Patagonia Trail Running Packs
I’m pretty sure everyone has one category of gear that they obsess over. For me, it’s packs. I love packs and I’m forever seeking the perfect design. Luckily, I get to try a lot of them thanks to our job shooting photos for the brands we work with.
Earlier this year, along came a box of Patagonia trail running gear that included two packs. Without knowing anything about them, a name, an intended use, what or why, we put them to work for our summer and fall in the Alps. Later, we learned they are the new Slope Runner Packs, both a 4 liter vest and 8 liter pack that will be available in Spring 2019.
Slope Runner 4 Liter Vest
Before knowing anything about this pack, we quickly determined where the design was going. The vest is more like a piece of clothing than a pack. A combination of fabric similar to Patagonia’s Airshed jacket and compression material holds everything in place against the back, it wears and breathes like clothing, and has just the right amount of pockets in front for water flasks, phone and food. Easy to reach side sleeves carry gloves, buff, food, whatever. And from the top access rear sleeve you can actually reach back and grab a wind shirt. The pack fits high and flat against the body, easily allowing you to put a wind shirt or shell on over the pack.
In front, the pack uses two static cords as sternum straps with easy to clip hooks. I found this ideal as the static cord locks everything in place tight against your body and allows the pack to do the stretching and molding for the best fit. While most packs feel like, hang on… a pack on your back… complete with a bit of bounce and blockiness, the Slope Runner 4 liter vest feels like a garment. This is a characteristic we came to appreciate on the first use.
But what really makes this pack shine is how it breathes. Patagonia designer Evan Daniel explains the back system as, “a monofilament mesh with high air permeability that does not absorb any water – ideally letting the wicking function of your shirt better perform.” Thanks to this, you have a surprisingly dry back and very comfortable vest with just the right amount of storage for medium trail running days in the mountains.
The pack easily carries a windshirt/shell, long sleeve shirt, enough food for a day out, two 500ml soft flasks in front, and a phone sleeve. It also has the ability to carry a hydration bladder if you choose to go that route and weighs in at only 158 grams.
Slope Runner 8 Liter Pack
The 8 liter version of the Slope Runner is a more traditional pack. It is a great all around larger size for longer runs or peak bagging days. Its design includes a nylon pack body for carrying more weight but with the same shoulder strap system, monofilament mesh back panel and Airshed like fabric around the torso for breathability. It also has a versatile attachment system for poles or an ice axe.
Overall, the pack is a solid performer with the big advantages being its breathability and a simple design that’s going to function beautifully. This is a superb pack for long days carrying medium (3kg-ish) weight.
With these packs as part of Patagonia’s Long Haul Trail Kit, they’re offering a solid, well thought out line of trail running gear that uses recycled materials and plenty of innovation. I appreciate Patagonia’s philosophy of “being inspired by minimalism”. Again, the designer Evan Daniel summed it all up, “These packs were a fun design challenge because they’re meant to find a balance between being apparel and being equipment – and by focusing on materials and refining essential features they find functionality through their simplicity.”
Simple works for us!
By Dan Patitucci