Checking out my camp for the night…on the other side of the Grand Canyon, with the Volpi Ultralight 45 on my back.
Overview: After reading a startup article on how Matteo from Volpi Outdoors was bringing ultralight gear to Mexico while simultaneously bringing tangible growth to his community, I knew I had to learn more. Besides this one article though, there wasn’t a ton of information on this brand and its products. So I took upon myself to test out their flagship pack. After months of abuse, I’m ready to review the Volpi Ultralight 45 Pack.
Testing Locations: on and off trail in West Texas, about 200 miles of the AZT, and slot canyons across Grand-Staircase Escalante.
The Volpi Ultralight 45 front and center, ready for its maiden voyage on a Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim of the Grand Canyon. Pictured are my trusted Gryphon Gear Aries 30, the Goosefeet Gear Down Jacket, the Senchi Wren, the OPSak, the Sawyer Squeeze, the NU25 headlamp, and the Garmin In-Reach Mini.
- 405g / 14.27oz
- 45 Liters Internal
- VX07 Pack Material
- Nylon Mesh Front Pocket
- Load Lifters
- Removable Hip Belt
- S-Shaped Shoulder Straps
- Daisy Chain Attachment Points
- Adjustable Sternum-Strap
- Drybag Roll-Top Closure
- Ice Axe or Trekking Pole Attachment
- Compression Straps
- Elastic Side Pockets
- Haul Loop
The Volpi Ultralight 45, with a base weight under six pounds and about four days of food.
Customer Service: Matteo is extremely approachable. Every message I've sent him, no matter how trivial, has been met with overflowing enthusiasm and knowledge, at lightning fast speeds. I left most of our conversations feeling incredibly optimistic about the world. You can tell he's passionate about backpacking — from the way he talks to the design of his builds. It all stems from his life experience. At the end of the day, you're dealing with the creator of your pack themselves. Nobody is leaving you in a lurch. I had an all around great experience.
The Weight. Because why carry more than necessary; just bring enough. That's always been my motto. In terms of weight, Volpi’s is a true ultralight pack. These days, many ultralight brands are adding features, and as a consequence more weight to their packs. Some similar frameless packs will weigh several ounces over one pound!
Not the Volpi Ultralight 45. It holds the quintessence of an ultralight pack; only what you need. Yet it offers more volume than other similar ultralight packs on the market. Many packs offer just 40 liters, and that may also include the external volume of the pack as well. With the Volpi, you have the capacity to carry any extra ESSENTIAL gear or food, without your lighterpack taking a hit.
This pack is the definition of ultralight.
The Durability. The Ultralight 45 has been one of the most durable packs I’ve had the pleasure to test. X-Pac VX07 is a classic pack material that has been around since the early days of ultralight backpacking. It’s incredibly light, highly tear resistant, and exceedingly water resistant. When traveling off-trail to bag the tallest peaks in Texas, I had to navigate through thick bush and thorns, climb up and downclimb gullies, and crawl through literal serpentine wire to reach the objectives. The Volpi hardly had a scratch on it, while I can’t exactly say the same thing about my legs or hands. This experience was again underscored along the AZT, as well as when navigating through slot canyons in Grand-Staircase Escalante.
Affordable. The Ultralight 45 is one of the most affordable ultralight packs on the market BECAUSE it keeps the features light.
Light on features equals light on price and light on load!
Side Compressions Straps. Many ultralight pack makers only add one single strip of bungee cord across the side panel of the pack, to act as the one point of compression. In turn, minimal compression is achieved, making the bungee cord largely ceremonial, with its only real utility being that it keeps long items in place. Volpi’s side compression straps run the entirety of the pack’s side panel. Doing so achieves maximal compression, allowing the pack to be used as a day pack or summit pack, despite its large internal volume. Of course, the compression straps can still be used to house long items, making the Volpi Ultralight 45 extremely versatile.
Load Lifters. That’s right, load lifters. On a frameless pack. To be frank, the term load lifters is a bit misleading here. Without a frame, and especially when not using the hip belt, there is no load being lifted. HOWEVER, they do an amazing job at pulling the weight of the pack closer to you, as well as contouring it to your body. You can see from the pictures that the pack is perfectly fitted to my torso, and is in no way pulling away from me.
Hip Belt. If you're going on a trip where you're carrying extra gear, food, water, or any load over 25 pounds, having the option to add a hip belt to your go-to pack is invaluable. It makes it so your one pack can cover a variety of trip types. The hipbelt itself is plenty wide and comfortable, and helps bring the pack closer to your torso, a useful feature if you're carrying a lot of weight or scrambling off-trail. Adding or removing the hip belt is as simple as opening and closing the velcro strap.
S-Straps. I have a metal plate on my right collar bone, and reduced mobility on that side of my torso, leaving me particularly vulnerable to ill-made shoulder straps. Seriously, pack straps can make or break a pack for me.
There’s no way around it, these shoulder straps are extremely plush, even after hundreds of miles of hiking across the desert southwest. I’ve carried up to 25 pounds with this pack, with no hip belt in use, and have remained pain free. Well…as pain free as you can be carrying 25 pounds up a mountain.
Lighter Materials. X-Pac is tried and true, so it is far from cutting edge. There are even light and more abrasion resistant versions of X-Pac on the market now (versus the X-Pac VX07 used to construct the Volpi Ultralight 45)!
Nowadays, most pack makers are shifting to Robic to save money while still producing ultralight packs, or to EcoPack for its ability to be light, durable, and seam-taped — and because it’s made with 100% recycled fiber and film.
The X-Pac VX07 material used to make the Volpi Ultralight 45 is durable, handling abrasion from sand and thorns.
Not Customizable. As I said, this is an ultralight pack and there is no deviating from that formula. At the moment, Volpi makes their packs with a standard set of features and uses the same materials for each and every pack.
I yearn for a bottom pocket, which I deem nearly essential in all my packs. I wish I could switch out the hard mesh for something lighter or more robust. The same could be said for the side compression straps.
Pack Rub. The pack's versatility has one flaw; the strip of fabric that houses the hip belt rises enough above the main pack that it creates a friction point. Add the raised cross grid pattern found on this variant of Xpack fabric, and you have a major abrasion creator. This one spot has caused piling on at least two different sun hoodies, worn over several trips. I don’t baby any of my gear to begin with, so the pilling isn’t a huge concern for me, especially since the rubbing only affected the shirts, and not my actual skin. However, for some backpackers, this may be of concern.
Good to Know
Many cottage brands are entering the fastpacking market by introducing packs that use running-vest style straps, instead of the traditional S or J style straps.
Fear not, Volpi is entering the fray as well. Back in April, they started working on the Volpi Ultralight 35L Fast Pack. It sports wide running-vest style steps, to better distribute the pack's weight across the entire chest, and is the first pack with which Volpi uses EcoPack.
My experience with EcoPack as a material has been stellar so far, and if these straps are one tenth as comfortable as those on the Ultralight 45, then I eagerly await to get my hands on this new pack.
Matteo has created an ultralight backpacking company that has made a lasting positive impact on his community. The Volpi Ultralight 45 is a spacious and comfortable no-frills ultralight pack. Although there are no customizable options on the pack, Volpi is expanding its line to serve a range of needs.
The Volpi Ultralight 45 in action. Thanks for reading.
Rafael is a freelance writer and adventurer based in the Mountain West. You can find him trail running, backpacking, or sampling the best tacos during his free time. Follow all his adventures over on Instagram, or read more of his work over on his website.