The Swift is Six Moon Designs “ultralight” backpack, and for a pretty good reason. The newly designed 2011 Swift pack is listed at a scant 15 oz, although, this is without a hip belt or an aluminum stay. However, part of the redesign of the pack was to make the pack more versatile. What this means is that the pack will now accept an optional (removable) hip belt as well as an aluminum stay. The pack does however sport an inner pad pocket which will allow a users sleeping pad to be folded and then inserted into the sleeve which then provides the actual structure for the pack.
If the Swift on its own is not quite enough for ya, Six Moon Designs offer options to beef the pack up a little and still remain quite light. There are 2 different hip belt options available for this pack:
- The Wing Belt: Features large dual hip belt pockets and is offered in a size small (4 oz), medium (4.5 oz) and large (4.5 oz). All sizes cost $30 extra.
- The Webbing Belt: This is a simple one inch piece of webbing that is attached in two places on each side of the pack and closes in the front with a single buckle. (Weight is 2 oz and cost $7.50.)
The Swift is also built so that an optional aluminum hoop stay can be inserted into the pack which is a great option for people who do not use foam sleeping pads. Using this stay will create an internal structure and removes the need for a foam pad to provide the structure. The stay is listed at 4 oz and cost $20.
So… I recently received my very own Six Moon Designs 2011 Swift in the mail just a few days ago (in plenty of time for an upcoming trip!) and here is my First Look video:
So, just to highlight some of the specs on my Swift:
- Swift Pack (medium): 14.7 oz
- Wing Belt (medium): 4.1 oz
- Aluminum Hoop Stay: 4.6 oz
Now onto some of my thoughts on the pack as well as how it packs up for me for my intended use.
So, as you can see in the video, I had some issues with the size of the pack. Simply put, it is huge! With the collar fully extended, it is actually about an inch taller than the Circuit, however, it is slightly narrower than the Circuit. As well, the outside pockets on the Swift do not have as much room as in the Circuit. With this in mind, the Swift is slightly smaller than the Circuit…
The first time I loaded the pack up, I must say that my heart sank. With my gear inside the Swift, there was just as much room left inside as in my Circuit, so I was sitting there looking at the pack thinking I just duplicated my Circuit. I unpacked and repacked… tried and tried…
Finally I realized that the pack was not going to work with my gear with the stay inside the pack. The stay was making the pack too big, so it had to go (bummer I just spent $20 extra for it…) However, I wasn’t too keen on using a ccf pad in the pad pocket. I use a NeoAir and at this time of the year I do not need a second pad. My point of getting this pack was not only to have a smaller pack, but also to reduce weight. By carrying an extra pad I am looking at carrying extra, unneeded weight. However, if I did not use the stay, my only other option for me was to use a ccf pad.
I ended up buying a cheapo blue ccf pad and chopping it down to fit inside the pad pocket. After thinking about it, I realized that by removing the stay I had at least 4.6 oz to work with to keep the same amount of weight as if I were to use the stay. So, happily I realized that with the blue ccf pad cut to size (and doubled over so that it is 2-layers thick) actually weighs 1 full oz less than if I were to use the stay (3.6 oz)! I am sure that I am giving up some of the ability of proper weight transfer, however with the weights I will be carrying I think that it will manage well. Also, since I use the ccf pad inside the pack, I am able to roll more of the top of the pack down, which means I can compress the pack a little better.
So, as can be seen in the second video, my gear fits inside the pack ok when using the foam back pad. The top does not compress down as much as I would like, but that should be ok. I will be leaving for a 4 day (55 mile) trip in a few weeks so this should be a great time to see how the pack does for me.
To be honest, I wouldn’t mind having a smaller volume pack, but in my search I haven’t really found any other packs with a smaller volume and offers what the Swift offers. For this reason, I am going to keep the Swift rather than send it back.
So, my first impression of the Swift is that it is big, possibly too big. However, I do love the way that the pack is laid out, I like that I can add or remove the stay or the hip belt (ultimately reducing weight) and I really liked the price point. So, I would not say that I am unhappy with the purchase, but I will definitely need to use it a few times to see just how happy I am with it… (But I will add that I usually find that the things I am not so sure about in the beginning ends up being the ones that seem to really work out…)
Thanks for reading!