The Stout Hiker’s Pack

This pack carries better than any pack I have ever owned. I just bought it: a Montane Ultra Alpine. It weighs 500 (stripped) to 610 grams and claims to be 38 + 5 litres though it looks to me as if  it could hold a lot more at the start of a trip.

The outstanding feature of the pack is that it works so well for someone who is stout. Usually the hip belt slides down if you are bit too calorie endowed, jamming your hips and pulling the entire weight of the pack on to the front of your shoulders, and pulling your trousers down.

This belt is high enough it cinches the pack in to the small of my back and makes the weight ride just above my buttocks. It does not have those huge wings or wide straps which just ride down. The waist belt does up firmly all around you. It has a very secure 1 1/2″ webbing belt with an indestructible aluminium buckle. All the buckles are like this except the chest strap (which slides up or down to your preferred position). It had nothing superfluous.

People who are a bit stout have awful problems getting load transfer to work to the waist or hip belt. They won’t with this pack. I tried it out on my wife Della who is as thin as a whip, and it is just as comfortable for her.

The fabric is just some really tough indestructible material. I am not going to wear this out in a hurry or snag it on blackberries. You could drag it across rocks all day and every day. The bright red highlights mean that another hunter is going to spot you – a serious problem with camo packs, for example.

This pack will make a seriously superior hunting daypack with enough capacity to carry all that you need for a trip lasting several days. In the two pictures below I have it loaded with everything I would take for a weekend away. I could clearly fit in another 20 litres of food if I needed to.

This is a very simple, rugged pack, a reminder of a bygone era in a way. It has no pockets and no padding. It has both a drawstring and roll-top closure (so it is pretty watertight) and seriously tough side and vertical compression straps for when you want to shrink it down. You can leave them at home (hence the stripped weight). I would not.

Personally I know I am going to love this pack. It will become my ‘go to’ hunting daypack which I will also use for overnight and weekend hunts. I may add a side pocket to carry a small drink bottle, and a couple of chest pockets. I may even sew on some elastic so I can attach my airbeam or sitlight pad to the back – as explained here: I have done this to another pack. I may also add tie downs so I can lash more gear to the top as I explained here: I just can’t resist tinkering.

Here is what its designer, mountaineer Andy Kirkpatrick has to say about it. This is really important stuff. You really should read this:

I will be studying this pack in m more detail over the coming months. I think there are two key special points: the pack is shaped so that it curves into the small of your back, and the waist band facilitates this rather than dragging it down over your buttocks. I am currently working on a whole new suspension system for packs. The traditional shoulder straps are just wrong, putting far too much pressure on the front of the shoulders, and basically pushing the centre of gravity of the pack backwards. You would never load a draft animal like this. Ideally the weight should be carried straight down the spine. I have prototyped an idea which will work, but it will require many more revisions before I have it just right. The way the Australian swagmen carried their swags and dilly bag is much more congenial, but is not the complete answer.


Spot is ready to head off on our next hunting trip/ I will also have a new pair of ‘Topo’ brand ultralight shoes. Watch for a review about them too. It is birthday time here at the ultralight hiker, so I get to try out some new gear! I reckon with this pack and shoes plus my just sub-70 year old body I could travel to the mountains of the moon and back! Watch my smoke!

PS: Tried this pack out on a 10km walk yesterday (14/07/2017) with a load (5-7kg). It was brilliant. Did not need the chest strap at all. The shoulder straps had zero inclination to slide off my shoulders. Also with the waist belt done up quite loosely, the load still just wanted to rest in the small of my back. There was no weight at all on my shoulders. I could slip my fingers in the behind the shoulder straps any time. There was no load pressure there at all. I did get a wet back (expected) – it was a warm day (approx 20C. I will be trying a Sitlight pad attached like this: I will also try taking a wad cutter to the Sitlight pad and filling it with holes (eg on every dent) so that water vapor has somewhere to go. I will report back about this innovation later. With the addition of some sewn on pockets, I think this is going to be a great pack!

Some more info from Montane ( :


The Ultra Alpine 38 + 5 is designed for fast and light climbing without compromising performance or durability. Developed with Montane’s lead athlete and expert big wall climber Andy Kirkpatrick, the Ultra Alpine 38 + 5 is Montane’s lightest yet extremely tough and functional climbing pack. Utilising Dimension Polyant® VX-21 fabric, this pack is not only light but extremely durable to withstand abrasion against rock surfaces.


  • Constructed using Dimension Polyant® VX-21 fabric in the main body which is ultra lightweight yet exceptionally tough and strong. Features a superb DWR and tear and abrasion resistance
  • Super lightweight HALO lining fabric has a 1m hydrostatic head and offers additional protection to contents


  • RAPTOR UTL back panel has a minimalist design to save on weight but cut to give an ergonomic body-hugging fit. When packed precisely the load is held closely and securely


  • Features CONTACT Mesh on the shoulder straps to prevent abrasion on waterproof shell clothing when the pack is full to capacity and with heavy use
  • Shoulder straps have been specifically engineered for climbers to allow unrestricted movement when reaching and stretching during climbs
  • Large gear loops on either side of chest harness for clipping spare hardware essentials whilst on the move
  • Metal ‘quick release’ fastening waist harness for extra stability, durability and ease of use while on the move
  • Chest harness with off-centre clip which reduces bulk across the sternum and is easy to use with gloves or mitts


  • Large wide mouth pack opening with roll-top dry bag closure for additional storm protection and fast access to gear
  • Additional 5 litre pull out roll-top extension with ‘Cord Lord’ quick release mechanism allows for over packing when walking in to the base of a route


  • Top and bottom single hand side compression straps offer effective whole pack compression, load stability and maximised side carrying
  • Top removable compression rope strap


  • Reinforced webbing front clip loop and back grab handle for increased abrasion protection
  • Tough metal components throughout that are glove and mitt friendly’

I bought mine from


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