Thursday, October 12, 2023

Fastpacking Packs Comparison Review: Ultimate Direction, Gossamer Gear, Dandee Packs, Volpi Outdoor Gear, Pa'lante Packs, Outdoor Vitals

Article by Markus Zinkl

Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20 ($149.95), Gossamer Gear Fast Kumo 36 ($190.00), Dandee Packs - The Standard ($250.00), Volpi Outdoor Gear - Fastpack 30 ($235.00), Outdoor Vitals - Skyline 30 ($197.97), Pa’lante Packs - Joey ($259.95)


In the world of fastpacking, choosing the right backpack is of paramount importance. Whether you're a seasoned fastpacker or just getting started, your backpack plays a pivotal role in determining the success of your adventure. Selecting the ideal backpack can be a daunting task, which is why we've gathered an tested selection of fastpacking backpacks from reputable brands, including Ultimate Direction, Gossamer Gear, Dandee Packs, Volpi Outdoor Gear, Pa'lante Packs, and Outdoor Vitals, for an objective and thorough comparison.

In this article, I aim to provide an unbiased evaluation of these fastpacking backpacks, considering various key factors such as weight, storage capacity, durability, comfort, and adaptability to a wide range of preferences and needs. My objective is to equip you with the information necessary to make an informed decision when choosing the right backpack for your fastpacking adventures. For each pack summarized here you will also find linked my in depth review of each. I tested these packs this past spring, summer, and fall in the Alps on multiple treks and hikes.

Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20 ($149.95) Review

Official weight: 21.4 oz / 607 g

Sample weight: 22.9 oz / 649 g

Volume: 23L

Best Uses/Strengths: best for shorter distances or rugged terrain. Lowest capacity, least expensive and heaviest on the list.

The UD Fastpack 20 has the lowest capacity on this list and therefore is rather catered to shorter distances. Despite the small capacity of 23L it is the heaviest on the list, which comes down to the amount of bells and whistles and the uggedness of the pack. This is the reason why I recommend it for shorter trips or more rugged terrain. I also found it a bit uncomfortable on my collar bones after 4+ hours. As you would expect from Ultimate Directions, the build quality and manufacturing is flawless. At only $149.00 it is also a great value.

Gossamer Gear Fast Kumo 36 ($190.00) Review

Official weight: 21.4 oz / 610 g

Sample weight: 21 oz / 597 g

Volume: 36L

Best Uses/Strengths: best used for longer trips, very comfortable even with highest capacity on the list

The Fast Kumo 36 is the fastpacking version of Gossamer Gear’s tried and true Kumo 36 backpack. Coming from a backpacking background the Fast Kumo 36 brings the backpacking strength to the table. That being said the weight distribution is very good making it also a good running pack. Not the best on the list, but on the upper end. It has the highest capacity on the list and is one of the more comfortable backpacks. This is why I recommend it for longer trips, where the additional capacity and comfort is needed. The shoulder strap pocket configuration is the best on the list. The only improvements I have for it are the pack fabric (would love to see it with Ultra 100 or 200), the top closure (I would rather see a rolltop closure) and the lack of a bottom pocket.

Dandee Packs - The Standard Pack  ($250.00) Review

Sample weight: 13.42 oz / 380 g

Volume: 30L

Best Uses/Strengths: best used for longer trips, carries the best on the list, minimalist design, top notch build quality 

The Dandee Packs Pack is one of the best packs I’ve ever used. I really like the minimalist yet thoughtful design. Everything from the roll top closure, to the pocket configuration to the fabric used just works. All that with enough capacity for 3-4 stretches and the best carrying experience on the list. This is achieved with enough cushion in the vest style shoulder straps and through the pack’s geometry. The pack is only 4.3’’ deep, which keeps the weight really close to your back. The only thing that could use a bit of improvement is the front vest. It could use a chest harness e.g. like the other packs to improve running performance.

Volpi Outdoor Gear Fastpack 30 ($235.00) Review

Official weight: 15.3 oz / 435 g

Sample weight: 16.5 oz / 468 g

Volume: 39L

Best Uses/Strengths: best for longer trips, big capacity and great vest style harness, slightly better value than other UHMWPE fabric packs

The Volpi Outdoor Gear Fastpack has all the right ingredients for a great fastpack: great Ultra 100 main fabric, rolltop closure, bigger capacity when you need it while maintaining a low weight. Where it lags a bit behind is in build quality and the hardware and mesh fabric used. On the plus side is the principle vest harness system works great and secures the pack perfectly onto your body. It also comes in a bit less expensive than the other packs, which are using UHMWPE woven fabric such as Ultra or DCF, making it a good value. If I could combine Dandee’s pack with the Volpi harness construction, I would have the perfect backpack.

Outdoor Vitals - SKYLINE 30 ($197.97) Review

Sample weight: 20.6 oz / 584 g

Volume: 26L

Best Uses/Strengths: shorter trips, when there is more runnable terrain, feature packed with low weight

While the Skyline 30 isn’t the lightest nor the biggest pack on this list. It’s the one with the most features whilst keeping the weight relatively low. It also allows the most dialed in fit of the running vest style shoulder straps, which makes it a great choice if you expect more runnable terrain. The main fabric did surprise me as well. It uses a Robic nylon diamond ripstop, which is not as floppy as normal Robic nylon e.g. what is used by the GG Fast Kumo 36. The pockets, for the most part, are great as well. I would only wish to place the zipper of the front zippered pocket to the side, so that it does not snag as easily. Overall I would recommend it for trips up to 2 days till a resupply. This helps to keep the overall weight low, since I had a little bit of discomfort with 3 days worth of supplies, due to the minimally cushioned shoulder straps.

Pa’lante Packs Joey ($259.95) Review

Official Weight: 13.4 oz / 380 g

Sample Weight: 13.5 oz / 383 g    

Volume: 27L

Best Uses/Strengths: shorter trips, close behind Dandee’s pack for carrying comfort, minimalist design, top notch build quality

The Joey performed very similarly for me as Dandee’s pack. Both seem to nail the geometry of the pack in order to distribute the weight incredibly close to the back. The similarities do not stop there. In terms of build quality it shares top spot on the list with Dandee’s pack. The minimalist design is similar, only the the pockets on the vest style straps could be a bit bigger to accommodate a 500ml soft flask or a smartphone better. I would also prefer a rolltop design. Instead the pack uses a drawstring to close the opening to the main compartment and then secures it with a webbing band and G hook. Generally it performs very similarly to the Dandee’s pack, weighing a bit less and with less volume. So if you don’t need the bigger volume, I can recommend the Joey without hesitation.

Tester Profile

Markus Zinkl: I’m 33 years old and live in a small village in Bavaria, Germany. I started hiking and backpacking 5-6 years ago. Coming from trail running and with light and fast in mind, I started hiking and fast packing with ultralight gear. Over the years I tried and tested a lot of gear, always in search of weight savings. Although still trying to stay out of the ultralight rabbit hole. I spend most of my days off from work on the trail, with at least one 2-3 week thru-hike. Among the more well known trails I have hiked over the last few years are the GR221, WHR (Walker’s Haute Route), TMB (Tour du Mont Blanc), TC (Tour du Cervin-Matterhorn) and Via Alpina Switzerland. As you probably notice by now, I’m at home in the mountains. So if I’m not running or thru-hiking a longer trail, I’m probably somewhere in the Alps checking out some shorter trails.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

You can read the running biographies of all the RTR testers here.

We welcome comments and questions in the comments section below.

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basketball stars unblocked said...

A rolltop design is what I would also favor. Instead, the pack seals the opening to the main compartment with a drawstring before using a webbing band and G hook.

Anonymous said...

This was a super helpful comparison-- thank you! Any chance you can get your hands on a Nashville Cutaway to try? Supposed to be a very comfortable vest harness and high quality pack.

Markus said...

Keep your eyes open for the Nashville Cutaway Review;)

drift hunters said...

When I put together Dandee's pack and the Volpi strap design, I would have the best bag ever.