An excellent balance of lightweight construction, organizational features, and carrying capability, the Exped Thunder 50 backpack is a versatile backcountry performer. Despite weighing less than 3.5 pounds, the pack hauls heavy loads comfortably.
Equipped with an innovative, light weight suspension system, durable Dyneema construction and a wealth of gear attachment points, the Exped Thunder 50 is a great option for alpinists or ounce counting backpackers. Let’s take a closer look at what makes the pack so unique.
Let’s start by turning the pack around and having a look at Exped’s T-Rex suspension system. The first thing that jumped out at me when I saw the Thunder pack was how little seems to be there as far as the suspension system is concerned, very clean. And, again, at a first look might suggest that this pack isn’t capable of the load hauling that it very much is. The reason it is, you have got an aluminum stay that runs from the top of the pack down through the bottom. There is a little bit of additional support here at the very top of the pack and also behind the lumbar padding and the wrapped, padded hip belt as well that together give this the rigidity it needs to carry the 3000 cubic inches worth of gear and clothes that it can carry. It has got padding here high on the harness and it has got that lower padding we already referenced. But it skips it where, frankly, it is just not needed. That keeps the weight of this pack down under three and a half pounds. It also gives a little room for air to move and circulate as well.
So Exped has done a really good job of having the support where you need it and strip-ping it away where you do not.
Something else worth pointing out here on the suspension system is the torso adjustability. By flipping down the lumbar pad there, you can loosen some of the straps and you will see that that harness lifts and lowers along that aluminum stay. So regardless of your torso length, you can really dial in fit to make sure that the Thunder 50 is fitting you appropriately.
Let’s go ahead and look at the organizational features of the Thunder 50. And I flip that pack back around so we can look at the face of the pack. It is lidded. It is a top loading pack. So undo the straps here so we can take a look at that. There is storage on the lid. There is a zippered pocket underneath the lid and then a large zippered pocket on the top of the lid. So a lot of nice storage there. That can be removed entirely if you simply don’t need that additional storage, you want to travel a little lighter. There is a spindrift collar that cinches down here at the top of the pack so the contents of the pack bag remain protected even if you don’t have that lid with you.
That opens up quite broadly so that is easy to get gear in and out of the Thunder 50. In addition to that top loading access you do also have panel access on the pack. Opening that Velcro flap, the Velcro here and there is actually zippers that run the length of the face of the pack here to get you not the interior of the pack bag. So a ton of storage inside there. And whether you are going in through the top or you are using that panel loading access, you can really easily get to the internal contents of the pack. A lot of times on a pack like this it is really through the top or that is it. And the things can tend to get a little buried on the interior, so a nice feature set there.
Big stretch pocket here on the face of the pack. You can put all kinds of layers or other gear in there. You also have stretch water bottle pockets on the side. You can put other gear in there as well. You have got large, zippered stretch pockets on either side of the hip belt, so just another great place to store gear and keep that gear close at hand.
You do have trekking pole or tool attachments here. You have got ice axe loops at the bottom of the pack, the daisy chain gear attachment points that run up either side of the pack.
If you look at the compression straps on the pack that help cinch down the load, so if you don’t have this full it is still making sure that everything stays nice and secure. There is a lot of extra strap here that Exped includes so you can run those straps in a number of different layouts, all kinds of ways to lash gear to this pack to carry more externally than it looks like the pack is capable of in terms of its internal capacity, really smart feature set there and gives this pack a ton of versatility.
With its innovative, lightweight and durable construction and all those well thought out gear attachment points, organizational features, the Exped Thunder 50 really is a versatile option for alpine climbing, backpacking or even day hiking.