As with most camping/hiking backpacks, the Alps Mountaineering Zion External Frame Pack is made from polyester ripstop nylon. It’s also top-loading like any external pack, and features a sleeping bag compartment. It comes with multiple, zippered side pockets (more on the zippers later), as well as mesh pockets on the lowered side pockets. There’s a large mesh pocket for your water bottle as well.
Other design features of note include top lid lash tabs, ice-axe loop, daisy chain with carry handle, spindrift collar with draw cord, padded mesh waist belt, vented lumbar support, and padded shoulder straps.
One of the best things about this pack is arguably how lightweight it is. You don’t want to struggle when hiking through Zion or anywhere else, and if you keep the pack weight around 30 pounds, you’ll be just fine. However, you might struggle and sweat a bit if your pack is around 50 pounds. The heavier it is, the more it moves around as you walk, so keep this in mind if you plan on making a purchase.
1-Liter Hydration Bag
The Alps Mountaineering Zion External Frame Pack has enough room for a 1-liter hydration bag. Adding a 2-liter bag increases the bag’s weight way too much, so extra water bottles are definitely in order for longer treks. There’s also the potential problem of always having to lie the hydration bag on its side to place it in the pack.
While you may be able to attach an icepick to this pack, it’s not exactly great for hatchets. If you wish to bring one with you for whatever reason, you’ll need to place it in the top compartment.
Hold-Open Bar Fragile
The hold-open bar at the top of the pack is designed to keep it open and stable while you load or unload. Unfortunately, it’s not up to proverbial snuff. It’s clearly designed to help keep the pack light, but it bends with very little effort. You’ll still be able to bend it back into shape if necessary, but having to do so over and over again gets tiring.
Sleeping Bag Compartment
Yes, you can add a sleeping bag to the Alps Mountaineering Zion External Frame Pack. Mummy bags, lightweight and ultra-lightweight options are going to be your best option and way to go if you’re planning on bring a sleeping bag along.
Better For Narrow-Shouldered Individuals
A more suitable pack if your shoulders are on the narrower side, you might find this option’s frame a bit uncomfortable if you’re 5’11 or above with broader shoulders. It pushes into the shoulders slightly, making it better average-size or below-average-size people.
Zippers that don’t work so well is a common backpack, tent, and sleeping bag complaint, and unfortunately this pack isn’t an exception. The zippers tend to get stuck if you aren’t careful.
Sewn Line on Hipbelt Pad
If you’re planning on using this bag for longer hikes, you might find the hipbelt gets uncomfortable after awhile. This is due to the sewn line in the center of the belt.
Waterproof and made of durable material, the Alps Mountaineering Zion External Frame Pack unfortunately comes with a decent number of flaws. It’s best for weekend excursions only, and avoid using it for long, long hiking trips, whether to Zion or anywhere else.