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Assessment: Six Moon Designs Swift X Backpack

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The Swift X is a extremely customizable light-weight backpack from Six Moon Designs. Made with both Liteskin or X-Pac materials, it has a most quantity of 56 L and ideas the scales anyplace between 27 oz (0.8 kg) and 40 oz (1.1 kg), relying in your configuration of selection. Since March 2020, I’ve logged over 2,000 miles (3,219 km) with the Swift X in a wide range of testing environments, together with Mexico’s Sierra Madre, Northern Alaska, Greenland, and Lapland. Throughout this era, it’s change into my pack of selection for long-haul journeys by which I’m recurrently carrying heavy hundreds between 22 and 44 lbs (10-20 kg).

The Swift X assessment breaks down as follows: 1. At a Look; 2. Inner Storage; 3. Exterior Storage & Compression System; 4. Backpack Materials Choices; 5. Inner Body & Suspension System; 6. Sturdiness; 7. Suggestions & Notesand; 8. Conclusion.

Climbing in direction of Dalimaloak Mountain with the Swift X throughout a multi-week trek by way of Alaska’s Brooks Vary (August 2021).

At a Look:

Worth (Jan.2023):  $350 / $375 (with vest harness)

Weight: 27 oz (frameless & common shoulder straps) to 40 oz (vest harness & hip belt)

Quantity: 56L Complete (Up to date Feb.2023 – 41L predominant physique, 10L extension collar, 5L exterior pockets)

Pack Physique Materials: Liteskin LS21 or X-Pac VX21

Load Lifters: Sure

Closure: Roll-top with Y-strap and side-closing buckles.

Advised Use: Supreme for people with base weights between 10 and 15 lbs (4.5-6.8 kg) and/or hikers with even decrease base weights which can be heading out with greater than per week’s meals and/or two gallons (7.6 L) of water.

Most Weight Really helpful: In response to the SMD web site, the load ranking is 35 lbs (15.9 kg). In my expertise, this can be a barely conservative estimate (see Inner Storage and Sturdiness for particulars).

Yours really on the Greenland Ice Cap – a not-to-be-missed supplemental part of the Arctic Circle Path (September 2022).

Inner Storage:

The SMD web site lists the inner storage quantity for the Swift X as 41L for the principle physique and 10L for the extension collar. So what’s that translate to out within the subject? An instance of a regular load for the Swift X can be per week’s price of meals, a bear canister, a few liters of water, and all of the gear obligatory for a backpacking journey by which temps may doubtlessly drop right down to the mid-teens Fahrenheit (round -9°C) (Be aware: Primarily based on a base weight of between 10 and 15 lbs/4.5-6.8 kg)

So far as a most load is anxious, in 2021, I carried 16 days of meals (44 lbs/20 kg complete weight) within the Swift X for a hike in Alaska’s Brooks Vary. Suffice to say, the pack was crammed to the brim – really a little bit past – for the primary day or two. Nonetheless, due to its glorious suspension systemthe pack rode as comfortably as I may have hoped for given the difficult terrain (Be aware: My base weight for this journey was round 11/12 lbs).

Bonus Characteristic: There’s a useful inner pocket that may suit your pockets, passport, keys, and so on., all of which I’ll usually place inside a small LokSak baggie.

Greg “Malto” Gressel together with his Swift X on Day 1 of our 7-day trek by way of Denali Nationwide Park (August 2021).

Exterior Storage & Compression System:

The 2023 Swift X has switched from normal mesh pockets on the aspect and entrance of the pack to UltraStretch materials. This can be a stable improve – the UltraStretch is significantly extra sturdy, which interprets to extra abrasion resistance and a decreased chance of snags/tears when rambling by way of overgrown environments.

As for the exterior attachment system, the Swift X makes use of a twine system to compress and stabilize your load on the perimeters of the pack. The highest of the roll-top pack is secured with a y-strap and side-clipping buckles.

UltraStretch Pockets & Twine Compression System (Swift X/2023 Up to date mannequin)(Pictures – Six Moon Designs)

Backpack Materials Choices:

There are two selections – Liteskin (LS21) or X-Pac (VX21). They value the identical, and the weights are nearly equivalent. X-Pac is alleged to be marginally extra abrasion-resistant and waterproof than the Liteskin mannequin. That mentioned, over the previous three years, I’ve taken the Liteskin pack by way of a bunch of overgrown areas within the Sierra Madre and Alaska, and the fabric nonetheless seems to be fantastic. Briefly, go along with whichever shade you want finest (i.e., Liteskin is available in gray, whereas the X-Pac is out there in blue, black, and coyote brown).

(Be aware: Though each Liteskin and X-Pac are glorious for shedding H20, you must nonetheless line your pack with a trash compactor bag. The explanation? Water can seep by way of anyplace there’s stitching/seams).

SMD Swift X on the island of Mykines, the westernmost level of the Faroe Islands (August 2022).

Inner Body & Suspension System:

Inner Body: A Derlin/fiberglass hoop keep that’s vast on the high and tapers down on the base, the place it’s anchored to the lumbar space. The body’s tapered form helps promote air flow on the perimeters of the pack (useful when mountaineering in muggy situations) with out sacrificing stability (Be aware: SMD refers to this as their “minimal contact again panel”).

Hip Belt:  The Swift X consists of an adjustable and detachable two-tiered hip belt with standard-sized pockets that may match a cellphone, snacks, or a small digicam.

Load Lifters:  Load lifters are principally superfluous for ultralight hundreds. Nonetheless, should you’re persistently hauling over 20 lbs/9 kg (which you most likely will probably be should you’re buying the Swift X), giving them the occasional tweak might be useful in minimizing stress build-up in particular areas of your higher physique.

Shoulder Harness:  There are three selections: 1. Normal shoulder straps; 2. S-Curve shoulder straps, and; 3. Vest harness. I like to recommend going with the third possibility, which is fingers down the standout characteristic of the Swift X.

The running-style vest harness affords a torso-hugging match which helps mitigate undesirable pack motion. The cosy match is due to the vest’s six factors of suspension (or connection)which apportion the load on the high, aspect, and backside on either side of the pack. The superb weight distribution and glove-like really feel particularly shine when negotiating difficult situations reminiscent of river fords, snowfields, tussocks, blowdowns, or scree slopes. The vest harness options twin sliding chest straps and useful shoulder strap pockets, the place I often maintain objects reminiscent of sunscreen, hand sanitizer, lip balm, and cellphone.

Earlier than the Swift X, I hadn’t tried a running-style vest harness on something apart from a daypack. Nonetheless, after three years of utilizing it for prolonged journeys in difficult situations, I’ve change into a convert. Certainly, I don’t foresee going again to common shoulder straps for backpacking journeys that embrace persistently heavy carries anytime quickly (Be aware: For journeys on which my complete weight is usually beneath 20 lb/ 9 kg, I nonetheless desire a frameless backpack reminiscent of my outdated favorites, the Mountain Laurel Designs Burn and Gossamer Gear Kumo).

Serial thru-hikers and long-time mates, Naomi Hudetz and Mike Unger, carrying Swift X packs on Washington’s Loowit Path (September 2021).

Sturdiness:

Double thumbs up. As alluded to above, I’ve logged over 2,000 miles (3,219 km) with the Swift X over the previous three years. A lot of this distance has been coated with hundreds over 33 lb (15 kg). The stitching and the Liteskin materials on the pack’s predominant physique nonetheless look in nice form – simply the odd scuff mark from scraping towards rocky surfaces. There have been a few small tears within the mesh pockets, however nothing that couldn’t be patched up out within the subject (Be aware: I’ve the pre-November 2022 mannequin, which doesn’t have the UltraStretch materials for the pockets).

Crossing the Skautflye plateau throughout a loop hike round Norway’s Jotunheimen Nationwide Park (September 2022).

Suggestions & Notes:

1.  When first utilizing the vest harness, the straps is usually a little fiddly. Be aware that not like with different packs, the adjustment comes from the underside up. Spend a while tweaking them till you discover what works for you. The setting will range in accordance with the kind of terrain you’re negotiating – uphill, downhill, flat, rugged off-trail, and so on.

2. If you happen to’re heading out for a weekend journey in comparatively mellow terrain and your complete pack weight is lower than 20 lbs (9 kg), take into account eradicating the hip belt (6.5 oz/184 gr) or changing it with a easy little bit of webbing strap (1-2 oz). The vest harness ought to present all the steadiness you’ll require for lowish pack weights.

3. There may be loads of room to suit a bear canister contained in the Swift X. Fill it together with your meals and/or different heavier objects, and place it above your sleeping bag in the course of your pack. “Can I strap it to the highest of the pack?” You would, however you shouldn’t, as it might probably doubtlessly hinder your steadiness/stability, significantly when negotiating difficult terrain and/or river crossings. Certainly, if the peak of your pack is above your head, it’s typically an indication you’re carrying an excessive amount of stuff.

4. The Swift X is a thoughtfully-designed backpack made with high-end supplies. If you happen to fancy choosing one up, however the $350/375 price ticket is greater than you wish to spend, take into account its sibling, the Swift V. It’s principally the identical pack, made with cheaper Robic nylon material.

5. I’ve at all times appreciated firms that take heed to suggestions from people which have taken their gear by way of the backcountry wringer. Living proof, Six Moon Designs. In early 2020, they gave me a Swift X once they heard I used to be heading as much as Alaska for a few lengthy hikes. They requested for my opinion on the pack’s efficiency when closely loaded in difficult situations. As you should have guessed should you’ve learn the entire assessment, my analysis was overwhelmingly optimistic. Nonetheless, I additionally had some small strategies, such because the addition of side-closing buckles and the enlargement of the inside pocket (particularly, so it may match passports), which they took on board and subsequently adopted (along with upgrading to a extra sturdy materials for the outside pockets). On a lighter notice, I’ll have even channeled my inner-John Sweet and talked about that I’d wager “six bucks and my proper nut” that their earlier inner quantity figures of 38L for the principle physique and 6L for the extension collar have been a wee bit on the low aspect (Be aware: The present figures of 41L and 10L strike me as being a lot nearer to the mark).

Rambling by way of Gates of the Arctic/Brooks Vary, Alaska (August 2021).

Conclusion:

In response to the SMD web site, the Swift X was “designed with thru-hiking in thoughts.” With its mixture of sturdiness, mild weight, excessive diploma of configurability, and carrying consolation when crammed with heavy hundreds, I’d say they’ve hit the mark. Nonetheless, the Swift X additionally offers a wonderful all-around possibility for infrequent backpackers and even people which can be comparatively new to the game. Whether or not you’re heading out for an overnighter, an extended weekend, or a week-long journey with mates, the chameleon-like Swift X might be personalized to fit your wants.

Naomi Hudetz and her Swift X on California’s Redwood Creek Path (September 2021).

Comparable Light-weight Backpacks (w. inner body)

Associated Articles

Disclaimer: I used to be given the Swift X in early 2020 by the parents at SMD once they heard I used to be heading as much as Alaska. They requested for my suggestions on the pack, together with a number of pictures from the journey (each of which I offered). I used to be beneath no obligation to write down a assessment, and the opinions expressed above are my very own.

Disclosure: This publish comprises some affiliate hyperlinks, which implies The Mountain climbing Life receives a small fee if you are going to buy an merchandise after clicking on one of many hyperlinks. This comes at no further value to the reader and helps to help the web site in its persevering with objective to create high quality content material for backpackers and hikers.

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