The Arc’Teryx Alpha FL pack may be the best small pack money can buy. Over several months and countless adventures, I have come to really like my bright orange ArcTeryx Alpha FL pack. It may seem a bit odd to name a pack, but if they are naming swords in Game of Thrones, then I should be able to name my gear without too many odd looks, right? So, with little deliberation I settled on the name Merida, after the spunky red-headed star in Disney’s Brave. I felt it was fitting.

Alpha Pack
Merida, the ArcTeryx Alpha FL waterproof pack

My affection for Merida began the moment I opened the box she was delivered in. The supple yet rugged feel of the fabric, the bright color, and the delightfully simple design all begged, “Take me on an adventure.” I was happy to oblige.


The design is incredibly simple. There is an elastic cord that crisscrosses the front of the pack, which is perfect for quick access to a bulky jacket or hanging wet clothes to dry as you walk. The pack features a roll-top closure inside of the drawcord top. There is one strap that adds extra security or to hold miscellaneous items (like a rope) to the top of the pack. The roll-top closure combined with the outer fabric keeps the contents of the pack totally dry. I tested this by tossing Merida into a deep swimming hole and pulling her under – not a drop of water inside the pack. This would be a great pack for shorter day trips down your favorite canyon!

Alpha Pack
Bag in water. No water in bag.

On another day I was caught in an unexpected thunderstorm. The rain was so intense that after several hours there were only two things dry: the contents of my Arc’Teryx Alpha FL pack and my feet, which were inside my Salewa Condor boots. Even my rain jacket had given up long ago and was totally soaked through!

The waist belt is a simple two inch webbing, no padding and no frills. The sternum strap is height adjustable, too.

Through many adventures, long hikes, rope soloing, swimming, and numerous rain storms, the ArcTeryx Alpha FL pack has not disappointed me. The only small complaint I could find was that the foam padding does not extend down to the bottom of the pack. When carrying a full trad rack I had a few sharp bits protruding uncomfortably into my lower back. However, this was easily fixed by putting my harness and shoes into the pack first rather than after a large rack of carabiners, camming devices, and nut tools.


  • No superfluous frills
  • Incredibly light
  • Roll top closure
  • Waterproof
  • Color is awesome!


  • Foam back support does not cover the whole back of the pack

Final Thoughts

Merida and I have traveled across the country, from the wild chaparral-filled lands of coastal California to steep rock faces deep in West Virginia. She has been dragged through manzanita, across razor sharp rocks, and drenched in torrential thunderstorms. After all this, I can say without a hint of reservation: I LOVE this pack and she handled with aplomb everything I could dish!

Tech Specs
Manufacturer: Arc’Teryx
Date available: Currently available
MSRP: $199.00
Listed Weight: 20oz
Actual Weight: 
Materials: N400r-AC² nylon 6 ripstop, high density polyethylene foam, and N100mr-HT and N70r-HT nylon

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