Published on September 18th, 2013 | by Greg0
Arc’teryx Altra 65: A Week’s Gear On Your Back, Comfortably
We’re not suggesting that you drop everything and head to the outback, spend some quality time in jungles, or hike the Appalachian Trail for real. But we would humbly suggest that you could use some more adventure in your life. All you really need to do to get away is to pack a bag, and book a ticket or drive. There is plenty of wilderness not far from you, no matter where you are- New York has plenty of untouched wilds, as does California, not to mention everywhere in between.
We recently did some trekking of our own with the Arc’teryx Altra 65, a high-end backpacker’s dream bag built for men. Using a new frame system called composite construction, the company created a pear-shaped design that helps bring some of the load closer to the body, preventing it from shifting around during movement. When you’re trying to carry this much stuff, it’s critical that you find a design that balances the weight effectively, offers comfortable straps, and that is durable enough to survive any conditions. Whether you’re heading up Alpine mountains or just into a National Park for a few days, your trip can come to an abrupt halt if your bag breaks, leaks, rips, or tears.
Luckily, we’ve always found Arc’teryx bags well-constructed- ready to serve as your voluminous home away from home. This body is made from 210D nylon ripstop fabric that is tear-resistant, and reinforced with heavier-weight 500D for high wear areas that resists contamination from dirt, snow and water. Everything is treated with silicone for weatherproofing, and they selected lightweight materials as well, making this one of the lightest bags in it’s class. Like most internal-frame technical packs, this one features aluminum stays for support that are both rigid and lightweight. They’re removable to lighten the load a bit, but help especially if you’re worried about stability. The Altra 65 also features their pivoting hipbelt and unusually Ironman-looking “Load Transfer Disc”, but the coolest new feature were the stretchy Wingman pockets, each of which wrap over the hip and are accessible without needing to take off the pack. You can keep your most important items handy, like a camera or Nalgene bottle.
Breathability is key too, and we never felt our backs get overwhelmingly sweaty during several-hour forays. The Altra 65 also includes foam panels that felt custom-fit, at least on a couple of our male staffers. Everyone’s back is different and there is plenty of adjustability here, but we always recommend testing a bag out for a bit in-store before purchasing if possible. And remember to load stuff inside- carrying 30 kilograms of your valuables is very different that testing the bag empty. Four compression straps help buckle in your pack, and it can fit about 75L inside in a pinch, enough for even the longest journeys. Every detail is thought through, from the grab handle to the detachable sternum strap, daisy chains for clipping everything inside and separate waterproof compartments prevent your wet jacket from ruining your socks.
You really do get what you pay for here- this is, simply put, one of the best bags on the market, and it’s no surprise that it has won a bevy of awards. It certainly is not cheap, but if you’re trying to carry a lot of stuff up steep hills, in the rain, or for days at a time, then it’s absolutely worth it. Available now in either orange Iron Oxide (as tested) or dark Carbon Copy, it’s a bag that should last you for years. Online and in stores for around $450.