Review by: jsj42, 2005-07-30
I bought this pack to replace my Dana Shadow Peak. I'm on my second RT45 right now. The first one I returned for a warranty issue - more on this in a moment. I love the features of this pack but not the execution. The most notable feature of the pack is it's roll top closure. No zipper or clips at the top of this pack, it rolls up like a dry bag, and then cinches tight with two straps. I find this design to be very quick and easy, and the opening is cavernous. This, coupled with Arc'Teryx's reputation is what sold me the pack. The pack has an external panel pocket on the front in which I usually put sunglasses, lunch, and sometimes a guidebook. This pocket is made of a stiff waterproof material which appears very durable. Unfortunately, the design of the single vertical zipper makes getting stuff into and out of this pocket difficult. I think the pocket could have been made much bigger and also the access could be much better. It is fairly useless except for small items. There is also a tiny zippered pocket on the very top of the pack. Perfect for keys, headlamp, TP, etc. This pocket is actually pleated and a much better design than the front one, although it is even smaller. There are two, non-zippered pockets on the "hips" of the pack. These are shaped very oddly - angled at the bottom and top - which makes them useless for holding water bottles. Furthermore, you always feel like whatever you put in them will fall out unnoticed, and the compression straps on the sides of the pack actually originate inside these pockets - making access difficult. It is possible, but tedious, to store longer items here and to put the compression straps over them to keep them in place. The inside of the pack has a "water bladder" pocket which seems pretty useless. The bottom of the pack is white which I find helpful for seeing items at the bottom. The suspension is quite comfy but not very adjustable - make sure to size the pack right beforehand. There is a great, beefy carry handle on the top of the pack. Also, I find the rope carrying straps that attach to the top of the pack to be very useful. I only use them when I'm carrying a VERY full pack (otherwise the rope goes in the main compartment), but if you overlook the fact that it takes a minute to get the rope into the straps properly, and that you can't access the main compartment with the rope in place, the system works quite well.
Aside from the annoyingly small and inaccessible back pocket, my main beef with this pack is it's build quality. My old Dana lasted for 3 years of heavy abuse and climbing (and it's actually still in decent shape). I returned my first RT45 to Arc'Teryx after noticing holes forming in the bottom of the pack. This after only 40 days of cragging.
"Sig", at Arc'Teryx, gave me a really hard time about it - he said that if I put my rack on the bottom and then set the pack down on rock, that of course the pack would get holes in it. But after only 40 uses? If that's the case, this pack should NOT be marketed as a climber's pack. I've had several Arc'Teryx products, including harnesses, a Bora 75, and a softshell, and all have been VERY bomber - this was my first problem. I suspected that perhaps the particular batch of fabric used in my pack was of low quality or something, so I hoped a replacement or repair would fix the problem. After much haggling Sig finally agreed to send me a new one. Unfortunately, the new one is showing similiar signs of wear even in spite of the fact that I put something soft (like a jacket - which was Sig's suggestion) at the bottom of the pack before my rack, and I'm more careful to be gentle when I set it down.
Of course, I think it's stupid that I should put my jacket in the *bottom* of my pack instead of the top, and that I need to be careful where/how I set my pack down, but oh well.
Sewing an extra layer of kevlar or cordura to the bottom of this pack, and fixing that damn back pocket, would make this thing close to perfect.