I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: The North Face of the 2010’s is making a strong comeback as a premium outdoor brand with gear that is well designed and nicely executed. I continue to be very pleasantly surprised at their products, especially those in the Summit Series line.
Let’s take a look at the Verto 26, a summit-style pack with a few trick features at no extra weight. The Verto weighs all of 362 grams, a very competitive weight for its size: yes, there are lighter summit packs, but most of them are 20L or smaller, while most packs in the 25L range are significantly heavier. The Verto achieves this principally through the lack of a foam backpad. Properly packed, however, this isn’t something you’ll notice.
Like most other summit packs, the Verto stuffs into itself, or, more specifically, into a small zippered pocket sewn inside the main compartment. Unfurled from transport, this extra pocket provides a supplementary secure storage space in addition to the zippered pocket in the lid — a nice touch, and useful for separating emergency vs oft-accessed items. There’s even a single, non-secure, external pocket on the side of the main packbag: ideal for stuffing in a windshell or small water bottle.
Aside from its multitude of pockets, the Verto 26 can also function as a sleeping bag compression sack, thanks to two extra straps running between the shoulder straps and waistbelt. This is a pretty cool feature, and a handy one to have when taking the Verto along on overnight trips.
There are two tool loops with a matching pair of velcro handle loops, suitable for modern technical tools and traditional ice axes alike. Add in multiple lash points through which you can thread compression cords (which come included with the pack) and you’ve got a very full-featured little pack.
The shoulder straps are lightly padded, and the waistbelt is of the 10mm-wide variety: just enough to provide a bit of support, or keep the pack tight against your back when climbing. The entire pack is made of cargo-chute fabric that’s proven incredibly tough and so far doesn’t show a single scratch, despite the fact that I’ve dragged this pack up ice, rock, mixed and alpine routes.
This is a great little pack for multi-pitch days or summit pushes. It’s lightweight, tough and carries well. For $80, it’s a steal of deal, too.
Pros: lightweight, durable, multi-function, (relatively) cheap
Overall: A great, light pack for multi-pitch or summit-push days.