Mont Backcountry in action in Tasmania

About a year ago, I picked up one of the new Mont Backcountry 80L backpacks. I’ve now been lucky enough to take it on a couple of bushwalks and give it a proper test run: Nine days in South-West Tassie and four days in the Blue Mountains.

I’ve been using Mont rucksacks for many years, so when they brought out a whole new version of the Moto-Active harness, I thought I’d better test it out on my upcoming South Coast Track walk.

Whenever a brand brings out a new harness, I am always pretty sceptical. I secretly think they’ve just changed the look a bit so that they have something new to show off. So I set off on my nine-day bushwalk without thinking too much about the pack.

We had a very enjoyable walk on the beautiful Tasmanian coastline. I spent most of the trip hiding the suspicion that my pack was lighter than everyone else’s.

It was only on the last day of this Tasmanian coastline walk that the moment of truth came – I swapped packs with one of the other members of the party. Lucky I didn’t do it earlier! It was immediately obvious to both of us that my pack was far superior. Although my pack was 3–4 kilos heavier, it was much more pleasant to carry than the older model Mont pack.

I think the hip belt is the key. The new Backcountry really seems to lock onto your hip bones as you tighten it up. The shoulder straps are very nice as well, but it’s really all about the hip belt.

Notable Features

  • Having used a single-compartment pack for years, I was surprised to find the bottom zipper quite handy when setting up camp at the end of a long day crossing the Ironbound range.
  • The front mesh pocket was useful for my wet thongs and towel after a dip in the Southern Ocean.
  • The side water bottle pockets are the only ones I’ve used where I can actually get the bottle back in without someone else’s assistance.

  • Other Features

    Of course, all the other features are as you would expect from a Mont product. Materials and construction are absolutely top-notch, and there is a long list of features.

  • Canvas construction
  • Removable lid
  • Large expandable front pocket
  • 2 double bottle pockets on the side

  • Drawbacks

    The lid is extendible upwards for the purpose of increasing the volume of the pack or removing the lid. For some reason the buckles have a tendency to come loose over time in warm conditions, meaning the lid flops forward a bit.

    The drawcord at the mouth of the pack seems to be a bit stiff in its sleeve.

    Size Options

    I am 185cm (6ft) tall and I fit a Medium Backcountry, which Mont quotes at 80 litres. There is also some expansion capacity in the top of the pack, and the expandable gusseted front pocket can carry up to 10 litres as well. This is a large volume pack, perfect for long bushwalks of a week or more.

    If you are taller or have lower hips than me, you can go for the Large Backcountry, which is 85 litres.

    If all that sounds a bit too big, you can look at the Mont Escape, which is 70 litres for the Medium, or 75 litres Large. This is a great size for 3–4 day bushwalks, and you still have the option to expand it for longer trips.

    Women’s Options

    Mont Women’s packs feature a different shaped hip belt, and a shorter back length.

    Most women will be comfortable in the Women’s Backcountry, at 75 litres. Once again, there is expansion capacity on top of that 75 litres.

    If you’re after a pack for weekend to half-week walks, the Women’s Escape comes in at 65 litres plus expansion, and has all the same features and materials as described for the Backcountry above.

    Mont Backcountry side pocket detail Mont Backcountry in action Mont Backcountry on the South Coast Track, Tasmania

    David Blundy works at Bogong Equipment.

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