Backpacking: McHale Inex

Outside magazine, May 1996


Backpacking: McHale Inex
By Mike Randolph


An expedition backpack is the thing for hauling gear to and from base camp, but what about the day hikes you want to take from there? The big pack is overkill, and an extra daypack just adds to your load. Therein lies the niche that the Inex Alpineer Bayonet has carved for itself: When you change from backpacker to day hiker, it changes with you.

Unlike most things designed to do two jobs, the Inex functions remarkably well in both its incarnations. A clever frame design lets you transform the 7,000-cubic-inch Inex into a gorp-and-water hauler simply by sliding out two of its internal frame's four aluminum stays and then rolling the excess fabric down under the lid. Stabilizing straps extend through sleeves on the shoulder straps and attach directly to the frame for a body-hugging fit, just the thing for technical climbing and skiing.

In multiday mode, the Inex provides all the space, comfort, and stability you'd expect from an expedition pack. Not only does it have an oversize sleeping bag compartment, lash straps for skis or rod cases, a lid pocket, and external water bottle pockets, but its unique hipbelt, with two buckles, does a superior job of distributing the strain of a full load comfortably and evenly across both men's and women's hips. The Inex is one of five Bayonet series packs; McHale custom-builds them to the user's measurements for an exact fit. You pay a premium, but the investment brings returns in lightweight, functional versatility.

$575. From McHale & Co., 29 Dravus St., Seattle, WA 98109; 206-281-7861.


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