Chris Townsend tests a traditional pack built for hauling big loads

This review is part of our mid-size packs gear guide, and was first published in the Spring 2019 issue of The Great Outdoors.

This is a pack for heavy loads and tough conditions. If you’ll be carrying 20+kg it’ll handle the weight ok and if you’re going to be bushwhacking through dense vegetation or brushing against rocks the thick fabric and lack of mesh pockets should prove durable. It’s not very light but if you need the performance that shouldn’t matter.

In design the Exped 60 is a fairly conventional pack. The twin alloy bars that make up the frame are much the same as those on the first internal frame packs some fifty years ago. The shoulder yoke that slides up and down the bars so you can easily adjust the harness length is a design that’s been around for decades too. There’s nothing wrong with this. The system is well-proven. The rigidity of the frame transmits the weight to the hipbelt well. The latter is stiffened and has thick padding so it supports the weight comfortably.

The pack is quite tall and narrow but this doesn’t impede access to the contents as the front panel can be zipped open. The zips are two-way so if you want to get something out of the bottom of the pack you can just undo the zip there. The pack has the now common open-topped front and lower side pockets but these are made from the same tough material as the rest of the pack rather than mesh. This means they don’t stretch but also that they’re very tear and abrasion resistant. They are bellows designs too and so roomier than they look when empty.

The Exped is comfortable and a great choice for big loads, as long as it fits. There’s only one back length and whilst the harness is adjustable it still won’t fit everyone properly. I’m not tall but I do have a long back and the pack just fits with the harness on the shortest length. Anyone with a shorter back than me would find it the frame too long. At the same time it could be fine for someone with a long back who finds most packs too short.