New for 2013 lightweight daypack for fast-movers from Montane.
Montane's new pack range was one of the scorching successes of 2012 and for this spring, the north-eastern based brand has added three more to the collection including the newly arrived Ultra Tour 22, a lightweight, fast-mover's pack aimed primarily at mountain racers, but equally - we reckon - appealing to lightweight walkers.
What we liked about the two Montane packs we tested last year was the combination of clean lines, well thought-through, innovative features and a nice balance between weight and functionality. The Ultra Tour 22 picks up the baton and sprints nimbly along the skyline with it.
Light But Still Functional
First, although it's not ultra-lightweight at a measured 540g, it's still respectably light for a 22-litre pack - thanks partly to lightweight but tough (apparently) RAPTOR ZERO fabric - and, more importantly, it has all the bits and bobs you're likely to need.
Those include a humungous stash pocket on the front of the pack, ideal for stowing things on the move. A pair of bottle pockets at the sides, which you can actually reach while wearing the pack. Twin roomy belt pockets. Pole holders. Lightweight daisy chain webbing and add-on shock-cord etc.
And like last year's packs, it take styling cues from Montane's clothing range. That includes the colour scheme - black with dinky feral green buckles and fittings and the sleek lines rounded off with a simple, dry-bag, roll-over type top closure. There's a central hydration-tube exit point by the way.
A Lack Of Bobbage
The back system is a simple, non-absorbent thermo-moulded panel which won't soak up the sweat and gives just a little cushioning against packing abuse, though for comfort you'll need to think a little about what goes where. And then there are the wide Contact Mesh shoulder straps and hip-belt, which are specced to be low abrasive and easy on lightweight clothing, which offer suffers at the abrasive hands of standard contact mesh.
Load it up, cinch down the compression straps, and put it on and despite the thinness of the lightweight straps, their width means they sit really comfortably as does the pack in general, with the squared-off, compact shape nestling easily into the lower back. Tighten up the straps - shoulder, waist and chest - and it's eminently stable with a quick, experimental jog up and down the street showing a lack of bobbage and sway.
What, No Key Clip?
All of which promises good things. Downsides? There's no inside zip-pocket for valuables and nick-nacks and no key-clip, which may irk some for general use, but is unlikely to bother hardcore raceheads given that there's plenty of external stowage available.
And the sparsely-padded back-panel means you need to think about how you pack the contents to avoid having pointy things against your back, but mostly it's surprisingly amenable for something aimed primarily at full-on racers like the competitors in Montane's Lakeland 100 and 50 events.
Our plan, on the other hand, is for more general use for walking, biking and maybe the odd longer trail-run, though we may recruit a proper racer to assess its competition abilities.
Refreshingly Friendly For A Whippet
Overall, for a stripped-down lightweight whippet of a thing, it seems refreshingly friendly and well-up for more general use. And like last year's Montane packs, the neat detailing, sleek lines and construction and general niceness scare well up the waggy-tail scale. Which leaves the question of how much it costs...
Erm, £65 apparently. More details at www.montane.co.uk.