Mountainsmith Zerk 40 Backpack Evaluate

Mountainsmith Zerk 40 Backpack Review

The Mountainsmith Zerk 40 is a multi-purpose backpack with vest-style shoulder straps that can be utilized for backpacking, thru-hiking, or lengthy day hikes. I hesitate to name it a fast-pack as a result of its utility extends far past that slim model of use.

Weighing 30 oz, the Zerk 40 has a roll-top closure, a detachable hip belt strap, and a detachable foam framesheet. Quite a few open mesh pockets on the shoulder straps and backpack exterior make it straightforward to retailer regularly accessed gear and meals so that you don’t need to cease and open the pack to entry them. The pack comes with bear canister straps so you possibly can lash a canister on prime and contains quite a few exterior gear loops so you possibly can connect further gear to its exterior.

Specs at a Look

  • Weight: 30 oz
  • Quantity: 40L
  • Kind: Frameless
  • Entry: Prime (roll-top)
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Hydration suitable: Sure, central hose port inside dangle loop
  • Pockets: 9 (all open, mesh, and exterior)
  • Torso Vary: 16-19″
  • Contains extras: Stretch bungee twine for the entrance pocket, bear canister straps
  • Bear canister compatibility: BV500 and BV475 match inside vertically; BV450 and BV 425 match inside sideways; As well as, exterior straps are additionally included for a prime carry
  • Supplies: 210-denier recycled nylon ripstop (UHMPE); recycled 210-denier nylon SD oxford; nylon 100-denier x Span 840-denier stretch mesh
  • Max advisable load: 20-25 lbs (producer claims 30 lbs)

Backpack Body and Suspension

The Mountainsmith Zerk 40 is a frameless fixed-length backpack with huge vest-style shoulder straps and a detachable hipbelt made with webbing. Though it has a gentle foam again panel, the dearth of a load-bearing hip belt implies that all your pack weight will relaxation in your shoulders. Mountainsmith claims the pack can carry 30 kilos comfortably, however I believe 20-25 lbs is a extra lifelike restrict that it is best to shoot for.

The Zerk 40 is a frameless pack with vest-style shoulder straps.
The Zerk 40 is a frameless pack with vest-style shoulder straps.

Should you’ve by no means had a backpack with vest-style shoulder straps, they will take a while to get used to as a result of they supply a really totally different really feel than extra conventional backpack straps. For one, vest-style straps are likely to lie flat in your shoulders and higher chest and don’t actually rotate across the curves of your torso the way in which that conventional backpack straps do. Relying on the pack, it’s possible you’ll discover them too narrowly spaced or too extensively spaced, which might additionally have an effect on consolation. I occur to love the shoulder straps on the Zerk 40 as a result of I believe they favor a broad chest (measurement 46) in contrast to plenty of operating packs that I discover favor folks with narrower torsos. The truth is, I discover many running-style vests and path operating packs unusable for simply this cause.

Whereas the Zerk’s shoulder straps aren’t closely padded, they’re additionally not gossamer skinny. They’re 3″ huge on the prime and sewn straight into the highest of pack-bag, widening to 4.5″ on the backside, with a single adjustable sliding sternum strap between them (there’s no manner so as to add a second sternum strap). The shoulder straps every have two mesh pockets on the entrance with gear loops alongside the facet so you possibly can safe gadgets like an inReach 2 to stop it from getting misplaced even when it falls out of a pocket. The straps themselves are J-shaped, which can be a consideration in case you’re feminine or have a well-developed chest the place S-shaped straps can be extra comfy.

The Zerk’s hip belt is a simple removable strap and not load bearing
The Zerk’s hip belt is a straightforward detachable strap and never load bearing

The Zerk’s hipbelt is a webbing strap and never load-bearing. It’s offered to assist preserve the pack near your hips so it doesn’t bounce round, however it will also be eliminated. The hip belt is hooked up to the pack with gatekeeper clips you can pop open and take away. You’ll want a pair of pliers to compress the buckle sufficient to open the gate, which is simply too agency to do by hand.

There’s a foam pad in a pad pocket behind the Zerk’s shoulder straps, its major goal is to guard your again from being poked by the pack’s contents and isn’t structural like a correct body.  It’s additionally very gentle, and received’t forestall the pack bag from barrelling into your again in case you overstuff it. You possibly can take away the pad or substitute it in case you actually need (it weighs 3.2 oz) however I’d nonetheless advocate utilizing some form of insert as a substitute as a result of it offers the pack bag a form, making it simpler to pack.

The froth pad protects your again from pointy objects in the principle compartment

Backpack Group and Storage

The Zerk 40 is laid out like a typical ultralight pack with a roll-top, entrance mesh pocket, and facet water bottle pockets. The roll prime can clipped to itself on prime or anchored utilizing clips alongside the facet of the pack, which is my desire as a result of it gives higher compression. The highest of the roll prime doesn’t have a stiffener of any type, so that you wish to ensure you flip it a couple of occasions to maintain it from unraveling. There’s additionally a single webbing strap that runs from the entrance mesh pocket over the roll prime to carry it in place.

The Zerk has a convention UL layout with a front mesh pocket and roll top closure.
The Zerk has a traditional UL format with a entrance mesh pocket and roll prime closure.

The Zerk 40 is designed with plenty of exterior pocket storage so you could have every thing it’s worthwhile to get by way of the day inside straightforward attain with out having to cease to search out one thing in your pack’s fundamental compartment. Whereas this packing philosophy isn’t that totally different from every other light-weight or cottage-made thru-hiking backpacks, the situation of the Zerk’s exterior pockets and the diploma of the group they supply units them other than the hipbelt pockets on extra typical backpacks. Every thing you may presumably want from snacks, gel packs, water bottles, bug dope, sunscreen, maps, a Smartphone, and so on will be saved inside straightforward attain within the shoulder strap pockets or the Zerk’s enhanced facet water bottle pockets.

The Zerk has side water bottle pockets and compression straps that can secure tall bottles.
The Zerk has facet water bottle pockets and compression straps that may safe tall bottles.

The Zerk’s facet pockets can maintain water bottles, however what makes them distinctive is a further stretch mesh pocket on the skin, which I liken to “hamster cheeks. These are good for storing additional snacks, fruit, and even trash wrappers so that you don’t need to cease and open your pack to entry/stow them. I a lot desire these “hamster cheek” pockets to the mesh pockets that many ultralight backpack makers have began placing on the bottom of their backpacks. The latter is mindless from a sturdiness perspective for the reason that highest abrasion on a pack happens on the underside whenever you put it on the bottom.

Whereas I’ve all the time most well-liked packs that allow you to add your individual accent pockets to daisy chains on the shoulder straps, I’ve grown to love the Zerk’s pocket format. I can securely retailer snacks, my Garmin inReach2, sun shades, a digital camera, and Smartphone on the shoulder straps, and extra meals and fruit within the hamster cheek pockets. The contents keep put too, which is helpful on the path, once I carry the pack round city, and for touring. A lot to my shock, the Zerk 40 has develop into a favourite because of this.

Close up of the extra stretch mesh pocket on the outside of the side pocket.
Shut up of the additional stretch mesh pocket on the skin of the facet pocket.

The remainder of the Zerk 40 is pretty typical. The pack is hydration suitable with a middle hose port between the shoulder straps, hose keeper loops on each shoulder pads, and a hook inside to hold your bladder however no separate hydration pocket.

The entrance mesh pocket is massive and superb for carrying moist or free objects equivalent to rain gear, a water filter, or an ultralight tent, however can also be made with the identical light-weight mesh as used on the facet water bottle pockets. It’s surrounded by crimson gear loops so you possibly can run an exterior elastic twine over it or connect further gadgets to the outside of the pack.

Compression and Exterior Attachment Factors

The Zerk 40 has facet compression straps that you simply’ll wish to use to convey the load inside as near your heart of gravity as doable, notably in case you’re carrying a heavy meals load. The straps are configured in a zig-zag form and just a little awkward to tighten, however don’t intervene with reaching or changing the water bottles within the facet pockets.

Whereas the pack comes with bear canister attachment straps, they’re actually not that safe, and the canister can slip laterally by way of them.

There’s a webbing strap that loops over the roll-top to supply top-down compression, which will also be used to safe a foam pad to the highest of the pack, in addition to an ice ax loop, though a shaft holder isn’t offered. Should you want one, simply roll your individual with an elastic twine and a twine lock.

The Zerk additionally comes with straps for securing a bear canister to the highest of the pack. The bear canister straps are two webbing straps that connect to 4 gear loops on prime of the pack bag. Whereas you may make them actually tight and even crisscross them, the canister tends to slip laterally by way of them and dangle precariously off the facet of the pack. I’d keep away from utilizing them. If it’s worthwhile to carry a canister, you possibly can retailer it vertically within the Zerk’s fundamental compartment and simply pack round it. The pack has a protracted extension collar that extends up previous the shoulders and gives additional space for storing.

Comparable Vest-Model Climbing Packs


The Mountain Zerk 40 is a multi-purpose backpack with a vest-style shoulder harness and non-load bearing hip belt. Whereas it’s massive sufficient for light-weight backpacking, it may be utilized in so many various methods from peakbagging to commuting or journey with out breaking stride. Weighing 30 oz (minus non-compulsory cords and webbing straps) the Zerk is a surprisingly comfy backpack offered you don’t overload it to attempt to carry greater than 20-25 kilos. Granted, the expertise of carrying a backpack with out a load-bearing hip belt or a inflexible body takes some getting used to, however the Zerk’s shoulder strap and facet pockets present a stage of group and entry that’s unavailable on many different packs.

Disclosure: The writer bought this backpack.

Evaluate 1 Costs

Final up to date: 2023-05-26 14:10:07

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