Six Moon Designs Swift V 49L Backpack Review
I hiked the John Muir Trail with the Arc’teryx Bora 61L, an almost five-pound pack. As I’ve slowly replaced my initial heavy backpacking setup with quality and ultralight gear, a pack was one of the final pieces of the puzzle. I don’t consider myself truly ultralight, as I bring a pillow, camp shoes, and stove on absolutely every trip in the backcountry. Because of this, I wanted a pack that would carry a 10-15 pound base weight comfortably.
The Six Moon Designs 49L Swift V is the perfect pack for a lightweight backpacker who wants a pack light enough to move quickly, without sacrificing features. The chest straps and hip belt are full of pockets, and the design of the pack is extremely well-thought-out. I’ve found the 49-liter size to be just right. There’s enough room to bring extra creature comforts for an overnight trip or to carry everything I need for a multi-day/week thru-hike.
The Six Moon Designs Swift V At a Glance
- Volume: 49 liters.
- Weight: 34 ounces total
- Body = 17 ounces
- Delrin stay = 3 ounces
- Vest harness = 7.5 ounces
- Hip belt = 6.5 ounces
- Hip belt and Delrin stay are removable
- Suggested maximum carrying capacity: 35 pounds with frame, 25 pounds frameless
- External pockets: Two large zippered hip belt pockets, large chest pockets with zippered compartments, exterior mesh pocket all totaling 5L capacity
- Fabric: 100D Robic nylon on pack body and side panels, 3D mesh on body contact (back), 4-way stretch pockets
- Shoulder strap/harness options: Vest harness (like a running pack), S-curve harness, or Flight shoulder harness. Review is done with the vest harness.
- MSRP: $215.00
Circumstances of Review
I’ve been testing the Swift V over the last few months in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. I’ve gone on a handful of overnights and one multi-day trip in order to test how the pack feels with varying weight loads. With a nearly empty pack, it hugs my body well enough to run back down the trail. Conversely, climbing uphill with a three-day load (~25-30 pounds) was completely manageable and even comfortable.
A Budget-Friendly, Lightweight Backpack
The Swift V is the perfect pack for thru-hikers and backpackers who are equally conscious of weight and budget. While it’s not the lightest pack on the market, the intersection of weight and price make it a perfect choice for lightweight backpackers who have multiple investments to make. Or, a backpacker who is unsure of how using an ultralight pack will feel. At just over two pounds (with all features being used) it competes with many lightweight backpacks and offers a much lower price. Furthermore, the versatility of this pack allows backpackers to fluctuate their weights and use this for heavier weekend trips as well as minimalist thru-hikes.
Let’s Talk About Customization
And I’m not talking expensive add-ons that drive the pack price way over the initial tag. With a removable hip belt and three different shoulder strap/harness options, there’s a way to tailor this pack exactly to your liking. Furthermore, the torso height is fully adjustable so whenever something feels off, there’s a way to fix it. The hip belt comes in three different sizes, and each harness option comes in a large or small size.
I chose the vest harness because I love the locked-in feeling of shoulder straps that expand across my chest. The vest has six points of contact with your body which increases the suspension distributing, and helps your pack stay in place even when moving quickly. However, they also offer a Flight Shoulder Harness or Flight S-Curve Shoulder Harness, which are both more similar to a traditional pack. These are better for hikers with larger chests/shoulders as well, but they offer two points of contact/suspension.
Check out this video by Six Moon Designs if you are unsure which harness will suit you best.
Key Features of the SMD Swift V
Removable hip belt: The hip belt has two large pockets, comes in three different sizes, and is fully removable. There are also two straps on each side to tighten it down, which helps get the perfect fit.
Vest harness: Probably my personal favorite feature. The vest harness has hoards of pockets and distributes the weight extremely well across my hips/back/shoulders. Plus, when I’m climbing a hill, I find my hands often wander to the big areas that offer grip across my chest.
External pockets: My only issue is finding enough stuff to fill all the pockets with. The two large hip pockets are big enough for my phone, wallet, and map. Meanwhile, the chest pockets comfortably carry enough snacks for hours and other knick-knacks like chapstick, sunscreen, and bug spray.
Removable Delrin Stay: This pack uses a Delrin Hoop Stay suspension system, which is fully removable as well. The stay bends and ends at the waist, in a way that transfers the majority of your weight onto your hips. With the hoop stay and hip belt, your max carrying capacity is upped from 25 lbs to 35 lbs.
Compressibility: The roll-top design is popular amongst thru-hiking packs because of how compressible it is. When my load is light, it easily compresses down to the size of a day-pack.
Adjustable torso length + sliding sternum straps: These two features combined make it easy to fit this pack well to any body.
Customizability: If I haven’t already beat this point to death, there’s a way to make this pack fit your needs as long as you are a somewhat lightweight backpacker. The hip belt has size options and is removable. The vest/shoulder strap system has three different options. And, the Delrin Hoop Stay (suspension system) is removable.
SMD Swift V Pros
Vest harness: I love love love the running vest style chest harness. It fully hugs my chest and gives me a locked-in feeling. This eases the weight load on long climbs and allows me to move quickly and even run when my pack is lighter. Also, the straps on the harness and full of both open and zippered pockets. I anticipate more packs using harnesses like these in the future.
Exterior pockets: There’s no need to use accessories such as attachable shoulder straps, hip pockets, or fanny packs if you purchase this pack. There are so many accessible pockets; my only problem is finding enough stuff to fill them with. For hikers who don’t like to take breaks and prefer to snack, use their phone, or apply chapstick on the go you will be in pocket heaven.
Compressibility: I like running down hills, especially on the final day of a backpacking trip. This pack compresses exceptionally well. It also hugs your body, so when you have a light load you can run or jog without your pack bouncing around behind you. It almost feels like an extremely large running vest, which is great for moving quickly and covering serious mileage.
Price: Six Moon Designs gear consistently offers very competitive prices. This pack is modeled after their more expensive Swift X pack, which uses lighter material. So you do sacrifice a few ounces, but for a pack that’s well under $250 with tax, it’s an amazing budget option.
Versatility/Customization: I really like how the torso height and chest strap height are customizable and adjustable. Whenever something doesn’t feel quite right, there is a way to adjust and fix it. Also, this makes it a great extra pack to have in your closet for friends in town.
SMD Swift V Cons
Not quite ultralight: If you’re shooting for a sub-10 pound base weight, this is likely not the pack for you. At just over two pounds it’s likely to not be quite light enough for someone really wanting to whittle down the ounces. However, without the hip belt or Delrin Stay the bag is significantly lighter.
Many moving pieces: In all honesty, it took me a while to wrap my head around how this whole pack system worked. With all the customization, buckles, drawcords, and fasteners I had a bit of trouble my first couple trips getting my system dialed in. Because of this, I recommend testing it out for an overnight or two before embarking on a longer trip. Once I took the time to learn my pack, however, we bonded like two long-lost friends.
Not the strongest material: This pack is so affordable because of the Robic Nylon 100D material. It’s nowhere near as strong, lightweight, or water-resistant as something like Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF). Because of this, I don’t recommend this for backpackers who like to toss around or sit on their packs.
I recommend this pack for lightweight backpackers and thru-hikers who have their eyes on weight and price. Though fancier ultralight packs may be lighter and more durable due to different fabric choices, the Swift V is an excellent option. The 49L capacity is enough for a multi-month thru-hike or a luxurious overnight trip. I’m extremely excited to take this on the Uinta Highline Trail this summer, where I’ll be carrying lots of food and water at times.
Six Moon Designs Swift X: Very similar features and customizability with stronger fabric.
- Carrying capacity: 49L
- Weight: 36 ounces
- Max weight capacity: 35 pounds
- Fabric: LiteSkin LS07 or X-Pac VX07
- Price: $270.00
ULA Circuit Backpack: Higher volume capacity with stronger materials.
- Carrying capacity: 68L
- Weight: 36.6 ounces
- Max weight capacity: 35L
- Fabric: 400D Robic Nylon
- Price: $255.00
Gossamer Gear Mariposa: Good for hikers carrying extra bulky items that take up space like bear cans comfortably.
- Carrying capacity: 60L
- Weight: 30.5 ounces
- Max weight capacity: 30 pounds
- Fabric: 100D and 200D Robic Nylon
- Price: $270.00
The Six Moon Designs Swift V Pack was donated for purpose of review.
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