Arc'teryx Altra 65
The Altra 65 has been discontinued. It was replaced by the Arc'teryx Bora AR 63.
If you're looking for something new, check out the best weekend packs for 2020.
Historic Range: $262.99-$450.00
Reviewers Paid: $250.00-$450.00
2.3 kg / 81 oz
751 / 4577 cu in, extends to 821 / 5004 cu in
If I could only have one pack...this would be it!
The attention to detail in design is over the top. Access, convenience, and the way it rides on my body is in a class of its own.
- Very intelligent design
- Easy access to anywhere in the pack
- Awesome suspension system.
- Fantastic hip belt.
- Large double chamber lid
- Limited color choices
This is my preferred 3-season pack for so many reasons. Not too big, not too small. I can carry all my creature comforts and enough food and fuel for a week long backpacking trip.
Let's talk about access. The pack has a full U-type zipper that runs around the pack. That zipper has TWO bi-directional zipper pulls that may be strategically placed one on either side of the pack. An item may be removed from the pack at any point without spilling all the other contents.
For example, let's say you know that you packed your stove down in the middle of the pack on the left side. No need to dig down through everything from the top to find it. You simply run the zipper to the approximate location, open it enough to reach your hand inside and remove the item. Everything else stays in place. Access is easy to any item, packed anywhere in the pack.
If so desired, the entire pack can also be opened up like a suitcase.
There is also an external kangaroo pocket on front, separate from the main pack body. It's quick and easy for items that may be wet. I keep my rain gear and tarp ready to grab instantly. When a storm catches you by surprise....rain gear can be on within seconds and a tarp can be strung up within a very few minutes.
There are also two side pockets. Oddly shaped (kinda triangular) each pocket is big enough to hold a 32 oz Nalgene bottle and more. These pockets may be accessed while wearing the pack!
Then there are two smaller pockets on the hip belt. Big enough for a small digital camera, GPS, fiber bars, etc.
The top lid is removable and may be used as a day pack for side trips away from camp. It has two chambers, both zippered, one facing front, one facing back. Each pocket is plenty big enough for both a 32 oz Nalgene and a pump type water filter...and more.
Access to this pack is the best of any pack I have and that includes over a dozen high end packs.
Now, let's look at the suspension. In a word .....Awesome!
I was first introduced to the "load transfer disc" on my now discontinued Arc'teryx Naos 85. In my review of that pack I stated that at first I thought it was a gimmick. I was wrong. It really works.
The disc allows the hip belt to swivel. In effect, what it does is transfer the weight to the leg which is on the ground. The leg being lifted to take a step is not fighting the weight of the pack. The weight is shifted from one leg to the other as you walk. I did not appreciate this until actually on a trail and trudging uphill under load. It may not seem a big deal while seated at your computer, but several thousand steps going up a mountain add up.
Both the hip belt and the shoulder straps are adjustable for proper torso length. The shoulder straps are also adjustable for yoke width. If you take the time to get it dialed in this pack can correctly fit most people.
Arc'teryx is known for using state-of-the-art fabrics. They have materials that no other company seems to have. All the materials used in this pack are first rate. They put a lot of thought and R&D into this pack.
The design of the pack reminds me of an egg shape. Bigger at the bottom, narrower at the top. The sleeping bag compartment at the bottom is big enough for a cold rated bulky sleeping bag. As primarily a hammock camper I routinely cram both a 20° under quilt, a 20° top quilt, AND my 25° Feathered Friends Winter Wren into a compression dry bag and shoehorn that into the bottom of the pack.
In the summer when I carry only the quilts the side compression straps cinch the load down tight.
I've had the pack for about three years. I'm still amazed when I stare at the details of it.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $450 from Moosejaw
After coming from an external frame pack, this is excellent. Top of the line pack that will easily carry any heavy load because of Arc'teryx's patented hip belt. The fabric used in construction is top notch and durable. Great purchase that will last a long time—if not for life.
- Handles heavy loads (I tested up to 65 pounds) easily and comfortably.
- Designed with a great layout
- Great customer service
- Water resistant material
- Gorgeous looking
- Well designed, numerous straps for cinching down the pack
- Well designed straps for adjusting the pack's fit
- No ice axe loops
- Not enough room for >8 day trips, must be volume conscious
- A struggle to access water while hiking, consider getting a hydration bladder with hose
- Light, but "heavy" for the price range—you pay for comfort with weight
I use this for 2 to 7 day backpacking trips, most at high elevation in Western U.S. You could go longer, but it would require a space-saving sleeping bag, shelter, and strapping a lot of gear to the outside of your pack (bare in mind this comes from my perspective as someone WITHOUT space-saving, low-volume gear... you could easily plan a better and more efficient load-out with better gear, but that requires $$$. I should qualify this by saying that I probably could have got more gear on my backpack for longer treks, but that would require sacrificing stability with more gear strapped to the outside of the pack. I'd hate having to sacrifice that stability, plus the increased leverage from the weight is miserable).
The ride is probably best in class. It's insanely helpful to get your pack custom fitted. You could bend the aluminium frame supports yourself, but the margin of error seems pretty small. If you grow or want it readjusted, you have to re-bend the aluminium, not just the straps.
The capacity is all right. Err on the side of less volume if comparing your pack to an external frame. However, there is webbing and there are other straps to lash gear on the outside of the pack, so that's very nice. There's one big main pocket. The two pockets on the side can hold approximately 1 Nalgene, each. A large brain, that expands for additional storage space
However I found it difficult and frustrating fitting my Nalgenes in the pockets that—with a maximum capacity pack—you can't access while hiking. While fully packed, it's difficult to get your Nalgene back into the pockets, even with the pack off. At some points I just gave up and put them at the top of my pack (to alleviate this get a bladder with hose that you can put in the brain).
All in all, an amazing pack and I'd buy it again in a heartbeat. My qualms are small compared to how well this pack has treated me.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Don't remember: $400-550
Super comfort, unlimited adjustments, removable belt, opens like a suitcase for easy location of any item, weights only 4#'s, 16 ounces for a 70 liter pack. Compression wings, micro loops, side bladder pouch, waterproof top zippers and big outside front pocket for quick access items with a floating top compartment.
- infinate adjustments
- easy access suitcase like opening
- Can't think of any.
Bought this pack March of 2012 after much research and thought and have been overwhelmed with the awesomeness of this top of the line pack.
This pack has it all; unlimited adjustments, a belt that swivels so the pack stays stable while you bend and twist and an instant adjustment feature for the shoulder straps.
This pack can easily accommodate a 5-day hike to anywhere since it holds 70 liters. The two compression wings double as side strap on's plus it has multible micro loops for further outside attachements.
As far as durabilty, it's an Arc'teryx, need I say more?
The attribute that puts this pack over the top is the full zipper suitcase opening that makes getting to anything instantaneous; just unzip and there it is! No more dumping everything out to find something at the bottom.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $349
Loads bigger than it measures.
- Loadhauling comfort
- Quality pack
Used this pack in Glacier for 12 days and on the AT in '12 for 5 weeks. While it is a bigger pack and allows for 'overpack', it is absolutely comfy with big loads and, once accustomed to, has plenty of room to haul food stuffs that resuppliees need on the trail.... paid for itself in three weeks! My Arcteryx is well made and trustworthy.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $250 or less