Rocky Mountain National Park, Lumpy Ridge, Eldorado Canyon and the Flatirons of Boulder, CO
In the early 2000s, Arc'teryx dialed in the "light is right" ethos to create the original NoZone Series. A decade later, they have resurrected the line and taken it one step further.
Upon first inspection, I thought this pack was on the small side of 35L. That was before I stuffed a 60M rope, screws, alpine rock rack, puffy jacket with extra layers, gloves, food/water and my helmet inside.
The design of the pack is stripped down and minimal. There is no port or sleeve for a hydration system. No velcro straps to hold your ice tools. Instead a simple, yet intelligent approach to attaching your tools using the pack's side compression straps. The materials are light, yet burly. Using a heavier Cordura in the higher wear areas on the bottom, axe holster and crampon patch and a lighter weave on the side panels. The pack is reinforced in all the right places, while maintaining a slim profile and super light weight.
The shoulder straps and waist belt are designed with climbing in mind. The pack is short enough to look up with a helmet and the waist belt stays out of the way of the gear on your harness. Stripped down it works great as a leader pack with the lid stuffed inside; while fully loaded it climbs extremely well for those big single-push days in the mountains. The 35L is large enough for Alpine Ice and compressed makes a great Summer Alpine Rock Pack.
The suspension is easily removed, but I haven't seen the need to so. It carries equally well with heavier winter gear as it does with minimal summer rock rack.
Overall, this pack is light, but burly. Simple, but innovative. One of the best packs I have carried since my original Khamsin 38, can't wait for them to resurrect that line next.
The updated 2012 Gamma AR only has one thigh pocket.
After having more patches than original material on my old soft shell pants, the search began for a replacement. The criteria: Summer Alpine Rock to Winter Alpine Ice. Simple right, one pant for every use?
Being familiar with the Gamma MX Jacket, I knew I wanted a pair of pants that had the same flexibility and durability. In combination with a trim fit, the Gamma AR Pants fit the bill.
These pants are burly, however they are unlined, so layering them with a power-stretch bottom works great for Winter use in all but the most frigid temps. The fabric has held up to bush whacking approaches through dead fall trees and near misses with the points of my crampons. The fabric also strikes a balance between windproof and breathable making them great on the approach through the trees and exposed on the climb.
The fit of these pants is also second to none. The built in belt allows them to be worn next to skin with a quick cinch on warmer Summer Alpine Rock days. They have a trim "athletic" fit that still allows for freedom of movement, with or without layers underneath. So far, soooo good...
Overall, I have found the WARP Technology harnesses to be amazing. They are both comfortable and light, perfect for the alpine. The i340a is no different. The revisions and improvements to the waist and leg loops in this generation are noticeable, or not noticeable as I barely can tell I am wearing it.
However, I do have some issues with this harness. The gear loops are very small. I realize that this is an ice climbing harness, but at $168.95, I planned on using this as my only harness. In order to fit a "standard" rock rack, I have to creatively rack the gear on my harness, which is less than ideal. The other main issue is, while clipper slots are plentiful, they are in not ideal locations and the elastic slots are only sturdy in the front (useless for screws) and rear positions (almost too far back). Using any of the slots will mean overlapping gear loops, which are already too small and thus losing more racking real estate.
I give this harness five stars for fit, comfort and compactness in the pack. Two stars for practicality and usage for tiny gear loops and ineffective ice clipper slots.