The Mountainsmith Apex 100 Pack is the largest in the series, with a huge load hauling capacity and built from very strong and durable materials, and with the price/quality combination which is hard to match.
Key features & benefits
- Adjustable harness.
- Adjustable waist belt.
- Durable Cordura fabric.
- Two positions for load lifters.
- TuningFork frame sheet in the waist belt.
- Three access points.
- Reasonable price.
- Lid convertible to a sling pack.
Who is it for
With the weight capacity of 70 pounds (32 kg) and the volume of 5800 cubic inches (95 l), or 6400 cubic inches (105 l with the extended collar), this is a backpack for extended tours and expeditions. Everything in its design and construction is made appropriate for such heavy loads.
On the other hand, this pack is at a very reasonable price, so it is equally suitable for beginners and outdoor professionals.
The Apex 100 is the largest in the Apex series, and it has more features than the other three packs. For example, the front access is available here, and you do not have it in the Apex 80 (while it is available in Apex 60 and in Apex 60 for women).
On the other hand, it has a separate bottom compartment (similar to the Apex 80 pack), which is missing in both versions of the Apex 60.
It also has the removable lid which transforms into a sling pack (similar to the Apex 80), which is missing in both Apex 60 packs. So as you realize, this Apex 100 has all the features available in all packs from this series. Here is the summary of these differences:
So to stress again, the Apex 100 is a top-loading pack but it has extra front access and yet another access from the bottom compartment. There is a divider between the bottom compartment and the main compartment and it is removable.
The lid is floating and removable. So you can raise it to have extra load by expanding the collar, this is why the pack’s volume is in the range 95 – 105 liters. The compression strap underneath the lid helps to cinch the pack or to fix some objects like a rope or a pad. When you remove the lid completely, you can use it as a sling pack.
The pack is hydration compatible and the sleeve for the bladder is in the main compartment. The hose port is on the right side.
There are several elements in the suspension system that make it so strong. You have an X-shaped aluminum frame reinforced with a horizontal stabilization bar, and in addition to this you have a PE frame sheet. All is generously padded and you have what they call the Anvil Airway ridged EVA panel padding here.
The harness is adjustable and the range of adjustability is 17 – 22 inches (43 – 56 cm) so this is different from the smallest Apex 60 pack where this range is 16 – 21 inches (41 – 53 cm). This is a ladder-type system shown below in the picture, and you have double Velcro tabs that secure it in place. Obviously, this is a useful feature that allows for several family members to use the pack in a comfortable manner.
Yet another peculiar feature, not so frequently see in packs, is that the load lifters have two positions for attachment, at two different heights. This can be useful when you have an extra load mentioned above, and when different people use the same pack.
The sternum strap is adjustable, and in the picture above you see that its vertical adjustment is also a ladder-type system with several different positions for it.
Yet another exceptional feature is the TuningFork frame sheet which you have in the waist belt for form-fitting over iliac crest hip bone, you can see it shown below. So the belt is a split system that hugs the waist, and you have a massive padding here. This split in the frame sheet is on the position of the stitching which you see in the picture below.
This is combined with the V-shaped pull-forward adjustment webbing on the front. This system adds to the hugging effect and in my view, this is the most comfortable and the most supportive design. This reminds me of the system used in the Teton Sports Mountain Adventurer 4000 pack.
But this is not all. The hip belt can be moved up and down, so its vertical position is adjustable. You will see this in the video below.
This all will allow you to carry up to 70 pounds (32 kg) of the load in this pack. So indeed this is a load-hauling tool in a full sense.
You have one zippered pocket on the top of the lid, I would expect more in such a big structure. The hip belt pockets are asymmetric, so on one side you have a zippered pocket and on the other side this is a mesh pocket without a zipper. I must say, I would rather have a zipper here as well, to keep small items secure.
The side mesh stretch pockets are also asymmetric; so the one on the right is with a side entrance and with a cinch cord to keep the bottle secured in place, while the other is standard. Note that you have no side zippered pockets; if you are familiar with this series you will know that in the previous version of this pack you had two huge upper zippered pockets. I miss this here. This is not an improvement for sure.
You also have one huge pocket on the front. It is stretchy and with buckles on the sides and on the top so you can store a lot of stuff here and have it secured in place.
Compression straps and attachment elements
The lower compression strap on the sides runs both ways, under or over the side pocket. The upper side straps are connected with the buckles of the front pocket.
On the front, you have two very long vertical daisy chains and you also have 4 attachment webbing loops on the lid, see them in the picture below, so you can attach some equipment or solar panels. There are webbing loops on the shoulder straps as well.
There are two compression straps on the bottom, for a pad or tent attachment. You also have dual tool loops on the bottom section, and they are paired with dual bungee cords higher in the front, for ice axes or trekking poles.
You know the motto of this brand, “forged for life”. The main fabric is a very durable Cordura, a combination of 305D multi-rip Cordura HP and 610D Cordura. So you can hardly find anything more durable.
Please see more in this video by Mountainsmith brand about the Apex series:
What is different as compared with the previous model
- The front pocket is redesigned; there was a vertical central zipper in the previous version, which also allowed for access to the main compartment through this front pocket; for this purpose there was a mesh inside with a zipper.
- So the new front entrance is totally different.
- Two huge side zippered pockets were available in the previous version. They are missing here. Pity.
- Hip belt pockets were different.
- The hose port was in the middle.
- The frame is now totally different; you had two stays in the previous version, and they were visible from the outside. The new is better.
- The padding is re-designed, this is an improvement.
- Side stretch mesh pockets are re-designed completely.
- The hip belt is redesigned; it is better now.
- Weight: 6 lb (2.7 kg).
– 5800 cu in (95 l).
– 6400 cu in (105 l, Ext).
- Weight capacity: 70 lb (32 kg).
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 31 x 11.75 x 9 (78.7 x 29.8 x 22.8 cm).
- Torso size: 17 – 22 in (43 – 56 cm).
- Waist belt fit: 28 – 48 in (71 – 122 cm).
– 305D multi-rip cordura HP.
– 610D cordura.
– 210D nylon embossed liner.
- Frame: twin T6 0.75 inches aluminum stays.
- Waist belt width: 1.5 in (3.8 cm).
- Separate sleeping bag compartment with internal divider.
- SlingShot detachable top lid converts into a lumbar pack.
- U-shaped zipper front access.
- TuningFork waistbelt frame sheet.
- Anvil Airway ridged EVA back panel padding.
- Forward pull waistbelt with V adjustment webbing.
- Height adjustable hip belt.
- Front panel stretch mesh pocket with daisy chain attachment loops.
- PE frame sheet with X configuration AL stays and horizontal stabilizer bar.
- YKK zippers.
- 3M reflective cord.
- Top compression gear strap.
- Colors: 2.
Summary, rating, pros & cons
In the conclusion of this Mountainsmith Apex 100 Pack review to stress that the Mountainsmith was established in 1979 and they have built their name with their durable and reliable outdoor tools that have been rigorously tested in the harshest conditions. These are among the most durable tools on the market and this Apex 100 pack is not an exception. This is a great tool and I can fully recommend it.
Obviously, this is a huge backpack, and I would love to see more pockets, in particular on the lid where some other packs of this size have 3 pockets, see the Baltoro 95 Pro. The same about the sides where I love to have zippered pockets.
The price is high, but in view of its huge capacity and features, this is really reasonable. Rating by Amazon customers is incredibly high, and this is not surprising for such a quality product. See how I rate it:
If you still need something different, please see my page with the packs over 56 liters. The top brands’ models are presented there, I am sure you will find something for you.
Thank you for reading. I love to hear from you so please use the comment box below. I wish you a nice day.