Exped’s tagline is “Maximum outdoor experience with minimal means” and their Mountain Lite backpack series definitely lives up to the mantra. These packs eschew any of the bells and whistles in favour of the bare essentials wrapped into a comfortable hiking pack. Before I continue, however, I should be clear that while the Mountain Lite 40 backpack I reviewed is very good, it’s not ideal for a backcountry ski experience. I used this pack on both a day trip and an overnight hike into the Valhalla mountain range but I’ve not taken it skiing. The reason for this is, because it’s a minimalist pack with one main pocket, the Mountain Lite doesn’t comfortably store everything I need for a day ski into the backcountry. No matter how I tucked my shovel into the bag, for example, it simply did not feel good against my back and there aren’t any outer straps to affix it to. That said, because of its light weight and small size (when the two aluminum back stays are removed it can be compressed to the size of a rolled-up pair of jeans) I could imagine taking the pack along on a multi-day tour and using it for short summit runs rather than humping a large touring pack to the top of a bowl. What the Mountain Lite 40 is ideal for, though, is short hikes whether on foot or on snowshoes. At only 1100g (or 2.4 lbs) it barely registers on your back and yet its robust design ensures you don’t have to be gentle with it out there.
For the full review, log on to Backcountry Skiing Canada.