Over the past 18 months the New Zealand Alpine Team along with Macpac have been developing the ultimate alpine climbing pack. Light, robust and full of features specifically aimed at those who like to hike, climb or travel light and fast in an alpine environment. The pack comes in two sizes and two material options. Its been great to hear the feed back from other climbers around the world when they have seen the new packs. While loading the new Alpine Series Pursuit onto our glacier flight in Alaska the baggage man from TAT said “man I see thousands of climbing packs and this is one the best I’ve ever come across” I thought it summed up the new Alpine Series Pursuit pretty well.
The new Alpine Series Pursuit will be available in stores and online from mid October 2015.
PU coated 210d nylon with a Dyneema ripstop, a secondary fabric 500d Cordura Nylon. This is the pack for light and fast missions. 37L
This pack weights in at 610g including a fold out sleeping matt which is integrated into the back of the pack. This is our summit day / hard technical alpine climbing pack. It is the pack you take when every gram counts and you don’t want your equipment slow you down. There is always a trade off between something that is light and something that is durable, so expect to put a few holes in this one over time. However, in saying that I have been very pleased with the material choice and feel that this bag strikes a good balance between lightness vs durability.
6 oz Aztec Canvass with 500d Cordura Nylon the durable long lasting option. 37L
Weight 690g including a fold out sleeping matt. This version is grate for anyone looking for a cragging / rock or mixed climbing regular use multipitch alpine pack. I have been using the canvass version on many long multipitch climbs, hiking in the alps and as my everyday cragging pack for almost a year. It has done hundreds of pitches on rough granite, been hauled, abused and exposed to some very heavy loads. Considering what I have subjected this pack to, I have been very pleased with how long this durable little pack has lasted. Apart from a few small cosmetic holes and scratches the pack is holding up well and still going strong.
Surprisingly for a simple pack the Alpine Series Pursuit is packed with many features.
Waist band. This has been kept thin and simple to ensure you can wear the waist band and a harness. The design however is comfortable enough to handle a large load. I have used this many times with a packed weight of 18 – 23kgs. I have found the pack quite comfortable and capable of handling this much weight. No need to fold the large bulky waist band back when it comes time to start climbing.
The packs back panel fabric is made from a non absorbent fabric so it wont freeze in sub zero temps.
Integrated foam sleeping matt. I love this feature. From the pack, out folds a foam sleeping matt. Combine this with the actual pack and you have a full length sleeping pad. This will cover you for all your summer camping or emergency bivvy needs. For winter I like to beef it up with a light weight air mattress or additional piece of foam padding. Usually I find for snow camping the extra padding helps ensure a better nights sleep.
Side compression straps. Usually when your pack is fully loaded it is often impossible to clip a tent / bed role etc onto the sides your pack. It is one of the main failings of many light weight climbing packs. The Alpine Series Pursuit solves this problem with extra long size straps which easily accommodate your alpine tent or full sized foam matt. Each strap also has a clip attachment point for easy access rather than a fixed buckle.
Ice axe attachment points. Simple, light weight and functional. You can attach either your new modern mixed climbing axe or an old traditional walking axe with ease. They also work well with gloves on! Our simple design also secures your ice axe pick neatly to the pack ensuring it doesn’t stick out and catch on things.
Webbing attachment points on the front of the pack. These allow you to clip things like water bottles or big cams etc when your pack is fully loaded and there is no longer any room inside.
Top compression strap. This serves two purposes. Firstly it allows you to stow your rope on top of the pack when the bag is full (it can be used for jackets or harnesses as well). The secondary smaller loop is your crampon attachment point. Therefore when your pack is full you can still carry your top and crampons on top ready for easy. It also keeps your crampons in a position where they don’t cut any of your other gear.
No hood. This keeps the profile of the pack low so it doesn’t interfere with you when climbing, walking or skiing. The low profile is helped by the shoulder strap construction. These are slim and ensure you have good arm movement when using the pack.
Top pocket. Handy and good sized top pocket to hold all your basics like food, sunglasses, first aid kit etc.
Rear gear loop. The pack has a strong webbing loop on top of the back pad. This can be used for hauling or hanging your pack at a belay. We have also added one more small attachment point on the front of the pack (where the top compression strap attaches). You can equalise the front and the rear loop to ensure your pack hauls evenly when pulling it up a hard pitch.
Size. 35 – 37L depending on your choice size 2 or 3. This is the perfect size pack for alpine missions lasting 1 – 3 days. If you pack well it can be used for up to one week. Our current record is an 8 day alpine trip where all food, technical gear, camping and stove were included in or on the pack. If you buy the right gear and pack your food correctly carrying big packs should be a thing of the past! This bag should be able to cover 95% of all your mountain trips big or small. The only time I use a bigger bag is to walk in large amounts of gear to an expedition base camp. Otherwise I never carry a larger pack.
Overall I rate this pack very highly. It is the alpine climbing pack I have always wanted to buy but could never find a company making it just right. It has been put together ensuring no un necessary bells or whistles yet at the same time it functions perfectly. Over the 18 months we developed and tested these packs the Alpine Team went through 3 versions, 3 fabric options and around 20 different packs. They have been put through their paces in many of the worlds toughest mountain ranges from Patagonia to Alaska, the European Alps to big alpine routes in New Zealand. The end result is a real alpine climbing pack that you can trust and rely on. It is a throw back to the original Macpac climbing sacks of the 70s in both design, look and feel. The first of a whole new series of products developed and tested in conjunction with the NZ Alpine Team. Personally I think it is one of the best overall alpine packs available on the market today.