Mountain Expedition alpine backpack

By James Mccormack April 4, 2014
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This intrepid pack is guaranteed to last as long as you’re willing to challenge it.

Abused. Oh so abused. As an adventure writer and photographer – I know, it’s a sucky job – for nearly 10 years now, I’ve been giving my Mountain Expedition abuse beyond its wildest dreams: ice climbing, jungle trekking, alpine expeditions, ski touring, canyoning, Tassie treks.

You name it, my Mountain Expedition has probably done it. True, it has alpine pedigree; the shovel pocket, ice-axe sleeves, crampon patch and ski loops testify to that. But this is a versatile, go-anywhere pack.

Its first and foremost attribute, however, is its size. It’s massive. This is a pack that can – I’m not joking – double as an emergency bivvy bag. Thankfully, that’s a task I haven’t had to use it for. Yet. But at 100 litres plus (depending on your back size), it truly lives up to the expedition part of its name. Granted, as a photographer I often need a bigger pack than most.

Heading out for two weeks and then adding an extra 20+ litres worth of camera gear means an 80- or 90-litre pack simply isn’t going to cut it. Nor would they manage with the 40kg loads I’m regularly forced to lug. Hey, camera gear ain’t light. Nor are my ropes, or skis or, when necessary, several weeks’ worth of food.

But the Mountain Expedition carries it all with aplomb, something that cannot be said for many other so-called expedition packs with their flimsy and, frankly, inadequate hip belts.

But here’s the (crucial) thing: when I said size was its foremost attribute, I also meant how well it compresses for smaller loads. This is not only an expedition pack. I’ve used it on weekends, even on day trips when canyoning and when I’ve headed off from base camp on ski tours.

Strip it of its top pocket (which, incidentally, can be converted to a bumbag if you so desire), roll down the throat, cinch the compression straps and it’s good to go for anything other than light day trips. It is truly the closest pack I’ve ever found to doing it all.

Not everything about it is perfect. For easy ski attachment and removal, I’d really like to see quick-release buckles on compression straps on both sides, (they ship with QR buckles only on the side zip side). But this is a minor quibble (and you can retro-fit them).

After nearly 10 years of horrendous abuse, with my pack approaching the end of its usable life, I already know exactly what I’ll be replacing it with: another Mountain Expedition. That perhaps says it all.

RRP $369