Update: In early 2016 I noticed that the waist band of my Direttissima was wearing apart. Mountain Hardwear credited me in full for the pack (thanks!) and though I’ve since picked up Osprey’s Variant 37 to fill in for alpine day climbs, several of my friends climb in this pack without any issue so I’ve left the review to reflect the general experience.
How many packs does one person need? Probably not quite as many as jackets but if my gear closet is any indication, it’s far more than I ever thought. From an expedition 105L to multi-day 70L to 20L day packs, I’ve built up quite the collection, each with their own purpose too. Enter the Direttissima 50, a day or short multi-day, mountaineering pack.
Designed for the alpine, the Direttissima 50 is focused on snow & ice and as such is all about large spaces, plentiful tie-downs and very little to get in the way in. While it won’t carry you across Denali, the pack definitely has the space (50L in S/M and 55L in M/L) to pull an overnighter (or two) but for the most part, it’s pretty much a go to for any decent level day adventure in the snow. Sure, it’s mountaineering focused but it doubles just fine for a big hike or on winter day carrying gear for the group.
When it does come to alpine, the pack is as solid as anything I’ve used, improving over some of MH’s older designs to offer more versatile features and load support. It’s also notably lighter than my SouthCol 70 at right around 3.5 lbs plus the rigid back, padded waist strap and lid / pouch all come off to further reduce load for summit pushes and light trips, not that I’ve ever really bothered to take my pack apart for 12 ounces of weight. OutDry (waterproofing) completes the feature set though don’t expect it to perform like your hardshell jacket.
Features & Benefits
My first run with the Direttissima 50 was a trip out to Mount Hood where I snagged the photo at the top of the post. From the start, the pack had me won over for bringing together the technical features I like from my SouthCol 70 in a more modern, lighter and obviously smaller form design. True to the marketing description, the exterior holds up well against alpine conditions and aside from a couple holes in the crampon pocket from my spikes, everything else has remained intact.
- The waist-belt takes a page from hiking packs with dual side clips for easy weight balancing.
- Offering a massive main pocket makes it easy to stuff down less important gear while a smaller front-zipper and the lid handle common essentials.
- Harness style gear loops on the sides of the waist-belt are always a handy addon for carrying axes and assorted gear though it’s nothing to clip into!
- Numerous clips and straps make it easy to add on gear with the compression straps crossing over the entire pack for tents or larger items.
- Quick release clips for ice axes at the top and bottom of the pack are extremely handy for stashing or unstashing gear.
- An under the lid rope strap, small side pockets (picket holder!) and side ski straps round out the feature set.
- Finally the OutDry option (Mountain Hardwear & Columbia’s version of Gortex) is a huge win for hiking and alpine alike though with all the zippers, pouches and compartments, don’t expect everything to stay totally dry.
More than just a bullet call out is the structural support and comfort of a pack. With a removable metal rod and rigid plastic insert, the Direttissima 50 is built with a fairly aggressive structure system though efforts to keep the weight down certainly reduce just how much support you’ll find.
Similarly, the back of the pack is well contoured and padded compared to many Mountaineering Packs I’ve seen though it’s not aggressively curved like you may find in a more general hiking pack so don’t expect that level of comfort or breathing. The (removable) waist band is also well padded and once again, I much prefer the dual adjustment straps to the single cinch down of my SouthCol 70 pack. Still, with the way the structure is designed and how tight I have to pull the pack, keeping it comfortable has always been a bit of a struggle and ultimately may have led to to my waist band wearing down and me returning the pack though again, my friends with the same model have not had this issue even a year+ later.
What You Won’t Find
Mountain Hardwear seems to have a formula for their alpine packs that rarely deviates and hybrids streamline with supportive. While you will find a host of attachment points, there are no side pockets and no designed-in hydration support (not that you want a bladder in the alpine.)
There are also very few pockets on this pack with just three compartments in the main area: the large body space, a smaller but still nearly full height, zippered pocket that’s ideal for key accessories, and a final top slot / crampon pouch (though I struggled to get crampons to fit inside when the pack is loaded up). The lid is well designed offering a fairly large main compartnent and a smaller, zippered pocket for maps, keys or other small items.
For as many straps and ties as they provide, you won’t find the typical bottom sleeping bag / mattress pad holder. This keeps with the mountaineering “everything in the pack” idea though it does mean you’re left with the main compression straps to cinch down everything in a larger load.
As for cons, I’d like the back of the pack to breath a little more when I’m stuck in it all day. One or two quick pockets would also be a nice add on but really that’s about it. The pack does what it was designed for and steps well into things that aren’t technically in its space.
The Bottom Line
Aside from the issues I experienced with my pack wearing down, I really am a fan of the Direttissima 50 as an all around, bad ass alpine pack. From the well designed clips to the OutDry layering to the cross-the-pack compression straps, the pack truly crosses from day to multi-day adventures with ease. That said, a little better load rigidity and a little more storage versatility would go a long ways to making this the perfect alpine solution.
- Category: Backpack
- Utility: Alpine / Hiking
- Pros: Flexible, alpine-ready, very solid, waterproof
- Cons: Limited weight support
- Style: One look, S/M and M/L sizes
- Price: $270 MSRP
- Rating: 4 of 5
- Official Site | Buy it at Moosejaw*
* Disclosure: I earn a commissions for any sales made through Buy It Now links to Moosejaw.