Ultimate Direction All Mountain Review

The Ultimate Direction All Mountain is a seriously versatile performance alpine pack. It has become my go to all around alpine pack.

Features

From Ultimate Direction:

  • Price: $164.95
  • Volume Capacity: 30L / 1,831 in3
  • Weight: 590 g / 20.8 oz
  • Materials: Nylon ACE RIP with STS coating, Durable water resistant 4 way stretch woven mesh 
  • Ice Ax Loops: Yes
  • Front Phone Pocket: Yes
  • Versatile external lashing and configuration for all season use
  • Easy cinch lid system for securing all gear inside the bag
  • Phone, maps, glasses, food, and water are easily accessible in the front
  • Optional attachment points for ski carry diagonal or A-frame
  • Sliding rail sternum straps
  • Removable and height-adjustable T-hook waist belt for heavier loads
  • Includes All Season Kit: ski hook & loop and bungee compression system
  • Easy access pocket with water resistant zipper and key fob
  • Compression molded back panel for structure and comfort
  • Daisy chains for securing extra gear
  • Back panel zipper for easy entry into the main pocket

The All Mountain has a minimal feature set, with a few notable exceptions. At its core, the All Mountain is a simple alpine pack on par with the Black Diamond Blitz 28. It is a 30L pack with dual ice tool carry, a top pocket and quick cinch closure. 

    What sets the All Mountain apart is the added features drawn from Ultimate Direction’s experience making vestpacks and Skimo racing packs. The All Mountain has a pocket on each shoulder strap, one a stretchy cinch, the other zippered. While this is clearly inspired by running packs, this is not a vest. It is slightly wider shoulder straps with pockets.

    The All Mountain also includes a removable bungee lashing system. It is basic and works well carrying crampons, and I really like that I can take it off when it’s not needed. One pretty cool idea is the magnetic buckles used to secure the heads of an ice tool. These seal automatically, are easy to undo while the pack is on your back, and are just real slick. I’m slightly worried that they will ice up in the winter, but it hasn’t happened to me yet.

    The All Mountain also features a removable diagonal ski carry. This is done in a skimo style, featuring a hook on an elastic cord to secure the top of the skis, so the skis can be easily taken on and off without taking the pack off. This is less secure than a hard strap system, but is quicker. The pack also has daisy chain style attachment points on the sides to facilitate A-frame ski carry or compression straps. These straps are not included, but ski straps work great.

    The final unique feature for an alpine pack is zippered back panel access. Not many light packs include this, but it honestly is extremely convenient. It’s just nice to be able to get at everything in the pack without digging around.

Performance

    Overall the All Mountain performs quite well. The volume feels substantially bigger than the Blitz 28, more so that a 2L difference would suggest. But I also don’t have an objective way to measure this so who knows. I’ve packed a double rack, shoes, harness and everything else I need to go cragging (minus the rope). It’s a big versatile size that can fit everything you would need for a day, or a light overnight, especially with the exterior bungee.

    The All Mountain carries and climbs well with light to moderate loads. The framesheet has one foam sheet and one plastic sheet, both of which are removable. This gives decent rigidity when hiking, but can be stripped done to allow for movement when climbing. Additionally the pockets on the shoulder straps are fantastic. They can fit snacks, water, sunscreen, a phone, or any other small items that you want frequent access to throughout the day.

    However, given that it is an ultralight alpine pack, it doesn’t carry heavy loads particularly comfortably. The waist belt and frame just aren’t beefy enough to put the weight on your hips effectively.

    The only other issue is the shoulder straps are made out of a rougher material than most packs. This lets the edges of the straps dig into your neck if the pack doesn’t fit well. This is not an issue for me, but if I had a wider neck or bought the smaller size this would become a problem.

Versatility

    Versatility is where the All Mountain shines, (as the name would suggest). It’s just remarkably capable for such a light pack. It is light enough for a minimalist climbing pack, but can still carry skis and is packed with features. This is by no means the most versatile pack you can buy, but compared to other alpine climbing packs it is head and shoulders above.

    It is also worth noting that while the All Mountain can carry skis, it is not a dedicated backcountry ski pack. Notably it is lacking a snow study pocket, an essential feature on a ski pack. That being said, with some clever packing and the back panel zipper it is possible to have quick access to your avalanche tools. All this to say that while I wouldn’t use this pack for ski touring, I would use it for ski mountaineering.

Durability

    Durability wise my All Mountain is holding up well with no issues after a few months of use. I do recognize that that’s not much time, but based on the construction quality I don’t see any problems developing. I will of course update this article if any problems do arise.

Bottom Line

    Overall I am really impressed with this pack. It’s a fantastic alpine climbing pack that can also be used for light and fast ski mountaineering. It just works well for so much more than other similar packs. 

    At $165 it costs about as much as comparable alpine packs, while being less expensive than dedicated ski mountaineering packs. I’d call it a fair price, and would absolutely recommend it for anyone looking for a good mountain pack.

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