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A mountaineering pack built for summit bagging and ski descents.

Your next expedition has to start somewhere. But wherever country your feet are standing in when you start, you know that your Mountain Hardwear South Col 70 Backpack will be packed to the brim with the tools and supplies to get you up and over the summit. The South Col goes beyond simple storage; the Alpine Suspension system allows you to comfortably carry up to 60 pounds of gear over rugged terrain and lets you trim the pack’s weight.

  • Two hollow stays add the structure you need to carry 60-pound loads and can be removed for lighter alpine quests
  • Removable HardWave framesheet keeps the pack flat on your back for a comfortable and predictable carry over goat paths and creek crossings
  • Low-bulk waist belt redistributes the majority of the load to your powerhouse legs and can be swapped out for an included web belt when putting on a climbing harness
  • A large, stowable front strap condenses the main compartment when you’re carrying a smaller, low-bulk load
  • The removable top lid features a rope strap for alpine climbing trips and utilizes glove-friendly compression straps to shrink the load on the go
  • FlapTop design means that the pack remains weather-resistant with or without the top lid attached
  • Pack extends to provide up to 500 cubic inches (8L) of extra space during expeditions
  • Ski straps, ice-axe loops, and a shovel-friendly front pocket secure your gear for ambitious descents

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Mountain Hardwear South Col 70 Backpack - 3975-4275cu in

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Here's what others have to say...

Great for Climbing, so-so for Backpackin

Great for Climbing, so-so for Backpackin

I have the South Col 70 with outdry, It's a superlight pack that fit's tight to the body it is awesome for winter mountaineering and Touring as it packs down super small. and hugs the body on turns. This weekend I took it out for it's first Backpacking Trip in Bryce Canyon and I was a little let down, to start the size of the bag feels like it's a lot less than 70 liters as I found myself frustrated when trying to fit my Sleeping bag which isn't abnormally big at all it pressed the sides out at the bottom making it so I couldn't fit my water bottles on the in the correct pockets, and found myself stuffing my pad, tent, and poles. other than the space of the bag it handled awesome I love the fit of the bag but the no outside zippers that allow access to the main pack is another detraction in all if your looking for a backpacking bag I'd look elsewhere as it's not this bags main forte.

You can't beat PERFECTION!

You can't beat PERFECTION!

Took this pack on a mid-winter camping trip in the Cabinet Mtn. Wilderness & it held everything needed with plenty of room to spare. Just enough pockets to keep things organized.

5 5

Initial Thoughts...

  • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

I Love This Pack! I have recently received this pack & have only had the opportunity to load it up, fit it properly & do some laps around the property & it feels great! Looks great too! Just enough pockets & just the right size. It is going to work perfectly for weekend trips & multi-day trips. I can ell already that this pack is going to be my go-to pack for nearly everything. As I get some more use out of this pack I will update my review & let you know my thoughts!

5 5

Favorite go to pack

  • Gender: Male

I sorta hoard packs...I literally have a dozen but this is by far my favorite. Its great for multi-day alpining and compresses down to nothing if you're looking to use it for some quick day runs. I would recommend buying the optional Fitlock belt if you're going on long hauls. Also spend some time playing with the ice tool straps. They take a bit to get used to but once you do you'll be strapping whatever you need to them in no time!

4 5

Excellent except buckles...

  • Gender: Male
  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I took this up Mt. Rainier last summer. It was great for that purpose: light but roomy with good attachments for ice axes, pickets, etc. The side (ski?) things on the hip are a good stop to put a few biners with emergency gear.
I stripped it down for summit day: replaced the hipbelt with the basic strap, left the brain at camp. Both of these are excellent features for this style of mountaineering. The back panel has a really nice tear-resistant fabric (white part) that will hold up to crampon points.

OK the bad. Half way up the Muir Snowfield, my damn sternum strap attachment fell off. It's a small piece of plastic that worked its way off of the webbing. By the grace of god I found it in the snow 50 feet behind me and got it re-attached. Second, the main hipbelt buckle broke during a pre-Rainier warmup trip but still functions, barely. The pack was very new still at this point. I had to carry extra buckles just in case (not a bad idea in general, though). So I think the quality of the plastic bits is not exactly bomber. Perhaps I tighten things down too much, but still that shouldn't happen.

Also, the lack of a Nalgene-sized pocket annoys me. I did not want to carry a bladder on Rainier (hose will freeze) so I didn't have water between breaks. Looking back this was a bad idea - I felt a little out of it up high and I think this factored in. I'm going to try to add some sort of functionality for carrying water on the outside.

The comfort, volume, and functionality are great. Few tweaks and it'd be 5 stars.

Excellent except buckles...
Responded on

Echo the bummer about nalgene pocket. I've been pretty unhappy about that missing feature, too. It's based on the notion that the pack is used where the contenxt will freeze so you keep the water inside and insulaed...

5 5

Modestly rated as 70 liter, the volume of the main portion of the pack is phenomenal. Moreover, the extendable collar adds several more liters of capacity when absolutely needed.

The materials and construction are near-indestructible, and while leaving the pack a little heavy, a good option when under rough treatment or heavy use.

My initial impression of the compression straps, and lash points seem a bit fiddly, but easily overcome by their usefulness after in-the-field cases.

On a pack of this size, there a multitude of zipper pockets which may or may not please every user. Often stowing small items in one pocket can easily be overlooked until rummaging through all the pouches to once-again find the item.

The removable lid is excellent, slimming down the weight and size of the pack . The pack also compresses easily down to a comfortable 40-or-so liter capacity, making it extremely versatile, especially if this will be a one-pack-does-all solution.

5 5

Swallows everything

This will carry enough gear for a weeklong backpacking trip or quite a bit of climbing gear for peak bagging and ski mountaineering. The removable frame is a nice feature, but I'm super stoked on all of the little features, like the zippered waste bag and the daisy chain. Really comfortable pack to wear all day. I've used this for climbing, backpacking, and everything in between. Works great.

What's the best way to attach skis to this...

What's the best way to attach skis to this pack?

Responded on

one on each side with the tips tied together is the best and most balanced way

stripped down

stripped down

This pack can get much smaller and still carry everything you need. Framesheet and stay comes out in seconds.

Responded on

Are the straps holding your crampons on part of the pack or something you added yourself? I'm trying to figure out if there are straps that go all the way around or just on the side.

5 5

Excellent multi-use pack

I probably should preface this review with a caveat. I haven't yet used it for its intended purpose - skiing - But I love it nonetheless.

I bought this pack with the intention of using it for overnight ski touring/mountaineering trips but found it a spectacular reliever for my last backpacking trip. I packed my backpacking bag the night before, tested it for weight and strapped it on and knew immediately I was done with it (never been happy with it). So I went to the South Col as a backup. I hadn't used the South Col yet and was putting faith in its ability to delivery up and down a handful of 4000 ft hills in the White Mountains, including the steepest 1/4 mile of the AT at Wildcat Mt. It didn't let me down. Besides having plenty of room to fit gear for three days in the woods, it's an extremely comfortable fit. I was able to quickly get the back situated to where I could move freely without it moving me. I could hike, climb and down-climb over technical terrain without fear of losing my balance and tumbling.
Top benefits:
1. weight is good. It's not an ultralight, but is much lighter than many packs of the same size.
2. has an independent pocket for a bladder. Keeps other things dry and idiot proof
3. removable hip belt knocks a lot of weight off
massive space that can be cinched down when the load is smaller
The downsides:
1. It has shallow side pockets that don't fit a nalgene but I generally use a bladder anyway.
2. it doesn't have a little hip pocket, which isn't essential, but is nice for a knife and compass and lip balm.
3. Lots of unnecessary extras like dual zippers and two pockets in the brain. I can't say that these things are entirely useful to me and the extra ounce or two seems like a waste.

Though the bag wasn't really designed for this use, it's a great backpacking pack and I'm happy to carry it again in future.

Excellent multi-use pack
4 5

South col 70

I work in a gear shop and so many people have the wrong idea about this pack, it is a fairly specific pack designed to be used for mountaineering while wearing layers, that's why the padding may seem inadequate.
The pack is absolutely brilliantly made but i think people just need to know what they are looking for before they purchase.

How do crampons attach?
I see the 2 side...

How do crampons attach?
I see the 2 side straps, do they just get pulled out from the back, and so the crampons just get attached via 2 horizontal straps? does it stay secure that way?

Best Answer Responded on

kun. There are many ways to attach crampons to this pack or carry crampons when going in to the mountains. The majority of folks I know put their crampons in some sort of protective pouch/crampon bag when they are not in use. Some of these crampon bags can be attached to the outside of the pack and many are simply carried inside the pack with your other gear. Other than that, you can fit them underneath the top pocket and secure them with a strap that is there or you can hang them off the side on the straps seen in the photo. I would suggest getting a crampon bag and using that instead of randomly strapping them to the side of your pack. They are more secure this way and you won't put holes in anything you don't want to. I hope this info helps!

I have a couple of questions. First I am...

I have a couple of questions. First I am trying to figure out the "old" vs "new" versions. The old had a single wrap-around compression strap and two frame stays; the new has two fixed compression straps but only a single frame stay - is this correct? If so, how does that single stay integrate with the shoulder straps? I have not encountered this type of construction before.
Second - are there any gear loops/slots/holsters on the hip belt? If not, what is the most accessible way to carry gear you might need to reach quickly in an emergency?
I am looking for a mountaineering pack in this size range, and would also appreciate advice on how this pack compares to other options. Thanks!

Best Answer Responded on

frame stay is a single piece. 2 fixed compression straps on each side allow for even compression to maximize load symmetry and stability. the frame stay does not integrate with the shoulder straps, but the load lifters do. the frame stay prevents the load from flexing in toward your back and "rounding out" while still allowing torsional flexing. in an emergency, i would not count on your pack still being intact or attached to you. i would look for jacket that has high pockets easily accesible above a cinched down hip belt. if you are just bagging peaks, there are a lot better choices out there, but if you are doing some serious mountaineering this is a good choice in my opinion, but my experience above 15000+ ft is pretty much non-existent.

Responded on

Last year's version had two loops for ice clips from BD or Petzl. I haven't seen this year's pack up close so I can't confirm. Mountain Hardwear website images don't show a side view but what I can see suggest there are no clipper loops on the current version.

3 5

Not as good as the original!

I recently purchased this pack, and I was able to compare it to the older version of the same pack that belongs to my wife. While this pack is adequate for the job, the suspension and construction doesn't seem to be as good as the olser version. The suspension is a single stay rod instead of the older versions dual stays. The reason I didn't like this was the fact that the load lifter straps have nothing to pull against, and do nothing tho releive shoulder stress. I also wasn't a big fan of the hip belt construction. After several training hikes with a 55lb pack the stableizer strap seemed to be pulling loose from the pack. While it didn't tear yet, it seemed to me that it was just a matter of time. I have returned the pack due to these issues. While I think the pack will do the job, I thought there were better packs for the same amount of money. If Mountain Hardwear had not changed the pack I would have kept it, and would have rated it at least a four star!

This is a picture of the Direttissima pack...

This is a picture of the Direttissima pack and the page for the Direttissima has a picture of the South Col.

Responded on

This is the new version of the South Col, they no longer make the version shown on the Direttissima page.

The specs say "Detachable Lid: no" but the...

The specs say "Detachable Lid: no" but the description says there is a detachable lid. Which is correct? I have an older version of this pack and it is the best pack I have ever had. As it wears out, I want to purchase another one.