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Mammut Trion Norwand 38 Backpack Review

Mammut Trion Norwand 38 Backpack Review

The Mammut Trion Norwand 38 is an alpine pack that’s great for winter hiking, mountaineering, climbing, and ski touring. It has a vest-style harness, a rolltop closure with a removable floating lid pocket, dual side-compression straps, side ski straps, dual ice axe/trekking pole holders, and even a removable hip belt if you want to use a climbing harness. While it can carry a ton of gear, I’ve been impressed with how good its wishbone frame carries, riding close to the body so that your movements are not hampered even when you’ve got a lot of gear strapped to the outside of the pack. This is a great pack, particularly for winter use, and one I plan to keep around for a long time.

Specs at a Glance

  • Volume: 38L
  • Weight: 2 lbs 2 oz (964g)
  • Internal Frame: Yes
  • Pockets: 3 closed and 2 open on shoulder straps
  • Hip Belt Pockets: No
  • Hydration Ready: Yes
  • Floating Lid: Yes
  • Rolltop Closure: Yes
  • Ice Axe Holder: Dual
  • Trekking Pole Holders: Yes
  • Side Compression Straps: 2 (with buckles)
  • Load lifters: Yes
  • Rain Cover: No
  • Pack Access: Top
  • Material: 100D Nylon Cordura Body, 210D Nylon Base

Backpack Storage and Organization

The main compartment has a roll top closure and can be used as is without the optional floating top lid.
The main compartment has a roll-top closure and can be used as is without the optional floating top lid.

The Mammut Trian Norwand is a hydration-ready rolltop backpack with a removable floating lid pocket. It has two zippered pockets in the lid, one on top and a mesh pocket underneath. There’s also a small zippered security pocket with a key fob behind the right shoulder that’s large enough to hold a wallet, keys, and passport along with two open pockets on the vest-style shoulder straps.

Hidden security pocket holds keys, wallet, or a passport.
A hidden security pocket holds keys, a wallet, or a passport.

There is a wide hydration pocket inside the main compartment with an internal hang loop and hose port above the right shoulder. While I don’t use a hydration reservoir, the hydration pocket is perfectly sized to hold four sections of a Therm-a-Rest Zlite foam pad for emergency use in winter, something I always carry.

The main compartment closes with a rolltop that has a stiffener at the top so you can get a good solid wrap for extra compression. The rolltop only buckles on the top (not along the sides) and has a single webbing strap that can be used to hold it down if the top lid is not in use. Otherwise, that webbing strap secures the top lid to the front of the pack.

Backpack Frame and Suspension

The Trion Norwand 38 has a springy wishbone-style metal frame that slots into the lumbar pad at the waistbelt and runs along the sides of the spine, with horizontal cross pieces to anchor the pack’s load lifters. This produces a very lively carry that sticks to your torso during dynamic moves when climbing, scrambling, or skiing.

The pack has a vest style harness which distributes weight across the chest.
The pack has a vest-style harness that distributes weight across the chest.

The shoulder straps are best described as a vest-style with load lifters, hydration hose keepers, and stretch pockets on the front for holding gels or snacks. The pockets are a little small for securely holding a smartphone though and my iPhone 14 tries to escape when I try to stash it there.

The sternum strap is optimized for use with a vest-style harness and can be adjusted by moving the buckle up or down daisy chains sewn to the front of the straps. If you’re used to conventional shoulder straps it takes a little getting used to the vest harness since it rides a bit higher than normal above the breast bone. But the upside is that the pack rides very close to your upper torso and the load is evenly distributed across your chest and less on the shoulders, making it more comfortable and responsive to carry. I wish all vest-style shoulder straps worked as well, but many don’t.

The vest straps position the pack somewhat higher on the torso compared to a regular pack and easier to carry.
The vest straps position the pack somewhat higher on the torso compared to a regular pack and make it easier to carry.

The hipbelt is quite simple and only lightly padded, providing an excellent hip wrap that pulls the pack close to your core. It’s held in place with velcro behind a modest lumbar pad and removable if you want to use a climbing harness. The center buckle is large enough that it won’t jam if it gets filled with snow, which is an important detail for winter use.

Backpack Compression and Attachment Points

The Trion Norwand 38 compression system and attachment points are unusually strong and versatile for a winter alpine pack. It comes with a pair of side compression straps made with webbing that close with buckles and are large enough to strap snowshoes to the side of the pack easily. The buckles make it much easier to use while wearing gloves.  There are also reinforced ski straps located below the lower compression strap where you can rest a ski binding for an A-frame carry.

Heavy duty webbing straps at the base of the side enable an A-frame ski carry
Heavy-duty webbing straps at the base of the side enable an A-frame ski carry

The backpack is configured to carry dual ice axes and has buckles that you can run through the axe heads to secure them. There are also shaft holders, which can be moved up or down two daisy chains on the front of the pack and can accommodate shafts of different lengths. Those same shaft holders can be used to carry trekking poles, with the tips slotting into a pair of conventional ice axe straps at the base of the pack.

The pack has long side webbing straps that close with buckles and are great for strapping snowshoes to the side of the pack.
The pack has long side webbing straps that close with buckles and are great for strapping snowshoes to the side of the pack.

Finally, since the top lid pocket floats, meaning that it can be raised or lowered (about 5″), you can scrunch gear under it on top of the main compartment. This is particularly useful if you need to carry a rope, draping it over the main compartment and securing the lid over it to hold it in place so it doesn’t fall off.


The Mammut Trion Norwand 38 is a rugged alpine-style backpack that’s optimized for winter use but can be used year-round. With 38L of closed storage, it’s an excellent size for technical winter day hikes, hut-to-hut trips, and even overnights if you can dial down the volume of the gear you need to carry.  While it sports a Swiss army knife set of functions including dual side compression straps, ski-carry straps, a removable hip belt, a floating lid, roll-top closure, and two types of ice axe holders, it’s still a streamlined pack that’s very responsive and moves with you. I particularly like the vest-style shoulder straps and hip belt, which though lightly padded, hold the pack very close to your torso making it surprisingly easy and natural to carry. This is the first Mammut pack I’ve reviewed and I’m quite impressed with its versatility and fit.

Disclosure: Mammut donated this backpack for review.

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  1. Eerily, I was just today seeking a review of this pack and not finding many. Thanks!

  2. Any idea how this may compare with the Cold Cold World Valdez?

    • Totally different animal. The Valdez is a great pack but I carries very differently. For instance, it doesn’t have a vest harness. There are other differences like it doesn’t have a roll top.

  3. How do you access water for drinking? No outside water bottle pockets, or does a small one fit in the shoulder strap pockets? I don’t use a bladder either, but will often use these internal pockets to carry a couple 1L smart water bottles or a 2L Evernew bag. Since it’s against the back, body heat keeps it from freezing and you don’t even need to bother boiling and insulating. Usually carrying a 1/2 liter on the outside of the pack will stayed thawed long enough to be drank when refilling from the inside bottles, but doesn’t seem like you have any option to carry one of those here.

    • It’s primarily a winter pack. I just carry nalgenes full of boiling water inside the main compartment and drink more. a lot less frequently. The vest pockets are two small for bottles and you wouldn’t want to carry small ones in winter there anyway – they’d freeze. But for climbing, skiing, mountaineering – you don’t want bottles in the outside pockets because they’ll get scraped off.

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