So I confess to having a quiver of backpacks. I try to collect only things I use, but there are still a few old classic bags lying around the house. I tell myself I will use them again, but I don’t because technology has advanced significantly over the years—a case in point, Six Moons Designs Swift X.
My staple bag is a 38 liter, simple mountaineering pack. It can carry my skis, avalanche safety kit, and everything else I need for a day to a long weekend in the mountains. But the things I love about it, the gossamer weight and simplicity mean it doesn’t quite cut it for longer backpacking trips.
It is more of a stripped-down, small truck than a Cadillac, and let’s be honest when I am going backpacking comfort is king. I want leather seats, recliners, and space. Heck, not only do I want a mug holder, I also NEED the best in-car entertainment money can buy. Enter the Swift X. This puppy is so pimped out, it will turn the head of any savvy, lightweight backpacker. So what do I like about it?
The Swift X makes light work of heavy loads
Let’s start with Six Moon Designs being a small garage grown company. I love this group of manufacturers because they remember why they started the company in the first place. It was often a single person or small team wanting to satisfy a need of their own.
There was a desire to scratch an itch when indulging in their passion. Ultralight backpacking inspired a number of these companies because the big name brands did not create the gear that makes thru-hiking a pleasant experience.
The brand is small enough to retain their passion and vision across the whole staff, which always results in well-made equipment. Small companies often cannot afford the most modern systems and machinery; however, they are often willing to take risks and try things out of the norm.
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Simple design – lots of capability
So let’s take a good look. Firstly, Ultralight backpacking requires simplicity of design to satisfy its needs. When making something light, you strip away everything extraneous. Having stripped the system down to nothing, you then look at all the criteria you want to satisfy and only add what is necessary. If at all possible, any feature you add needs to meet several needs.
The Swift X has a single compartment with a roll-top closure. Hallelujah. There is a Y strap to secure the load top and provide an attachment point for items such as a bear-barrel along with the roll-top closure. The fabric is not one that feels familiar; it is smooth and slippery, translating into water beading and sliding off rather than being slowly absorbed. It is also robust and has fared well for me so far without any need for delicate treatment.
The main bag holds up to 40 liters – 36 without the extension. The size means everything I usually carry fits inside the container along with food for an extended journey. The only additions to this part of the pack are a removable hanging pouch for a hydration bladder and a small zippered pocket. There is also access to the frame, consisting of a Delrin hoop – light, horseshoe tube design. With the structure in play, the maximum load recommended is 35lb.
Outside the main compartment are two 1 liter side pockets made from 4 way stretch woven mesh. These pockets are hands down the easiest I have used. Water bottles, tripods, compacted hiking poles all slide in and out effortlessly, and are easy to access even while carrying the pack.
There is also a 3-liter pocket made of the same material on the back of the bag. This pocket can accommodate wet things like the tent, or items you want quickly accessible like a rain jacket. Above both the side pockets, there is shock cord zig-zagging up the pack to give you attachment points and allow cinching the bag when not full.
Vest harness provides lots of easy access to small items
Finally, the harness is modular, so you can choose a size and style that works best for you when ordering. This feature is nothing short of brilliant and reflects what I was saying earlier about garage grown companies. Not only can you dial in the fit, but you can also decide whether you want a traditional backpack or running vest style yoke.
Standard yokes have four attachment points; the running vest has 6. Both have hip pockets on the belt, and again they work well; the running vest has more pockets around your chest. Expect a closer fit with the running vest, one where the load moves with you like a favorite dance partner. The pack’s design also allows stripping it down, which means it’s total weight can vary between 26 and 37 oz depending on how you configure it.
In use, the pack is impressive. I took it with me on a backpacking trip with my son and his friend. Having been cooped up for a while with COVID-19, we decided to hike a beautifully savage circuit in the Sawatch range of CO. Over three days, we walked 55 miles, ascended 16,000 ft, and took in 3 14ers. Not bad for two 15-year-olds and the old man.
I was carrying more than usual because I did not know how much they would eat, and we were traveling with someone else’s child. Was I glad to take the bag off at the end of each day? Sure. But I had very little of the shoulder pain I usually associate with that kind of weight.
The load stayed steady on my back, which did not sweat as much as it often can. I had more access to snacks, phone, maps than usual. Most telling, though, I did not feel the need to take the pack off unless we stopped for an extended time.
Six Moon Designs Swift X harness also gives a very stable carry when you need it
Six Moon Designs Swift X Review
So, in conclusion, if you are looking for a backpacking rucksack and subscribe to carrying a lighter load (less than 35lbs), check Six Moon Designs Swift X out. I know you will be glad you did.
Wil was born in North Wales and steeped in its rich maritime, mountain and river folklore. In response to the request to “get a real job” he became first a teacher then professor of adventure education.
He then emigrated to where the sun shines for 300 days and snowfalls for 100 (Colorado). During more than 25 years as an outdoor educator, he worked Scottish winter seasons, taught canoeing, climbing, kayaking, and skiing throughout the States, Europe, and Australia. He also regenerated the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Outdoor Education program. His biggest adventure (by far) is fatherhood. It has also been the inspiration for his website www.wherethefruitis.com.
Things he likes to do include (middle) aging gracefully, and skiing (telemark) aggressively. He is happiest outdoors with a good view, good company, good weather/snow and the residue of self-powered adventure; sweat, a manic grin, and wild eyes.
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