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Mountainsmith Zerk 40 Backpack Overview

The Mountainsmith Zerk 40 is a multi-purpose backpack with vest-style shoulder straps that can be utilized for backpacking, thru-hiking, or lengthy day hikes. I hesitate to name it a fast-pack as a result of its application extends a long way past that slim genre of use.

Weighing 30 ounces, the Zerk 40 has a roll-top closure, a detachable hip belt strap, and a detachable foam framesheet. A lot of open mesh wallet at the shoulder straps and backpack external make it simple to retailer incessantly accessed equipment and meals so that you don’t have to forestall and open the pack to get right of entry to them. The pack comes with endure canister straps so you’ll lash a canister on height and comprises a large number of exterior equipment loops so you’ll connect further equipment to its external.

Specifications at a Look

  • Weight: 30 ounces
  • Quantity: 40L
  • Sort: Frameless
  • Get entry to: Most sensible (roll-top)
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Hydration appropriate: Sure, central hose port interior cling loop
  • Wallet: 9 (all open, mesh, and exterior)
  • Torso Vary: 16-19″
  • Contains extras: Stretch bungee twine for the entrance pocket, endure canister straps
  • Undergo canister compatibility: BV500 and BV475 have compatibility within vertically; BV450 and BV 425 have compatibility within sideways; As well as, exterior straps also are incorporated for a height elevate
  • Fabrics: 210-denier recycled nylon ripstop (UHMPE); recycled 210-denier nylon SD oxford; nylon 100-denier x Span 840-denier stretch mesh
  • Max advisable load: 20-25 lbs (producer claims 30 lbs)

Backpack Body and Suspension

The Mountainsmith Zerk 40 is a frameless fixed-length backpack with extensive vest-style shoulder straps and a detachable hipbelt made with webbing. Despite the fact that it has a cushy foam again panel, the loss of a load-bearing hip belt implies that your whole pack weight will leisure for your shoulders. Mountainsmith claims the pack can elevate 30 kilos with ease, however I feel 20-25 lbs is a extra real looking prohibit that you simply will have to shoot for.

The Zerk 40 is a frameless pack with vest-style shoulder straps.
The Zerk 40 is a frameless pack with vest-style shoulder straps.

If you happen to’ve by no means had a backpack with vest-style shoulder straps, they may be able to take a little time to get used to as a result of they supply an excessively other really feel than extra conventional backpack straps. For one, vest-style straps generally tend to lie flat for your shoulders and higher chest and don’t actually rotate across the curves of your torso the best way that conventional backpack straps do. Relying at the pack, chances are you’ll in finding them too narrowly spaced or too extensively spaced, which will additionally impact convenience. I occur to love the shoulder straps at the Zerk 40 as a result of I feel they desire a vast chest (measurement 46) not like numerous operating packs that I in finding desire folks with narrower torsos. In reality, I in finding many running-style vests and path operating packs unusable for simply this reason why.

Whilst the Zerk’s shoulder straps aren’t closely padded, they’re additionally now not gossamer skinny. They’re 3″ extensive on the height and sewn without delay into the highest of pack-bag, widening to 4.5″ on the backside, with a unmarried adjustable sliding sternum strap between them (there’s no method so as to add a 2d sternum strap). The shoulder straps each and every have two mesh wallet at the entrance with equipment loops alongside the facet so you’ll safe pieces like an inReach 2 to stop it from getting misplaced even though it falls out of a pocket. The straps themselves are J-shaped, that may be a attention if you happen to’re feminine or have a well-developed chest the place S-shaped straps can be extra relaxed.

The Zerk’s hip belt is a simple removable strap and not load bearing
The Zerk’s hip belt is a straightforward detachable strap and now not load bearing

The Zerk’s hipbelt is a webbing strap and now not load-bearing. It’s equipped to lend a hand stay the pack on the subject of your hips so it doesn’t soar round, however it may also be got rid of. The hip belt is connected to the pack with gatekeeper clips that you’ll pop open and take away. You’ll desire a pair of pliers to compress the buckle sufficient to open the gate, which is just too company to do by way of hand.

There’s a foam pad in a pad pocket at the back of the Zerk’s shoulder straps, its number one objective is to give protection to your again from being poked by way of the pack’s contents and isn’t structural like a right kind body.  It’s additionally very cushy, and gained’t save you the pack bag from barrelling into your again if you happen to overstuff it. You’ll take away the pad or exchange it if you happen to actually need (it weighs 3.2 ounces) however I’d nonetheless suggest the usage of some more or less insert as a substitute as it offers the pack bag a form, making it more straightforward to pack.

The froth pad protects your again from pointy gadgets in the principle compartment

Backpack Group and Garage

The Zerk 40 is laid out like a standard ultralight pack with a roll-top, entrance mesh pocket, and facet water bottle wallet. The roll height can clipped to itself on height or anchored the usage of clips alongside the facet of the pack, which is my choice as it supplies higher compression. The highest of the roll height does now not have a stiffener of any type, so you need to be sure to flip it a couple of occasions to stay it from unraveling. There’s additionally a unmarried webbing strap that runs from the entrance mesh pocket over the roll height to carry it in position.

The Zerk has a convention UL layout with a front mesh pocket and roll top closure.
The Zerk has a standard UL format with a entrance mesh pocket and roll height closure.

The Zerk 40 is designed with numerous exterior pocket garage so you’ve got the whole thing you want to get during the day inside of simple succeed in with no need to forestall to search out one thing to your pack’s major compartment. Whilst this packing philosophy isn’t that other from another light-weight or cottage-made thru-hiking backpacks, the site of the Zerk’s exterior wallet and the level of the group they supply units them excluding the hipbelt wallet on extra standard backpacks. The whole lot you may be able to want from snacks, gel packs, water bottles, worm dope, sunscreen, maps, a Smartphone, and many others may also be saved inside of simple succeed in within the shoulder strap wallet or the Zerk’s enhanced facet water bottle wallet.

The Zerk has side water bottle pockets and compression straps that can secure tall bottles.
The Zerk has facet water bottle wallet and compression straps that may safe tall bottles.

The Zerk’s facet wallet can dangle water bottles, however what makes them distinctive is an extra stretch mesh pocket at the outdoor, which I liken to “hamster cheeks. Those are just right for storing additional snacks, fruit, and even trash wrappers so that you don’t have to forestall and open your pack to get right of entry to/stow them. I a lot desire those “hamster cheek” wallet to the mesh wallet that many ultralight backpack makers have began placing at the base in their backpacks. The latter is unnecessary from a sturdiness standpoint because the best abrasion on a pack happens at the backside whilst you put it at the flooring.

Whilst I’ve at all times most popular packs that assist you to upload your personal accent wallet to daisy chains at the shoulder straps, I’ve grown to love the Zerk’s pocket format. I will be able to securely retailer snacks, my Garmin inReach2, sun shades, a digital camera, and Smartphone at the shoulder straps, and extra meals and fruit within the hamster cheek wallet. The contents keep put too, which is to hand at the path, once I elevate the pack round the city, and for touring. A lot to my marvel, the Zerk 40 has turn into a favourite because of this.

Close up of the extra stretch mesh pocket on the outside of the side pocket.
Shut up of the additional stretch mesh pocket at the outdoor of the facet pocket.

The remainder of the Zerk 40 is rather standard. The pack is hydration appropriate with a middle hose port between the shoulder straps, hose keeper loops on each shoulder pads, and a hook within to hold your bladder however no separate hydration pocket.

The entrance mesh pocket is big and excellent for sporting rainy or unfastened gadgets reminiscent of rain equipment, a water filter out, or an ultralight tent, however may be made with the similar light-weight mesh as used at the facet water bottle wallet. It’s surrounded by way of pink equipment loops so you’ll run an exterior elastic twine over it or connect further pieces to the outside of the pack.

Compression and Exterior Attachment Issues

The Zerk 40 has facet compression straps that you simply’ll need to use to carry the burden within as on the subject of your heart of gravity as imaginable, in particular if you happen to’re sporting a heavy meals load. The straps are configured in a zig-zag form and somewhat awkward to tighten, however don’t intrude with attaining or changing the water bottles within the facet wallet.

Whilst the pack comes with endure canister attachment straps, they’re actually now not that safe, and the canister can slip laterally thru them.

There’s a webbing strap that loops over the roll-top to offer top-down compression, which may also be used to safe a foam pad to the highest of the pack, in addition to an ice ax loop, even supposing a shaft holder isn’t equipped. If you want one, simply roll your personal with an elastic twine and a twine lock.

The Zerk additionally comes with straps for securing a endure canister to the highest of the pack. The endure canister straps are two webbing straps that connect to 4 equipment loops on height of the pack bag. Whilst you’ll lead them to actually tight and even crisscross them, the canister tends to slip laterally thru them and hang precariously off the facet of the pack. I’d keep away from the usage of them. If you want to hold a canister, you’ll retailer it vertically within the Zerk’s major compartment and simply pack round it. The pack has a protracted extension collar that extends up previous the shoulders and offers additional space for storing.

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The Mountain Zerk 40 is a multi-purpose backpack with a vest-style shoulder harness and non-load bearing hip belt. Whilst it’s big enough for light-weight backpacking, it may be utilized in such a lot of alternative ways from peakbagging to commuting or trip with out breaking stride. Weighing 30 ounces (minus not obligatory cords and webbing straps) the Zerk is an incredibly relaxed backpack equipped you don’t overload it to take a look at to hold greater than 20-25 kilos. Granted, the enjoy of sporting a backpack with no load-bearing hip belt or a inflexible body takes some being used to, however the Zerk’s shoulder strap and facet wallet supply a degree of group and get right of entry to that’s unavailable on many different packs.

Disclosure: The writer bought this backpack.

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