Montane is a brand, that I first heard off about 10 years ago here in Denmark, when I bought a pair of their well-known Terra Pants. The brand is about 25 years old and hails from England. Over the following years I have purchased other products from Montane and kept an eye on their often-innovative lightweight gear. Last year they announced a new pack called Naukan 60 which they dubbed The ultimate ultra-lightweight trekking pack. That made me curious enough to want to try it out. I have not tried other packs from Montane, so in that regard I was not biased either way. All though to be honest I have about 15 years extensive experience with other lightweight packs and I am always wary when companies call their products anything with the ultimate in it. In my experience they rarely live up to the moniker as different hikers have different needs.
Disclosing and keeping it honest I was given the pack by STM Sport the Danish importer of Montane and the review has also been in partnership with the Danish Magazine Outsite, who ran the review in Danish in last months magazine. Even so the review and conclusion of the pack is my own subjective opinion off it and how it meets my needs in a lightweight pack when hiking.
I used the pack for a week’s winter hiking on the Danish island of Bornholm in week seven this year. The hike was 140 kilometers of mixed coastal and inland forested trails. The weather was winterly at first with lots of wind, snow and below zero temperatures rising to a thaw with wet and slippery trails by the end. I wild camped in both tent and shelters all the way. The pack carried winter equipment and food for five days.
It is not the Ultimate Hiking Pack for me. With that said, it is not a bad pack by any standard. The pack does what you would expect a lightweight pack weighing under a kilo to do. Some things it does very well others not so much. If I were Montane I would redesign a few things about it to make it more ‘ultimate’ in carrying all the gear a hiker needs on an extended several days long hike. I will expand on what I mean by that further down in the review. But for now, let me conclude that for the price, usability and weight, you get a lot of good things if you were to buy the Montane Naukan 60 Pack.
- Volume 60 liters
- Weight 900 gram
- Nylon in 70 denier and reinforced at stress areas
- Curvy lightweight frame in aluminum attached to the hip belt
- Air Mesh backside for ventilating the back
- ZephyrAD adjustable back length from small to large
- Compression straps
- Click and go adjustable chest strap
- Two outside front pockets
- Two outside side pockets with elastic closure
- Lid pocket with a central zipper
- System for carrying an Ice Axe or Hiking Poles on the front
- Opening and Velcro strap inside for attaching a water bladder (not tested by me)
The Naukan is a lightweight pack, so it is obvious that to make a pack at just over 900 grams Montane has compromised with the design in comparison with other packs that weigh a lot more. The workmanship and materials on the pack is top notch. I found no fault with the sewing or materials used. The frame and belt work well together and the pack carries weight on the hips very well. The straps is a little on the narrow side, but if you don’t overload the pack it is not a problem.
The main room is big and easy to load up even if the back is a little curved. There is a top lid and four pockets on the outside. The stated max carrying weight is about 12-15 kg in relative comfort. Montane has sacrificed hip belt pockets on the weight altar. The hip belt is slightly padded and tightens easily around your hip and it is easy to use and open again. The padding is again enough if you do not overload the pack.
Now, let me get to some of the things that makes me wonder a bit about the design. I will remind you that this is my opinion, and you might have a different need and find these small design ‘flaws’ insignificant.
The top lid pocket is small and has a zipper running through the center. If the main room of the pack is full, then the pocket is stretched and cannot contain much more that a pair of gloves and a beanie. The pocket should be made bigger, and the zipper moved to the side and protected by a small baffle, so when it rains, or snows water will not get through the zipper so easily.
The click and go chest strap is very innovative and something I have not seen before. I am more used to the old trusty buckle chest straps. The system took some getting used to and is not that easy to close with gloves on, all though it is easy to open with gloves on. The system works fine but I could suspect that with time and use the click part would become more ‘untight’ and loosen. Time will tell but I applaud their innovation in the design.
The four outer pockets sounds like a lot and they generally work fine, but if you take a closer look at them they have a few things going against them. The two on the side with an elastic closure are too small to hold a 1.0 liter Nalgene type bottle without it falling out during movement. The max I could get them to hold and close around securely was a 0.5 liter one. That, too me, is a design fault, especially when you are on a winter hike where you would like to carry a hard plastic bottle to hold boiling water as a sleeping bag heater during the night. Now you might think that Montane considered this and made the two outer pockets on the front big enough then. Alas no, they have the same issue with size and even more so when the main compartment is full. Then the two outer front pockets are flattened and will not hold bulky items. Again, this is a drawback as I could not get it to hold my thermos on a winter hike. This leaves you with the option of using the main room for carrying larger containers for water or other bulkier gear.
One other thing that goes both ways is the fact that the compression straps on the front of the pack crisscross the outer pockets, sometimes making it difficult to compress the pack depending on what is in the pocket. On the other hand, it also makes items in the pockets stay there when the straps are tightened. In all fairness the complaint about the pockets sizing and placement is very user oriented. You might see no problem at all with their use because your hiking style is different than mine.
With the above in mind the pack generally works for what it is intended for. It is a solid lightweight build that sits comfortably on the back. It is easy to adjust before and on the go. The 60 liter sizing is generous for the weight, and the main compartment has lots of room for an extended hike in most seasons and in most environments. The price is fairly low and lower than its main competitor the Osprey Levity, which as far as I can tell don’t offer anything better than the Naukan. In that regard the Naukan even offers an adjustable back length which should make it more attractable for a wider audience.
Concluding, so if you are into lightweight hiking and on the look out for a new pack that does a lot of good and you identify with Montanes motto ‘Further, Faster’. Then the Naukan might be for you. Every pack I have tried has some sort of compromises to be made, so it is not the ‘ultimate’ for me, but it might be for you.
I will rate the pack at 4 stars out of six, but if you do not need to carry 1.0 liters Nalgene type bottles or a thermos, then you can give it one more star.
Give away of the Montane Naukan 60
I was given the pack for free to try out and in accordance with that I would like to give it back to the hiking community for free. So here is your chance of winning the pack I tested. All you must do is make a comment below telling me what kind of Montane gear you own or would like to own?
On Sunday the 18th of April at 6pm I will randomly select the new owner of the pack among the comments. If you want it shipped to you, then you will have to pay the shipping cost from Denmark to your location, which can be all over the world. If you are outside the EU, you will also have to pay any tax or levy that your nation require.