New Montane Trailblazer packs use running vest technology

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Montane’s new-for-spring range of three lightweight Trailblazer packs look like an interesting mix of technology and features borrowed from vest-type running packs and more conventional designs.

There are three packs in the Trailblazer family, named in a Ronseal-style 18L, 30L and 44L to reflect their capacity. The brand’s had a stab at defining them as being aimed at ‘fastpacking’ or ‘run-camping’, but rather then get bogged down in semantics, it’s probably best to think of them as lightweight hiking packs with a running twist.

Wrap-around harness
What does that actually mean? Principally it’s all about the COVALENT harness, which, it says here, gives ‘a customisable, body-hugging fit without restricting movement’ using, erm, ‘influences from the VIA running packs’. That’s particularly apparent with the Trailblazer 18L which looks like an elongated running vest-type pack complete with dual sternum straps to hold things securely in place when pushing on and wrap-around waist belt.

Loads of storage
Other obvious influences from the running side include high, easily-accessible pockets on the front of the harness and big, stretch stash pockets. Speaking of pockets, there are loads of them, both internal and external.  You also get more hiking-orientated features like pole holders and hydration system compatibility. The 18L uses a zipped flap for access giving a sleek, streamlined look, but the two larger versions – 30L and 44L – have a more conventional lidded packs layout, albeit with some emphatic compression straps, but like the Trailblazer 18L, they use that running-style COVALENT harness, but with adjustable back length. In all honesty, most of us aren’t going to be running very fast with a 44L pack – or even a 30L one – but there’s no reason why you won’t still benefit from a stable, body-hugging carry – it might be a little warm hot conditions – and all that readily accessibly storage.
Weight and price
How light are they? According to Montane, the 18L is just 410g, the 30L 800g and the big daddy Trailblazer 44L, just under a kilo at 980g. Prices are £65, £80 and £100 respectively. Looks like a really interesting range if you’re someone who either runs, or at least moves fast across uneven terrain with a larger load than most running packs will accommodate. Or for hikers simply looking for a lightweight pack offering some of the pluses of a running-vest design, but with more capacity. All that easily accessible storage looks like a win to us for anyone who doesn’t stop for long running or walking.

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