Q:

Is the new Arc'teryx hauler the future of backpacks?

I hear there is a new Arc'teryx backpack looming on the horizon this April that is supposed to be a huge step forward in backpacking technology. Is there any truth to this? Kolby Vancouver, British Columbia

Feb 23, 2006
Outside
Outside Magazine
A: There is a new Arc'teryx backpack, which should indeed be out this spring. Actually, backpacks plural, as Arc'teryx has a whole line of these things out, called Advanced Composite Construction packs. They're waterproof packs made with welded-seam technology, meaning there isn't a stitch in them. Everything is welded or glued—even the straps to the pack bag. Given the growing prevalence of welded seams in clothing, I think it's only a matter of time before stitched seams in anything—packs, sleeping bags, parkas, you name it—are a thing of the past.

I looked at these packs at last summer's Outdoor Retailer show and thought they had enormous potential. They have a very simple, even spare, suspension, and to be honest, I didn't feel they carried as big a load as some other packs. But the clean design and waterproof construction are big selling points, and the suspension really is fine for moderate loads. These are expensive packs, though—up to almost $475 for the largest pack (www.arcteryx.com), which is barely big enough to handle a week's worth of stuff.

Mountain Hardwear has a new line of packs out as well, called the Exodus. If the Arc'teryx packs show the way to a new kind of pack, Mountain Hardwear's packs take more traditional design and tweak it to perhaps its very limit. Which is a compliment, not a knock, because the Exodus packs are beautiful packs, and carry spectacularly well once the somewhat fussy frame geometry is dialed in for your body. Prices are high but not stratospheric—up to about $400 for the big Solitude (www.mountainhardwear.com), a 4,800-cubic-inch pack.

So, yes, new stuff is coming out, and all of it very exciting for us backpackers and climbers.

For a slew of the best haulers, check out Outside Online's Backpacks Buying Guide.

Filed To: Backpacks

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