Mountain Smith APEX 100, Back Pack Comparison
Editor: Cory McLaughlin

From Mountain Smith:

The Apex 100 is designed for over sized loads and ambitious outdoor adventures. The largest pack in our All Terrain series is built with separate sleeping bag compartment, front panel pocket/pass through window, side stash pockets, and tool mounts to keep your gear organized and accessible. With up to 96L (extended volume) of carrying capacity, this multi-day expedition pack can handle anything you throw at it. The innovative ICS Cup (Illiac Crest Shelf) hip belt transfers and locks the pack load onto the hips, the Delta Wing Compression system pull the load into the lumbar region and focuses on the Lumbar Control Point pad on the lower back panel to fully secure the pack load against the user’s major weight bearing point, the lumbar/sacrum region. All this while the Anvil Airway back panel keeps you cool on the longest trail day.

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Just the Facts:
Just the Facts:
No holds barred, the Apex 100 backpacking pack is the largest and most feature-rich offering in the Mountainsmith line. Designed from the waist belt up, with a focus on ergonomics, the Apex backpacking bag is a joy to wear while hiking. Emphasizing durability, this pack is built with CORDURA® fabric and a heavy duty yet lightweight aluminum suspension. This gargantuan pack is ideal for hunters carrying meat home or those who are carrying more than their own gear. Intuitive features make this a smart and convenient backpacking solution; including a hydration sleeve and port, side-canted water bottle pocket, lower sleeping pad access compartment, central U-shaped access zipper, external mesh stash pocket, smart phone-sized waist belt pocket, generous lash points for tools, ridged EVA back panel padding, pocket pass-through compressions straps , adjustable torso suspension, an easy forward pull waist belt, and a removable top lid for short trips from camp. To bring you peace of mind for your backcountry investment, Mountainsmith offers a lifetime warranty on their products. If you are looking for a durable pack for hauling very large loads, this is the pack for you.
• TuningFork™ waistbelt framesheet for form fitting over iliac crest hip bone
• Forward pull waistbelt with V adjustment webbing
• Front panel stretch mesh pocket with daisy chain attachment loops
• PE Framesheet with X configuration AL Stays and horizontal stabilizer bar
• Anvil Airway ridged EVA backpanel padding
• Smartphone compatible waistbelt pockets (Fits up to iphone 6+ or Galaxy S6)
• Separate sleeping bag compartment with internal divider
• Bar tack reinforcements
• YKK® Zippers
• 3M™ Reflective Cord
• 305d Multi-Rip Cordura®HP
• 610d Cordura® HP
• 210d Nylon Embossed Liner
• Twin T6 0.75″ Aluminum Stays
• 31″ x 11.75″ x 9″ / 78.7 x 29.8 x 22.8 cm (H x W x D)
• Waist belt width: 1.5″
• Waist belt circumference: 28″ – 48″
• 5800 cubic inches / 95 L
• 6400 cubic inches / 105 L (Ext)
• Up to 70 lbs
• 6 lbs / 2.7 kg

My Story:

Sometimes you just need to haul everything and the kitchen sink. In a time where ultralight backpacking is all the rage the APEX 100 must feel a little lonely. This pack is not in that popular ultralight category not by a long shot. That does not mean that it doesn’t have its place in the world. There are many places that a person may want to travel that UL setups are not practical and often times they are unrealistic. Extreme winter packing is a great example.
Sure you can go out and spend your life savings on all the newest light weight cold weather gear. You can mortgage your home to get yourself a pair of pants and a coat. You can sell your gold bar collection to buy some rain gear. There is plenty of ways to put less weight into your pack. What if you are on a budget? What if you are one of those think of everything type packers? What if you just need room for all your equipment? Well, fear not my friends. Mountain Smith gives you the APEX 100 and it’s a pretty big deal. Literally.
The APEX 100 comes at a very reasonable price point of $209.95. This is a great price for a pack that can do so much. The pack has 4882 CI without being extended. You can add nearly another 1000 CI of storage when the pack is fully extended. The main compartment has some really great features like a separate sleeping bag compartment in the bottom that can be accessed by an outside zipper. The side pockets on this thing are great as well. There are two water bottle pockets on both sides and two storage compartments slightly above those. There is a stretch pocket that sits on the back of the pack that is great for wet garments or rain fly. The lid has a pocket that is great for items that need to be readily available.

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Accessing the pack is a breeze as there are multiple entry points on this pack. The top of the pack is secured by a pull string closure that sits under the lid. This is the main access to the pack. Under the stretch pocket there is a zippered entry that would allow for access without having to open the top of the pack. The third point of entry is at the bottom of the pack. The sleeping bag compartment also allows for access to items that may be stored in the bottom of the pack.

Compression straps and webbing loops help to make sure this pack stays tight and secure. The suspension is highly adjustable and very comfortable. I found that this pack was a little large for my frame 5’ 9’’ but that is nothing against the pack itself. The waist belt is comfortable and the shoulder straps adjust nicely. Load leveling straps help to make sure the weight rides where it is intended. The lumbar and back padding are designed to allow for maximum cooling by allowing airflow.
I used this pack for a backcountry hunt in Idaho. I was able to carry all the gear I need for the cold November hunt and had plenty of room to add some boned out meat if necessary. This pack is better suited for normal backpacking but I needed to get out and test it.

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The Mountain Smith APEX 100 is a great pack loaded with features. If you are a large framed person or just a guy who likes to take everything you can think of this is the pack for you. I believe it to be best suited for backpacking needs but could become a hunting pack in a pinch. I had about 50 pounds in the pack on my trip and it rode very well. I was not able to get a perfect fit as my torso is just a little short for this pack.

What can be done better?
I do not think this is a good pack for back country hunting as it lacks the ability to hold meat away from your other items. It could do the job but it would be messy. This is a HUGE backpack that would be great for just that, backpacking. I think that if use for that use this will be a great companion for many trips to come. The material and construction are on par with other backpack manufactures. If you need space I would seriously look into the pack.

  • Functionality
  • Value
  • Ergonomics
  • Durability