Mountain Hardwear PCT 65 - Women's Review
Cons: Bulky, lightly padded harness, small hipbelt pockets
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
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Mountain Hardwear PCT 65 - Women's
$299.99 at Backcountry
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|Pros||Large u-zip opening, durable, massive side pockets||Stable and sturdy, very comfortable, adjustable, spacious||Comfortable, plush padding, highly adjustable, good number of pockets, easy-to-remove top lid||Ultra comfortable, roomy, inexpensive, durable, can fit a bear can horizontally, low center of gravity, airy mesh frame||Comfortable, lightweight, supportive suspension, simple design, large pockets|
|Cons||Bulky, lightly padded harness, small hipbelt pockets||Heavy, overbuilt for lighter missions||Large, spring-loaded waistband is hard to get into, suspension can feel bulky, expensive||Not many bells and whistles, set torso adjustment points, no back stash pocket||Non-ventilated back panel, fewer organizational features|
|Bottom Line||If you love pockets and want a storage solution for everything, this may be the pack for you||This pack provides unparalleled comfort and support for heavy loads with an excellent feature set||This pack has stood the test of time year after year with its unparalleled ventilation, comfortable straps, and a full range of adjustable features||This simple pack combines comfort, volume, and price; it will take you anywhere and won’t break the bank||A durable, straightforward bag with all the right pockets and suspension that will keep your back, hips, and shoulders comfortable all day|
|Rating Categories||Mountain Hardwear P...||Gregory Deva 60||Osprey Aura AG 65||Osprey Renn 65||Ultralight Adventur...|
|Comfort and Suspension (45%)|
|Organizational systems (20%)|
|Specs||Mountain Hardwear P...||Gregory Deva 60||Osprey Aura AG 65||Osprey Renn 65||Ultralight Adventur...|
|Measured Weight||3.7 lbs||4.7 lbs||4.5 lbs||3.6 lbs||2.7 lbs|
|Volumes Available||50, 65 liters||60, 70 liters||50, 65 liters||50, 65 liters||68 liters|
|Organization Compartments||Lid, side pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment, daypack included||Lid, front pocket, hip belt pockets, 1 water bottle compartment, main compartment||Lid, front pocket, side pockets, dual front pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment||Lid, side pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment||Side pockets, front pocket, hip belt pockets, main compartment|
|Access||Top cinch, bottom u zip||Top, side, bottom||Top, side, bottom||Top, bottom||Top|
|Rain Cover Included||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Women's Specific Features||Women's specific fit||Slim profile and women’s-specific Response A3W Suspension||Women's specific fit||Women's specific fit||S-Curve Shoulder Straps|
|Sleeping bag Compartment||Optional divider||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Bear Can Compatible||Yes - Vertical||Yes - Vertical and Horizontal||Yes - Vertical||Yes - Vertical and Horizontal||Yes - Vertical|
|Main Materials||Recycled 210D ripstop shell, 500D CORDURA base||210D 40% Recycled Nylon & 420D 45% Recycled Nylon with PFC-Free DWR||Nylon||600D polyester||500 Cordura|
|Sizes Available||S/M, M/L||XS, S, M||XS, S, M||One size, with adjustable torso||S, M, L, XL, Kids|
Our Analysis and Test Results
What separates this pack from the rest is that it has lots of spacious pockets for all of your gear. It has two separate zippered chambers on the lid, seven total exterior pockets, and even an integrated daypack that comes off so that you can stay organized at camp. Even better, the PCT 65 is made entirely of Nylon (no mesh to be ripped here) which is a unique feature of a backpack with so many storage options.
Comfort and Suspension
For a pack with a large capacity meant to carry a heavy load, we found the PCT 65 to be lacking in comfort features. While the harness is a women's specific fit and is comfortable, the hip belt left us wanting more. It is small and thinly padded. The hip belt seems disproportionate to the rest of the heavily featured pack. Despite the small hip belt, the pack has some redeeming comfort qualities. The trampoline back panel provides nice ventilation and kept us from feeling what was in our packs which, made it a pretty comfy choice overall.
This metric is where the PCT shines; that is, if you like lots of compartments. One of our favorite features about this pack is that the hydration bladder pack is removable and actually turns into a daypack. It was nice not to have to schlep our whole backpack with us on short day hikes from camp or on missions to find water. The PCT also has two giant side pockets that can easily accommodate a water bottle and packable layer, which we appreciate.
One drawback to having lots of storage features is that the pack felt bulky and at times, the excessive pockets felt unnecessary, depending on what we packed. If you are bringing rope, a harness, and a helmet, there's plenty of room and the pockets are appreciated. But if you tend to pack a bit lighter, you might find all the compartments to be overkill.
At 4.2 pounds, the PCT isn't light, but it certainly isn't the heaviest pack on the market either. For the capacity, it feels like a bigger pack but doesn't come at the cost of additional weight. Lighter weight fabric generally sacrifices durability but cuts a few ounces. While this pack is made out of a heavier recycled 210-Denier ripstop shell and a 500-Denier Cordura base, it makes up for it by being very durable.
An average adjustability rating score was warranted for this pack. The frame is easy to adjust for multiple torso sizes just by moving the velcro harness, which we appreciated. But the hip belt is a fixed size, meaning it may not totally cradle your hips depending on your size and shape. We wish the hipbelt was adjustable, or at the least, a smidge bigger to accommodate more people.
The PCT comes with a steep price tag. The plus side is that you're paying for durability and longevity. And if you take trips in rugged environments, appreciate organized storage, and don't mind the hip belt, this might be the pack for you. If you want a more straightforward pack, you can probably get one at a lower price.
For the person who loves organization and takes trips in rugged backcountry places, the Mountain Hardwear PCT 65 could be your dream pack. It has lots of pockets, it stands out for its durability over many miles on the trail, and it feels like it has a bigger capacity than 65 liters. There's much to like about this hardwearing pack.
— Madison Botzet
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