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Montane Yupik 50 Backpack Review

Montane Yupik 50 Backpack Review

Montane Yupik 50 Backpack

Comfort
Weight
Suspension
Features
Adjustability
Sizing
Durability

Adjustable Length Backpack

The Yupik 50 is a lightweight backpack that's loaded with pockets providing great organizational capabilities. An easy-to-use adjustable length torso helps ensure a great fit.

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The Montane Yupik 50 is an adjustable-length backpack with a top lid weighing just over 3 lbs. It’s the successor of the Montane Grand Tour 55 Backpack (see our review) which is no longer available. The Yupik 50 is well-sized for overnight and multi-day trips, with pre-curved hip belt wings that provide good purchase around the hip bones. Crescent-shaped mesh pockets on the front of the pack are provided to store wet gear while a sleeping bag zipper provides access to the base of the pack. A 65 liter version of the Yupik is also available, as well as women’s-specific version named the Montane Sirenik 65.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 3 lbs 5 oz, without optional rain cover
  • Rain cover included: 3.2 oz
  • Pockets: 11 including main compartment and sleeping bag compartment
  • Type: Internal Frame Backpack
  • Adjustable Torso Length: Yes
  • Torso Size Range: 16″-21″
  • Hip Belt Size Range: unspecified (fits my 38″ waist)
  • Gender: Men’s, Women’s version available (only in 65L size)
  • Material: 100d and 420d ripstop nylon

Backpack Storage and Organization

The Yupik 50 is a conventional alpine style backpack with a top lid and sleeping back compartment. The rear of the top lid is sewn to the pack on the 50L model, but is a floating lid on the higher volume 65L version. The top lid has three zippered pockets: a large front-facing facing buddy pocket, a small pocket to store the optional rain cover, and a pocket on the underside of the lid.

The buddy pocket opens on the front side of the pack, facing your hiking partner, and not your back like most conventional backpacks. The idea is that a hiking buddy can easily unzip your pack while you’re still wearing it to retrieve your map, bug dope, or other gear you need. Cute, but no thanks. I rarely hike with a buddy, and I wouldn’t want them rifling through my gear anyway. Not a deal killer, though.

The Yupik 50 has two torpedo shaped mesh pockets on the front
The Yupik 50 has two crescent-shaped mesh pockets on the front

The Yupik has two front, zippered mesh pockets on the front (instead of a shovel style pocket) which are good for storing wet objects or gear you want easy access to like a water filter, rain jacket, or snacks. There are two side mesh water bottle pockets, sized for 1L Nalgene bottles, which are both reachable while wearing the pack, and can be pulled out or replaced easily. Unfortunately, the mesh used isn’t tightly woven and I have concerns about its long term durability.  You definitely want to avoid any serious bushwhacking with this pack.

A sleeping bag pocket is located near the base of the pack, with a zipper that is protected from abrasion and moisture by a large overhanging fabric flap. The inner sleeping bag compartment is formed by an interior zippered shelf.  You can release and fold it down if you want to use the main compartment as one large storage space.

The main compartment has a top extension collar and closes with a drawstring. It has an internal hydration pocket with a single velcro tab to hang a reservoir, with a single hydration port located between the shoulder straps.

Both hip belt pockets are large enough to store a smart phone or point-and-shoot camera. While the front of the pockets is solid fabric, the bottom and rear border are made with same mesh as the side or front crescent pockets. A questionable design for a wet climate.

The Pack has two tiers of compression straps and mesh side water bottle pockets
The Pack has two tiers of compression straps and mesh side water bottle pockets.

External Attachments and Compression

The Yupik 50 has two tiers of side webbing straps which are threaded through side buckles, as opposed to buckles that can be opened or clicked closed. The top strap runs all the way around the side and front of the pack, even through the front crescent mesh pockets so you can get compression if you overstuff the top of the main compartment.

The top lid has four external gear loops with small daisy chains running down the sides of the lid. There are four additional gear loops on the bottom of the pack that you could also attach items to with webbing straps, ski straps, or elastic cord. The higher volume Yupik 65L comes with two additional sleeping bag straps for that purpose, but you can roll your own on the 50L pack.

While you can use the ice axe holder to capture your trekking pole points, there isn't a very good way to secure the shafts to the pack, unless you jury rig the rope strap to hold them.
While you can use the ice axe holder to capture your trekking pole points, there isn’t a very good way to secure the shafts to the pack, unless you jury rig the rope strap to hold them.

The Yupik 50 has a single yellow ice axe/trekking pole holder on the front of the pack (the Yupik 65L has two). There’s no good way to secure the tops of your poles or axe however with something like a conventional elastic or velcro shaft holder. If your poles or axe shaft are short enough, you could loosen the top compression strap to capture the shaft, but that’s really not too feasible. Instead, I’ve rerouted the rope strap that normally runs over the main compartment (common on this style of pack) to hold my poles in place above, although an elastic shaft holder would have been a more graceful solution (and easy to add by yourself).

Backpack Frame and Suspension

The Yupik 50 has an adjustable frame that lets you adjust the pack’s torso length to match your body measurements, so you can dial in a great fit. To my knowledge, this is the first adjustable frame backpack shipped by Montane, which was my motivation for wanting to try it. The adjustment mechanism is quite straightforward and relatively lightweight.

The way it works is by moving the shoulder strap yoke up or down the back of the pack to make the torso length longer or shorter. The yoke is attached to the pack with a velcro patch and rides along on two side rails which are part of the pack’s frame. The rails help keep the yoke and shoulder straps level and secure. The side rails are joined by a cross-piece that runs along the top of the pack. There’s also an internal framesheet sewn into the back of the main compartment for added stiffness.

The Yupik 50 has an adjustable length frame
The Yupik 50 has an adjustable length frame, with a velcro attached yoke which can be raised or lowered to change the torso length.

While there are small, medium, and large size markings on the back of the yoke, it’s not obvious what torso lengths they relate to, so you’ll need to experiment with different positions to dial in one that fits your torso length. This is best done with a pack that’s about 75% full. Put on the pack and close the hip belt.

  • If all of the weight feels like it is on your shoulders, then you need to make the torso length longer.
  • If there a big gap between the shoulder straps and the top of your shoulders, you need to make the torso shorter.
  • If the weight is mostly on your hips but there’s still some contact between the shoulder straps and the tops of your shoulders, you’ve probably got it dialed in fairly well. Check to see if the load lifter straps are angled down at 30-45 degree angle while you’re wearing a fully loaded backpack. That’s optimal.

The padded hip belt is sewn to the base of the frame (and not attached by velcro, for instance) providing provides excellent load transfer to the hips. It has padded and pre-curved wings which grip the hip bones well and don’t slip. The hip belt closes with pull-forward webbing straps and a single buckle. The webbing passes under the hip belt pockets and connects to the bottom corners of the pack bag, just like a hip control strap, only it’s tied into the hip belt system instead of being independent of it.

It's easy to attach long skinny items like fly rods to the side of the Yupik for wilderness fishing trips.
It’s easy to attach long skinny items to the side of the Yupik 50.These are fly rods, but could be tent poles or snow pickets, just as easily.

The back of the pack is covered with mesh, over die-cut foam. It’d be a stretch to say that they pack is ventilated, but the mesh does help increase air flow to your back. The back-panel is slightly curved outwards above the hips, with a very modest lumbar bulge. The padded hip belt is pre-curved with plastic inserts located behind the pockets to prevent the belt from buckling under load.

Recommendation

The Montane Yupik 50 has all of the features you’d want in a reasonably lightweight weekend or multi-day backpack. The adjustable frame is easy to use and resize so you can dial in a perfect fit, making it a great pack for backpacking beginners or people who fall between conventional sizes. The pack has a lot of pockets making it easy to organize your gear and separate wet items from dry ones. The side bottle pockets are easy to use and reach and there are plenty of external attachment points to secure gear to the outside of the pack if needed. My only real concern is the durability of the side mesh bottle pockets, which are not as heavy-duty as I’d prefer.

See Also:

Disclosure: The author received a pack from the manufacturer for this review.

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2 comments

  1. What type of pocket is shown added to the shoulder strap? I’m looking for something that seals well and is relatively water resistant.

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