For all the research and development that has gone into making multi-day backpacks in recent years, how to create the most effective carrying system is still up for debate.
The evidence is in how many new and revised suspension systems will be on display on the floor at Summer Market.
Montane releases a new carrying system in its women’s Grand Tour (MSRP $198) line, called the “VertErgo Tour.” It features more individual tailoring spots than traditional packs — paired with a women’s-specific ergonomical design — and weighs a touch more than 45 ounces. For men, the Fast Alpine 40 (MSRPs $189-$289) comes out with a little more support and better construction.
Bergans of Norway is also following this trend. It completely redesigned its lightweight alpine backpack, the Helium (MSRPs $169-$205). It claims the 55-liter pack now weighs just 35 ounces, and the 40-liter version — not offered previously — weighs in at a little less than that. It redesigned its SPINE carrying system — first brought to Outdoor Retailer in 2011 — with the introduction of the Trollhetta pack. It features more tailoring options specific to adjusting the carrier’s torso length. Bergans is also releasing a new carrying system for its Helium packs, called the QuickAdjust Pro that involves sliding a D-ring into a loop and locking it with a piece of Velcro on the shoulder straps.
Granite Gear debuts a new system called “Re-Fit” in its 2016 line of Lutsen series backpacks (MSRPs $180-$220). The system adjusts to torso size with a flick of the hand and pairs with a padded, fully-adjustable waist belt.
Lowe Alpine keeps things minimal with its Airzone Trail 45 pack (MSRP $200), redesigning it for more support and breathability. The pack stays lightweight (44 ounces) with its no-bells-and-whistles approach.
Patagonia (#13027) releases a revision of its popular Black Hole (MSRP $79-$349) duffel bags, which it wants to sell as being as easy to carry as a backpack. You’ll find different strapping systems and materials to make it lighter and tougher. The range in sizes (45-120 liters) will be a factor in ease of use, as will built-in wheels on the larger sizes. And Patagonia brings a new line of Headway packs and duffels focused on the weekend warrior and those who want a burly bag to take to the office.
Thule adds padding and support, as well as breathable back panels, to its Guidepost 65 (MSRP $329). They are made with new Cordura fabrics and follow another trend: adding versatility to all packs.
Gregory will be releasing a new adjustable carrying system for its Wander 70 Youth Pack (MSRP $199), which allows parents to adjust back panels as kids grow between the ages of 10 and 18, and also comes in a 50-liter size. It’s worth noting the pack is still less than 4 pounds.
Mountainsmith took a new approach to nearly all of its products this year, including the Apex 100 (MSRP $250), its multi-day hauler. Both it and other products like the Mystic 65 (MSRP $220) will be outfitted with new Cordura materials, as part of the brand’s strategy to completely rehaul its products every three or four years. Then there’s the Lariat 65 (MSRP $230), a multi-day roll-top pack with a removable summit pack.
Finally, Osprey will be building on the AntiGravity carrying system it introduced in 2015. Only slight tweaks will be noticed in the Atmos AG (MSRP $290) and Aura AG (MSRP $270). A new 80-liter size will expand the Farpoint travel pack series.