Mountain Hardwear Solitude
The Solitude has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best external frame backpacks for 2020.
Historic Range: $119.70-$399.00
Reviewers Paid: $399.00-$400.00
I bought this pack online at Moosejaw after testing in a local outfitter, which isn't really much of a test. I took it on a short weekend hike, and it performed well, but was unnecessary due to the amount of gear I needed.
Then I took it on a 9-day extreme backcountry trip in Jasper National Park and Mt. Robson Provincial Park. I needed to carry plenty of gear, and this pack provided pleanty of room. It was extremely comfortable compared to packs I have used in the past, and it sat almost perfectly on my hips (I say almost because it did cut off circulation a bit when I had 50 lbs in it). The pack remained comfortable on the route I took (which was no trail, and very rough hiking). The kangaroo pouch was perfect for storing quick access gear. The velcro seems to hold very well, and I really can't see it wearing for a long time. The load adjuster is so easy to deal with. Much easier than dealing with standard strap type load adjusters.
The design is completely different than anything I have seen before, and it seems as though a lot of though went into it because it work. I am extremely happy with the purchase. I also took the pack on the Wonderland Trail in Mt. Rainier NP, and it was perfect for that trail as well. I would not recommend any other pack for multi-day backcountry treks. I wish I could use it for backcountry skiing as well, but it would be ridiculous as it is far too big for that unless I am on a multi day snowshoe/ski trip. Kudos to Mountain Hardwear. I thought they would go downhill when they merged with Columbia, but their gear still seems to be very well made.
Price Paid: $400
I love this pack. I was looking for a pack to replace my aging Lowe Alpine when I found out about the new Exodus packs. This is quite possibly the last pack I will every buy.
To test, I loaded it up to 50 pounds (way more than one would normally carry) and headed out for a 27 mile, 3 day, 2 night trek. I was completely blown away by the packs ability to handle the load and do so comfortably. This is by far the most comfortable, best handling pack I have had. And thank God, it took a lot for me to swallow 400 bones for a pack. But I figure it's a good deal if I never have to buy one again.
I would have given it 5 stars but set up of the frame is a complete PITA. It takes some patience and a friend's help to get everything adjusted correctly. But once done, off you go and thankful your back and hips will be.
I also am wary about the velco that holds the adjustments in place. I could see this wearing out eventually and causing a lot of problems with the adjustments. Also, some of the frame pieces seem cheaply made, even if they are a small tiny part they appear to be critical. If broken, the system will no longer be functional.
All that being said, Mountain Hardwear does cover the pack with a lifetime warranty, so if any problems do creep up, they should be covered. Only time and miles will tell just how sturdy and durable this pack is.
Design: Top loading internal
Max. Load Carried: 50 pounds
Height of Owner: 5'11"
Price Paid: $399