A Guide’s Review of the Ortovox Traverse 40

A Guide’s Review of the Ortovox Traverse 40

Hiking in Switzerland’s Valais with the Ortovox Traverse 40

Ortovox continues its winning backpack streak with the Traverse 40. A capable and comfortable 40L trekking pack with all the necessities. Side pockets, a kangaroo pocket, a floating lid, load lifters, hip pockets that close with one hand, and a back pad that looks like it’s part of a sci-fi outfit. Read on to see what we thought of the Ortovox Traverse 40 after nearly two seasons of guiding with it. 


  • Material: Polyamide 210 D ROBIC: 72% recycled Polyamide + 28% virgin Polyamide
  • Weight: 1295 grams
  • Days Worn: 50 plus
  • Country of Origin: Vietnam

What is the Ortovox Traverse 40 designed for?

The Ortovox Traverse 40 packed out in Switzerland

The Ortovox Traverse 40 is a backpack designed for year-round use in the mountains. It is suggested that it is, “best suited to multi-day tours that require a good deal of equipment,”. Owing to its feature set, I’d call it an ideal three-season hiking and trekking pack. That’s what has made it such a great guiding pack. I’m able to fit extra layers, spare food, and water, as well as a large first-aid kit and tarp easily into this bad boy. I can even help out a guest or two who over judged their ability to carry gear. You don’t really need to carry a copy of the Iliad on a day hike, Fred. 

What are you Traversing?

A traverse is hiking point-to-point, often from one valley to the next but can easily be from one mountain range to another. These are some of the most popular treks in the Alps, so it’s only fitting that Ortovox would make a pack well suited to traversing mountains. Arguably the most popular of these treks, at least for Germans, is the E5. Beginning in the Allgäu region of Bavaria, the trail goes through Austria first before ending in the beautiful Italian town of Meran.  The Ortovox Traverse 40 is perfectly suited for this. It holds enough gear that you can spend 6 days on the trail hut-to-hut without having to skimp. If you are an over-packer, that doesn’t matter either. The frame is robust and I definitely overfilled a few times without any noticeable change in comfort. 

If you want more info on the E5 trail, head on over to Tyrol.com for more info. If you’re interested in hiking it, let us know, too! 

Breaking down the Ortovox Traverse 40

In order for a pack to be versatile, it has to cover a lot of bases. The Ortovox Traverse 40 does that in spades. In order to get through all the details this pack has to offer I’m going to break it down into several sections: Materials, The Brain, Internal Storage, External Storage, the Waist Belt, Shoulder Straps, and the back pad. 


The Ortovox Traverse 40 is made with 210 D Robic Polyamide. 72% of the material used is recycled and 100% of it contains no environmentally harmful per- or polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). Not only that, the Ortovox Traverse was manufactured under fair working conditions in conformity with Fair Wear Foundation. To further Ortovox’s commitment to lessening the impact on the environment, the construction of this bag is climate neutral, in fact, by 2023 their entire product line will be climate neutral. https://www.ortovox.com/de-en/ortovox/protact/climate-protection

The material itself looks much like a traditional ripstop. Small knitted squares interlace each other and have the typical handfeel and look of ripstop.

The Brain / Lid

The Ortovox Traverse 40 has a semi-floating brain. It adjusts in height on both sides. First, via the front clasps. The length of the straps on the back can also be adjusted but cannot be detached. There is a large flap that keeps the lid attached to the back pad. The flap helps keep the lid sit square on the backpack but also retains any items at the top of the pack when it is fully extended.   

This is a rather large brain. There is no official size listed on the brain but I would say it holds at least 3-4 liters. Inside is a key holder. On the underside of the lid is a small zippered storage pocket that would hold a map or notebook easily.  There is also a small clear pocket that holds Ortovox’s Emergency card. It contains instructions on how to signal a helicopter,  how to signal S.O.S, and how to conduct the “Alpine Emergency Signal,” aka the Alpine Distress Signal.  There is space on the card to write your name and address should you misplace your pack.

Internal Storage

The Draw String opening of the 40L compartment

This is where the 40 in Traverse 40 earns its name. The main compartment of the Traverse 40 is 40 liters. That said, there is a small bonus packet at the bottom of the bag. You could store a small sleeping bag, or your rain gear on the bottom for quick access. That said, quick access is not a problem with this pack. 

On the front of the pack is a massive two-way “J” shaped zipper that opens the pack in almost its entirety. This is by far my favorite part of this pack. I often keep my tarp at the very bottom and then my first-aid kit just above. If I need emergency access to my kit, this zipper gives it to me in about one second. 

The Massive J Zipper on the pack fully opens the Traverse 40

Against the back pad is a pocket for a water bladder. Directly above the pocket is a hole to put the hose through the back pad. Thanks to the port being in the middle of the pack you can easily route the hose either left or right. 

At the very bottom of the bag, tucked right underneath the back pad, is the rain cover. It is removable via a small clip and is a contrasting bright green. 

External Storage

Both sides of the pack have matching compression straps that can lash down whatever is long enough to fit. On the left side of the pack is a bright orange elastic. This is to hold the tips of poles that have been stashed on the side of the bag, 

Below these straps are massive stretch pockets. They hold a 1 liter Nalgene with ease. Unfortunately, I managed to rip one of the pockets. My G3 Pivot Trek poles are not long enough when collapsed to reach past the elastic pockets. On a particularly tough trail on the Tour du Mont Blanc I managed to put the tip of my pole through the elastic. It has lasted another season without getting worse. I chalk this up to user error. I have not done any “bush bashing” with the pack to see how it holds up to that kind of abuse. I feel the only thing that could get at it would be super thorny bushes. 

On the left side of the pack, between the side bottle pocket and the kangaroo pocket is a small zipper. Open it up and there is an integrated helmet net. 

Above the kangaroo pocket is a small map pocket. In reality, I used this pocket for wallet storage. I tend to fold my map and then keep it in the lid of the pack. 

The Waist Belt

The waist buckle and the left side hip pocket

The waist belt on the Ortovox Traverse 40 is comfortably broad and well padded. Standing …cm at its broadest. It features the same padding that is on the back pad but the center is hollowed out presumably to keep contact to a minimum and lessen sweating. Adjustment of the hip belt is at the sides rather than the traditional adjustment at the buckle in the middle.  I find this way better as I can truly tighten the belt when the pack is overfilled. There are elastic keeps to prevent the excess webbing from flapping around. 

There are large zippered pockets on both sides of the waist belt. They are easily opened and closed with one hand and are bellowed to allow plenty of space for whatever you want, barring a cell phone. I normally keep some sweets or my Ventolin in the right side pocket. I dedicated the left side to small litter I find on the trail.  

Shoulder Straps 

The front of the shoulder straps and the chest strap and the stowable material loops

The shoulder straps on the Ortovox Traverse 40 have a nice subtle curve to them. They sit square on your shoulders rather than canted thanks to a generously wide yoke. The shoulder straps are lined with, what can be best described as, a webbed material overlaying padding. It is a little rough to the touch but this does not translate to the strap being uncomfortable or adding to war on your clothing, it translates to durability.  Below the webbing is padding that has remained comfortable and distortion-free through all my use. 

The load lifters on the shoulder straps do a great job of keeping the weight close to your back. In two seasons of use, the shoulder straps have not slid at all. Working farther down the pack there is a sliding chest strap that has a built-in emergency whistle. 

Below the chest strap are stowable material loops made of a plasticized orange webbing. They can be pulled to extend to accommodate things like carabiners or perhaps a headlamp. They can be easily pushed back to stow them away. Though at times I had some accessory carabiners attached to the webbing, I never actually attached anything to them.

The Backpad

The Ortovox Traverse 40 features the Comfort Contact Back System. This entails five pods placed throughout the back pad to provide support while still allowing for airflow. Each pod is covered by the same webbed material that the shoulder straps and waist belt are made of. Under this material is the same foam but it is now ribbed providing support while minimizing contact with your back. The theory with this design is to allow for airflow between the pods and thus keep your back cooler. 

Stitched inside the back pad is what feels like a stiff layer of board. It does quite well at transferring the weight to the hip belt while still providing a little bit of lateral flex for the wearer.  

How does the Ortovox Traverse Carry?

The Ortovox Traverse 40 handles large load-outs very well. I was honestly surprised at this considering the lack of a traditional frame. I have overstuffed the pack more than I care to think about and have not noticed any additional load on my shoulders. It handles 20 to even thirty pounds without so much as a whimper.  

The flexible back pad allowed the pack to move with me whenever I had to twist and use my hands on tougher sections of the trail. 

The waist belt was one of my favorite features of this pack. It tightens down well and holds well all day with zero slipping. There are no excessive pressure points while carrying a lot of gear, either. The width of the straps distributed weight evenly and comfortably and held well when worn over slippery material such as a rain jacket. Having dual hip belt pockets was great as I was able to keep 


There are lower volume Traverse Packs packs available (30 and 20 liters) if you are looking for a smaller bag as well as shorter back lengths; the 18s, 28s, and 38s. If you aren’t keen on having to use a rain cover or spend a lot of time in wet climes then perhaps you should check out the Traverse 30 Dry which is made of Polyamide 420 D TPU and has a 50,000mm water column rating. 


The Ortovox Traverse punches above its weight. Admittedly, 1.3kg is not the lightest pack on earth, but the bag carries well and is so feature-rich, that it really doesn’t matter. My must-have, the Kangaroo pocket, easily holds wet rain pants and a jacket with room to spare. 

The dual hip belt pockets were great as I was able to keep essentials on one side and use the other to pick up litter on the side of the trail. They distributed the weight of the pack comfortably and held fast.

Really, the Piece de Resistance is the gigantic zipper on the front of the pack. No matter how poorly I packed, and believe me I have days where I throw a lot in willy-nilly, I can find whatever I want in a split moment. I almost always pack my tarp at the bottom. It lives there all summer long as I usually need it once a summer. This year we got hit with a cold front. There was no light drizzle warning. It was dry and then it was a monsoon. I had my tarp out in less than a second (no, that doesn’t include set-up) without having to take anything else out.

The large zipper opening on the front of the pack negated the need to separate items in the main compartment and therefore I never found much use for the bottom pocket of the pack. Unless you need ultimate weather protection (then look at the Traverse Dry) or are counting every gram, the Ortovox Traverse should be on your short list for your next hiking pack.

Pros: Really comfortable, carries weight well, and perhaps the best zipper access of any pack on the market. 

Cons: Due to all the bells and whistles, it’s not for weight weenies. 


If you are interested in checking out the Ortovox Traverse 40, smash the link and pick one up!

Looking for more Ortovox gear we have reviewed, check out the Brenta Shorts, Haute Route pack or the Piz Boe jacket.

Black Sheep Adventure sports was provided with a free Ortovox Traverse 40 pack to test. This in no way affected our opinion and review of the jacket.