The Arc'teryx Altra 65 is a lightweight, durable and spacious hiking backpack with even weight distribution. The backpack uses load-transfer discs for increased flexibility and comfort. It comes with a lifetime warranty and high praise for responsive customer service. It's pricier than competing models, but many reviewers say it's worth it. It also comes in 35-, 50-, 75- and 85-liter sizes.
You get what you pay for. The Arc'teryx Altra 65 is widely considered one of the best packs on the market. At just 5 pounds, this is a relatively lightweight pack for its size. "Comfort originates in a slightly flexible framesheet with 6005-T6 extruded aluminum stays that provide plenty of rigidity to support loads up to around 50 pounds," says Michael Lanza of TheBigOutside.com.
The pack utilizes what are called load-transfer discs, which allow the hip belt to swivel in order to distribute the weight of the load evenly. While many find this very effective, one user on Backpacker.com found the discs annoying, saying, "The swiveling hip support SQUEAKED the entire time. With EVERY step it squeaked. Constant complaints from co-hikers." The packs suspension is considered its most prominent feature. It uses a peg-in-hole GridLock shoulder adjustment system that allows hikers to fine-tune the pack's fit.
Easy access. Most users agree that the Arc'teryx Altra 65 is easy to pack and to access. One review on GetOutsideMore.com said, "The bag is a wizard with regard to packing and all the different access points you can actually use to pack it." The pack's main compartment is accessible through a U-shaped zipper. This is one of the bags main selling points, although some users say they could live without it. "Most experienced packers don't need mid-day access to the main compartment; they'll put the stuff they might need in the lid or kangaroo pouch," said one review on GraniteMountaineer.com. What's more, getting to the main compartment means unclipping eight buckles, which can be a hassle.
Some users complain that the hydration pouch is too small and inconvenient. As one person on Backpacker.com wrote, "The only problem I have with it is that the hydration pocket is ridiculously narrow … and it's on the right side of the pack, rather than along the back panel."
Leaky zipper. The U-shaped zipper to the main compartment on the Arc'teryx Altra 65 is convenient, but reviewers say it's less than watertight. However, many owners are more than satisfied with the pack's rugged durability. While there are more durable materials on some competing bags, they are significantly heavier.
A life on the trails. The Arc'teryx Altra 65 has a lifetime warranty. Many people praise Arc'teryx for their excellent customer service. "I feel lucky to be able to deal with a company of such high caliber," says one owner posting at BackpackingLight.com.
Review Credibility: Excellent Ian Nicholson, editor at OutdoorGearLab.com, extensively tested nearly a dozen hiking backpacks in a comparison test for five months. Of the 11 packs, he named the Arc'teryx the best overall. He based his review on pros, cons, weight, comfort and several other important factors.
Review: Arc'teryx Altra 65 Review, Ian Nicholson, Nov. 9, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Backpacker.com chose the Arc'teryx Altra as its editor's choice for 2010. The video review, by contributing editor John Harlin, offers some good insight, illustrating the pack's storage options and accessibility. His bottom line is that you can "carry the biggest loads with shocking comfort with this backpack that loads like a suitcase." User opinions on the video provide useful insight from people who have extended experience with the pack.
Review: Editors' Choice 2010: Arc'teryx Altra Backpack, John Harlin, Not dated
Review Credibility: Very Good GetOutsideMore.com reviews the Arc'teryx Altra 65 pack, highlighting many of the bag's features like its adjustable pegboard (peg-in-hole) adjustment and rotating hip strap. The review is highly positive, with no cons listed. Ultimately, the reviewer concludes, it's one amazing piece of gear.
Review: Review- Arc'teryx Altra 65 Backpack, Editors of GetOutsideMore.com, May 18, 2010
Review Credibility: Very Good This comprehensive review compares the Arc'teryx Altra to the Arc'teryx Bora. After picking both bags apart the reviewer comes to the conclusion the few drawbacks of the Altra are more than made up for in weight reduction and comfort features.
Review: Review: Altra vs. Bora, Editors at GraniteMountaineer.com, July 15, 2010
Review Credibility: Good Gear:30 is a blog mostly dedicated to the review of gear personally tested on excursions. Greg Reynolds' review of the Arc'teryx Altra 65 goes into some essential details and provides plenty of pictures. Reynolds gives the pack 4.5 stars out of 5.
Review: Arc'teryx Altra 65 Backpack Review, Greg Reynolds, May 2, 2012
Review Credibility: Good Michael Lanza's review is brief yet informative. He explains what he found useful about the bag during his time with it. It provides the reader with an informative source to use when deciding to purchase the pack.
Review: Gear Review: Arc'teryx Altra 65 Backpack, Michael Lanza, March 1, 2013
Review Credibility: Good While this forum does not deal directly with the Arc'teryx Altra 65, it does provide quite a bit of useful information from customers explaining their personal experiences with the company. As far as customer service goes, there was nothing but praise for Arc'teryx.
Review: Arcteryx Customer Service, Contributors to BackpackingLight.com, As of March 2013