I’ve immediately been attracted by this Mountain Pack, I found that Topo Designs had managed to mix very different codes : it both looks like an urban bag (in the colours, volume, and the materials used) and a backpacking bag, a sort of ”old school” one (and that, without the famous fixing patches one can find everywhere now, but rather thanks to the straps and the general aesthetic).
According to me, adjustment is what makes the difference between a very good bag and an average one. For a travel bag, that can be used for hiking, it seems very important to me : if I spend 10 minutes fastening the shoulder straps or the compression straps, it’s worthless. You know like me that these means of adjustment are repeatedly solicited : before starting, one often quickly fastens the shoulder straps and systematically fastens the compression straps. Then everything depends on the chosen straps and buckles. If the suppleness and the material of the strap allow me to tug on it easily, that’s fine… and this is the case here.
The straps on this bag play a very important part : a lot of things can be fixed on the outside. This is what appeals to me so much too. For example, if my shoes are soaked, I can hang them up to dry with a snap clasp at the front of the bag. And if I need to take a sleeping bag or a plaid blanket I can fix it at the bottom.
I was slightly doubtful about the buckle used to close the bag : to start with, I thought it would be restrictive. But, since all the different manufacturers use it, I thought : ” Well, I must be wrong”. As far as I know, the advantage of that ”hooked buckle” (this is how manufacturers like Duraflex call it) is first, to use only one piece instead of two and secondly, there is no risk of finding sand or earth stuck in it (contrary to a classical ”clip buckle”). Mainly, I got used to it and once you’ve got the knack of using it, it’s quick. I like the classical plastic clip buckle which clicks nicely when you close the bag (I find it reassuring) but it won’t easily come unfastened : the strap must really be forced to move.
The pocket situated at the top is absolutely handy : I use it to keep my documents, my wallet, and my mobile phone. Once carried, the access to that pocket is only possible from behind your head, so there’s no risk of being robbed of anything. Another little detail (but which makes the difference) : the easiness of prehension of the zips. As they are enormous (their size is maximum #10) and since they have a braid pull tab, it’s very easy to use them. The bottom of the bag is in Cordura® : a very hard-wearing material (you can consult our technical glossary for further information), the rest of the bag is made of 400-deniers polyester, which prevents the weight of the bag from soaring, in spite of its numerous functionalities it weighs less than 800grams.
The side pockets are very deep (almost 30 cm high) and each one is equipped with a fastening string. So, unless I need to carry a 1l bottle it’s a bit out of proportion for my own current use. However, it’s a convenient place for a folded magazine, a baguette or other rather long objects, and thanks to the fastening string the contents of the pocket are well fixed against the bag.
Before buying my bag I had found no information concerning the back. So, here are a few photos showing that the back is straight, which is a pleasant asset, and thanks to a pricked foam rubber inside, one can obtain a good compromise between airing and comfort. The pricked foam rubber is protected by a ventilated mesh material which is sewn at the back thanks to a binding that strengthens it at the most solicited places. Like for any self-respecting hiking bag, Topo has equipped it with a sternum strap, as well as a waist, a must to enjoy steadiness while moving.
All the bags of this brand have a life guarantee. The bag Mountain Pack is made in Vietnam, but some others (like the Rover Pack, for example) are made in the USA. Difficult to understand why, since the materials and the components are the same for both brands. But Topo is transparent about it and stipulates it on each product page. They may make an effort to keep a part of their production in their premises in the United States, which is worthy.
Further information about the brand Topo Designs.
Here is my grading (more information about how we score).