Dana Design is no longer in business, and the ArcFlex Alpine has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best expedition packs for 2021.
Reviewers Paid: $116.00-$415.00
I will keep it my life long. Although it is perhaps a bit heavier than other backpacks this size I just couldn't do without this backpack. But be careful: When we bought in the 90s this backpack, different hip belts and shoulder straps were available. This way you could "tailor" the backpack to your body size and shape. The result: when you close all the straps and the hip belt you have the feeling that even the heaviest load evaporates!
Design: Alpine Arcflex
Size: not sure, but big
The workhorse of heavy duty mountaineering packs. For three decades I've carried this pack. I had the foam back pad replaced and re-padded the shoulder straps. Recommended for the gal or guy heading on a mountaineering tour or world tour.
- Load carrying capability
- No longer made
I bought this pack new in the mid '80s with the removable side pockets. I've had options to carry other packs on serious multi month trips and always default to my old D.D. ArcFlex Alpine.
Securing and balancing the load is simple if packed with common sense. The top pocket/fanny pack has worked especially well when guiding/teaching so I can use it for day hikes from a base camp. The first Dana pack I had I bought at Dana's store in Deadwood, S.D., around 1974 ( Mountain Man Products?). My wife has nearly wore out a Kletterwerks (pre-Dana Design) Terraplane she bought in Bozeman sometime in the late '70s/early '80s.
I have not found a comparable pack to the Arcflex Alpine during the past 30 years. It will be in service again this next week on a trip in the central Oregon Cascades. It will outlast me so one of my children will inherit it. Lucky them!
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Wholesale on a pro deal
What else would you expect from Dana Gleason...a pack designed by someone who has logged many trail miles with lesser equipment. Having been a Dana Design Astralplane owner for many years, I found this Alpine pack on E-bay and it is exactly what I expected. It has the same ArcFlex suspension system as the Astralplane and Terraplane. The top pocket detaches and converts to a hip-pack for day use, just as its big brothers. It is rated at 5000 cu in, and it goes beyond that with the top extension, if you should need that.
The beavertail back us not as handy as the two vertical outside pockets on the aforementioned packs, but it does a great job of keeping both climbing gear and equipment you need quickly close to the center of gravity. I have found that my tent poles work perfectly there, as well as my hiking poles when they aren't needed.
There are a few of these that come up on E-bay fairly regularly, so I highly recommend you go there and wait for a good one, like I did. Or, you can spend a lot more for the new Dana packs at Mystery Ranch. However, it's hard to beat the original.
Price Paid: $116 slightly used - orig. retail $425
This pack exemplifies the bombproof structual design that Dana is known for. This is the most well made pack I've ever seen. I finally bought one without regret, and am very impressed with the quality and the design. The Alpine is one tough S.O.B. As soon as I took it home, I read the owners manual (about as thick as my jeeps) and started to load up some weight. First I threw two 30 lbs. dumbells in after my sleeping bag which fits snug in the sleeping bag compartment, then I packed it with heavy clothes and jackets and walked a couple of blocks. This pack didn't even sway or budge. I can't wait for ALASKA !!!!
Size: 5250 ( large )
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 70 + lbs.
Height of Owner: 6 ft.
Price Paid: $415
Absolutely the best pack on the market, hands down for anyone heading into the mountains. The only problem, the price. I definitely recommend to shop around and wait for a sale in which the pack's price drops below $300. This pack did not stress anything in my body after weeks of carrying 90lbs. So versatile that you can climb with it, and ski the Wyoming backcountry with 60 lbs in it. The pack even has a slight hourglass cut for freedom of arm movement. It has so many nooks, crannies, and adjustments that it lets itself be countored and customized to you. The BeaverTail Shovit works really well. The only setbacks of this pack are its lack of water bottle compartments and the overwhelming amount of adjustments.
Design: Internal Frame
Number of Pockets: 2
Max. Load Carried: 90 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'3"
Price Paid: $400