I have often struggled to find an alpine pack for one- or two-night trips. A pack of this size needs to be comfortable enough to carry up to about forty pounds of gear while hiking into a high camp, yet trim and lithe enough to use for technical climbing on summit bids. Most of the packs I’ve used lean too far in one direction. When they were super comfortable for carrying gear into camp, they had heavy, stiff suspensions. I felt like I was strapped to a backboard while executing exposed alpine moves. When the packs climbed well, they often bruised my shoulders and hips on the approach from a wimpy suspension system. Mammut has found a happy medium with the 45L Trion Guide.
Mammut’s Trion series of packs are designed with alpinists in mind. Starting at the top lid, which always says a lot about a pack, Mammut pretty well nailed it. The top lid extends when the pack is overloaded on the approach, yet clicks into place to avoid flopping when the pack is less. The lid itself is large enough to hold all of the essentials (sunglasses, sunscreen, multi tool, GPS, baseball hat, etc), and has a smaller pocket on the underside where I stash a headlamp, car keys and toothbrush.
The body of this top loading pack is classically shaped and grants access to those deeper items through a small side zipper. Additionally there is a small pouch on the outside of the pack, the perfect place for crampons, a jacket or any other item you want handy, but segregated from the main pack contents. I used it to carry out my blue bags at the end of my last trip. Another useful, climber-specific detail is the removable strap for securing a rope just under the top lid.
The suspension of the pack supports a couple of days’ worth of gear well. The padding is ample to cushion bony hips and shoulders from bruising, yet minimal enough for the pack to climb well and remain lightweight. At three and half pounds, I felt like the Trion struck a nice balance between comfort and agility. Mammut uses a lightweight, X-shaped aluminum stay to stiffen the pack. It can be easily removed when stripping down for a technical summit climb.
Like much of Mammut’s product, construction of the pack is of extremely high quality. It’s built primarily of a ripstop pack cloth, reinforced with a more heavy-duty ballistics cloth in the high use areas. The buckles are all clean and well placed, with nice attention to detail like the stowaway ice axe loops. These loops have buckles sewn in, so I can reach around and retrieve my tools without removing the pack. The hip belt utilizes a less traditional cinching system. To tighten the belt, you pull the loose ends of the straps toward the middle, instead of away from each other. Initially, I struggled to get used to this system, though after a bit of use, I came to prefer it.
Overall, the Trion Guide is a clean and well designed pack, and with the risk of seeming nitpicky, there is one small change that could make it even better. The pack has reinforced straps for lashing skis onto the pack in an A-frame. I’d prefer a small pocket on the bottom of one side of the pack for attaching snow pickets or stashing ski poles on the outside of the pack.
With the bulk of my overnight climbing trips consisting of only one or two nights in the backcountry, the Trion Guide 45 has just earned itself a spot on center stage for all of my upcoming alpine endeavors.
Pros: Comfortable suspension that’s not overbuilt; climber-specific features; durable fabric on a lightweight pack; stripable; perfect size for 2-3 days.
Cons: Needs a pocket for pickets or poles.