Friday, December 1, 2023

Evaluate: Six Moon Designs Swift X Backpack

The Swift X is a extremely customizable light-weight backpack from Six Moon Designs. Made with both Liteskin or X-Pac materials, it has a most quantity of 56 L and ideas the scales wherever between 27 oz (0.8 kg) and 40 oz (1.1 kg), relying in your configuration of alternative. Since March 2020, I’ve logged over 2,000 miles (3,219 km) with the Swift X in quite a lot of testing environments, together with Mexico’s Sierra Madre, Northern Alaska, Greenland, and Lapland. Throughout this era, it’s develop into my pack of alternative for long-haul journeys by which I’m usually carrying heavy hundreds between 22 and 44 lbs (10-20 kg). 

The Swift X overview breaks down as follows: 1. At a Look; 2. Inner Storage; 3. Exterior Storage & Compression System; 4. Backpack Materials Choices; 5. Inner Body & Suspension System; 6. Sturdiness; 7. Suggestions & Notes, and; 8. Conclusion.

Climbing in direction of Dalimaloak Mountain with the Swift X throughout a multi-week trek via Alaska’s Brooks Vary (August 2021).

At a Look:

Worth (Jan.2023):  $350 / $375 (with vest harness)

Weight: 27 oz (frameless & common shoulder straps) to 40 oz (vest harness & hip belt)

Quantity: 56L Whole (Up to date Feb.2023 – 41L essential physique, 10L extension collar, 5L exterior pockets)

Pack Physique Materials: Liteskin LS21 or X-Pac VX21

Load Lifters: Sure

Closure: Roll-top with Y-strap and side-closing buckles.

Advised Use: Best for folk with base weights between 10 and 15 lbs (4.5-6.8 kg) and/or hikers with even decrease base weights which are heading out with greater than every week’s meals and/or two gallons (7.6 L) of water.

Most Weight Beneficial: In accordance with the SMD web site, the load score is 35 lbs (15.9 kg). In my expertise, this can be a barely conservative estimate (see Inner Storage and Sturdiness for particulars).

Yours actually on the Greenland Ice Cap – a not-to-be-missed supplemental part of the Arctic Circle Path (September 2022).

Inner Storage:

The SMD web site lists the interior storage quantity for the Swift X as 41L for the primary physique and 10L for the extension collar. So what’s that translate to out within the discipline? An instance of a regular load for the Swift X could be every week’s price of meals, a bear canister, a few liters of water, and all of the gear obligatory for a backpacking journey by which temps may probably drop all the way down to the mid-teens Fahrenheit (round -9°C) (Word: Primarily based on a base weight of between 10 and 15 lbs/4.5-6.8 kg)

So far as a most load is anxious, in 2021, I carried 16 days of meals (44 lbs/20 kg complete weight) within the Swift X for a hike in Alaska’s Brooks Vary. Suffice to say, the pack was crammed to the brim – truly just a little past – for the primary day or two. Nonetheless, due to its glorious suspension system, the pack rode as comfortably as I may have hoped for given the difficult terrain (Word: My base weight for this journey was round 11/12 lbs).

Bonus Characteristic: There’s a helpful inside pocket that may suit your pockets, passport, keys, and so forth., all of which I’ll usually place inside a small LokSak baggie.

Greg “Malto” Gressel together with his Swift X on Day 1 of our 7-day trek via Denali Nationwide Park (August 2021).

Exterior Storage & Compression System:

The 2023 Swift X has switched from normal mesh pockets on the aspect and entrance of the pack to UltraStretch materials. This can be a stable improve – the UltraStretch is significantly extra sturdy, which interprets to extra abrasion resistance and a decreased probability of snags/tears when rambling via overgrown environments. 

As for the exterior attachment system, the Swift X makes use of a twine system to compress and stabilize your load on the edges of the pack. The highest of the roll-top pack is secured with a y-strap and side-clipping buckles.

UltraStretch Pockets & Twine Compression System (Swift X/2023 Up to date mannequin)(Pictures – Six Moon Designs)

Backpack Materials Choices:

There are two selections – Liteskin (LS21) or X-Pac (VX21). They price the identical, and the weights are virtually similar. X-Pac is claimed to be marginally extra abrasion-resistant and waterproof than the Liteskin mannequin. That stated, over the previous three years, I’ve taken the Liteskin pack via a bunch of overgrown areas within the Sierra Madre and Alaska, and the fabric nonetheless appears to be like positive. Briefly, go along with whichever shade you want greatest (i.e., Liteskin is available in gray, whereas the X-Pac is offered in blue, black, and coyote brown).

(Word: Although each Liteskin and X-Pac are glorious for shedding H20, you must nonetheless line your pack with a trash compactor bag. The explanation? Water can seep via wherever there may be stitching/seams).

SMD Swift X on the island of Mykines, the westernmost level of the Faroe Islands (August 2022).

Inner Body & Suspension System:

Inner Body: A Derlin/fiberglass hoop keep that’s huge on the prime and tapers down on the base, the place it’s anchored to the lumbar space. The body’s tapered form helps promote air flow on the edges of the pack (helpful when climbing in muggy situations) with out sacrificing stability (Word: SMD refers to this as their “minimal contact again panel”).

Hip Belt:  The Swift X contains an adjustable and detachable two-tiered hip belt with standard-sized pockets that may match a telephone, snacks, or a small digicam.

Load Lifters:  Load lifters are largely superfluous for ultralight hundreds. Nonetheless, if you happen to’re constantly hauling over 20 lbs/9 kg (which you in all probability might be if you happen to’re buying the Swift X), giving them the occasional tweak might be useful in minimizing stress build-up in particular areas of your higher physique.

Shoulder Harness:  There are three selections: 1. Normal shoulder straps; 2. S-Curve shoulder straps, and; 3. Vest harness. I like to recommend going with the third possibility, which is fingers down the standout function of the Swift X.

The running-style vest harness affords a torso-hugging match which helps mitigate undesirable pack motion. The comfortable match is due to the vest’s six factors of suspension (or connection), which apportion the load on the prime, aspect, and backside on both sides of the pack. The superb weight distribution and glove-like really feel particularly shine when negotiating difficult situations corresponding to river fords, snowfields, tussocks, blowdowns, or scree slopes. The vest harness options twin sliding chest straps and helpful shoulder strap pockets, the place I normally hold objects corresponding to sunscreen, hand sanitizer, lip balm, and telephone.

Earlier than the Swift X, I hadn’t tried a running-style vest harness on something apart from a daypack. Nonetheless, after three years of utilizing it for prolonged journeys in difficult situations, I’ve develop into a convert. Certainly, I don’t foresee going again to common shoulder straps for backpacking journeys that embody constantly heavy carries anytime quickly (Word: For journeys on which my complete weight is usually beneath 20 lb/ 9 kg, I nonetheless favor a frameless backpack corresponding to my outdated favorites, the Mountain Laurel Designs Burn and Gossamer Gear Kumo).

Serial thru-hikers and long-time associates, Naomi Hudetz and Mike Unger, carrying Swift X packs on Washington’s Loowit Path (September 2021).


Double thumbs up. As alluded to above, I’ve logged over 2,000 miles (3,219 km) with the Swift X over the previous three years. A lot of this distance has been lined with hundreds over 33 lb (15 kg). The stitching and the Liteskin materials on the pack’s essential physique nonetheless look in nice form – simply the odd scuff mark from scraping in opposition to rocky surfaces. There have been a few small tears within the mesh pockets, however nothing that couldn’t be patched up out within the discipline (Word: I’ve the pre-November 2022 mannequin, which doesn’t have the UltraStretch materials for the pockets). 

Crossing the Skautflye plateau throughout a loop hike round Norway’s Jotunheimen Nationwide Park (September 2022).

Suggestions & Notes:

1.  When first utilizing the vest harness, the straps generally is a little fiddly. Word that not like with different packs, the adjustment comes from the underside up. Spend a while tweaking them till you discover what works for you. The setting will range in accordance with the kind of terrain you’re negotiating – uphill, downhill, flat, rugged off-trail, and so forth.

2. If you happen to’re heading out for a weekend journey in comparatively mellow terrain and your complete pack weight is lower than 20 lbs (9 kg), take into account eradicating the hip belt (6.5 oz/184 gr) or changing it with a easy little bit of webbing strap (1-2 oz). The vest harness ought to present all the soundness you’ll require for lowish pack weights.

3. There may be loads of room to suit a bear canister contained in the Swift X. Fill it together with your meals and/or different heavier objects, and place it above your sleeping bag in the course of your pack. “Can I strap it to the highest of the pack?” You could possibly, however you shouldn’t, as it may well probably hinder your stability/stability, notably when negotiating difficult terrain and/or river crossings. Certainly, if the peak of your pack is above your head, it’s typically an indication you’re carrying an excessive amount of stuff.

4. The Swift X is a thoughtfully-designed backpack made with high-end supplies. If you happen to fancy selecting one up, however the $350/375 price ticket is greater than you wish to spend, take into account its sibling, the Swift V. It’s principally the identical pack, made with more cost effective Robic nylon material.

5. I’ve at all times appreciated corporations that hearken to suggestions from people which have taken their gear via the backcountry wringer. Working example, Six Moon Designs. In early 2020, they gave me a Swift X once they heard I used to be heading as much as Alaska for a few lengthy hikes. They requested for my opinion on the pack’s efficiency when closely loaded in difficult situations. As you’ll have guessed if you happen to’ve learn the entire overview, my analysis was overwhelmingly optimistic. Nonetheless, I additionally had some small strategies, such because the addition of side-closing buckles and the enlargement of the inside pocket (particularly, so it may match passports), which they took on board and subsequently adopted (along with upgrading to a extra sturdy materials for the outside pockets). On a lighter word, I’ll have even channeled my inner-John Sweet and talked about that I’d wager “six bucks and my proper nut” that their earlier inside quantity figures of 38L for the primary physique and 6L for the extension collar had been a wee bit on the low aspect (Word: The present figures of 41L and 10L strike me as being a lot nearer to the mark).

Rambling via Gates of the Arctic/Brooks Vary, Alaska (August 2021).


In accordance with the SMD web site, the Swift X was “designed with thru-hiking in thoughts.” With its mixture of sturdiness, mild weight, excessive diploma of configurability, and carrying consolation when stuffed with heavy hundreds, I’d say they’ve hit the mark. Nonetheless, the Swift X additionally supplies a superb all-around possibility for infrequent backpackers and even people which are comparatively new to the game. Whether or not you’re heading out for an overnighter, a protracted weekend, or a week-long journey with associates, the chameleon-like Swift X might be custom-made to fit your wants.

Naomi Hudetz and her Swift X on California’s Redwood Creek Path (September 2021).

Comparable Light-weight Backpacks (w. inside body)

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Disclaimer: I used to be given the Swift X in early 2020 by the parents at SMD once they heard I used to be heading as much as Alaska. They requested for my suggestions on the pack, together with just a few images from the journey (each of which I offered). I used to be beneath no obligation to write down a overview, and the opinions expressed above are my very own.

Disclosure: This submit accommodates some affiliate hyperlinks, which suggests The Mountaineering Life receives a small fee if you buy an merchandise after clicking on one of many hyperlinks. This comes at no further price to the reader and helps to assist the web site in its persevering with objective to create high quality content material for backpackers and hikers. 


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