The Transalp III 50 has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best weekend packs for 2022.
Historic Range: $49.95-$59.97
Reviewers Paid: $39.95
I bought this pack for weekend camping trips. For the price, I could destroy it in a season and not be too disappointed. I haven't owned it for a season, yet.
I digress. I was packing for a ten-day trip to NYC and ran out of room in my tag-along. I gave the Lafuma Transalp III 50 a look and figured, "Why not?" I was able to get all my stuff in there, and with the handy outside pockets, I was able to stash all my traveling docs for quick availability.
Its size is perfect as a carry-on, as well. The rain shield came in handy to cover all of the straps and cords on the outside to avoid getting snagged as I made my way through security and put the bag into the overhead on the plane. Worked out great.
The back seems reasonably well-made. Some toughness may have been sacrificed to an extent for the sake of weight. The fabric is not as thin as tent fabric, but it's not ballistic nylon, either. The waterproof backing seems robust enough, though I haven't been rained on while carrying it. There are plenty of straps and adjustments, including the Aeroback adjustment system which allowed for quick and pretty accurate fitting.
There is a zippered pouch on the outside of the hip belt that I could see rubbing against the right forearm, but could also come on handy for things like a compass, small flashlight, folding knife, mp3 player and small first aid kit. One thing sorely lacking is a Nalgene pocket or pouch. The zippers seem a bit small, but I haven't tried to pack it real tight, yet.
The sleeping bag pouch has an inside zipper that allows packing through to the bottom. The rain shield lives in a small, zippered pouch beneath the sleeping bag pouch and remains attached to the bag. I don't know if that's standard, but it's a good idea.
The shoulder straps have an easily adjustable chest strap, and thumb loops.
Not being a big fan of garish colors, I like that it has a tame dark blue/gray theme.
I could have paid a lot more for the pack and still have gotten a great deal.
5/12 Update: I've owned this pack for a couple of years now, and couldn't be happier. I've done some alterations, including adding gear tabs on top and bottom, and a water bottle pouch to the side below one of the pockets.
It really is rather light. I've started to use a new packing technique: I have a CC foam mat that I roll loosely, then put into the pack. Then I unroll it as much as possible and fit all my gear in the space left over. It helps balance out the pack very well.
It's done well as a winter day pack and excursions lasting three days. I imagine that that is its limits, unless I become a weight-weenie, where I believe this pack wouldn't do bad for a week-long trip.
Update: Oct. 8, 2013 - Well, it's still going strong. I really love this pack. It's outperformed my expectations, especially considering I paid $40 for it. I've tried to break it, I really have. Way to go, Lafuma!
Design: top-loading, internal frame
Number of Pockets: 2 large on either side, one on cover
Max. Load Carried: thirty-five lbs.
Height of Owner: 5' 8"
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $39.95