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Reader Reviews

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Montbell Versalite

in Backpacks - External Frame

Average Rating
3.20 / 5 (5 reviews)

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Brett .
( Brett1234 )

Montbell Versalite on 04/30/2007 07:24:38 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 1 / 5

Edit: Took the 50 liter pack on a 3 day alpine trip with a friend. Pack load was about 10 to 12 lbs. The waist belt failed where the buckle strap joins the padded hip extension. Upon further examination I could see the strap was sewn only to the doubled nylon surrounding the pad, not to any structural member (no box stiches, etc...)
This is very poor design, and 'light weight' is no excuse. MB could have easily ran the nylon waist strap a little farther into the padded portion of the waist belt.
As a side note, I own the 20 liter version; it is durable and a great day pack, but regarding the 50 liter version, my opinion is do not buy this pack.
waist strap failure

Preliminary review.
I own a 20Liter and have in my posession a 50Liter Short Versalite. This review is for the 50. It is quite light at about 1KG, and has a compression lacing system in lieu of compression straps. These actually work better, since they compress the entire pack along its length.
The suspension is VERY comfortable and cushy. This is where Montbell spent most of their weight budget, and it shows.. or rather, feels. This is a preliminary review, and I only carried the pack around for an hour or so with about 30lbs. It is equal in comfort to my two Granite Gear packs. Similar to those packs, it uses an internal plastic frame to distribute load down to the hips.
More info to follow after an actual trip; this is a friend's pack, so most info will be second hand.
please rotate your monitor :)

Edited by Brett1234 on 05/05/2007 09:06:09 MDT.

David Heiss
( djheiss )
Great pack but few reviews on 05/01/2007 21:03:41 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I don't yet own this pack but have spent some time walking around the store wearing one (Versalite 50, Large size). It seems to ride comfortably, has a nice streamlined design, and with a lid pocket plus two side pockets that you can actually use for water bottles, that alone puts it quite high on my wish list. I know there are lighter packs out there, but at 2.5 lbs for the large it is a contender for me. The GG Vapor Trail is the other contender (I own a GG Precipice now). I am looking forward to hearing more about the Versalite's performance in the field.

Edited by djheiss on 05/01/2007 21:06:02 MDT.

Arapiles .
( Arapiles - M )

Not tried in the field but ... on 05/02/2007 15:11:35 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

I tried this pack on in the store when they first came out in Japan last year. I love the look and features but like a lot of the Mont Bell packs I found the straps rubbed on my neck/shoulder muscles - the straps just weren't set wide apart enough for me - but to be fair, I have a big neck.

Rating on the basis of this alone is a bit dodgy, so I'd defer to Brett's amended score above.

Edited by Arapiles on 05/13/2007 16:39:57 MDT.

Andrea Imler
( granite )

Initial Outlook = Very Good on 07/10/2007 18:55:39 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I had originally bought the Vapor Ki, wore it around REI for about an hour while oogling at stuff.

Then I went to another shop where they had the Versalite (short). Loaded it with equal weight (30 pounds) and immediately noticed how it held the weight 10x better than the Vapor Ki. It does weight 8 ounces more, but for me, that 8 ounces will mean less tugging at my neck, like the Vapor Ki was doing.

I have yet to field test it and hope that the hipbelt strap problem isn't a universal flaw with the pack...we shall see. I'll update my review when it gets a round of field testing in.


I returned from an 8-day backpacking trip in the North Cascades this past week where I was able to thoroughly test out the Versalite 50.

For starters, I'll mention that both myself and my boyfriend were using the Versalite 50. Since I had read the previous review about the hip belt failing at the sew point, I added extra stitching myself. However, my boyfriend, Todd, declined to add stitching. NEITHER of us had any problems with the hip belt's connection to the backpack. I have to say that it appears as though the sew job could fail, but there is an easy fix (add stitches, like I did). I don't think this should deter folks from purchasing the pack.

As for how it handled on day 1 of the 8 day trip...I had a little over 30 pounds in my pack. Todd had more like 35-40 (those dang snacks and cameras that we won't compromise weigh so much, plus we shared weight for 3 people). Both of us agree that the weight in the packs was on the verge of being too much, but the Versalite performed much better than other packs I've tried with a heavier load. Plus, day 1 is always the heaviest, so we knew the minimal discomfort would be gone soon.

One of the best components of the Versalite 50 is the single carbon/aluminum stay. You can mold the plastic framesheet with stay to your back, which is a lot more versatility than most lightweight backpacks. And it helped me tremendously. I'm not huge (5'2", 110 pounds) so finding a pack that fits is always difficult.

Someone noted that they did not feel that the pack would be big enough for a larger load...I'd have to say, actually, that it does. Although Todd carried the tent (MSR Missing Link), I could have fit it into the pack - the neck on the Versalite will extend quite a bit, along with the hood.

Cons of the pack...the shoulder straps could potentially be too narrow for folks with big, broad shoulders. However, I found that if you don't use the sternum strap (or keep it loose) and if you tighten your pack properly (doing the waist belt first, then bending over and pulling the shoulder straps and load lifters) you can get a snug fit that doesn't pinch your shoulders.

The only other con would be that the hydration pocket is a bit tight, depending on what type of system you use.

All in all, I highly recommend the pack. I'm sure it isn't for everyone (not everyone needs a solid harness/waist belt system, but my neck tells me otherwise), but out of all of the lightweight packs I've tried (REI, Granite Gear, GoLite) I like the Versalite the most.

By day 8 my load was 15 pounds at the very most(including 1.5 liters of water and food for the last day) and I felt as though I had nothing on my back.

I'm curious to test the pack out on a shorter trip now with just the two of us, instead of carrying weight for 3 people over 8 days.

Edited by granite on 08/18/2007 10:54:22 MDT.

Dave Heiss
( DaveHeiss )

Pacific Northwest
Still not many reviews on the 50 on 08/13/2007 17:37:22 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

Andrea - I'm looking forward to your opinions on the Versalite 50. I've still got that pack on my short list, and hope you can provide some input on its comfort and functionality. My only concern to-date is its capacity. 3050 cubic inches may be a bit tight for my longer trips, but for 3-day weekends it would probably be ideal.

Shop Andrea, Versalite products at GearBuyer

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