Montane Medusa 32 Review
Montane Medusa 32 Review
The Montane Medusa 32 L is a lightweight and durable backpack designed for hiking and climbing. Big enough for any day trek, overnight camp, and lightweight backpacking trip, the slim profile doesn’t restrict your movement as you go up and down mountains. Soft padding provides expert comfort on your back and shoulders even after hours of walking.
A top loading design gives you lots of space inside and is more than capable of hauling heavy loads and on the outside, there are plenty of loops to hang things from. I have used this bag for about 4 months before writing this Montane Medusa 32 review and plan to keep using it for the foreseeable future. Let’s take a look at some of the specs and features of this hiking backpack.
- Weight: 967 g
- Volume: 32 liters
- Main Fabric: RAPTOR TL fabric with DWR
- Bottom Fabric: RAPTOR UTL ultra tough base
- Lining Fabric: HALO fabric adds to weather protection
- Accent Fabric: GRANITE STRETCH skirt around lid
- Back Panel: Moulded Comfort Back Pad
- Top-loading design with wide mouth opening
- Comfort back system
- Buddy pocket with internal security pocket
- Body curve padded hip straps with zipper pocket
- Left hip gear loop
- Front gear loop attachment point
- Hydration reservoir and H2O port
Who is the Montane Medusa for?
The Montane Medusa is for hikers, climbers, ramblers, and adventurers who want a backpack that is lightweight, comfortable, and durable enough for extreme challenges. Long distance hikers and alpine climbers might see a lot of potential in this pack which weighs less than a kilogram, can be loaded up with gear and doesn’t sacrifice on comfort.
Whether you are looking for a slightly larger daypack or are looking to carry less gear and become more mobile and lightweight, the Medusa has something to offer everyone. There is ample space inside for a variety of gear and more than enough attachment points on the outside to hang poles, ice axes, rope, and camping equipment. It is also worth mentioning that I carried my laptop to work in it today.
The padding on the straps is soft and comfortable even against bare skin with a density similar to memory foam but thinner and more robust. The back panel is made of the same padding but is slightly thicker down the central column and has diamond shaped grooves to fit the contours of your back. The waist strap is larger than you might find on most hiking daypacks which makes it better for heavier loads – like when half your gear is strapped to the outside.
I have had the pack full to the brim with clothes, food, and water with a tent, poles, sleeping bag, and pans strapped to the outside, and never had any issues with straps digging in. The chest strap helps keep the shoulder straps in place when the bag is empty but also feels more comfortable when done up with a heavier load.
The Montante Medusa is one of the toughest bags I have ever used. I have thrown it up a waterfall, brushed against countless jagged rocks and skidded down hills on my bum and yet it still looks like new. The bag is treated with a durable water repellant treatment as well as having a water resistant liner which means that rain showers and splashes will not instantly soak through. Reinforcements on the base intercept any friction caused by constantly putting your bag on the ground, which is what often causes holes in the bottom corners of standard backpacks.
Size, Shape, and Weight
At just under six feet tall, the size and shape of the Medusa is perfect for me to wear both done up tight on the trail, or slightly looser for casual wear. There is a choice between small/medium and medium/large which anyone with a smaller frame should consider but for me the shape is just right. The body fit waist straps fit comfortably to take the pressure off your shoulders and prevent rubbing. At under 1 kg, I have absolutely no complaints with the weight considering the amount it can comfortably carry.
The top loading design of the main compartment is ideal for stuffing in as much gear as possible with a drawstring closure that allows you to go above the maximum capacity if you need to. The lid features a large buddy pocket with front access and a stiffened lip to allow a friend to access it without everything falling out. On the inside of the lid, there is a security pocket with key clip and inside the main chamber, there is water bladder storage at the back.
The two Granite Stretch side pockets are big enough for two small water bottles which can be tucked under and supported by the compression straps. A handy side pocket sits on the waist strap is ideal for your phone, GPS, snacks, knife, and compass. On the other side of the waist straps is a rugged gear loop for hanging carabiners and other gear from for fast access.
The main compartment can be compressed using the two compression straps on each side as well as one at the top of the bag which is hidden by the lid. The lid can also be tightened down using the front central compression strap to make the bag as low profile as possible. When the bag is compressed down and the shoulder straps are done up tight in conjunction with the waist and chest straps this bag starts to feel like a part of me. It turns when I turn and never gets in the way or hinders my movement as I scramble across rocks.
This is an honest review of the Montane Medusa 32 so I have to say that while the ventilation is not bad, it is not great either. There are channels in the back panel to circulate air but it just does not seem as breathable as other bags I’ve tested in the past. That being said, I have never found it to be a problem but I have to try and find at least one flaw! What this Montane backpack may lack in ventilation it does make up for moisture-wicking capabilities without ever feeling sodden or soggy. Overall, the breathability is above average but just not as good as other, more ventilation focussed bags.
Ease of Use
Being a fairly technical bag with lots of adjustable straps and features, it is easy to use once you figure out the innovative drawstring closures. The ring pull design arrows you to open and close the opening with one hand and arguably makes using the bag with gloves on easier. Using high-quality Nifco buckles that are tough and flexible you can easily open them with a quick squeeze but once they are locked in you can’t pull them apart.
After this Montane Medusa 32 review, I would say that the best uses are hiking and climbing which is unsurprising considering that is what the backpack was designed for. Thru-Hikers, mountain climbers, alpine enthusiasts, and weekend walkers all love this bag because it works well and feels good to wear. With that in mind, think about all the other things you could use this bag for…. Exactly! You can use this bag for biking, snowboarding, going to the gym, or commuting to work. It is just the right size to get a lot of stuff in, without being too big or becoming a burden when it’s empty.
- Weather resistant
- Easy to pack and load up
- Ideal size for hiking and overnight treks
- Room for improvement with the ventilation
- No rain cover included
- No reflective material for walking/cycling on roads
- Side pockets are only designed to hold small bottles of water
- Back piece sometimes needs flattening out if you pack lumpy gear
I absolutely love this pack and look forward to using it every time the weekend rolls around. You know when you’re a kid and you get a new toy that makes you feel like a superhero? Well, in a similar effect, the Montane Medusa 32 makes you feel like you can do things that you wouldn’t normally do with a backpack on. For example, instead of taking my pack off to jump over a stream I feel like I can just do it wearing the bag and without losing balance.
I would recommend this bag to anyone who needs a new day pack/hiking bag, as well as to backpackers and thru-hikers who prefer to travel light without sacrificing comfort. There is very little to dislike about this bag and a lot to like so if you are on the fence about getting one, you won’t be disappointed.
Where to buy?
Hopefully, this Montane Medusa 32 Review has helped you decide whether to get this bag or not. If you don’t think this bag is for you then subscribe for more outdoor gear like this to your inbox.