Mountain Equipment Tupilak 37+
Very lightweight and simple pack designed for climbers and alpinists, but also suitable for weight-conscious backpackers as well as backcountry skiers.
- All accessories can be removed, including back panel and hip fins
- Plenty of attachment points for your extra needs
- Highly weather resistant
- Rollable sleeve can be used to separate wet items from the rest
- One-hand closure is a nice touch
- Only one pocket
- Shoulder straps to back panel harsh attachment may cause some discomfort
- No whistle integrated in the chest strap
The ME Tupilak is classified as a climbing pack, but I successfully used it in long distance backpacking trips (or ultralight if you want).
So I’m not going to deep dive in a full review as others did already a great job, but I’ll concentrate on specific points relative to my usage.
The ME capacity is 37L expandable to around 42 thanks to the rollable inner sleeve. This is a size that is suitable for multi-day trekking if you are extremely careful on what you bring with you.
For reference, I can fit inside the pack all the gear necessary for self-sustained 4-day trekking in the Alps, around 2500m elevation, in the 3-season period.
In these trips the pack is around 8kg gear + 4kg of food + camera and water.
The feature that I appreciate the most is how basic and simple the pack is, and that the few straps and cords you are provided with are completely removable or adaptable to your needs. This pack provides full customisation, so you are not forced to bring around stuff that you may never use, or in a configuration that you do not like.
By removing the pack panel, the hip fins, and the straps that I do not use, I can reduce the pack weight to 605g.
For my tastes I also removed one ice axe head holder, and changed the handle holder since the standard is not long enough to grab two trekking poles at the same time, or the tent pole.
Speaking of hip fins, I like to have them, they work, but I still need to decide if I’ll bring with me the next time.
Together they weigh 55g, but they are not kept in place on the main strap. This allows freedom of placement around your hip circumference, but consequently they float a bit, asking for attention when putting the pack on. I’m probably picky here, but they are not worth the usage during single day hikes in my opinion. Removing or adding them is 2min job. Your choice.
I’m 177cm with long torso and I find myself comfortable with the single choice of back length.
One thing I like ME to change is how the shoulder straps connect to the back panel. They are simply attached on top of it, without any kind of thickness reduction of the straps, or smooth transition with the back panel. Sometimes this translates to two pressure points on your back which I never experienced with other packs. However with few position adjustments, this problem disappears (it may be due to the incorrect positioning of the pack indeed).
Regarding ventilation, this pack does not offer any. But I’m ok with it, as it seems that ventilated backs do not provide tangible benefits to me in terms of humidity (after a long hike I always end up with wet t-shirt anyway).
I constantly use a bladder to consume water, and the Tupilak does not offer any feature in this direction. So I ended up by putting the bladder inside the pack, on top of everything, possibly outside the rollable sleeve, to prevent any eventual spill to soak my gear (and still be able to roll the sleeve!). Then the tube simply goes out from under the top cuff and it’s kept in place under the chest strap. I found this as the most convenient solution and I now actually prefer it against the dedicated bladder pockets. You always have easy access for refill and water level checks.
I used the Tupliak also for ski mountaineering. I love the option to put your wet skins separated from your wearing by using the sleeve. The fabrics do not collect snow when putting it on the ground and the fit is very adherent and balanced. So far I never had the opportunity to attach the skis on the backpack. Others have done it successfully.
ME and other reviewers claim the fabrics of this pack to be very resistant. After my limited usage I already see some fabric abrasion. I hope it is only cosmetic, and that I will not encounter any structural damage.
Anyhow some sewing of my old Deuter just exploded after 2 weeks of usage, while the seams on the Tupilak are well in place.
For reference, the gear I typically use during my prolonged backpacking trips is mainly composed by: a Tarptent Double Rainbow tent stuffed in a compression bag and the single pole attached outside, a Sea to Summit Spark spiii sleeping bag, a Sea to Summit ultralight sleeping pad M placed in lieu of the backpanel, one clothing change, brs3000 and titanium cup as cooking system, bladder, down jacket, rain shell, mittens, 4 days of food, camera, and miscellaneous.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 215€
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Current Retail: $279.99
Historic Range: $144.93-$289.95
560 g / 1 lb 4 oz
830 g / 1 lb 13.5 oz
PACT 300 and 100 R² fabrics