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Mammut Spindrift Guide Pack

Cy Whitling reviews the Mammut Spindrift Guide pack for Blister Gear Review.

Mammut Spindrift Guide Pack

Mammut Spindrift Guide

Volume: 42 Liters

Stated Weight: 1440 grams

Blister’s Measured Weight: 1332 grams

Stated Features:

  • V-frame 6 mm aluminum, adjustable and removable
  • Thermoformed “S” back, hip and shoulder strap with EVA padding
  • Front pocket for avalanche safety equipment
  • 3-level back system can be adjusted to suit the length of the wearer’s back
  • 2 lid pockets – external and internal
  • Ski attachment on the side
  • Rope fixing strap, detachable
  • Zipped inner compartment with key clip
  • Pocket on the hip belt
  • 4 front gear loops for equipment such as a helmet or Mammut® crampon bag
  • Compression straps can be tensioned at the side or the front
  • SOS label with emergency instructions
  • Hydration system compatible

MSRP: $189

Reviewer: 6’”, ~180 lbs

Test Locations: Grand Targhee, Jackson Hole, Teton Pass, & Grand Teton National Park, WY; Elk River Falls, & Steptoe Butte, ID

Days Used: ~20

Mammut has updated their Spindrift series of packs with the addition of the Spindrift Guide to their previous “Light” and “Tour” models. The 42L Guide is bigger than the Light (30L) or Tour (32L) models, and features a zipper closure instead of the drawstring, and “brain” lid systems found on the rest of the range.

Cy Whitling reviews the Mammut Spindrift Guide pack for Blister Gear Review.

Cy Whitling in the Mammut Spindrift Guide Pack, Jackson Hole, WY.

The Spindrift Light and Tour cover the lightweight, mid-capacity bracket pretty well, and there is no shortage of other good packs in the 30-34L range. However, if you’re looking to get more gear out into the backcountry, without making a huge jump in pack weight, or sacrificing versatility, your options slim considerably. That’s where the Guide comes in.

Fit

The Spindrift Guide only comes in one size, but the hip belt can be adjusted about 1.5” up or down. Pack fit is a very personal issue, so if you’re looking for the ultimate in comfort, it’s always best to try on a weighted pack in the shop.

My torso definitely measures on the longer end of things at 54 cm, and I usually go with a Large from most brands. I used the Guide with the hip belt at its lowest position, and found that it fit very well.
My back shape typically gets along very well with Black Diamond packs, and I’ve recently been using the BD Axis 33. I found that the Spindrift Guide fits a little differently from the BD packs I’ve used, and does not conform to my back and hips quite as well. But the difference was small, and after a few days of touring, I stopped noticing it.

When things point back downhill, the Guide hides its size well. It doesn’t fully disappear, but it doesn’t feel like a 42L pack either. The suspension does a nice job of keeping the bag from bouncing around, and the compression straps are easy to cinch down and minimize wasted space.

(Again, it’s not a bad idea to make sure a pack works well with your back before purchasing.)

Volume

I found the Guide’s 42L volume rating to be accurate. While Mammut markets the Guide for bigger single-day tours or multi-day trips, I prefer the volume for most day tours I do in Grand Teton National Park, since I’m usually carrying a camera and a few lenses, as well as all my ski gear.

I can easily fit my avy gear, crampons, and two sets of skins with room to spare in the outside gear pocket.

In the main pocket, I’ve generally got a puffy, extra mid layer, extra gloves, goggles, food, 2L of water, my shell, a DSLR, and two lenses. I can also usually fit my helmet as well, but I prefer to have it on the outside to make it easy to access.

Cy Whitling reviews the Mammut Spindrift Guide pack for Blister Gear Review.

Cy Whitling in the Mammut Spindrift Guide Pack, Jackson Hole, WY.

A pack with an expandable top opening and brain flap is easier to overpack when necessary, but so far, I have had no issue with the Guide’s capacity. Since the pack is rather tall, deep, and has no back panel opening, it can be little difficult to access things in the bottom of the pack. So it’s a good idea to load the tool compartment first, then stuff softer items into the main pocket.

Pockets

The outside gear compartment is sized very nicely, and makes it easy to keep essential (and often snow covered) gear separate from the rest of the pack. It is tall enough to fit my 19” Shaxe handle with a little room to spare.

The main pocket has a hydration sleeve with un-insulated ports to the shoulder straps of the pack. I generally forego a hydration pack, and instead store a first-aid kit, snow science kit, extra sunglasses, and food in this sleeve.

There is a mesh pocket inside the top of the pack that fits several Clif bars, a wallet, knife, and headlamp with room to spare.

The exterior pocket on top of the Guide is surprisingly roomy, and I generally stash my phone and snacks in there. You could also fit your goggles in this pocket.

There is also a zipper pocket on one side of the hip belt that’s perfect for a phone or a small camera. I have noticed with several packs I have used though, that these hip pockets have a tendency to work their way open, so I generally avoid putting anything too valuable in them.

Features

The Guide’s A-Frame ski carry is quick and easy to use, and so far, I haven’t seen any wear on the straps. I’ve been very pleased by the security and comfort of the Guide while carrying skis in this manner.

It also features loops and velcro fasteners for ice tools. These are quick, secure, and easy to use. When I’m not carrying ice tools, I often use the two velcro straps to secure my helmet. This does torque them diagonally a bit, and as a result I have seen some fraying on the outer edge of the velcro, but there is no structural damage.

The attachment points on the back feel strong and would work well for carrying crampons, but so far, I’ve generally kept my crampons in the tool compartment.

In the Field

After about 20 days touring in the Guide, I’ve been very happy with how those features translate into performance. Its large capacity and easy-to-access tool pocket make it easy carry all my gear into the BC, and get to it it quickly in the case of an emergency.

Cy Whitling reviews the Mammut Spindrift Guide pack for Blister Gear Review.

Cy Whitling in the Mammut Spindrift Guide Pack, Jackson Hole, WY.

While an opening in the back panel would make it easier to access equipment in the bottom of the main compartment, the aluminum frame runs in such a way that this is impossible.

Bottom Line

Overall, the Mammut Spindrift Guide performs very well. After about 20 days in the field, I haven’t seen any wear other than the frayed velcro on the ice tool straps. It combines a large volume with an intelligent pocket layout and a comfortable design that allows it to carry heavy loads with ease.

For those doing shorter tours with less gear, the Guide may be overkill, and I would recommend looking at the Spindrift Light or Tour options, or the Gregory Targhee that Jonathan Ellsworth reviewed.

However, if you need to get a large amount of gear into and out of the backcountry—yet are still looking for a pack versatile enough for everyday use—the Mammut Spindrift Guide is a great option.

 

2 Comments

  1. David Ly February 17, 2016 Reply

    Great review on the Spindrift Guide pack! You mentioned that you also use the BD Axis 33. I am torn between the Guide, BD Axis 33, and BD Epic 35. I am mainly looking to get into ice climbing and mountaineering so I am trying to get the perfect pack. The BD’s are very appealing, but the Guide, while offering the same weight as the other two packs, has more space.

    Any suggestions?

    • Author
      Cy Whitling February 17, 2016 Reply

      Hey David,

      I haven’t used the Epic 35 at all, so I won’t weigh in there.

      However, for my uses, there are pros and cons to both the BD Axis 33 and the Mammut.

      Personally, I like how the Axis works with my back a little better than the Mammut. It also feels taller and slimmer. In addition, for carrying technical tools, I prefer the BD’s system.

      The Mammut does have a lot more space, though, enough that I’d consider it for fast and light multi-day trips.

      For a day pack the only reason I’d choose the Mammut over the BD is the fact that I’m always carrying a DSLR, two lenses, and a mirror-less camera. For me, that extra volume is indispensable, especially since it’s much easier to fit my skins in the Mammut’s snow tool pocket. Otherwise, though, I think you’d be just fine with the BD.

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