Exped Core 35 Pack | Review
Exped's throwback lightweight 35-litre mountain pack mixes simple, tough construction and essential features with no fripperies allowed.
'Tough, minimalist, throwback, Swiss guide-developed mountain pack saves weight and complexity, but the basic foam mat back system is, well, basic which tells with heavier loads.'
Outdoors Magic: Tough, simple and well made. No frills lightweight design with some neat touches. And functional.
Outdoors Tragic: No frills design won't suit everyone. Careful packing needed.
Outdoors Grabbit? The Core 35's something of a throwback to the day when alpine packs were tough and simple bags with a few straps added, but with some modern flourishes where it matters. It's very light for its size, but the fabric and construction feel proper tough and with careful packing the sac is reasonably comfortable and stable too. Plus it has the core mountain features you really need with a sleek, non-snagging profile. We did find it less comfortable with heavier loads and we'd have liked a rope-retaining top-strap for cragging and approach use, but for durable fast and lightism, it ticks the boxes nicely.
Minimalist, lightweight mountain pack / 1680 D Ballistic nylon, PU coated, / Polyester back panel / top lid with pocket / carabiner-type strap fastener / removable back panel/mat / removable hip-belt / toggled hydration pocket / twin shock-cord ice-axe loops / daisy chain looped front webbing
Full Review Below
Exped Core 35 Pack | Performance
In essence the Exped Core 35 is a bit of a throwback to a time when alpine packs were tough and simple creatures with minimal home comforts, but with everything you really need. It weighs just 830 grammes, but that's not at the expense of toughness, though comfort does suffer a little.
It's mostly made from a tough-feeling PU-backed Cordura Nylon, albeit with a more comfortable Polyester back-panel. There are minimal seams to keep water resistance high and the 'back-system' is a doubled over, closed cell foam minimalist bivi mat.
There's no compression system, rope-stowage strap or fancy helmet carrying gizmos, just a conventional top-loading format with pocketed lid, a pair of axe-loops and a non-padded removable waist belt. Everything's simple and streamlined down to the corded, eyeleted closure cord. Nothing to drag or snag on the rock, nothing to fiddle or faff with.
What is there works pretty well to be fair. The simple, shock-corded axe-loops are glove friendly and snow resistant, the sternum strap slides for easy adjustment and shoulder-strap tails get their own Velcro strap to keep them neat and out of harm's way.
And with light loads and thoughtful packing, it carries reasonably well too despite the basic back system. What we did find however, was that really loading it up with rope, rack and a bunch of spare kit and clothing overwhelmed it a little, so you're best advised - like the Swiss guides who helped with development - to go light and fast.
The lack of compression straps doesn't help here either, though it's part of the pack's ethos. One neat tough is that the hydration sleeve can be toggled up when not in use to form a handy high-up additional internal pocket for sneaky snacks and the like.
Exped Core 35 Pack | Verdict
Solid build quality, tough but light fabrics and just enough refinement to keep the basics working add up to a lightweight technical mountain pack that does the job in an unfussy, no frills sort of way.
We like the durable fabrics and construction, functional axe-loops and traditional top-loading construction. The back system is quite basic, even with the bonus padding of a minimal bivi pad, which means you have to pack carefully to keep things comfortable, but with light to medium loads, it's surprisingly decent.
It does however struggle slightly with heavier duties. We also reckon it could do with a rope-retaining top-strap for walk-ins, though you can, of course, simply stow a rope under the lid or - space permitting - inside the pack.
If you keep things light though and want simple, traditional features, the Core 35 hits the mark nicely and should last well.