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The North Face Prophet 45

Last year we spent a considerable amount of our time with the MG35 on our backs. This year we opted for its bigger brother, the Prophet 45, a top-access, sturdy 1.7kg pack designed for serious alpine use. After putting it through its paces and a final tout to Mont Blanc, here's our breakdown analysis:

The core of every rucksack is without a doubt its backsystem. In this case the Prophet has been fitted with a carbon fibre X-Frame, which is 40% lighter than traditional aluminum frames. The two stays are obviously hidden from view behind the large cushioned backpanel, and provides decent padding, as does the wide hip belt which, coupled with the contoured padded shoulder straps, is probably the best design feature of the entire rucksack: even fully loaded the streamlined pack handled well, distributing the weight evenly and hugging close to the body. The entire system can be swiftly adjusted to provide a comfortable fit for all backlengths by simply pulling the strap located behind the waist belt.

The pack is made of a mix of three fabrics: lighweight 210D Dyneema and, where needed, resistant 500D and 330D Cordura. As should be expected, the base is doubled to protect against abrasion. Reflective strips have been added for nighttime visibility, and a central pocket has been added to the front of the pack for crampons. A vast array of compression straps, ice axe loops and ski holders complete the picture which, to tell the truth, at first sight seems bewildering. But it takes little time to get used to these functions, which perform well.

Whilst externally the pack has almost all, inside it has almost nothing. Being a top loader, you have to dig in deep to get to the gear at the bottom of the sack, but we prefer this system for mountaineering sacks as it's more robust, lighter and, in many ways, easier to ram gear into the pack. The main compartment is sealed off by an enormous (finally!) snow collar, which enables the pack's volume to be extended to 64 liters should it prove necessary. The compartment is tapered and has been fitted with an inner 2-liter hydration pocket - as is always the case take care not to leave protruding gear close to the hydration pack.

The simple elasticated lid can be removed if necessary or can extended for added volume, and has a large top pocket which, in turn, has a small zipped mesh pocket designed to hold keys, penknife etc.

Other features include:
- wide adjustable side ski slots
- adjustable elastic ice axe loops
- side compression straps
- chest strap
- central rope compression strap
- gear loops on hip belt and lid
- two oversized red haul loops
- two side pockets

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The North Face

Technical details:
Access: Top
Dimensions: 58 cm x 33 cm x 20 cm
Fabric: 210D Dyneema Uberfabric, 500D Cordura(r), 330D Cordura(r)
Torso Fit Range: [M] 43 cm-50 cm [L] 48 cm-56 cm
Volume: (Extended): [M] 65 liters [L] 70 liters
Volume: (Standard): [M] 45 liters [L] 50 liters
Weight: (Average): [M] 1745 g [L] 1900 g

- excellent shoulder straps and hip belt
- extra-large snow collar
- gear loops on hip belt

- side pockets too small
- frontal crampon pocket slightly narrow
- lid could be larger


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