In the past I have raved rather more than I probably should about the innovative products produced by Mammut. Clever design features and interesting materials pair with legendary construction to create some truly industry leading products. I’ve used their ropes for years and tested other items of their climbing hardware. I’ve tried several models from their footwear range and used various items of their clothing.
Until recently though, their rucksacks were a bit of a gap in my experience. Maybe it was time to put that right. I had seen trade news about their new Trion Spine rucksack range and I was very keen to give one a test. Fortunately, they were happy for me to do that too. In due course a Trion Spine 35 arrived – here is my review….
Well, where to start? The Trion is, to put it lightly, feature rich! Let us start with the basics. The pack is constructed with a very durable coated ripstop outer fabric with additional Cordura reinforcements in key areas.
The back system is very innovative. The Trion Spine 35 features what Mammut term Active Spine Technology. I’ll discuss this in more detail later, but the system is designed to allow greater freedom of movement for the shoulders and hips which results in a more natural gait and optimal load transfer during walking movements.
The back system also features an integrated height adjustment which can be altered with one hand. This allows a back length adjustment between 46 and 51cm. The shoulder straps are well padded and contoured, there is a padded wrap around waistbelt with zipped side pocket on the left and a gear loop on the right side. Finally, on the left shoulder strap there is an additional zipped pocket and a sternum strap with incorporated whistle.
For the load carrying section, the pack has a top entry which closes with a drawcord. This same main compartment can also be accessed by the clam shell style front zip panel which closes with a chunky YKK zipper. Once this is opened, the flap of this closure also has another zipped pocket that stretches the whole depth and width of this panel.
On the rear of the back panel there is an elasticated bladder pocket with retainer clip and a smaller mesh zipped pocket with internal key clip. The pack also has an adjustable floating lid with large zipped lid pocket and a rope retainer strap lies underneath.
On the outside of the pack there are dual ice axe holders and down each side are twin compression straps, a ski retainer loop and there are twin daisy chains for attaching additional equipment. Mammut have also incorporated a trekking pole carrier and the sides have Cordura reinforcement fabric to protect against the wear and tear from skis. The compression straps can also be secured across the front of the pack to carry additional equipment.
Oh, and last but not least, there is an interesting feature called Mammut Connect on the right shoulder, but more on that later…….
The first thing you’ll always be drawn to first when looking at any pack is inevitably going to be its appearance. I think as humans we really can’t help that. Well, the Mammut Trion Spine 35 is undoubtedly a very handsome pack. The shape is compact and ‘blocky’ which really suits vertical adventures – it isn’t too wide (30 cms) to allow a full range of arm movement and it isn’t too high (61cms) that you can’t tip your head back to spy the route ahead. Oh, and at 21 cms deep it is also compact enough in that orientation too. I really like the shape.
The pack I received was in an electric blue colour called surf and that combines well with the black Cordura reinforcement sections on the base and part of the sides. I really like the colour although, if you want something different, there is also a black and white colour combo available too. There is the word Mammut printed in large white letters along the side and, although not subtle, it looks good.
The fabric Mammut have used for the Trion is a quite shiny but very heavy duty packcloth. It looks and feels very durable and that is proving to be the case. The slippy surface also allows the pack to shed snow well and it is very water resistant (although the large zip opening and lack of sealed seams means the pack definitely won’t be waterproof).
This 35 litre capacity pack really hits a load carrying sweet spot. There is enough room to carry bivvy gear for a multi day route and the yet the size also works well for everything from cragging to ski touring. With the multi position compression straps, ski carrier loops, daisy chains and twin ice axe carriers (there are actually 2 methods offered for stowing axes), all the bases are ticked for carrying equipment or, by using the compression straps, adjusting the volume. The compression straps, when fastened across the pack front, also allow vertical snowboard carry. All these features are well thought out and constructed to a high standard.
The interior carrying configuration is very interesting. The single main compartment can be accessed through the top via a traditional style drawcord closure and this is the way I would use it most of the time. However, the large zipped clamshell front opening also allows very easy access to the whole of the main compartment. This is a very useful addition although, of course, any additions like this will add weight.
The back of this clamshell panel houses another very large zipped pocket that best suits flatter items. It will house a small bladed shovel or will carry other flatter items like a set of folded waterproofs or an avalanche probe. It is a good place for things that need to be accessed quickly.
I imagined a significant downside to this large opening could be that, if the pack is stuffed full, opening this could cause the contents to spew out. In reality, this hasn’t been an issue. Infact, I have found it really useful and have actually accessed the pack through this route most often. It allows access to key items and also means that the pack can be loaded like a suitcase if you are morning packing for the day ahead.
The lid works well and the adjustability is very useful. The lid pocket also stores plenty of smaller items although I would have quite liked another smaller under the lid pocket. On the top of the lid there are a couple of corner loops that allow other items to be attached. The lid is also removable.
The other storage options are useful additions. On the inside of the back panel there is a zipped mesh pocket suitable for storing smaller items like sun cream or your wallet and keys. There is also a hydration pack storage pocket down this back panel too. Finally, a small zipped pocket on the waistbelt and another small zipped pocket on the shoulder strap. These will house small items like a compass or energy bars.
So, we eventually come to the back panel. A number of current backpack suspension systems on the market claim to move with your spine, but Mammut’s Active Spine Technology is said to offer a new level of performance. The system comprises a tensioned fibreglass rod which connects a hip belt pivot point to a shoulder pivot point. This flexible system allows the hips and shoulders to move independently. In action, this translates to a system that moves naturally to match the movement of the spine. I wanted to test the limits of the spine and yet, even with some extreme climbing movements the system stays central. It is a great system because, unlike many pack systems, the Trion feels like it is a part of you rather than that you are fighting against it. The carry is genuinely different to any previous pack I’ve used, even when carrying quite heavy loads. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the Active Spine technology is genuinely a major leap forward.
Having said that, the Active Spine technology is only part of the picture. The rest of the Trion harness system also plays a key role in carrying comfort and performance. The back panel is formed from 2-layer EVA padding which is housed in a stretchy mesh. This is very supportive and yet the flexible mesh also allows it to contour to the shape of the body. My only question about this structure is its long term durability, but so far the materials are holding up effortlessly and so I will have to wait and see on this.
The waistbelt is a broad and well padded structure which combines with a comfy lumbar pad to ensure a comfortable loop of padding in the key place needed for an efficient carry. The waistbelt and lumber pad are covered in a stretchy cover fabric and dense foam which, combined with the waistbelt’s wrap around wings, ensures excellent support even when carrying a heavy load. The shoulder straps are contoured and again help to offer a comfortable carry. It is a well designed and well executed back system.
The final link in the carry chain of the Trion is that Mammut have added a length adjustment system. The key to this is the stretch fabric of the back panel which allows 5cms of adjustment. This enables a really dialled fit that also factors into the efficiency and comfort. To adjust this all the user has to do is pull a tab and slide the panel to the desired position. It is simple and effective and only takes a couple of seconds. There is also a shorter back length women’s specific version called the Trea Spine.
There is one other feature worth a mention. The right shoulder of the Trion incorporates Mammut Connect technology. This is something I’ve never come across on a piece of equipment before, but it is actually quite clever. The user downloads an app and then, when your smartphone is scanned across the Connect sensor, various features are featured on your device. It is an interesting idea and some of the features, like the personal summit logbook and inspirational films are really good. You can also extend your warranty and access news from the brand through this as well.
The only disadvantages of all this technology are the weight and price. At 2030grams, the pack is at the upper end of what a user might consider justifiable for this size of pack. Similarly, the complexity and high quality materials and construction comes in at a £250 price tag. Is it worth the price tag and weight though? Absolutely. The fit and carry comfort of the Trion Spine are a genuine (well balanced!) leap forward in rucksack design and a huge well done to Mammut for producing it.
The Trion Spine is a great pack for alpinists and ski tourers. The carry comfort will suit climbers packing heavy hardware and bivvy gear while the Active Spine suspension allows a natural movement unparalleled in previous packs I’ve used. Ski tourers will also benefit from the efficient ski carry, the stowage options for avalanche safety gear and, when it comes to the downs, the Active Spine will again come into its own for skiing the steeps. I have grown to really like the Trion and see the Active Spine technology as a really innovative step forward for pack design. Please do check out the Mammut Trion Spine video below to see how the Active Spine system works and plenty more information about the pack is available via the Mammut website here.