Open main menu

Mountainsmith Frostfire III

rated 3.5 of 5 stars

The Frostfire III has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best expedition packs for 2021.


Price Reviewers Paid: $269.00-$280.00


8 reviews
5-star:   3
4-star:   1
3-star:   1
2-star:   2
1-star:   1

I've had two, first was stolen, bought replacement ~1995. Used it for years (5'10" ~180) bought a Frostfire II for my wife, she still uses it. Mine went to a friend who's 6'8" and was struggling to fit a pack.

The tape measure torso length straps were brilliant, and gave this pack more work to do, and my friend USES this pack. Hopefully we'll be chasing mule muzzleloader deer in Colorado with it in 2016. I'll be carrying another Patrick Smith pack, a Kifaru Duplex.


  • Broad range of torso length adjustment
  • Suspension. Is. Wonderful.
  • Patrick Smith Design. Awesome.


  • You can comfortably carry more than your legs, can.
  • Pack won't die. Should've charged friend per use rental.
  • Retro Mountainsmith Gear Rocks.... Love. Period.

I've had two of these packs. The first was stolen out of my parents' front yard as I was moving home from college in 1995. I replaced it in 1995 and moved to Colorado. I also bought a Frostfire for my wife, I forget model details, hers had shorter torso lengths and smaller volume. 

This pack is a great one for the stable, even in 2016. Living in Colorado, having a spare around for guests who may pop in, these are CHEAP on e-Bay.

I think the best testimony is that I gave this pack to my friend who is 6'8" and has been struggling to find a pack to fit him. He carried it with me in the Big Horns in Wyoming for five days, and I didn't see him struggling a bit. Adjusting the suspension was EASY.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Don't remember, it was worth it, period.


Thanks for the Frostfire review, Robert. I'd be curious to see some pictures of your pack in your review.

5 years ago

This is not a Dana or an Osprey but it does what it should and once you get the suspension right it is great. It is very no-thrills and should not be used unless you need a huge monster with a medium load weight. I also had issues that had to have the pack repaired for the straps- they took care of no charge over 10 years later.

Very happy with it now that I know the issues with it. You do have to adjust it every time you use it- every time you take it off and put it on. It will pull the weight off the shoulders just like someone said when done right.

Design: top loading pack
Size: think 7000
Number of Pockets: main, shovel, lid and hidden
Max. Load Carried: 70
Height of Owner: 5'10"- smallest person that i could see using this
Price Paid: not sure

Bought the '91 version of the Frostfire III as that was all I could afford at the time. Shoulder adjustment straps broke, pack deformed under heavy five day load, Hip belt kept sliding down, wouldn't stay put no matter how tight the hipbelt.

This version was just too big for the suspension. If you kept the weight down to 35 lbs or so it worked okay.

Max. Load Carried: 65 lbs
Price Paid: $269

Hey man, I love my pack. I've had it for 4 years, and it's bomber. The price is reasonable. I heard that they don't make this specific model anymore, but they have others like it.

That isn't to say i haven't had my problems, though. After the first two years of abuse, one of the straps at the top of the stay started to come off, later resulting in breaking a suspension strap on the same trip. Also, marmots like to eat the straps. So a year ago i sent it back to Mountainsmith, and they sent it back with a totally new suspension and strap system, free of charge! you gotta love a company that stands by their product!

I think it was ahead of its time when it came out, and Mountainsmith has learned from their mistakes. I've had the thing stuffed to the gills for multi-day winter climbs, and i've also had to use it for single day climbs with minimal gear in it, and it carries both loads amazingly! The compression straps are in idea places, and the top pocket has tons of room. I have no regrets buying this pack, i'll use it until it or i die, whichever is first!

Design: internal
Size: 7213
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 65
Height of Owner: 6'1''
Price Paid: $277

It has been a while since I owned this pack, so I don't know exactly how accurate the above information is, but I do remember how disappointed I was in the pack. During my third mountain climbing trip with it, one of the 1" straps that composed its complex suspension system pulled away from the pack cloth, and slipped off the stay. This caused the load to shift noticeably, and by the end of the trip, my left shoulder was ready to fall off.

I exchanged the pack with a Lowe Alpine Contour IV, and have been very pleased with its performance. Later on, I spoke with other climbers that were having the same problem with their Mountainsmith, especially after carrying moderate to heavy loads.

Yes, the Mountainsmith offers a very adjustable suspension system, but be leary of its long term carrying capabilities.

Design: Internal
Size: ~7,200 for III
Number of Pockets: 4?
Max. Load Carried: 70 lbs.
Height of Owner: 5'10"
Price Paid: ~$260-$280

I found that the Frostfire III pack is an excellent buy!! I love the suspension system and the way you can really get the load off the shoulders!! I haven't had any problem at all with the pack and I am looking forward to many more trips with it! I will probably never own any other type of bag!

Design: Internal
Size: 6037-7213
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 60 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'1
Price Paid: $277

This backpack proved to be too flimsy for my style of abuse. It seems like something on it broke every time I used it.

The very first time I used the ice axe loops, they broke. Those neat height adjustment straps which loop around the tops of the frame members would constantly slip off, until I finally duct-taped them into submission. One of the four main compression straps at the sides of the pack also broke. And the little loop in back where you lift the pack when putting it on broke as well. The shoulder straps will be the next to go, if I ever use the pack again. And the thin fabric wears through easily. I have a few holes where none should be.

I just bought a North Face pack (used; I have no clue which model it is); it seems to be far more durable than the Mountainsmith Frostfire III. I haven't properly beaten on it yet though, so any reviews will have to wait.

Design: Internal frame
Size: 7213
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 80 lbs.
Height of Owner: 6'0"
Price Paid: $280

This pack fits very well bacause of the various ways of bringing the load into the back. It is also at a very cheap price for its volume when compared to other packs of the same size. There are very many ways and means of adding to the pack for bigger loads and more convienence that the company offers such as accesory pouches.

Design: internal
Size: 7213 ci
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 75lb
Height of Owner: 6'
Price Paid: $280

You May Like

Recently on Trailspace

FORLOH Deep Space Half Zip Long Sleeve Top Review

Patagonia Iron Forge Hemp Canvas Double Knee Pants Review

Jennings JZ560 pocket scale Review

Haglofs Heron Jacket Review

Celestron SkyMaster 15x70 Binoculars Review

Cleanwaste Go Anywhere Toilet Kit Wag Bag Review