Review: Patagonia Altvia Pack
Patagonia has been making legendary outdoor gear for quite some time. Notable for their skiing and climbing gear, for summer 2021 Patagonia brought out their new hiking line, called Altvia. We were lucky enough to test their great new Altvia pack in 36L L/XL on some legendary trails in the Alps this summer and found it to be a lightweight rugged gear hauler.
- Shell: 4-oz 140-denier 100% recycled nylon ripstop
- Boot: 4.1-oz 210-denier 100% recycled nylon ripstop
- Rain cover: 2.2-oz 100% recycled polyester taffeta
- All with a PU coating and a PFC-free DWR finish (durable water repellent coating that does not contain perfluorinated chemicals)
- Back panel and straps: 100% polyester mesh
- Stretch-mesh pockets: 9.4-oz 66% nylon/34% spandex
- Lining: 3-oz 200-denier 100% recycled polyester with a PU coating
- Color: Noble Grey
- Sizes Available: 14, 22, 28, 36L in S/M and L/XL
- Size Tested: 36L L/XL
- Compartments: 8
- Weight: 992 grams
- Country of Origin: Vietnam
What is Altvia?
Altvia is a play on the Italian words, Alta Via. Directly translated from Italian, Alta Via means High Road. Similar to the famous trek that goes from Chamonix to Zermatt, the Haute Route. There are lots of “high roads” in Europe, but the Alta Via Uno in the Dolomites is one of the most well-known, and for good reason. The views are stunning, the huts cozy and the food, outstanding. Who wouldn’t want to hike in the Dolomites and the Patagonia Altvia 36L is perfectly suited to the task.
What is the Altvia Pack 36L?
The 36L Altvia Pack is a hiking and trekking pack designed for hut-to-hut trips or for when you need to be able to carry a little extra that you cannot fit into the smaller size packs of the Altvia line. The Patagonia Altvia pack comes in two colors, Abalone Blue and Noble Grey. It comes in two back lengths, S/M (16 to 19″ torso length) and L/XL (19″ – 21″) as well as four volumes, 14, 22, 28, and 36 liters. We tested the 36L pack in Noble Grey in L/Xl.
What are the features of the Altvia Pack 36L?
The Patagonia Altvia pack is well built for hiking adventures. It has a lot of subtle and durable features that help make this pack well suited for long days on the trail. Let’s take a look at what makes up the Altvia pack starting at the top and working our way down.
The Brain aka the Lid
The lid is fully attached and non-floating. It is very similar to the ever-popular Patagonia Descenionist that we previously reviewed. The lid forms part of the main compartment meaning the opening drawstring runs through the front edge of the lid and around the main compartment. Undo the buckle that latches the lid down, grab the clip and lift up. It’s incredibly simple.
The simplicity of the opening is part of the appeal of this bag but also makes it a little tricky to pack. As the lid is part of the main compartment opening, you can never let it fall over the back and dig in the main compartment. Why? As the lid flips back, it pulls the main compartment opening with it, half closing it. It’s certainly not a deal-breaker, but something to be aware of.
Just inside the lid is a keychain clip. The pocket is large and semi-pyramidal in shape. It’s large enough to hold sunglasses, PLB, battery bank, map, and a little more.
The Main Compartment
The main compartment of the Patagonia Altvia pack we tested is 36 liters and holds a lot of gear. It should be enough for most people on an overnight hike in the alps or for ultralight hikers. I normally use 40L packs when guiding and didn’t notice the 4L difference. The brain of the main compartment opens with a single pull drawstring. The lid is an integral part of the opening so by pulling back on the lid, the compartment opens.
Inside, against the back pad are two pockets, the biggest of which is a sleeve for a water bladder. The bladder attaches via a velcro strap rather than the traditional buckle found on most other packs. Thanks to the velcro attachment I never had a problem attaching my 2L Hydrapak water bladder and the velcro has never come undone.
Attached to the top of the back pad is a small zippered pocket. It’s akin to what would normally be on the underside of the lid. I use it to hold important things I would not need quick access to but want to separate from the main load such as my passport and vaccine cards.
On each side of the main compartment are two compression chords. One ⅓ of the way up from the bottom and the other about ½ way up. They attach to gear loops and serve to compress the pack and at the same time hold items on the side of the pack such as poles. I would have loved to see a higher set of gear loops as well for a little more adjustability with next to no weight penalty. There are two shock cords on each side to hold hiking poles.
The back panel of the Patagonia Altvia pack is covered in Regulator Airmesh. This is a suspended mesh panel that is attached on all four sides of the back panel and essentially floats in the middle.
Under the suspended mesh panel sits a ribbed foam. The ribs serve to minimize contact between the wearer’s back and the back pad itself and allow for more airflow. In reality, it felt as though the back panel was flat because the padding was so soft that it flexed until there was full contact. The back pad was never too hot though, so perhaps I am overthinking it.
When worn with a water bladder you can feel the bladder and squishiness of the water through the back pad, it is that soft and pliable. With running packs, I can often feel the temperature of the water, cold at the beginning of the day and warm by the end thanks to my body temperature. That was not so with the Altvia. It insulated me from the water quite well.
The back shape is slightly tear-dropped, meaning the top is broader than that bottom. This reflects the fact most folks have wider shoulders than they do waists.
Two thin metal rods are stitched into both sides of the pack. These rods are the frame of the Altvia pack. They are lightweight and do an adequate job of dispersing the load of the pack onto the waist belt. This is a 36L pack so remember, it’s not designed to haul bricks so a lightweight frame is appropriate and appreciated. It carried well with loads up to 25lbs and I wouldn’t want to pack much more than that in this bag. I also wouldn’t want to carry much more than that, period.
The shoulder straps begin with a mid-wide yolk attachment to the back panel at the top of the pack. Some packs start with a narrow yolk and this results in the shoulder straps sitting on your neck. This is not so with the Patagonia Altvia Pack. Load lifters help transfer the load and keep the pack close to you.
The straps are made with Patagonia’s Regulator® Airmesh shoulder straps. They are, simplified, a perforated foam strap covered in the same mesh that covers the back panel. The straps breathe quite well and are quite comfortable. When you do soak them with sweat, they dry quite quickly due to their airy nature.
There are two cross straps on each strap to hold gear. I attached my carnet to one and a shoulder-mounted water bottle holder to the other.
The chest strap mounts via a daisy chain on each shoulder strap. The strap is easy to remove and adjust, though not as easy as a slider. On one attachment there is a small hook for your water bladder hose. A bonus of the daisy chain is that you can hook other accessories, such as a phone or bottle holder, to the daisy chain.
The hip belt is not a very wide one, narrower than those I normally prefer. That said, its soft nature made it very comfortable. It is made of the same Regulator Airmesh that the shoulder straps are made of. There are stretch mesh pockets on both sides but bear in mind, they are very small. With the pack on, I could barely squeeze in my Ventolin inhaler. Patagonia suggests the pockets are for securing small items while on the move, and I emphasize the word small. At most, you can squeeze in a few Ricola for fresh breath on the trail.
The padding of the hip belt is incredibly comfortable. There is no stiffness at all and it transfers weight well. The hip belt is secured and tightened via a simple plastic buckle.
On both sides of the Patagonia Altvia pack, there are durable stretch mesh pockets. They stretch easily to accommodate a Nalgene bottle or similar-sized items. Of course, if you pack the main compartment too much it will take some of the ability to stuff the side pockets away.
On the front of the pack is a large kangaroo pocket. Unlike the side pockets, the Kangaroo pocket is made of a 210 denier ripstop recycled nylon. It is a stiffer and far tougher material that stood up to good abuse. This is also the same material that the boot, or bottom of the pack, is made of.
The Kangaroo pocket easily accommodates a rain jacket and pants and feature a drain hole at the bottom that does double duty. It also houses a longer closure chord. If the kangaroo pocket is overstuffed and must be closed to the main body of the pack then simply pull out the extension cord from the kangaroo pocket and plug it into the lid.
What if it Rains?
The Patagonia Altvia has a DWR coating that does a good job of shedding light precipitation. An attached rain cover tucked under the boot into a small pocket is there for rainier days. The pocket closes with velcro and the rain cover attaches via a buckle so it is removable.
The Patagonia Altvia Pack was a great addition to my summer gear. It is light and comfortable. I appreciated the toughness of the fabric. The Patagonia Altvia stood up to the more rugged than usual trails I went on this year and show little wear for this.
The back pad, though softer than I am used to, was not hot at all. It conformed to my back kind of like a glove, though the feeling of the water bladder was always a little unusual. This wasn’t uncomfortable, just unusual, and went away once the bladder was no longer full.
The back length of the L/XL was appropriately long although for me though for taller readers you’ll want to check the length of the back pad for yourself. I would also like to see bigger hip pockets, perhaps ones that I could put my phone in. I don’t like having to hike with my phone in my pocket and like to have it handy yet tucked away.
Overall this is a great hiking pack that would be a good addition to anyone’s hiking gear collection.
Pros: Rugged and lightweight. Carries weight well.
Cons: Pockets on the hip belt are far too small. The main compartment and lid are a little tricky at first.
If you are interested in checking out the Altvia PAck 36L head on over to Patagonia and check them out!
Black Sheep Adventure sports was provided with a free Patagonia Altvia PAck 36L to test. This in no way affected our opinion and review of the hat.