weird straps and doodads that catch on things and add weight. Sometimes simplicity is best.
Some companies come sooo close:
Take a Gregory Verte 15, add a couple of side stash pockets, and you’d have a condender.
The BD Blitz 20 is similar (and no, a “waterproof zip pocket on lid” is not “easily accessible” for anyone with normal shoulder flexibility, as the pack still needs to come off).
The Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 3.0 looks decent, but I’m not sold on vests for everyday scrambling, it goes a bit overboards on bits and bobs, and its 13.3-oz weight suggests that it’s made of tissue paper. I’d happily carry 1/2 pound more (and probably save 30% in material cost) for something that lasted longer.
Anyways, I found something that cost less than $100, and should serve me well for at least a couple of seasons. It has some obvious shortcomings