It's always been a challenge to find a pack that is tough enough to last day in day out intensive use in the mountains. All too often packs are either too heavy and covered in useless features or designed for trail runners who just need a pack to carry their water bladder and a warm layer. It's the middle ground that I hoped the Arc'teryx Alpha FL 30 would fill. Here's what Arc'teryx had to say...
"Ultralight and fast, highly weather resistant, alpine strong, and a sterling example of refined, use specific Arc’teryx design, the Alpha FL 30 is for built for climbers. An intense focus on the realities of moving fast in alpine environments led to this versatile, streamlined pack that combines leading edge fabric technologies, performance focused design and a confident simplicity. Every element is carefully considered."
Bold claims from Arc'teryx, here's what I've found over the last couple of months testing it out.
This pack has been a companion on many rock routes, scrambles and guided trips, (probably 60 days so far) usually fully packed and carrying a rack, ropes and occasionally bivvy kit. On initial impressions the pack looks sleek and well constructed (typical of the Arc'teryx brand). The packs comes in black, orange and blue and is certainly eye catching. With its use of a ripstop outer fabric it has a tough and seemingly indestructible feel. This has certainly been proven over the last couple of months. The bag has stood up to being dragged over different rock types, thrown in the back a vehicles and even pulled over a barbed wire fence, this is certainly a tough pack!
There are a couple of unique features that sets this pack apart from the competition. The unique Rolltop closure system takes a bit of getting used to however, soon becomes second nature. Inside the pack there is a dry bag closure system, this works well keeping all of your kit dry on those wet or snowy days on the hill. The only down side is when the bag is completely full, closing it reducing the capacity somewhat. To fully close the pack you pull a drawcord around the rim which locks off automatically. This neat system has worked extremely well however I'm not totally convinced it won't freeze up.
This summer I have stripped the pack down, getting rid of the chest clip, elastic bungie cord and ice axe holders. This has made the pack more streamline and the ideal pack for a day working on the crags. The top of the pack has a compression strap that extends out to accomodate a helmet or a rope. The excess strap is secured by rolling it up and a velcro tab holds it closed.
+This pack is seriously lightweight for its robust construction
+The internal design of the pack maximises the space in the pack, for 30L you can fit a lot in!
+It's strip down design makes it the perfect pack for a days climbing in the high mountains
-The closure system takes a bit of getting used to
-The front pocked is very narrow and so when the pack is full it's impossible to get things in and out!
-I have doubts as to weather the closure system will work well in the extreme cold
The Final Word
This pack is the business if you are looking for a strong, durable and lightweight pack to take into the mountains day in day out. The classic Arc'teryx design makes this pack extremely functional and is refreshingly simple. With a RRP of £140 the pack is not cheap but in my opinion is worth the high end price tag due to its robust, indestructible design.