Mountainsmith PCT 45
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 80 dollars or so on sale
This pack is great: lightweight, versatile, and durable. I have scant complaints, which I get into in the detailed review.
- Well thought-out
- Rear pocket difficult to access with floating lid on
- Points where subframe meets the pack rubs a hole in the hipbelt
Wore this to hike the AT in 2008. If it were for sale still somewhere, I would buy it again. It is, in a word, amazing.
The pack fits well, provides good support through the lumbar region, rides smooth and close to the core, and is lightweight given the loads I would subject it to. I have back issues from a skiing accident, and the best my back has ever felt is with this pack on hiking 18 miles or so a day.
I like the design cue to make the inside material white thereby increasing light refraction making it easier to find items way down in the bottom.
The lack of compartments forces you to keep your necessities in various bags (ie. sleepwear, cookware, rain gear, etc.), which is good, but takes learning how to pack well. The floating lid could ride a little better when the pack isn't packed completely full, but wasn't a huge issue.
I have to say that I could do with the front pockets being slightly more durable where they meet the hip strap. One wore out because of rubbing gently across rocks as I descended a bouldering section of a hike. The other was chewed through by mice in search of food.
The water pouch is only accessible after removing the top, which on some modern packs is not an issue. I wouldn't mind seeing a draw-cord attached to the rear over the flexible pocket to stash a fleece or jacket as needed.
One highlight that very well could have been unintentional is that the nylon webbing is so long on all the buckles (which isn't a problem as there is a velcro closure that bundles the ends) that the removable lid can be used as a small bag when trips into town don't merit the whole pack being taken. This feature could have been exploited more so even!
All in all, a pack that served me well for two-thousand plus miles.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: less than $100
Bought this as a first weekend pack...
Bought this for a weekend pack several years ago. Today I use it to get a week's worth of groceries or use it to haul new gear to test. The floating lid, pocket and omni utility IS a good thing for some of us. It is relatively light for an older pack that is bomb proof!
We use these and the women's CDT for outfitting. They are a great adjustable/ specific harness fit and have some great little features true to Mountainsmith's excellent craftsmanship. The Mountainsmith pack covers are cool (if you don't like red and you're after the 'stealth' look!)
The front pocket can take a lightweight tent leaving room for all the rest of your gear inside (ie. you can use this light little pack for some big adventures!)
Design: Top loading internal
Size: 2685 cu. in
Number of Pockets: 5 or so
Max. Load Carried: Sadly about 45 with axe and radio
Height of Owner: 5-7
Price Paid: $120-ish
I bought this pack four seasons ago and have used it for ultralite hiking for up to a week, but I think where it has excelled is the three seasons I have used it as a pack for trail crew and as a ranger. I have abused this thing, carried all my EMS gear in it, attached all sorts of saws and axes to it and it has held up fairly well.
I do have to say that all there are some wear spots on the base from trail work, but that is to be expected. As a overnight pack it works great, and think that I am going to replace it in my daily use as a ranger with my smaller Dana Bomb pack.
One complaint if any is that you cant carry anything on your shoulder with the pack on b/c of the stays, they ride a little high on the shoulder and interfere with my saw or a log trying to rest while hiking.
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