Mountainsmith Spirit 12 Backpack Review
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The Mountainsmith Spirit 12 is a compact pack great for running biking and light hiking. It weighs in at a mere 1.9lbs, before adding your hydration bladder. This is a high quality pack, well-built and sturdy with the “trampoline suspension” back panel that allows for air to pass through the back area and for you to stay cool.
This little pack has a high tech look and feel that is superior! I found the suspension of the back panel was pretty comfortable, especially for running. The pack was stable on my back without a lot of the back and forth sway that you might expect in a sport like running. The breezeway is also a nice touch. I did not heat up as fast and that nasty sticky sweaty thing that happens when you run with a pack just was not an issue. There is also light padding on the back paneling which was comfortable, especially for how little it was actually used. It held up well for hiking too. But be aware that this is a compact backpack, and would not be good for a full day hike. It does have limitations, and is meant as a light and simple option for activities where you don’t need to have much in the way of gear. I had trouble getting the ten essentials in there. This is not a big deal on say a bike ride, but problematic on something like a day hike. Another note here is that this pack seemed to get heavy faster. A light packer would not have a problem. But if you have to bring all but the kitchen sink wherever you go this may not be the pack for you.
There two top loading sections on this pack. The back section has a “sleeve” for your hydration bladder, and has a port on either side for the drinking tube to fit through. I had trouble getting my water bladder into the pocket, even when it was half full. I had to empty it completely and fill it in the pack with a separate tube. Not a complete deal breaker for anyone with a faucet that allows for this but a pain in the tush nevertheless. The structure of the back suspension system is inflexible and could make for other challenges similar to this when packing up. On the flip side my water bladder has a cumbersome mouthpiece and it fit through both of the ports (that are part of the shoulder straps), nicely and gave no issue.
The side pockets are also a great feature. They are deep mesh with an elastic band at the top. It was suggested to me by a running partner that those pockets would be problematic and could be a hazard for things like keys, or anything else small that could easily fly out. So I tested this on my own. I used keys, water bottle, and my wallet (in a controlled environment of course). I even took the pack and held it upside down and shook it, very hard, to try to make these items fall out. I was impressed with how well the elastic bands held even the keys. I would still recommend testing your own items first before going for a long run in a place you don’t often visit, but all in all they seemed to work very well.
The front section has interior mesh pockets, one of which is sized for a bike tire pump. Very convenient for those using the pack for biking. Beyond that and a companion smaller mesh pocket, the sections are without a lot of organization space. But this is not really a concern for the type of use this pack would be good for. A few more cool features are the outer chord which can hold something like a rain sleeve, the axe loop, and a tiny pocket on the right shoulder strap that is meant for energy gu and etc.
My experience with Mountainsmith packs both for this site and in the past is that they are pretty comfortable, and fit well. That said I don’t like the sternum straps on the packs. As a woman I find them too restrictive. What is interesting is that I can leave that strap undone and not even notice a difference in fit, or be bothered by the strap as it hangs.
All in all, Mountainsmith packs don’t disappoint. This pack is worthy of your consideration if you are in need of a light little pack for running, biking or short trips. For more information on the Spirit 12 and other Mountainsmith products, visit www.mountainsmith.com or www.amazon.com/mountainsmith.