Six Moon Designs founder Ron Moak started the company after thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in the late 70s, in hopes of making lighter backpacking equipment. The company started with tarps and shelters before expanding to backpacks.
The new Flight 30 Ultra Running Pack is an evolution of their previous 2018 Ultralight model geared towards runners and fastpackers. Coming in at 26.2 oz or 743 grams, the new model is slightly heavier than the 2018 version, but still very light for its cargo capacity, and well-suited for overnight adventures in the backcountry. Most other packs in the 25-30L range weigh 1200 grams or higher, and in the world of fastpacking and ultralight backpacking, every gram counts. The Flight 30 is a frameless pack with a relatively slim profile that rides close to the body, which comes in handy for trail running or hiking through dense brush.
Another noteworthy aspect of the Flight 30 that distinguishes it from most frameless packs is the adjustable torso length. The rear of the pack has four different Velcro attachment points to raise and lower the harness in accordance with the wearer’s size. A provided plastic tool aids in this process as the Velcro is strong and in a somewhat awkward position for full leverage.
The Flight 30 features a roll top closure that works similar to a drybag with clasp and roll functionality. Another strap from the rear of the pack goes over the top and cinches the roll top in place to help compress the load. The drawback to rolltop bags is the accessibility to gear on the fly; other roll-top packs have a vertical zipper on one side of the main compartment to address this. The roll top is effective in keeping moisture out on misty days – we tested this on a fastpacking trip in light rain conditions and the contents of our bag stayed dry. However, the seams are not taped and the pack is not 100% waterproof with either material option. The Flight 30L pack we tested is made of 100D Robic nylon – a high quality nylon known for its durability – and the external pockets are made of a four-way stretch material. A second option is a slightly heavier X-PAC VX-21 material that is more abrasion resistant and waterproof, but again is not watertight, and brings the MSRP up from $200 to $275.
Inside the main body of the bag are two clasps to add a hydration sleeve, which is sold separately for $10 and lets a hydration bladder attach to the inside rear wall of the pack. We found this to be a bit of a design flaw because when our pack was fully loaded, it required us to remove items to fill the bladder. It also compares unfavorably to other packs that are inherently compatible with standard Hydrapak reservoirs without having to purchase an additional accessory. Hose ports on either shoulder allow access on your preferred side if you do use a reservoir, but for simplicity’s sake we mainly relied on the chest mounted water bottle pockets in our testing.
On the outside of the Flight 30 are two large pockets that are well within reach when wearing the pack. These compartments are deep and during our testing, we filled them with rain gear and trekking poles when not in use. An external bungee cording system crisscrosses the pack on both sides and dives into the pockets, making them helpful to hold large water bottles in place on longer outings. Our favorite feature was a mesh pocket on the underside of the pack, a great place for trash or small cold weather gear that was easily accessible on the go. Don’t put anything too fragile in here (like a headlamp) or you may forget it’s there and damage it when you take off your pack at camp.
The fit of the Flight 30 pack is completely customizable, and this process begins during the purchase of the pack. There are three suspension options: a shoulder harness, a vest-style harness and an S-curve harness. The shoulder harness wears like a traditional backpack with straightforward straps while the S-curve harness has – you guessed it – S-shaped curves in normal backpack straps. For our testing we chose the vest style which fits similarly to a running-style vest with storage options on the straps. Compared to other models, we found the padding to be minimal on the chest straps which allowed for a more custom fit.
The vest harnesses have a mirrored configuration set on both sides, with a bungeed slot for water bottles, a zippered pocket large enough for a cell phone, and an external static mesh pocket. Higher on the shoulder is a fabric closure pocket that we found useful for an ID or small trash. During the testing period we found that we were able to have everything we needed within reach with these pockets.
For added storage or stability, an optional hip belt is available that has a large zippered pocket on each hip. Just like the pockets on the vest, these are not waterproof but held up well in light rain. We used the hip belt in our testing and found that it minimized bouncing or shifting during running. Between the different pack materials, straps, fluid options and hip stability, the selection process for the Flight 30 initially seems a little daunting. Fortunately, during the purchase process, the buying guide on the product page is extremely useful when choosing various sizes, styles or accessories. It’s this same breadth of customization that makes the Flight 30 a distinctive item in the crowded fastpack category.
The Six Moon Designs Flight 30 Ultra Running pack is available at https://www.sixmoondesigns.com.
Specs and Features:
- Weight: 743g / 1lb 10oz
- 30L capacity
- Roll top style closure
- Hydration bladder compatible (hydration sleeve not included)
- Adjustable torso length
- Two large external side pockets
- Multiple shoulder harness options (vest, S-curve, shoulder)
- Removable hip belt
- Ice axe loops
- Minimal contact back panel
MSRP: $200-275, depending on fabric option