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Mountain Hardwear PCT 65 - Women's Review

If you love pockets and want a storage solution for everything, this may be the pack for you
mountain hardwear pct 65 for women backpack review
Credit: Mountain Hardwear
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Price:  $300 List | $299.99 at Backcountry
Pros:  Large u-zip opening, durable, massive side pockets
Cons:  Bulky, lightly padded harness, small hipbelt pockets
Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear
By Madison Botzet ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 22, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 12
  • Comfort and Suspension - 45% 6.0
  • Organizational systems - 20% 7.0
  • Weight - 20% 6.0
  • Adjustability - 15% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Mountain Hardwear PCT 65 is a unique pack with many organizational features. If you're the type of person who wants a compartment for everything, this pack is made for you. The PCT is the kind of pack that you want to familiarize yourself with before you take it out because there are so many places to store things and many different ways to pack. Nevertheless, this is a great choice for a rugged, large-capacity pack for the pocket-loving backpacker.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $300 List
$299.99 at Backcountry
$254.96 at Amazon
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$325 List
$325.00 at REI
$154.07 at Amazon
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$280 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
64
75
74
73
72
Star Rating
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Pros Large u-zip opening, durable, massive side pocketsStable and sturdy, very comfortable, adjustable, spaciousComfortable, plush padding, highly adjustable, good number of pockets, easy-to-remove top lidUltra comfortable, roomy, inexpensive, durable, can fit a bear can horizontally, low center of gravity, airy mesh frameComfortable, lightweight, supportive suspension, simple design, large pockets
Cons Bulky, lightly padded harness, small hipbelt pocketsHeavy, overbuilt for lighter missionsLarge, spring-loaded waistband is hard to get into, suspension can feel bulky, expensiveNot many bells and whistles, set torso adjustment points, no back stash pocketNon-ventilated back panel, fewer organizational features
Bottom Line If you love pockets and want a storage solution for everything, this may be the pack for youThis pack provides unparalleled comfort and support for heavy loads with an excellent feature setThis pack has stood the test of time year after year with its unparalleled ventilation, comfortable straps, and a full range of adjustable featuresThis simple pack combines comfort, volume, and price; it will take you anywhere and won’t break the bankA durable, straightforward bag with all the right pockets and suspension that will keep your back, hips, and shoulders comfortable all day
Rating Categories Mountain Hardwear P... Gregory Deva 60 Osprey Aura AG 65 Osprey Renn 65 Ultralight Adventur...
Comfort and Suspension (45%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Organizational systems (20%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Weight (20%)
6.0
5.0
5.0
7.0
9.0
Adjustability (15%)
7.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
4.0
Specs Mountain Hardwear P... Gregory Deva 60 Osprey Aura AG 65 Osprey Renn 65 Ultralight Adventur...
Measured Weight 3.7 lbs 4.7 lbs 4.5 lbs 3.6 lbs 2.7 lbs
Volumes Available 50, 65 liters 60, 70 liters 50, 65 liters 50, 65 liters 68 liters
Organization Compartments Lid, side pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment, daypack included Lid, front pocket, hip belt pockets, 1 water bottle compartment, main compartment Lid, front pocket, side pockets, dual front pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment Lid, side pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment Side pockets, front pocket, hip belt pockets, main compartment
Access Top cinch, bottom u zip Top, side, bottom Top, side, bottom Top, bottom Top
Hydration Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Rain Cover Included No No No Yes No
Women's Specific Features Women's specific fit Slim profile and women’s-specific Response A3W Suspension Women's specific fit Women's specific fit S-Curve Shoulder Straps
Sleeping bag Compartment Optional divider Yes Yes No No
Bear Can Compatible Yes - Vertical Yes - Vertical and Horizontal Yes - Vertical Yes - Vertical and Horizontal Yes - Vertical
Main Materials Recycled 210D ripstop shell, 500D CORDURA base 210D 40% Recycled Nylon & 420D 45% Recycled Nylon with PFC-Free DWR Nylon 600D polyester 500 Cordura
Sizes Available S/M, M/L XS, S, M XS, S, M One size, with adjustable torso S, M, L, XL, Kids

Our Analysis and Test Results

What separates this pack from the rest is that it has lots of spacious pockets for all of your gear. It has two separate zippered chambers on the lid, seven total exterior pockets, and even an integrated daypack that comes off so that you can stay organized at camp. Even better, the PCT 65 is made entirely of Nylon (no mesh to be ripped here) which is a unique feature of a backpack with so many storage options.

Performance Comparison


mountain hardwear pct 65 for women backpack review - if you love pockets, this is the pack for you.
If you love pockets, this is the pack for you.
Credit: Jeffrey Mogavero

Comfort and Suspension


For a pack with a large capacity meant to carry a heavy load, we found the PCT 65 to be lacking in comfort features. While the harness is a women's specific fit and is comfortable, the hip belt left us wanting more. It is small and thinly padded. The hip belt seems disproportionate to the rest of the heavily featured pack. Despite the small hip belt, the pack has some redeeming comfort qualities. The trampoline back panel provides nice ventilation and kept us from feeling what was in our packs which, made it a pretty comfy choice overall.

mountain hardwear pct 65 for women backpack review - with a comfy back trampoline panel, the pct is ready to take on any...
With a comfy back trampoline panel, the PCT is ready to take on any hike you throw its way.
Credit: Madison Botzet

Organizational Systems


This metric is where the PCT shines; that is, if you like lots of compartments. One of our favorite features about this pack is that the hydration bladder pack is removable and actually turns into a daypack. It was nice not to have to schlep our whole backpack with us on short day hikes from camp or on missions to find water. The PCT also has two giant side pockets that can easily accommodate a water bottle and packable layer, which we appreciate.

mountain hardwear pct 65 for women backpack review - the hydration bladder-holder doubles as a daypack.
The hydration bladder-holder doubles as a daypack.
Credit: Jeffrey Mogavero

One drawback to having lots of storage features is that the pack felt bulky and at times, the excessive pockets felt unnecessary, depending on what we packed. If you are bringing rope, a harness, and a helmet, there's plenty of room and the pockets are appreciated. But if you tend to pack a bit lighter, you might find all the compartments to be overkill.

While this pack has a plethora of huge pockets, the hipbelt pocket...
While this pack has a plethora of huge pockets, the hipbelt pocket was too small to even fit a granola bar in.
Shown here on the PCT is one of the biggest outer pockets we've ever...
Shown here on the PCT is one of the biggest outer pockets we've ever seen on a backpack. Easily big enough to fit camp shoes, an extra layer, and more.

Weight


At 4.2 pounds, the PCT isn't light, but it certainly isn't the heaviest pack on the market either. For the capacity, it feels like a bigger pack but doesn't come at the cost of additional weight. Lighter weight fabric generally sacrifices durability but cuts a few ounces. While this pack is made out of a heavier recycled 210-Denier ripstop shell and a 500-Denier Cordura base, it makes up for it by being very durable.

Adjustability


An average adjustability rating score was warranted for this pack. The frame is easy to adjust for multiple torso sizes just by moving the velcro harness, which we appreciated. But the hip belt is a fixed size, meaning it may not totally cradle your hips depending on your size and shape. We wish the hipbelt was adjustable, or at the least, a smidge bigger to accommodate more people.

mountain hardwear pct 65 for women backpack review - most of the packs we tested have an adjustable torso length, like...
Most of the packs we tested have an adjustable torso length, like the PCT shown here.
Credit: Jeffrey Mogavero

Value


The PCT comes with a steep price tag. The plus side is that you're paying for durability and longevity. And if you take trips in rugged environments, appreciate organized storage, and don't mind the hip belt, this might be the pack for you. If you want a more straightforward pack, you can probably get one at a lower price.

Conclusion


For the person who loves organization and takes trips in rugged backcountry places, the Mountain Hardwear PCT 65 could be your dream pack. It has lots of pockets, it stands out for its durability over many miles on the trail, and it feels like it has a bigger capacity than 65 liters. There's much to like about this hardwearing pack.

Madison Botzet
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