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One pack that functions like three.

Go ahead, buy three different packs for different sections of your ascent―good luck carrying them all. If you'd rather not strap packs onto your packs, you can just bring the lightweight Mountain Hardwear South Col 70 Outdry Backpack, which is basically three packs in one. It's got plenty of space for a two-day winter mountaineering trip, and strips down to the basics to help on the summit push—you can pop off the top pocket, slide out the padded Hardwave suspension framesheet and aluminum stay, reduce the padded waist belt to a simple nylon webbing belt, and go fast 'n' light all the way to the top. 

When you're carrying a heavier load, leave the suspension in and walk cross-country in comfort. Along with rugged nylon fabrics, the South Col is kitted out with an OutDry waterproof membrane, which will keep all the gear in the main pocket dry as a bone, and features a front zip pocket that's easily accessible and maintains its volume, even if the bag is stuffed full. There are tons of lash points and straps for carrying skis, ice axes, and poles, an easy-access crampon stash pocket, and a top skirt that extends to give you an extra 300 cubic inches of space. Never bring two packs again.

  • Removable Alpine HardWave suspension, aluminum stay, padded waistbelt, and top pocket
  • Small/Medium fits torsos from 16-19 inches
  • Carries up to 60lbs
  • Top access
  • Durablie nylon fabrics with OutDry waterproof membrane
  • Front gear pocket and easy-access crampon pocket
  • Ski, ice axe, and pole carry
  • Compression straps

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

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Here's what others have to say...

Question on fitting the South Col or BMG...

Posted on

Question on fitting the South Col or BMG 105 OutDry backpacks: One important aspect of fitting a new backpack is to make sure the stays conform with the lumbar region of the hiker so that the load will be transferred to his/her hips, not the shoulders. The photo below shows a side view of the stays (actually one continuous metal stay bent into a U) of my new South Col OutDry backpack right out of the box. The plastic sheet (visible near the top) goes between the metal rod and the hikers back. The hiker would be on the right. Also in this photo is my template stay that has been bent to shape my lumbar region. Note that the curvatures are opposite. My initial thought is: Has someone at Mountain Hardwear assembled these stays backwards? The BMG 105 OutDry backpack stay came with the same orientation as the South Col. This is easy to correct by unzipping the Velcro strips holding it in place and flipping the stay around before adjusting (bending) it to fit. However, if I attempted to use either of these packs as they were delivered from, the bottom of the U-shaped stay would dig into the top of my lower lumbar, sacrum and coccyx and make for a very painful hike or climb. Am I overlooking something here? Thank you.

Question on fitting the South Col or BMG...
Responded on

I got the bag and was wondering about the same thing actually.

Responded on

Hayes and Ven,

You are definitely not overlooking anything and your assessments are spot on. From the picture that Hayes included in the question, it is evident that the pack shipped with the aluminum stay reversed. The lower section of the aluminum stay needs to follow the lumbar curvature of the wearer, as with the template stay that Hayes also pictures.

It is an easy correction to make, but our sincere apologies for this shipping oversight from our Mountain Hardwear factory. The rectification is to un-hook the lumbar section, slide the stay out of the hipbelt, slide the stay out of the backpanel (easiest to also remove the plastic framesheet) flip the stay around and re-assemble.

Also remember that part of beauty of this pack is its flexible design, which allows removing pack components (i.e. swap the padded hipbelt for the included webbing belt and/or remove the top pocket, frame stay and/or framesheet when climbing with lighter loads). The minimum weight for this pack is approximately two and a half pounds with these components removed and the hipbelt swapped.

Alex @ Mountain Hardwear

5 5


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

One way to answer this question is to do an "OOPS, I FELL IN THE CREEK" TEST. To simulate this dunking, I filled a laundry tub with six inches of water and placed a 25 pound lead brick in the pack and lowered it into the water. Parts of the pack were submerged to about 8 to 12 inches well above the bottom seams. Each pack was left partially submerged in water for 10 minutes and then removed.
a. Results of dunking my older, and well-used Mountain Hardwear South Col backpack (my favorite backpack, but not OutDry): After 10 minutes of partial submersion, this older South Col backpack had a pool of water inside. It took up 700 gm of water, enough to fill a 1 liter Nalgene water bottle 2/3 full.
b. Results of dunking the new OutDry backpacks: There was no visible pool of water inside the South Col OutDry backpack but it felt damp. To measure how much moisture seeped in, several sheets of dry paper towels were weighed and then used to swab the inside of the pack. The paper towels gained about 4 gm, so they had absorbed 4 ml of water. The BMG 105 OutDry backpack is much larger and thus had much more fabric and seams exposed to the dunking. Again no pool of water accumulated in the new BMG 105 OutDry pack. The paper towels used to wipe the inside of this big pack gained 20 g. Conclusion: The OutDry construction is a big improvement, reducing the water uptake by over a factor of 100 in this test (700 ml/4 ml= 175). This is not a perfect test because I do not have an older South Col in new condition to compare with the new OutDry version, although I have treated my old South Col with waterproofing sprays in the past. No backpack is completely waterproof under all weather and exposure conditions. I plan to continue packing my sleeping bag and spare clothing in dry bags.
I give the OutDry fabric/treatment 5 stars. I am impressed with the new features on both backpacks but reserve a rating of the packs until I have had more experience with them.


I like the weight, size and the fact that...

Posted on

I like the weight, size and the fact that it is waterproof but no place for a water bladder? What are the options for hauling and accessing water on this bag? From the pictures, it doesn't look like there are easily accessible side pockets but it is hard to tell. Thanks.

Responded on


A reservoir/bladder may be carried in the floating top pocket or in the front zippered pocket (though the latter is not ideal for weight distribution). Water bottles may also be carried in the top pocket, front zippered pocket and/or front crampon stash pocket (presuming you're not carrying crampons).

This is a mountaineering pack so Nalgene water bottles are usually carried inside the pack since they tend to freeze at higher elevations if they are outside the pack. Even though it's a mountaineering pack, the reasons you noted (weight, size and the fact that it's waterproof) make it a great backpacking pack as well!

Alex @ Mountain Hardwear

5 5

Awesome pack!

  • Familiarity: I've used it several times

This is an awesome multi-purpose pack. It's designed for multi-day alpine climbing trips. It would make an awesome pack for Mt. Rainier or Aconcogua. It would also be a good all around backpacking pack. The OutDry membrane keeps everything in the pack nice and dry. Great for the Pac NW and the AT. Really comfortable with around 45-50 lbs. Super durable too. Just a really good pack.