"Guide Built" is one of the mantras of outfitter Eddie Bauer's First Ascent mountaineering line, and with folks like Ed Viesturs and Dave Hahn in their lineup, that's no small statement. Apparently it's working out, because I just got to take a sneak peek at one of their upcoming packs, for an upcoming Backpacker Magazine gear guide, and there's no shortage of innovation there.
The Alchemist 40L backpack (due out in Spring 2012) sports a host of external tool storage, a tough, TPU-coated weather-resistant exterior, and an EVA molded belt and back.
Oh wait - it also expands seamlessly to a 55-liter capacity so you can pack all your gear to base camp, then tighten it up to 40L for the summit push.
That's not enough? Okay - its frame is removable for use as a bivy/sitting pad or a splint. Yup, you can pull the frame out (without even emptying the pack) to act as a crash pad when it's time to take a break. During testing, I found this to be a nice little bonus when I felt like sitting down in a snow-covered meadow for a lunch break, or when I found a sweet chair-shaped rock for some down time with a pack of climber's wine and a good book.
The Alchemist with be available this Spring in a 30L and 40L size (the 40L expands, the 30L doesn't). It's definitely going to be making some waves. Catch it this year at EddieBauer.com.