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Mountainsmith Crestone III

rated 4.0 of 5 stars

The Crestone III has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best expedition packs for 2024.

I have used several backpacks over the past several years, and I kept admiring the Crestone, but just didn't want to spend the money. I stumbled onto one at a sale the end of last year. I made the purchase, and I have been in heaven ever since.

This pack is a cinch to fit, with the Mountainsmith quick sizing system, just dial in your measurements. I imediately packed in about 40 lbs and started taking short walks, 3 miles or so, and I found that this pack was very confortable. I then upped the weight, and the pack continued to carry the load well.

This pack has numerous adjustments for how the pack fits to the body, which can be adjusted while you are walking. I used these, and I found this only made the pack even better.

On a recent backpacking trip, I loaded this pack to 51 pounds and set off for the wilds. I spent multiple days on a rouph trail that was up or down all of the time. I even found myself in a downpour, and thanks for the Mountainsmith raincover My pack was drier than myself.

Accessibility to the inside was a breeze, through the top or the front sipper, although it does require undoing several load compression straps. I have heard people complain about the number of straps on the Mountainsmiths, but it really controls the load inside, and keeps it tight, and I like that. I can live with the straps.

After my trip, I also found that I did not have the sore shoulders that I normally get when packing. I couldn't believe it. The lumbar pad fit in my back very well, and the pack felt like part of my body. I attribute this to the multiple load control adjustments. They really allow you to fit the pack to your personal preferences. The lumbar control straps were one of the nicest features of this pack. The other nice touch was the waistbelt, which has a hard plasticlike support incorporated into it. This keeps the waistbelt fitting properly, and thus giving you the optimal support.

I have found this pack to be the finest I have used to date, and in fact, I am looking no more, I am in heaven with the finest pack made. Take a look at Mountainsmith if you haven't before, I am sure you too will be converted.

While the Crestone is no longer made, Mountainsmith has continued the fine tradition in their current lines. Take a look.

Design: Internal Frame
Size: 6100
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 51lbs
Height of Owner: 5ft 10in

I have had mine for many years. Been with me for hundreds of miles in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, and California. Has a soothing creaking sound while walking that I have grown to love!


  • Comfort
  • Rugged
  • Will haul as much as you can carry. My pack weight is usually around 50-60 pounds.

I like to take a lot of stuff. Wine and bourbon. Cookies etc. Have done many 50- to 60-mile 10+ day trips with 50-60 pounds, especially in Idaho and Montana where I pack a side arm and ammo.

This pack has been with me for at least 25 years. Only had to sew up the lid 1 time. Been to the rainforests of Washington to 13,000 feet in the Wind Rivers in Wyoming and everywhere in between. Putting it on is like putting on an old friend.

Heading to the Sawtooths in August for 10 days! I am 6'3" 240 pounds.


The Best. Every time I use it!

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $135 from REI Seattle around 1995

This pack does not carry a heavy load very well. I have heard this from several other backpackers. Either feels heavy on the hips or on the shoulders. Hard to equalize.

Design: Internal
Size: 6000
Max. Load Carried: 60
Height of Owner: 72"
Price Paid: $325

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