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Rab Aeon Ultra 28L review

This lightweight backpack is an extremely versatile choice for moving quickly in the mountains.

By: Kyle Frost + Save to a List

Rab Equipment touts the Aeon Ultra (28L) as the "ultimate all-conditions pack for fast hikers and mountain runners." Naturally, that sounded right up my alley so I was excited to take this pack for a spin. I spent much of spring and summer trail running, fast packing and hut-to-hut hiking through the alps and put this pack through the wringer. I'm happy to say that I'm a big fan, and it's *nearly* a perfect pack for me, although it's not without its flaws.

Testing conditions ranged widely. On a trip to Austria, the Aeon Ultra 28L was the only bag I brought for a week in the Innsbruck area, fast-packing the Karwendel Hohenweg a demanding 42-mile route with 13,000ft of elevation gain. I followed that up with another overnight trip near Champery, Switzerland, and then used it as my primary backpack while traveling for six weeks through the alps. Not only did it serve as a great travel pack, but I wore it on hikes, trail runs, and via ferrata routes.

A day of technical ridge scrambling

Features

The Aeon Ultra 28L weighs in at around 700g, and sports a running-style vest combined with a roll-top rucksack. The right strap has a pocket designed for 500ml soft-flask, and zipper pockets on the hip-belt and stretchy side-pockets make for easy storage and quick access. The packing is made with water-resistant fabic, and the main compartment has fully taped seams.

The good

The pack is extremely comfortable and has plenty of room for all kinds of gear. It felt good on my back at basically every packing level, and the running-style straps + hip belt kept things feeling secure while scrambling technical ridge lines and vertical via ferrata routes. I did several 10+ miles days that combined scrambling, hiking, and running and felt like the pack performed well in all conditions.

28L is a great size for carrying extra clothes plus a bit of technical gear, or packing for a quick 1 or 2 night trip. Or, in the alps, basically indefinitely -- thanks to the insane hut systems. The stretchy stuff pocket on the back allows for easy access to a raincoat, jacket, or snacks. I only briefly had the chance to test the weather sealing, but all impressions showed that everything remained dry.

The downsides

The side stretch pockets are a bit less durable than I'd like. Granted, I was scrambling on pretty technical ridges (sometimes on my butt) and hugging close to the wall on via ferrata routes, but for a pack that is targeted to folks moving quickly through challenging terrain, the pockets developed more wear and tear (and a few rips) than I'd like. Not a deal-breaker, but something for Rab to consider in future version. Additionally, I while I like stretchy pockets, the pocket material maybe has a *little* too much. I found myself having to think carefully about how I stashed my soft-flask water bottles because I was concerned they might slip out with excessive jostling.

Who's it for?

At the 28L size, this pack functions best as a lightweight fast-packing backpack. The light weight and combo running vest + rucksack makes it extremely versatile for high-movement days in the mountains. While it works for running, if you're more on the running than fast-hiking side, or trend towards shorter distances, the 20L might be a better fit. Overall, the Rab Aeon Ultra 28L is a pack I'd definitely recommend.

https://rab.equipment/us/rab-aeon-ultra-28-lightweight-pack

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