'Space Age' Look for Super-Light Pack

Space-age design meets wilderness utility in an upcoming backpack line from Terra Nova Equipment. The U.K. company’s to-be-released Quasar series includes three packs — 30, 45, and 55 liters in size — that employ Terra Nova’s “Ultra fabric,” a crinkly polyethylene material used in yacht sails.

Touted as “groundbreaking” because of their high strength and low weight, the Quasar packs will weigh as little as 14 ounces. While the “Ultra fabric” makes up the body of the pack, reinforcements come via a Cordura fabric in high-wear areas as well as bar-tack points stitched with Dyneema thread, a thermoplastic polyethylene strand that has a strength ratio stronger than steel.

Quasar pack.jpg

Crinkly “sailcloth” material makes up the body of the Quasar pack

The Quasar design is that of a basic backpacking or mountaineering “sack” — there is no frame, only a sheet of foam for support, and the packs have few bells and whistles beyond removable hip-belt pockets and a hydration sleeve. OK, so there is one whistle! There’s an emergency whistle integrated into the chest strap buckle.

The biggest pack in the line, the Quasar 55, has a single alloy strut to give additional support and stability under a load. It weighs 21 ounces at maximum, or less than 1.5 pounds, for something that could tote a load for three or more days outdoors.

Packs of this ilk are available from a few manufacturers. I have backpacked, climbed, and adventure raced for a couple years in the frame-less Race Pro 30 from Inov-8. Because the Quasar line has a simple alpine-like design and employs Dyneema, they might quickly draw comparison to packs from CiloGear, a company that trades on non-woven Dyneema fabric, light weight design, superlative durability, and price tags that can break past $1,000.

Terra Nova’s Quasar offerings, in contrast, include costs between $240 and $300. They will be marketed primarily to backpackers and adventure athletes, not alpine climbers. The Quasar series will be available to purchase in February and previewed next month in Salt Lake City at the Outdoor Retailer trade show.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.

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