Backpack for Haute Route
Hi Everyone -
So, I've spent the past month looking for the perfect backpack, which I'm now doubtful even exists. First, I usually wear Osprey packs for day hikes as I find them most comfortable and loaded with features (Osprey Stratos 24 for the most past, but also have the Tempest, etc.). For weeklong backpacking trips where I haul a load, I take my North Face Crestone 60. I have never had success with Gregory or MEC packs as I find they're not supportive enough for loads I carry.
Now I'll be hiking the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt over the course of 15 days, so am looking or a backpack for that. These are the features I'm looking for:
- Around 40-45L max.
- Hip belt pockets (though I could technically rig those up somehow)
- Outside side pockets
- Outside front pocket where I stash an extra layer
- And ideally FRONT LOADING. This seems to make a huge difference in being able to access everything and not dig through the whole pack from the top.
- In addition to the two weeks on the trail, I'll also be taking it on trains and such for a few days before and a week after.
I've been to Campers Village, MEC, Valhalla, Monods, Atmosphere, Norseman, etc. (all in Calgary, Canmore, and Banff).
I bought the Black Diamond Elixir 45 from MEC as it's front loading, but it does feel flimsy overall. Also bought the Deuter ACT Trail Pro 40, which seems to be very close to what I'm looking for, though maybe just a touch small and (don't flame me for this), I hate the colours (blue, or also comes in grey). Typically I go with men's backpacks as I'm not a fan of women's-specific ones, but this one just feels ultra ... masculine.
Now, as I'm not totally sold on either the BD Elixir or Deuter ACT, I turned to the web again and came across a Kelty Redwing 44L. It looks to be front-loading, meets my size requirement, has great side pockets, so just seems to be missing the hip belt pockets. But, I'm wondering how comfortable a Kelty pack would be, especially when hiking with 1,000m+ elevation gains virtually every day. Are Kelty packs 'good', i.e., would they stand up to the likes of Osprey, Black Diamond, or North Face? I'm really not familiar with Kelty. And does anyone know of places in Calgary that actually carry Kelty packs?
Any other suggestions for packs you may be aware of that I haven't come across yet?