In this Mountainsmith Lariat 65 backpack review I present an extraordinary durable multi-day pack ideal for hikers, backpackers, campers and travelers.
Built from very strong Cordura fabric and with a durable internal frame, with the weight of 5 lbs 5 oz (2.41 kg), this pack allows you to carry 65 lbs (29.5 kg).
This is a new and rather modified 2016 version of the popular pack that has been around for several years now. The old version of the pack has received 2010 annual award of the Backpacker Magazine.
Best price & place to buy
- The best place regarding the price and shipping conditions is usually Amazon.com.
The first things that come into mind when you see a Lariat 65 pack are a) how durable it looks like, and b) how small it looks like, smaller than what you would expect from a pack of 65 liters.
Indeed, from the specifications below you will see that its volume is in fact 58 liters and 66 only with the extended collar, see more later. But there is also a detachable pack on the front, which is counted into the volume.
You might want to know that the packs from this series are manufactured from recycled water bottles.
The harness & suspension system
The suspension system is based on an X-shape aluminum frame plus a stabilizer bar. This comes together with a PE panel which gives extra structure and stability.
A lot of padding is on the back and on the shoulder straps, and the same structure is on the hip belt and the lumbar area. The edges of the straps are soft and rounded, very pleasant for the user.
There are air flow channels on the back but they are not so prominent and I do not think they do a great job there.
The harness is adjustable. You have two velcro tabs on top of each other, one fixed on the lower side and the other on the upper side, so they interlock when closed. This is a very strong and stable connection and it will not fail in case of a heavy load. All you have to do is to break them one after another, and then to move the harness to the desired position.
The sternum strap is adjustable and with a rather simple design.
There are two tool loops on the bottom of the pack, and higher up you have the corresponding bungee cords. You will use these to attach an ice axe and trekking poles.
On both sides, you have stretchy mesh pockets for water bottle or anything similar. Also on each side, you have two compression straps.
There is one zippered pocket on the top of the pack, close to the rolled collar area. You can see it in the picture below.
On the hip belt, you have one zippered pocket on the right side and one stretch pocket without a zipper on the left.
The pack is hydration compatible. The sleeve is inside the main compartment and the hose port is on the right side.
1. Roll-top closure
This is a rather unique feature of the Lariat 65 pack. This is a top loading pack of a specific sort. When the top is rolled in, you can secure it on the sides of the pack by two compression straps with clips. This is visible in the first picture above.
This feature makes the pack look small, because it has no traditional top lid. But the rolled collar can be extended to give several liters of extra volume.
2. Huge U-shaped front zippered entrance
This is a separate access to the pack. When the detachable front pocket (day pack) is removed, you have a completely free access to the lengthy U-shaped zipper.
You do not have to remove completely the front day pack to have the access to this entrance. It is enough to undo 1 or 2 clips on one side to have enough space for the access.
The corresponding U-shaped panel has an additional mesh pocket on the internal side. It does not give much space when the pack is full, so you can only store maps or other similar items in this internal pocket.
3. Velcro-adjustable waist belt
The hip belt is reinforced and it is movable up and down. This is achieved by a velcro connection behind the lumbar padding. You will see this feature in the video below.
4. Detachable 8 liters summit pack
This is mentioned already and visible in the pictures above. So this is an element on the front of the pack, it looks just like a big front pocket, and it has daisy chains along its sides. It is fixed through 4 clips and can be removed very easily and used as a separate day pack or a summit pack.
So detached, this small pack has its own shoulder straps with a bit of padding and the mesh of the same type as in the main harness.
Here is a short video about the new version of Mountainsmith Lariat 65 backpack, please have a look:
Summary of technical specifications & features
- Weight: 5 lbs 5 oz (2.41 kg).
– 3540 cubic inches (58 L).
– 4025 cubic inches (66 L, Ext).
- Capacity: 65 lbs (29.5 kg).
- Size (H x W x D): 27.75 x 12 x 8.5 in (70.4 x 30.4 x 21.6 cm).
- Waist belt width: 1.5 in (3.8 cm).
- Waist belt circumference: 28 – 48 in (71 – 122 cm).
- Torso size: 16 – 21 in (40.6 – 53.3 cm).
– 305 d Multi-Rip CorduraHP,
– 610 d CorduraHP,
– 210 d Nylon Embossed Liner,
– twin T6 0.75 in (1.9 cm) aluminum stays.
- Multi-point ladder adjustment suspension for S/M/L/XL torso range.
- TurningFork waist belt frame sheet for form fitting over the hip bone.
- Forward pull waist belt with adjustment webbing.
- PE Frame sheet with X configuration AL stays and horizontal stabilizer bar.
- Smartphone compatible waist belt pockets (Fits up to iPhone 6+ and Galaxy S6).
- Right side angled water bottle pocket.
- Hydration compatible.
- YKK zippers.
Pros & cons
This is a great pack in every sense, yet I do have a few objections, see my summary:
I dislike the hip belt pocket without a zipper. A zipper would do a better job and the pocket would be much more useful with it.
I would also like to have a few more pockets, but this is just how I see it.
In the picture on the right, you can see how the pack is rated by Amazon customers. Note, this is the rating of the old version. The new version has been introduced on the market very recently, and there are no reviews available at the moment of writing this text.
Comparison with other brands
See here how Mountainsmith Lariat 65 pack stands in comparison with some other top brands from the similar size range. I give only a few features. To fully realize my reasons for the given rating, please follow the links.
|The North Face
What is new in the new model
There are several versions of the pack, all are great. You can see below two videos showing two of them. You will notice the following:
- The old version in the video is lighter, it is 2.18 kg (4 lbs 13 oz).
- The pack padding in the old version looks better to me.
- The water pipe port is in the middle in the old version, now moved to the right in the new version.
- The hip belt attachment and design are modified.
- The detachable front pocket in the old version in the video has yet another stretch pocket on the front. Note, the picture on the right does not have this feature. As I said, there are several old versions.
- But the new version has daisy chains on the detachable pack. I find the old version detachable pack better.
- In the old version, there is a daisy chain under the detachable pack. Quite useless. It is not there in the new version.
- The old version was top loading with the lid. The new version is with a completely redesigned top.
- The old version has compression straps on the bottom. They are absent in the new version.
Note, the old version form the picture above is still available at Amazon. See it here.
On the other hand, several very different prices can be seen for the new version, some well over $200. So what I present here for the new version is the best possible Amazon price.
To conclude this Mountainsmith Lariat 65 backpack review, as I said before, the main impression about this pack is how durable it looks like. All the fabric and every seam and velcro tab give such an impression. This pack is truly forged to last forever as they say in the description of it. I am rarely so confident in recommending this pack. Note that they also have the smaller Lariat 55 for women.
In fact, I have never seen a product by Mountainsmith which would look cheap and unreliable. This pack is yet another great example of this company. But the pack lacks some features which I love to have, therefore my rating as given above. You might want to see the Apex 60 pack from the same brand.
I hope this text has been useful to you. If so, perhaps it might be useful to others as well, so please share it through your social media.
It will be great to have some comment from you, there is a comment box below. Thank you and have a nice day.
Here is a video about the old version of the pack: