Arcteryx Altra 50 Backpack Review

July 2, 2013
Arcteryx Altra 50 Backpack

The Good

  • Lightweight
  • Lid access on the top and side
  • Zippered deep side pockets add to storage options
  • Large outer dump pocket

The Bad

  • No integrated rain cover
  • No straps on bottom of pack for exterior storage
  • Comfort is minimized with heavier loads

The Arcteryx Altra 50 is a medium volume backpack that encompasses several modern upgrades. It performs well in comparison to other backpacks in this category in terms of weight, organization and comfort.


The Arcteryx Altra 50 is on the cutting edge with storage and organizational features.  The lid provides two large zippered openings, one on the top of the lid, so you can unzip the lid like a suitcase and see the interior without fear of the contents falling out.

The Altra comes with two zippered side pockets that are quite different than the normal side stretch pockets. They are deep enough to easily hold a 1-liter water bottle, provide easy on-the-go access and full protection when zipped. They also serve well for a variety of storage and organizational options.

The Altra also comes with a large outer dump pocket that contains top access and front zipper access and even contains an interior zippered pocket. It provides access to the main compartment from the normal top entry point, along with access via large side zippers on both sides of the pack. This made packing and interior access very easy.

The Altra does not come with straps on the bottom of the pack where you might want to carry a sleeping pad, tent, water shoes, or other items. I would have liked the flexibility of this option.

Hip Belt
The Altra incorporates a thin and lightweight air mesh foam in the hip-belt, which wraps well around the hips and provides good comfort with light to medium loads. When carrying loads in the 40-pound range, I found the hip belt was not as comfortable as I would have hoped and found myself wishing that it was a bit thicker. The hip belt provides adequate lumbar suppor and is easy to adjust both on the front and on the sides.  

Backpanel/Shoulder Straps
The shoulder straps are comfortable despite the lightweight feel and padding. They shoulder straps are easy to adjust and provide good comfort when carrying loads up to 35 pounds. The back panel, which is curved contains no padding, but does provide good airflow, although not as good as other packs in this category.

The Altra 50 performs well and is very stable in carrying loads in the 30- to 35-pound range, even on the occasional scramble. It did begin to float and slide on my hips with loads in the 40-pound range. 

Overall Comfort
The Altra 50 is a very comfortable pack when used with loads up to 35 pounds. While light-weight, the shoulder straps and hip belt provided good comfort, along with adding a wrap around feel. The super lightweight frame also added to the overall comfort.

The backpack proved very tough and durable in a variety of rough terrain and handled foul weather very well. It sustained no damage and still looked like new after numerous trips in very rugged and tough backpacking conditions.


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