Go Lightweight without Sacrificing Durability
For an outdoor apparel company as large as Montbell there are surprisingly few hiking backpack reviews. This is a shame as Montbell packs are very reasonably priced, lightweight and well-constructed. I had been searching for a 60-70 litre pack to replace my ageing and rather hefty Macpac Canyon 2.5 kg (5.5 lb.) I received many years ago as a 21st birthday present. After much frustration trying to find a light, well-fitting backpack which wasn’t going to break the bank I was relieved to stumble upon Montbell’s Expedition Pack 70. While a tad on the voluminous side Montbell rates it as a mid-sized pack ideal for multi-day backcountry adventures.
The Montbell Expedition Pack 70 sits at the bottom of the expedition pack range which tops out with the 90 and 110 litres Super Expedition packs for high volume loads. While the pack isn’t the lightest in class coming in at 1770g (3lbs. 14 oz.) for those of us downsizing from heavier packs it’s a joy to be lugging around a lot less base weight. Montbell also has a smaller Alpine Pack 60 litre for those looking for a trimmed down version. The pack has a single compartment with a detachable top floating lid which means unpacking and reloading your gear more often. Secondary access into the main compartment is also possible via a 15-inch side zipper though I have rarely accessed my gear this way. When the pack isn’t maxed out compression straps allow you to manage the internal pack volume.
Performance in the Field
The pack has a strong, lightweight aluminium frame which can be bent and shaped to fit the curve of your back. The personalised backpack fitting was done at the Montbell shop where I purchased the pack. With the backpack correctly fitted makes it comfortable to carry moderate loads without any issues. While the torso length isn’t adjustable (fits 19 inches and up) there is a Velcro panel behind the hip belt which can be moved up or down. The hip belt is rather soft so it’s probably best to stay away from overly heavy loads. The moulded-foam back panel provides great load support and transfer to the hips and really hugs your back. A nice feature is a discrete zippered security pocket under the lid and another smaller one in the upper compartment for storing small items. On the downside the pack isn’t especially waterproof so you will need carry a fitted rain cover.
The Expedition Pack 70 is primarily intended for light alpine ascents but is equally at home on multi-day hikes. The pack is rugged and constructed of durable materials. Overall, it’s a good, lightweight no frills backpack that has everything you need and no more.
Montbell Expedition Pack 70 specifications:
Weight: 1770g (3lbs. 14 oz.)
Pack body: 330-denier urethane coated rip-stop nylon
Pack bottom: 1000-denier urethane coated Ballistic nylon
Frame: Adjustable aluminium frame
Hydration system compatible
Top lid with underside zippered security pocket
30cm (15 in.) side access zipper allows access to main compartment
Colour: Shadow (dark grey)
Country of origin: Philippines
Montbell Expedition Pack 70: 19,980 yen ($183 USD) (as at Aug 23, 2017)