Mountainsmith's Approach 35 Pack - Gear Review

Back in December I was introduced to a pack company with a nice mix of hiking and mountaineering packs.  Mountainsmith makes packs ranging in size from 20 liter commuter packs to gear swallowing 90 liter expedition packs.  Our first experience was with the incredibly versatile Approach 35.  Blurring the line between overnight scrambler and universal traveler, this pack was loaded with cool features, including being FAA approved carry-on size.
Mountainsmith's Approach 35 

I love pockets! and this pack has a few of every kind.  Exterior zipper, exterior mesh with elastic and interior stash pockets make keeping your gear organized and accessible a breeze.  The large mesh pocket that hides behind the front "pod" on this pack was a brilliant addition.  It is large enough to stow rain gear or your wet stuff to keep everything else dry while being easily accessible.  I kept my rain gear in there so when the clouds  in the mountains of Hawaii dumped, I could have my jacket on in seconds flat.  The side panel pockets are big enough to hold my Nalgene water bottle too, which is something that should be an absolute requirement.  One that several packs we have tested fall short on.
Clam Shell zipper style makes loading & unloading easy as it gets
The "clam shell" design allows you access to any part of this pack without unloading the whole thing every time you need something.  It also lets you cram more gear inside that you would think possible.  We filled every inch of the 47 liter interior of this pack for our flight home and we never could have done the same job with a traditional top loader.  Even stuffed to the gills this pack was comfortable to wear and stayed right where it was supposed to.  It took me a while to get it adjusted properly, but once I found the sweet spot I could hardly tell it was there.  A variety of loops allow for clipping on or hanging larger gear items to this pack as well.  In my opinion you can never have enough places to clip on a caribiner.

The material seems rugged and fairly water resistant.  The few showers I encountered did not manage to get the interior of the pack wet.  According the their site the Approach relies heavily on recycled materials.  Each pack takes 18 recycled 16 ounce water bottles out of the landfill.  How's that for huggin' a tree?

MSRP: $125

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