Montane Trailblazer 25 Review

Here at TrekSumo, we like to get real answers from real hikers by asking you all to give us your thoughts and opinions on particular pieces gear. Today’s Montane Trailblazer 25 review is courtesy of one of my running/hiking colleagues, Katy. She took this ultralightweight rucksack on the 3 Peaks Challenge – a gruelling challenge that requires athletes hike, walk and climb three of the highest peaks in the UK.

We gave her the Trailblazer 25, a 25 litre daypack designed with ultralightweight hikers in mind, and asked her to test it to the limts. And she did.

Here’s what she has to say…

Background

I needed a comfortable rucksack that would be suitable for climbing the Yorkshire three peaks. There are strict rules surrounding the equipment you can pack and I wanted to go as lightweight as possible.

At 5′ 2″, I have a small frame and find larger rucksack to be too big and bulky. One of the biggest issues I have with big backpacks is restriction they place on my arms movements when hiking – nothing is more irritating that not being able to synchronise your arm and leg movements when you want to move fast. This wasn’t an issue with the Trailblazer 25 as the pack is pretty narrow.

Although I’m a fairly recent convert to hiking and the intricacies that come with some gear, the Trailblazer was easy to figure out. The only issue I ran into was how to best secure my walking poles to the pack. I didn’t read the website instructions, and the attached information label didn’t give me any insights.

walking pole restraints
Getting my walking poles fitted securely was a little baffling!

The issue was resolved at the start of the 3 Peaks. I’ll explain shortly.

On the day of the hike I packed 2 litres of water, a changed of clothes, some snacks, lip balm, suncream and – the most important piece of gear for recording the journey – my phone. The small pockets on the straps and waistband were perfect for storing the smaller items. But the shoulder strap pockets were simply too small for my phone, and I tucked it into the large side pocket.

Not having my phone to hand was a little disappointing as reaching the zipper was not easy. On a few occasions, when a photo opp appeared, I stopped hiking and took off my rucksack to reach my phone. This is a small irritation that I can live with.

On the plus side, the pockets on the shoulder straps are the perfect size for a pair of sunglasses. It’s a shame it rained for most of the hike!

Design

The Trailblazer 25 design provides maximum storage space in the main compartment. I’ve owned a couple of other packs which, to my mind, weren’t optimised for storing gear. I won’t mention the brand, but my first backpack lost a lot of storage capacity because of the back support configuration.

One feature I must mention is what Montane call the ‘Cord Lock quick release adjustment’. I love this as it made opening and closing the lid, and tensioning the straps simple. 10 out of 10 to Montane for this design feature.

Montane’s newer packs have a body-hugging harness called COVALENT. It’s super-easy to set up. During my hike there were times when I needed to adjust the fit, and this simplicity of the harness made this easy.

In the same way, the waistband was easy to adjust and sat at just the right position on my hips.

The mesh panel on the back of the rucksack doe a great job of allow heat to dissipate. Not all my previous packs had this feature and I often found a lot of sweat building up on my back, with is uncomfortable, and unpleasant. One thought to bear in mind – you will sweat when you work hard and no system will keep you fully dry.

The mesh back and adjustable system make the Trailblazer a very comfotable rucksack

On the lid of the pack is a good-sized pocket in which I put my map and compass. One point to be aware of – this pocket is fabricated from a mesh material which means it’s not waterproof. The waistband pockets, which are also pretty sizeable, are made of the same material.

The walking poles restraint issue was resolved by one of the marhals, a seasoned Montane user, who showed the right way to secure them.

Comfort

Overall, I found the Trailblazer a very comfortable rucksack. The combination of a snug fit, adjustable straps and the heat dissipation features make this a great option for anyone planning an ultralightweight hike.

The wide shoulder straps spread the weight and didn’t cut into my shoulders, a problem I’ve had in the past. Likewise, although not heavily padded, the waistband is wide and sits high on my waist and I didn’t experience any rubbing.

Another cool feature is the double chest strap configuration. This pulls the shoulder straps forward. reducing the uncomfortable pull you feel on your shoulders when wearing a heavy ruck.

montane trailblazer chest straps
The dual chest straps are super secure and easy to use

The adjustable back system allowed to me to configure the Trailblazer so that it was a perfect fit to my body size. For most of the hike, I barely noticed the pack on my back.

Materials

The Trailblazer 25 is built using the following materials:

  • RAPTOR Cross Lite 70 Denier fabric – a 0.005 inches (0.13mm) thick layer of nylon. Seems pretty rugged to me.
  • RAPTOR Resistance 210 Denier base panels – much thicker layer of nylon used for the body of the Trailblazer. My pack took a few knocks and scrapes whilst I was navigating through rocky terrain, and there were no punctures or tears in the material
  • CONTACT Air Mesh Plus on harness
  • CONTACT Open Mesh back panel
  • HALO lining – a water resistant layer of material that helps protect my gear from the rain on the hike. I’m not sure how well this will perform in a torrential downpour, but it was very effective at keeping my kit dry during light showers.

Pros

Buy the Montane Trailblazer 25 rucksack if:

  • You need a backpack with ample storage for ultralightweight hikes.
  • Easy adjustment and comfort are essential
  • you need only a very basic pack

Cons

This isn’t for you if:

  • You want to store your mobile phone in the chest strap pouches
  • you don’t like ‘fiddley’ pole storage
  • your need to be self-sufficient for more than a few days

FAQs

A few frequently asked questions that came up:

What are the Trailblazer 25 dimensions?

The pack is 54cm (H) x 25.5cm (W) x 18.5cm (D)

Is the Trailblazer 25 waterproof?

Yes, it keeps your gear dry in light showers and rainfall.

Is it comfortable on long hikes?

Yes. I wore the Trailblazer on a 12 hour backpacking trip and it was comfortable because of the many adjustments options.

Looking for a slightly bigger rucksack for you hikes and trips? Check out our other reviews:

Deuter Guide 35+

Lowe Alpine 35

Buy the Montane Trailblazer 25 at Amazon

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