Pod Alpine 40 2010

Pete O’Donovan started making Podsacs in Sheffield back in the early Eighties. The sacks quickly gained a reputation among climbers and more serious hill-walkers who wanted durable, functional kit that worked. The brand was eventually acquired by Equip Outdoor Technologies, who also own Rab.

The new range of Pod sacks follow the tradition of the brand, so high-quality materials are combined with functional design to ensure the sacks can withstand use and abuse in the world’s harshest mountain environments. To that end, the Alpine 40 is made from Cordura Ripstop nylon with an even tougher Ballistic Cordura base. There’s a PU coating inside too to improve water resistance. All the features are big and chunky, and also totally functional and easy to use. So you get a rolltop closure that allows the lid to be removed without affecting water resistance. The back system has a thermo back panel on the outside so that it sheds snow easily. Equally the hipbelt and shoulder straps don’t have the open foam of other designs, again so they don’t attract water and snow. The pack weighs in at 1550g, but this can be reduced to 800g by removing the lid, hipbelt and internal back frame system for Alpine summit assaults.

On the hill
People either love or hate simple, functional packs. I love them! The Pod Alpine 40 is 40 litres and the lid can be expanded to allow an extra 5 litres. I am not generally a fan of rolltop closures, though this one works very well, basically because the fabric is thick and the buckle is big, making it very quick and easy to use. But I would still rather have a basic drawcord, which is even quicker to use and, I suspect, lighter. However this is an Alpine sack and the ability to ditch the lid yet retain a waterproof main compartment, when leaving gear at a hut or gear stash before a summit attempt, is a bonus. I also liked the quick-release buckles on the side compression straps. These coupled with the wand pockets are ideal for stashing trekking poles or tent poles. One feature that irritated me was the lid pocket as it is only 21cm long and most lid pocket openings are longer than this and therefore better for accessing the pocket. The back system is not as well-ventilated as other back systems available, so given the choice I would use this sack for winter and something else for summer.

Capacity 40-45 litres
Materials 210d Cordura Ripstop, nylon body, 420D Ballistic Cordura, nylon base
Features Thermoformed back panel; removable internal back frame set and hipbelt; one compartment; rolltop closure; floating lid; rope strap; compression straps with quick release buckles; wand pockets; external lid pocket; internal lid pocket; twin ice axe/pole attachment points; hydration system- compatible; front, rear haul loops
Back sizes size A (for females and small males); size B (medium/large male)
Weight 1550g (size B); 800g stripped
Made in China
Stores in the UK 20
Stockist details tel. (01773) 601 870; www.podsacs.com

The Pod Alpine 40 is very durable; rolltop closure; can be stripped to just 800g; quick-release compression straps; sheds snow easily. But the back system not the most breathable; lid pocket access could be better. It’s the best sack we looked at for Alpine use and mountaineers, and it’s still great for hill-goers.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine April 2010