For 2018 Mountain Equipment have decided to (re)enter the mountaineering packs market with a brand new pack – the Tupilak. It’s available in 3 sizes, 30 litres, 37 litres and 45 litres, which gives plenty of choice for a size perfectly suited to your objectives.
At a glance
First and foremost they are pretty lightweight, have a narrow shape which tapers quite a lot, more so on the smaller versions, and a very clean design. The low weight is great, and has clearly been achieved through not just the new tough yet lightweight PACT fabric but also through careful thought as to which features to include and which to leave out.
The tapered shape looks ideal for climbing as wide bottomed packs can get in the way. It should also make digging stuff out the bottom of the pack easier. The bottom has been flattened though, so despite the tapered shape it does still stand up unassisted when loaded.
A cleanly designed pack is always welcome as too many pockets and fastenings get in the way and add unnecessary weight.
What stands out?
The clean design is what hits you first. It’s got everything you need for alpine or winter routes but isn’t adorned with additional pockets, attachment points or bulky back systems. On the outside it has the necessities of dual ice axe carry, compression straps (not included with the 30L), hip belt with padded fins, chest strap and a single front strap to secure the top. On the inside the top is a draw cord and roll top closure and there is a single floating pocket.
GrappleR Buckle Fastening
The first thing you notice is the grapple hook fastening – it’s a new design which I don’t think has been seen elsewhere before. The advantages with it are that it’s super easy to use both with and without gloves and can’t get iced up like traditional buckles can. The other advantage is you’d be pretty hard pressed to manage to break it – the single clip is flat and metal so unlikely to be crushed and the attachment point is just fabric.
There are 2 fastenings, one on the front of the lid and one on the back allowing the front strap to be pulled all the way over the top of the pack – this is ideal for securing a rope or if the pack is half empty.
Without testing it I’m not sure how secure it will be – certainly when the pack is full and everything is cinched up tight then it’s not going to come undone. However, if the pack is half full and the strap isn’t tight then I could see it coming undone, particularly if the pack is being chucked around a bit, (eg in and out of vehicles).
The floating pocket looks like a great idea. It can be accessed from both the inside and outside of the lid and is only stitched to the pack at one end so it will always move around to fill the available space rather than creating an annoying bulge on the inside or outside of the pack. Being able to access all items in the top pocket when the pack is open or closed seems like a great idea to me.
By stripping the whole pack down you can save over 200g. The axe attachments, chest strap, compression straps, hip belt fins and bungee cord (which comes unattached anyway) are all removable. The padded back is also removable, though not really suitable for use as a seat as it’s a pretty tight fit. Some of the removable bits are pretty fiddly to remove (eg the axe carry) so not all of them are the type of thing you’d bother changing day to day but for different seasons or special objectives they’re all doable without the need for additional tools (aside from strong fingers).
At first look the new Tupilak Pack is a great pack – it’s well thought out and has some novel features which will hopefully make life on the hill a bit easier. It’s incredibly lightweight and the fabric feels tough enough to last. Graham will be doing a full review in the next few weeks with his thoughts on the pack once he’s used it in anger.
Below is the official Mountain Equipment video showing off its features.