Macpac Amp Race 40

Just in for test is the Macpac Amp Race 40. Macpac have long been seen as a purveyor of reliable, tough gear, but they also have a pedigree in adventure racing and few years ago just about every international team I saw had at least one member with a Macpac Amp pack, some even with the logo sewn over with their own sponsors…
Times have changed though, racing pack design has been taken to new extremes of light weight but also of functionality.  Where does the Amp 40 sit these days?

It looks a little more like the Amp Race 25 now with that single-buckle lid, a good move for me as I like the single buckle format. It looks to have the usual conservative Macpac volume rating as well, this’ll take all my camp kit and more besides.
The main compartment has a bladder sleeve with hangers and drain holes at the bottom, and the foam back stiffener is removable as a shoulder-to-hip sleepmat which meets race regulations but is no fun to sleep on at all!
But viewed against the current race packs, the Amp is looking more like a fast-and-light general purpose pack than a dedicated race pack, not at least because of it’s 1160g weight. This is no criticism though, race and multisport needs are what gave us things like mesh pockets and external stowing options, and it’s good to see a pack with all the functionality without it being pared down to the minimum elsewhere.

So what functionality is there? It’s been designed to be used quickly so it’s all pretty simple, eg the main compartment closes with a one-pull cord cleverly threaded through both cord channels. The external storage is another quick-access feature, handy in a race but also for wet tents, snacks and real flexibility.
Below you can see the size of the mesh bottle pockets with a 1L Sigg in one, the external zipped storage pocket (it’s sewn onto the outside, so doesn’t impact on internal space) with the binoculars, the external mesh pocket with the Galaxy Counters poking out and then there’s a web of bungee to attach even more. Add to that internal and external lid pockets, two big mesh hip-belt pockets, a shoulder strap gel-bottle pocket and bottle bungee and you’ve got more storage options than you’ve got stuff to store.

I’ve used Amp Races a few times over the years and found them stable and comfy, and the harness here seems to be the same design, low profile with a stiff-ish padding which will mould to you after some use. The chest strap, with the now expected whistle buckle, is on the sliding attachments, but here the rail ends are sewn-in to prevent the sliders pinging off.
The back is a simple mesh panel and with just the foam inside is nicely flexible. The removable hipbelt pivots nicely too and it really is a pack which allows a lot of mobility.
There’s enough top, side and bottom compression to pull the pack in tight if you need to though.
The fabric feels a little stiffer than the older versions, which isn’t be a bad thing, as with ice axe on there and the tall thin shape it’s a pack asking to be taken into the mountains and used without having to worry about it.

My first impressions are good, the features and comfort look to be spot on, and I’m hoping they’re worth that extra weight the Amp has built-in.
In many ways this is going head to head with my OMM Villain, same size and general layout.
We’ll see.

46 thoughts on “Macpac Amp Race 40

  1. I love my Macpac Amps 25 & 40. They fit my needs perfectly and give me the flexibility in the packs that I crave when I use other packs.
    It looks like the single buckle is the only major functional change to my old pack.
    Comparing it with the OMM Villan I would say that the Amp 40 is the winner. It took more gear with better functionality when I put them head to head the other week, hence the Villan went back to the shop

  2. This is as much a the test for me as it is the Amop. I’ve relied on the Villain so much over the past few years, it’ll be interetsing to see wht happen when I use this.

  3. I think you’ll be pleased. I have to say I was disappointed when I realised I couldn’t get any more stuff in the Villan than the Amp. They both seemed to carry the same too so there was no difference from that aspect.
    I’ll wait with baited breath to see what you think of the new one ;-)

  4. I like the new version 25, which now I think about is a bit like the OMM Jirishanca.
    It’s a proper battle here then.

  5. If they improved the old Amp Race they have done something special as both the 25 and 45 are brilliant packs, my Jirishanca is great the orange colour gets plenty of bonus points, but the AR 45 just works, and you can mountain bike with it without problems! The 25 is a great bike pack too, if you need to carry extra gear. I’ve biked, run, hiked and climbed with these packs and they are brilliant imo :o)

  6. I have a old AMP 42 with made in New Zealand on it. Thing I like still about it is the hipbelt. Thing I don’t is the weight. Still the new one has pockets now on the hipbelt and lots new good stuff. Good pack for those seeking to lighten up their load but have lots of function and comfort in a pack.

  7. That’s really not heavier than the Villain at all, is it? I don’t like the compression straps as much, though. They just don’t look like they’d keep it as tight on your back as the Villain. Interested to see how it does in the field. I talked to a chap the other day who swore by his amp race, but rucksacks can be a bit like cameras… people marry the brand once they’ve spent enough on it.

  8. Holdfast it’ll be fine, that dyneema it’s got is like a shield of steel :o)

    DNF, aye, they do hit the multisport mark spot on with the Amps. I can see why they’re reluctant to develop away from the original format too much.

    The weight is going to be an issue for some Martin, I still notice it every time I pick it up. But, packed for a trip and on the hill, I wonder?

    It’s just a wee heavier than a Villain Sid, and those compression strap should be okay. The side ones are maybe not so much use as the pack has side stiffening and about 100m of bungee, but the lower ones do pulle the pack in at tyhe base, it does “float” a little there. The top-tension straps I’ll see. The pack will have to be pretty full for them to come into play, but when I was out a couple of weeks ago I found myself using the top straps on my pack to pull in the load on a steep descent, so we’ll see.

  9. So we need to see if the Villain elastics last as long as the amp race 25 because mine has fell apart after 3/4 years.

    Give me the OMMM at the minute…

  10. Oops – bit tipsy when I wrote that but what I meant to say was, my Amp Race 25 no longer has the outer pockets as the elastics that are used to tighten up the pockets just rotted and snapped. Pockets got hacked off as they wouldn’t hold a bottle anymore, then the back pocket elastic went and that’s never seen any use. I’ve read of others who have had the same issues. Terrific sack that I still use but not the durability I’d have expected and not covered by the lifetime warrenty either.
    I’m expecting far better from the Villian and nearly got a smaller OMM to replace the Amp but got a 20ltr Terra Nova instead due to it weighing nothing.

  11. Those faults are the ones I remember from friends packs on trips, and something I’ll be watching for. It does feel sturdier than the originals, but time well tell on that.
    The Villain has been issue-free for me, I think you’ll be fine, and good call of the Terrra Nova, my current favourite small pack.

  12. Think I made a bit of a boob with the TN – I bought the Elite due to it being just over 200g but it really is a faff getting stuff in or out of it. It needs to be full ideally for it to synch up nicely, something it never is and even then, I’m not too sure if I like the rolltop. Wish I’d paid the weight penalty and got a ‘normal’ Laser like yours but then hindsight is a great thing and a lesson has been learn’t that lightest is not always best. Side pockets on the Elite are too tall and stop you from getting quickly at a drink bottle and its a no go as far as a bladder goes. I was thinking maybe an Inov8 bootle holder attached to the shoulder strap may be the way forward? I’ve never even managed to work out how to use the bottle attachments on the Amp Race – they remain one of life’s great mysteries to me! Otherwise I’d try to rig something up like that.

  13. The Inov8 bottle holders are a good option, I’ve got them to attach to a few different packs.

    Tha Macpac bungees work with bike bottles, or any with the groove, I’ll do that when I take it out and reveal the secret:o)
    Haglofs have the same thing on the Endurance and Stamina.

    Bummer with the Laser, it’s true what you say, the lighter the pack, the worse it is when it’s not full. A little bit of structure and the weight that goes with it aren’t a bad thing.

  14. oh… and a cliffhanger ending for Doctor Who this week, just what was needed. The 16yr old daughter and I were well impressed on Saturday.

  15. Aye, but it doesn’t say anywhere what you’re supposed to do, they kinda leave it open to individual interpretation!

  16. “Aye, but it doesn’t say anywhere what you’re supposed to do, they kinda leave it open to individual interpretation!”

    I thought at first that you were referring to the ending of Dr Who… :))

    I keep looking at the really light TN packs but I think you’ve probably just cured me. I tried a Laser 40 for backpacking but didn’t get on with it and sent it back. The 20 Elite was tempting as a ‘travel, hand luggage and side-trips’ pack to take on continental backpacking excursions, but now probably not. I first did that sort of thing 20 years ago with an original 400g KIMM sack inside my 70 litre Alpiniste. I’ve got one of those tiny Sea To Summit daypacks – brilliant little bundle (like the Montane Featherlite of packs) but it doesn’t really handle mountain days. My best is still my ageing Berghaus Blitz, 250g of bumbag/20 litre pack which carries excellently. The only drawback is that it predates features like pole attachments and bottle pockets – I wonder if I should take the needle and thread to it…?

  17. I’ve been meaning to feature the`Exped Drybag Pro for ages, it’s properly usable as a pack, but maybe a bit heavy as a liner?
    The shoulder strap for the Raidlight chest pack made it very usable when I carried if on my Gret Corries night hike, it does look like you’re carrying a school bag though.

    Bottle pockets? MLD make nice we ones if you can’t get Inov8 ones to fit. I think Raidlight do bottle pockets as well?

    Aye, get altering!

  18. Looked at getting an amp race 25 due to the extra capacity, more like just above 30, but got a deuter ds alpine 30 instead at the time as its waterproof and the back length fits me better. Great packs though macpac remember my old pursuit that got nicked from the car, bombproof ish.

  19. We were talking about Macpac today at the conference, it looks like everybody loves them. They should be better represented over here. Demand stock at your local emporium…

    One think that came up was the fact that the Mountain Equipment packs from a few years ago were photocopies of Macpacs. I hadn’t spotted it until it was pointed out.

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  21. It is not 42 but 35Amp. I dug it out of the garage. I loaded up my kit I used in Scotland last trip. Loads of room and comfort. I am kicking myself. I got a MLD Prophet. Nice pack and did the job up north. But the AMP once loaded up is stunning. I should have taken it. OK it is twice the weight of the Prophet. Maybe the material is not as hard wearing. Thing is I have used it in the past for over night trips and last was two years ago???? It has no wear or tear so far. Anyway the Amp has the edge in storage, comfort. It is on my next trip for sure. I might get the new one. Thing is mine is all black and has made in New Zealand on it. I reckoned the weight was too high as I had lighter packs. I have come 360 with it. Looking back some how I could never part with it. Other packs have gone. JAM, Mountain Mover, GPack, ZPack, Lowe 70L load hauling monster and yet the Amp is still there. Always had a plan to use it on long walks. Just needed to get the kit to match the pack size. Looking at yours I see hip-belt pockets and improvements galore on mine. I know how good that hip belt is and the frame sheet works on it brilliant. Top kit and should be on any backpackers radar.

  22. Do you know what the back length on the macpac is compared to the Villain? I love the Villain but the MSC is starting to get on my nerves and it is slightly too short. But obviously I dont need another sack or tent or stove or ….

  23. Spot on Martin, function is #1. Too many lighweight packs are just dyneema rubble sacks with mesh pockets that hand all the weight off your shoulders.
    Getting a well designed, comfy and function pack that weighs a few more grams is fine, just stick light stuff in it :o)

    Ben, it must be similar as both packs fit me perfectly. I’ll check tomorrow (they’re on the top of Holly’s cupboard and she’s asleep…). Remind me if I don’t, I’m rubbish at keeping up with comms.

  24. Ben my AMP 35 is size three and I am 6’2. THe length is perfect. With a capitol P. Nice thing about Macpac is they do varied back lengths.

    Of to look for the AMP 40 and see what it has over my 35.

  25. Dont worry I have been checking the Manufacturers info. I have the other problem with kids they wont go to bed so I can go out for a run.

  26. Other than the macpac website, is there anywhere else that sells these? Bit of a bugger to find.

  27. There’s two folk in the Lakes do them, Needle Sports and George Fisher, both in Keswick.

    That’s about it I think. Shame, it’s a killer pack.

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  29. One thing the Macpac has on the Villain is that they make it in a few sizes. For years I’ve hung on for a large Villian, but to no avail. The large Karrimor Alpiniste was a perfect fit, but the Villian never went there.

    Following this month’s Trail I researched it and have just ordered a size 3 from Needlesport – very excited.

    One thing I noticed, PTC, is that in Trail it’s listed in the “Used and Abused” section as having been used by you in the article in that issue and in one picture you are sat next to one. But in the other pictures you’re using the Haglofs!! Can I claim my free kit for having sussed you?

  30. Hi Stu, good call on the Amp 40. The size 2 I use is the same fit as my old regular-back Alpiniste, so hopefully the 3 will be the same as the old tall.

    I really did use the Amp on the Assynt trip, and most overnighters last year for that matter. It was Phil that had the Haglofs LIM pack, Mike had a Villain and Marian had a Golite something or other.
    So, no free kit I’m afraid :o)

  31. Bugger…

    Still – OMM must be missing a trick. I’ve wanted a Villian since I “went light” and remebered my excellent times with an Alpiniste. Last year I did the OMM (walked like C3PO for two weeks after) and really wanted an OMM pack, but had to settle for my Osprey Talon 22.

    I’d be OMMed to the hilt if they catered for the loftier gentleman.

  32. Longer back lengths were top of the to-do list when Mike was there.
    I don’t know where the kit’s going these days, the packs have been needing various things sorted for the past couple of years.
    It’s a bummer, the kit was on the cusp of being perfect for me.

  33. Finally gave the Amp a run out last week – an almost sub aquatic two days in the Munros east of Bridge of Orchy.
    First the weaker points. For some reason all the straps are about 3 ft too long. I’ve tied them on at the ends to prevent “strap slap” but it still leaves huge loops. Also, the logo on the shoulder strap has already peeled off – I assume the one on the lid will go the same way. Also the pack does look a tiny bit (mine is the less smart black and red) “Millets”.

    Pluss points – it really does carry well (although I did experience a tiny bit of hip belt loosening), close, flexible and supportive. Perhaps best of all is the “on the go” stowage. The hip pockets are the best I’ve used. The night was terrible – tent flattened a few times, horizontal rain – so I scarpered in the pre-dawn hours. The wind was truly insane, but I was able to keep my tent from disappearing over Rannoch Moor by stuffing it in the large mesh pocket on the back as I un-pegged it. Almost the best bit of all, though, are those odd horizontal pockets behind the hip pockets which took a Silva brilliantly.

    Overall – very happy!

  34. Your tent might have ended up at the bothy on the other side of Rannoch where we were at the same time!

    Glad the Amp’s coming up positive for you.
    The logo’s are rubbish, heat transfered onto siliconised fabric? Aye, well done Macpac, that’ll work.
    They’ve gone back to embroidery this year :o)

  35. Strangely I enjoy the insane weather. Sunny and views is all well and good, but a proper hooly really adds to the feeling of being out on a limb. On your own, at 900m with no visibility and horizontal rain is all very dramatic. During a break in the weather at night I crept out for a slash. The cloud had cleared for a stint. It was still freezing, but above the stars were all visible. I’d camped at the bealach East of Beinn Achalada and the crags of the Northern Corries were rising either side of me, the gullies picked out in snow and the crags also dropping away at my feet (I’d camped on the North side). I actually felt scared for a short while it was all so big and lonely.

    Pretty cool. My socks are still drying.

  36. Camping like that does bring a range of emotions doesn’t it?
    I love it, you never know what to expect, but you always come back with a head full of memories.

    Good job Stu.

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