This is an unusual pack, designed as much for snowsports as hillwalking. It has the biggest, stiffest hipbelt of any of the packs tested – a hipbelt so big it looks out of proportion to the rest of the pack. The reason for this bulky belt is that the pack is intended for carrying either a snowboard on the reinforced back panel or skis on the sides, either of which would make for a heavy load. For those not carrying such items the back panel would be a good place for crampons. The hipbelt means the pack easily handles 6kg and would probably be comfortable with twice that amount if you could fit it in as it’s not that big. Unsurprisingly the pack is designed for stability rather than ventilation and it hugs the back closely. There’s no mesh, which can trap snow, so a sweaty back is likely.

The main compartment has a watertight zip, the big front pocket a standard zip with a padded flap over it. There’s also a fleece-lined padded pocket in the top of the pack, designed for snow goggles. The front pocket is roomy – and has little compartments inside like a book bag. There are no mesh side pockets, just wide rubberised loops designed to hold skis. 

The Mazama is a well-made tough pack. It’s the most expensive pack tested though and quite heavy. If you’re likely to carry a snowboard or skis it could be a good choice. For hillwalking there are lighter, less expensive packs.