patagonia altvia pack 36l

Burrito-Style Hiking Pack: Patagonia Altvia Backpack Review

Patagonia quietly released a new line of four eco-friendly day and light overnight hiking packs. We hit the trails in the largest-capacity pack, the Altvia 36L, to put this lightweight pack through the wringer.

If you did a quick browse of Patagonia’s technical pack selection before spring 2021, you’d be hard-pressed to find any technical hiking-specific pack over 30L. A search would have yielded only four packs over 30L capacity: the Cragsmith 32L and 45L and Ascensionist 35L and 55L, all packs focused on alpine and rock climbing.

The Altvia family marks a new breed of technical hiking-focused packs for Patagonia. The line includes four sizes: 14L, 22L, 28L, and 36L.

There are two distinct differences in design between the sizes. The 14L and 22L packs feature a zipper opening to the main cavity, while the larger 28L and 36L packs use a drawstring enclosure. In all, the line targets lighter-duty crag packs with enough room to pack almost everything.

We put the Patagonia Altvia packs to the test to see where they fit for the brand, and how they perform.

In short: While I wouldn’t classify these new packs as substitutes for your go-to heavy-load hiking pack, they’re perfect for short and fast missions where keeping the weight down is a must.

Patagonia 100% Recycled Technical Hiking Packs

The main headline of the Altvia line focuses on sustainability. The full line is made with 100% recycled nylon and features a nonfluorinated (PFC-free) DWR finish.

All the shells are made with 4-ounce, 140-denier, 100% recycled nylon ripstop with a burlier 200-denier boot.

Altvia 36L Specs

  • Capacity: 36 L
  • Material: 100% recycled nylon ripstop with PFC-free DWR finish
  • Main compartment: Top-load design with drawstring and clip enclosure
  • Lid compartment: Zippered pocket
  • External: Two side stretch zipper pockets, two side elastic pockets, one front drop-in pocket
  • Internal: Small zippered pocket and hydration sleeve
  • Back panel: Suspended mesh
  • Straps: Regulator air mesh
  • Extras: Key attachment, rain cover

altvia pack 36l

 

Patagonia Altvia Hiking Pack Review

To test the Altvia 36L, I spent a few days using it hiking in and out of my longer approach local sport-climbing crag. While I didn’t technically test the pack with hiking gear, due to the high weight of climbing gear and my longer-than-most climbing approach, I got a good sense of how the pack performs.

The pack carried well over terrain for a minimally framed, lightweight pack, especially given the weight of my load. The S/M size seemed to fit well on my frame (5’8”, 140 pounds, 29-inch waist).

The back panel and straps made with suspended mesh offered adequate breathability for the toasty California weather.

Loading and accessing gear in the main cavity was easy thanks to a large drawstring opening. Inside the main compartment, there is a hydration sleeve and a small zippered pocket.

altvia pack 36l
A look at the main cavity opening. To close, sync the drawstring and fold the back over the front.

Different Opening

One big difference between most packs and the Altvia is that there is no independent top lid that folds over the main opening. Instead, the opening to the main compartment and top lid are one, so it folds over the opening and then attaches to a front clip.

I know, it’s a bit confusing. It’s kind of like how you would fold over a burrito to enclose the inside.

This design accomplishes two things. First, it saves weight by eliminating a separate compartment. And second, it protects the main cavity from moisture.

Due to the amount of time sport climbing packs spend on and off the ground, they get beat up pretty badly. I found it to be fairly durable for such a lightweight pack, but time will tell.

Externally, there are two side elastic pockets and one large dump-and-go pocket on the front that’s perfect for stashing an extra layer or some guidebooks.

patagonia altvia pack 36l

Things to Improve

There were a couple of areas where I felt the pack could use improvement. For starters, the zippered hip belt pockets were squarely situated over the boney parts of my hips.

This presented a problem when carrying any rigid items like a cellphone or bar. As I tightened the waist belt, those objects would dig into my hips and become uncomfortable.

The jury is still out on the top one-piece enclosure. I really liked how large it was — and how easy it was to dump items in and out.

But, when cinched down tight, it becomes hard to access items in the top zippered compartment. I found myself needing to unclip it fully to gain access.

Altvia 36L Pack: Conclusion

Although my testing was limited to long sport-climbing approaches, the Altvia 36L is an impressive pack. For such a lightweight pack, it carried my heavy climbing load well. The mesh backing breathed adequately, and it was easy to load and unload with plenty of external grab-and-go storage.

Bottom line, aside from a few shortcomings, if you’re looking to move fast — but need a pack big enough for one- or two-night lightweight missions — this pack is a worthy contender.

altvia pack 36l

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Cory Smith
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Cory Smith is a Santa Barbara, California-based athlete, online running coach, and freelance journalist specializing in running- and climbing-related content and gear reviews. He draws from over 25 years as an elite runner and rock climber for ideas, inspiration, and expertise. Check out his portfolio here.