Rucksacks are in a way the most troubling gear to choose, not because there are so few to choose from, unlike most other climbing gear, but because there are so many! Yet not a single one would be perfect. It is partly because the use varies so much, and different sort of activities demand different types of rucksacks, and partly because some demands are inherently contradictory, such as durability and (light-)weight.
After all a rucksack is just a bag on your back, and so you may argue you could manage whatever you have, as long as its volume is adequate for your use. It is true to some extent, but it is the same as claiming top climbers could climb an E1 with wellies. Yes, they could, but will they if they have a choice? No. Can they climb an E8 with wellies? No.
Rucksacks are arguably the second most important gear after boots or shoes in (alpine) climbing or mountaineering, as you use one all the time on your back often for hours continuously. That means the difference in rucksacks determines whether you can enjoy every moment or you suffer every second. Given you do climbing for fun ultimately (if type-II) and not for the sake of pain, to get a right sack is very important.
Also, with a wrong rucksack, your climbing ability and hence safety in mountains are marginalised, too, compared with otherwise.
Let’s get it right.
1 Points for rucksacks for multi-day alpine climbing
In this article, I specifically examine the best rucksacks for self-supplied multi-day alpine climbing, carrying a tent, cooking and sleeping gear, and loads of food, as well as climbing gear, on snowy, icy, rocky routes. The rucksack should have a volume of 40-50 litres. Ideally, the rucksack can cope with even a bigger load during approach, but should be able to be stripped down to a smaller size to be carried on your back during climbing. Then, it can be used to walk to an upper camp, perhaps negotiating some (easy) technical terrain, from where you head for your chosen technical route or two.
I know some extreme alpinists may manage with a mere 30-litres sack, and obviously a smaller rucksack is lighter, which is a big pro in alpine climbing, especially at altitude. However, packing and depacking would be tricky. Tricky packing means slow progress, unless you are very slick, and that beats the point of carrying a lighter rucksack, which is to move faster. When you have to sort out the gear in the sack with your fingers and brain being already numb in the middle of harsh blizzard at night, the last thing you would want is tricky handling with your rucksack. For that reason I want a rucksack with a volume of over 40 litres for the purpose, and am reviewing those rucksacks in this article. If you want to know about smaller rucksacks, look elsewhere.
The following is the list of points to consider, roughly in the order of priority.
We look for roughly 40-50L in this review. Some rucksacks are extendable capacity. If the maximum capacity reaches 45L, I consider that should be enough for our purpose.
1.2 Balance and fit
These are, after the volume, the most important characteristics of a rucksack. A well constructed rucksack can feel much lighter than its weight said on the tin.
In particular, if your body shape is well off the average, such as very short or tall, skinny or fat, this point can really be crucial. Or, buckles (or some hard parts) of some rucksacks may be located at a wrong place, which may rub on your bony part and be uncomfortable. Unfortunately, what you can tell from a catalogue about these points is very limited. Only the way to tell about them for sure is to go to a retailer (or manufacturer, or to your friend who has one) and try them on, preferably as you use in real situations, like putting heavy and bulky load in it and putting on your climbing harness.
Otherwise, you may consult a rough measure for the recommended body shape for each product and size, which some (good) manufacturers list on the catalogue (or webpage). Most importantly, if a rucksack is provided in a couple of different sizes, as opposed to a single uni-sex size, you should check it out. For example, many of the rucksacks from Lowe Alpine have the version with the suffix ND, which stands for narrower dimension and is designed for people with smaller build, typically women.
If a rucksack comes in different sizes, their volumes too are slightly different. Never choose a particular size simply because their volume is closer to what you want. For example, when you want a 40L rucksack, and if a particular rucksack comes with the size Regular for 38L and size XL for 40L, do not jump into the size XL if you are at an average build.
In this article, I do not provide the information about balance and fit. Partly because it varies from person to person, and primarily because I haven’t tried those models listed for real.
Lighter is better, and is especially crucial at altitude, as long as it is durable enough for your objective.
Some rucksacks can be stripped down to reduce the weight. Basically, that would be a pro, as it offers versatility in use. Nevertheless, to take a face value for the stripped weight on the catalogue is not recommended, unless you know what parts exactly you would strip and the weight afterwards. For example, whereas you may want to keep a hip belt even when you strip off many of the other parts, the stripped weight on the catalogue may assume to strip it off completely.
Many of the lightest rucksacks in the market are for adventure race runners. However, they would be usually of no use for alpine climbers, as our rucksacks have to cope with a fair amount of abuse, such as rubbing on rough granite edges to some extent, at the very least during a course of one climb, and preferably for a few years.
For that reason, rucksacks designed and labelled for mountaineering or climbing are usually more suitable for alpine climbers.
Fabric is obviously important to determine the durability (which to be honest I do not know much about). However, at the same time, how each part, like a buckle, is constructed is equally important.
The information on the catalogue give you some indication. If a manufacturer says bombproof and heavy, then it probably is. But if it says bombproof and feather-light, it should be doubted, or even the overall honesty of the manufacturer should be doubted. Some (good) manufacturers state how they reinforce their products in detail to increase the durability; that can be helpful information in the sense you can see the philosophy and the degree of the knowledge of the manufacturer.
Let’s face it. No matter how big a rucksack is, you fan fill it to full!
Then, how much and how conveniently you can overload your rucksack is important. In particular, if you choose a rucksack with a lower end of the desired volume, overload-ability is crucial. In approach for an upper camp, for example, your rucksack might be stuffed to the point to almost explode. After all, in alpine climbing, you seldom expect to carry everything inside your rucksack, but attach some of them like iceaxes outside the sack.
The most common method to overload a rucksack is to put something, most typically a (central part of a coiled) rope, under the lid. To make it possible, a floating-lid design is the best, namely the distance between the bottom of the lid and the top of the main compartment is adjustable at all the four corners (and in that case the lid is often completely detachable).
Unfortunately (IMHO), many of rucksacks have the top lid with one side at the closer side to your head permanently attached to the main structure of the rucksack. With that design, you can not load much under the lid, and if you do (and manage to close the buckles for the straps at the other corners of the lid), the lid will be tilted and pressed on your head. The is not only uncomfortable but also makes looking up very hard — terrible for climbing.
As a different note, a sack should be equipped with the strong attachment points on the outer surface, to which you can attach some gear. Daisy-chain sewn to the outer surface of a sack is usually most reliable. Some sacks are equipped (or equippable) with bungee cord to facilitate attachment.
Some sort of weatherproofness is essential for any outdoor gear. However, there is a balance; better weather protection usually means heavier weight and some inconvenience.
For the use of alpine climbing, perhaps at altitude, we do not need protection against heavy rain. Snowproofness would be adequate, or in other words water repellency is all you need.
Some models boast a water-tight pocket, in which stowed wet gear would not affect the other parts of the rucksack. It would be a little overkill for our purposes. You can instead use a staff bag that weighs nothing, if need be.
Most of climbing rucksacks are a (vertically elongated) box shape. Some are a bell-bottom shape, and some others are the opposite, a funnel shape.
1.8 Bulk (Packability)
Bulk is of course in principle proportional to the volume, but only when the sack is full. When it is not, how well the bulk is reduced is fairly important, especially in two occasions: when you take many of the stuffs out of the rucksack, typically during actual climbing, and when you travel by air.
As for the former, that is during climbing, it is important your sack be snug despite its much reduced contents in it so as not to hinder your climbing. As for the latter, the rucksack of this size can be ideally taken as a hand luggage in air travel. A fully-loaded 50L rucksack would not be allowed as a hand luggage for air travel, but if it looks like 25L, it should be fine.
The floating-lid design often helps, as it gives you an option to put the lid inside your sack, etc. Also, removable (form) back-panel also helps, as the rigid frame of your sack would be gone.
1.9 Closure system
There are three popular systems for how to close the main compartment of your rucksack, i.e., zipper, roll-top, and draw-cord. In this order, they would be more weatherproof, but less flexible and vulnerable. Roll-top is the heaviest.
Most of rucksacks of this type rely on some sort of buckles (except those using zippers) to close the rucksack, where “to close” usually means securing a top lid to the main structure of the rucksack. The hip belt and chest straps (sternum straps) are without exception locked with buckles.
For alpine climbing use, buckles have to be glove friendly. Too fiddly buckles like old-school leather-belt buckles are big no. For the main closure, neither plastic buckle nor zipper is ideal, because they can break or freeze up (though some plastic buckles are much less prone than others).
Most models in the market use plastic buckles for hip belts. Considering it would not be the end of the world even if the buckle for it fails, it is perhaps acceptable.
No rucksack would fit you unless you adjust various straps. Ease in adjusting and flexibility are very important to make the rucksack more comfortable to put on. And, the adjusted strap should not be accidentally loosened.
The actual build quality of the fastenig systems is hard to judge from the catalogue, and you would need to actually try them by yourself to find out for sure. To be fair, most of modern strap adjustments seems to me to work more or less well.
Also, all the straps should be long enough to accept the potential range, especially when the sack is over-loaded. If a rucksack has a floating-lid design, you can stuff a lot of things under the lid; however, if the lid can not be locked because the strap(s) is too short, it limits how much you can load in terms of bulk.
Here are three important points you can tell from the catalogue.
- Upper shoulder strap, with which you can make the upper part of the rucksack closer to or farther from you so as to achieve the better overall balance.
- Lid strap(s) at the closer-to-head side. If they are extendable (as in floating-lid design), you can make the lid further back so that you can look up without obstruction even when the sack is fully loaded.
- Vertical-point adjustability of the chest (or sternum) straps. Depending on your body shape and how much you load in the sack, you may want to change the positions of attachment for the chest straps.
Also, some models provide the adjustable back-panel to fit your back shape.
1.12 Side (compression) straps and external attaching points
Side straps have two purposes: (1) to compress the sack when it is under-loaded, (2) to provide attaching points for something long like iceaxes, walking poles, snow shovels, tent poles, etc.
Some models have a (pair of) external wand pocket at the bottom of their sides. They might be handy in carrying pole-tyoe stuffs in principle. However, you should anyway never trust a wand pocket alone to secure your gear, as your gear might fall off. In that sense they are superfluous, while adding an extra weight. Note that they can work to protect the bottom side-corners of your sack as reinforcement, though.
For over-loadability and ease of use, a rucksack should provide some external attaching points, mainly on the back-side of it (farthest point from your back). Also, it might be handy in some cases to have attaching points at the upper outer part of the rucksack or outside the lid.
Ease of access to contents in a sack is important; easier it is, more quickly you can finish your job. At the same time, it is equally important some stuffs be firmly secured in the sack so they would not accidentally fall down.
In the design of most rucksacks, to access to the main compartment in the sack, you have to take 2 steps of undoing the lid-to-rucksack buckle(s) first and opening the main compartment. You usually have to take your sack off your back to do it, instead of asking your mate to fetch it for you while you keep your sack on your back. That is why a spacious and accessible lid or external pocket(s) is handy as every hill-goer knows.
In addition, a (small) internal security pocket is handy and practical to stow away something important you don’t need while climbing, like a car key, credit card, and passport, as well as a little key-clipper inside the pocket for an extra peace of mind.
Some models, like Black Diamond Speed and Gregory Alpinisto, provide an alternative speedy way to access via zippers. They can be handy, though zippers may get damaged and fail and certainly add weight.
Some models, typically larger-volume rucksacks, have a separate zipper to directly access the bottom part of the sack. For up to 50L rucksacks, I consider they are unnecessary, given they add a weight and vulnerability (less durability).
Although alpine rucksacks are not designed to be hauled all the time against rough rock face, alpine climbers at times face the situation where hauling a sack is inevitable or desirable at a steep and/or tricky section. Therefore, rucksacks for alpine climbing should be equipped with haul loops, or attaching points that can cope with hauling, as well as tough-enough outer material.
A vast majority of rucksacks in the market, including those for town use, has some sort of loop next to the shoulder straps. However, they often are not meant for load-bearing and can be too weak for the hauling purpose. Well-built alpine-climbing rucksacks should have a purpose-made loop intended to be used for (occasional) hauling. It would be even better if the sack is equipped with multiple hauling loops, because hauling with a single attaching point inevitably causes the sack to be tilted, which would make hauling harder and the rucksack far more prone to get damaged. Some models are equipped with a daisy chain(s) on the back-outer side, which can be used as the second (and third) hauling loop.
Grand Capucin from Aiguille seems to be specifically designed for hauling in mind.
1.15 Closed-form back-panel
In summer climbing, the form on the sack that touches your back and support some weight should be designed for breathability in mind, because it would soon get wet due to sweat and then you would feel unpleasant. In winter climbing including alpine climbing, the form, if there is any, should be constructed in a closed form, because any water absorbed, be it sweat or snow, will freeze up sooner or later, rendering the form to be of no use so as to add comfort but instead just to add extra weight and unpleasantness.
Some models of rucksacks for alpine climbing do not have padded outer form in the first place, but instead the comfort level should be managed with a (maybe removable) inner form (panel).
1.16 Hydration compatibility
Some models are equipped with a hole for hydration apparatus with a hose (to be compatible with systems like Camelbak). In alpine climbing such hydration apparatus may easily freeze up, and so a hole for them is not essential.
Also note the hole would marginalise the weather protection.
1.17 Attachment points for special gear
Some models are equipped with
- a strap and buckle to secure stuffs, typically a rope, placed between the lid and main compartment.
- system to attach an ice axe(s). Note that traditional axe-attachment systems do not work very well with modern curved axes. Alpine climbers often carry two axes, and may want two of them. However, it is almost always possible to find another way to attach axes to a rucksack, and in that sense they are not essential. Also, axes should not be carried that way in congested lifts in European Alps.
- system to attach a pair of crampons. A bungee cord system can work, or you can DIY it, as long as the sack has some outer attachment points. Some models has a protected layer specifically to carry crampons (which might be handy in congested lifts in European Alps or a packed car boot). In many situations in alpine climbing, you anyhow put on crampons all or most of the time, and so this feature is not essential.
- system to attach a helmet.
- system to attach a pair of skis. Although it must be essential in some situations, this article does not consider much about it.
A tip is, whatever attachment system your sack provides, you should add a backup so that you would never ever lose your precious gear accidentally. For example, bungee cord to attach crampons would not be the most robust material and is bound to break at one stage, and a loss of crampons in an alpine terrain may well be more than serious.
1.18 Hip belt options
A padded hip-belt may be nice when you carry a heavy load, but it is an extra weight, and worse, it may absorb water and freeze up. So, to be able to replace it with a simple webbing is a bonus. After all, in cold environment you may have enough padding in a form of clothes.
If you do use a hip belt, make sure that either it does not interfere with your harness or it has a good set of quality gear loops you can use instead of the ones on your harness. Personally, I have never used rucksacks equipped with a quality set of gear loops; they are far more fiddly to use than those on a harness. Maybe some models of rucksacks are equipped with good ones. Anyway, the fact a rucksack has gear loops does not always mean they can replace those on your harness for sure. Their material (like simple cord) and construction (like plastic tubular reinforcement) are significant.
Hip belts on some models are equipped with ice-screw clipper attachments. They might be handy. Having said that, personally, I would not use ice-screw clippers except while I am at a sharp end (in which case they are near essential), having lost so many screws self-unclipped from screw clippers. In other words, I guess they are not essential in long alpine routes, where a 50L rucksack is required.
Hip belts on some models are equipped with little pockets. They might be handy to stow snack etc.
Similarly, main shoulder straps in some models have pockets and/or chest gear-loops. I can imagine they would be handy.
2 Available 40-50L rucksacks for alpine climbing in the market in 2018
Unsurprisingly, no rucksack in the market (2018) ticks all the boxes mentioned above. However, some are, or seem to be, better than others, of course.
Below are the comparison charts of the rucksacks available in the UK market, almost exclusively based on the research over the Internet. I stress I have never tried or put on any of them, except the previous model of Patagonia Ascensionist Pack (I am not sponsored). This research is purely based on what manufacturers (and random reviewers in some cases on the Internet) say. Also, some of my friends have given me valuable advice and suggestions on SNS (thank you!). At least, I guarantee the following result is not biased by any commercial interests.
The order is loosely based on the point I would give (highest first). The first and second tables contain more entries than the rest; I drop some entries for the following tables as I knew I was not going to buy them for this purpose. At the end of the section, I mention other manufacturers worth checking out, though they do not seem to offer a good model to fit this purpose at the moment (but they may in the future).
One point I deliberately do not include in the list is a retail price. Apart from the fact retail prices vary over time and shops, the price is the least concern for me. A rucksack dictates whether one can enjoy every moment or one suffers every second for probably a good few years of use. If I use one for 100 active days or more, the (potential maximum) difference in price of GBP100 is a mere quid per day or less, or 10 pence per hour. Who cares?
Note that I would not be surprised if I have overlooked some good models. Please let me know if you know any good rucksacks missing from the list.
2.1 Table 1 (Overview)
|M.Equip.||Tupilak||URL||New flag-ship alpine sack from ME; arguably better than Alpha-FL|
|Arc’teryx||Alpha FL 45||URL||Vertically extendable over the head height.|
|Patagonia||Ascensionist||URL||Extendable inner fabric allows over-loading (though no floating lid)|
|Montane||Ultra Alpine||URL||Designed by Andy Kirkpatrick (his blog post). Minimalist. Chest gear-loops. All metal buckles.|
|Macpac||Pursuit NZ AT.||URL||Designed for the NZ Alpine team. Zip closure for the main compartment.|
|Deuter||Gravity Exped.||URL||Fully featured, yet under 1kg.|
|Blue Ice||Yeti 50L Pack||URL||3 Pockets (2 in the lid and another in the main.|
|BD||Speed 50 Pack||URL||2 ways to open, zipper and draw-cord.|
|Gregory||Alpinisto 50||URL||Massive opening with zipper, or standard draw-cord.|
|Lowe Alp.||Alpine Ascent||URL||“Alpine Ascent ND” is “Narrower Dimension” and slightly smaller (maybe suitable for women).|
|Aiguille||Grand Capucin||URL||Very haulable and easy to clip to the belay. No side-straps. Minimalist. Comes with 3 DMM Spectres.|
|Crux||AX50||URL||Tough and fully featured.|
|Simond||Jorasses||URL||Fully featured and with chest gear loops.|
|Osprey||Mutant 38||URL||38L, 1190g, detachable lid.|
|Grivel||Alpine Pro||URL||40+10L, 1550g.|
|Haglofs||Roc Summit 45||URL||45L, 1450g.|
2.2 Table 2 (Primary)
- Col 1: Volume (/Extendable) in litre
- Col 2: Weight/Stripped in gram
- Col 3: Size choices (S, M, L, Uni-sex (back-length))
- Col 4: Durability (A(haul-bag strong) - C(moderate-for-alpinism) - E(feather-light weak))
- Col 5: Lid is a floating-lid? (Yes, No, N/A(Not-applicable))
- Col 6: Outside-attachments (A(excellent) - C(moderate) - E(poorest))
- Col 7: Weatherproofness (P(waterproof), R(water-resistant), No(None), N/A(Not-applicable) for (Side, Top, Zipper-for-Lid))
- Col 8: Shape (Box/Bell(-bottom), Funnel)
- Col 9: Bulk or Packability (A(foldable) - B(panel&top-removable) - C(panel-removable) - E(rigid))
- Col 10: Fabric
|M.Equip.||Tupilak||45L||815/600g||Uni(47cm)||C||No||B||R /R+/No||Box||C||PACT 300 & 100 R2, Nylon 6.6|
|Arc’teryx||Alpha FL 45||33+12L||670g||Uni||C||No+||D||R+/N+/P?||Box||C||N400-AC, Nylon 6|
|Patagonia||Ascensionist||40L||920g||S&M,L&XL||C||No+||B||No/R /R?||Box||C||210-denier CORDURA, nylon/polyester(86%/14%)|
|Montane||Ultra Alpine||38+5L||610g||Uni||C?||N/A||C||R+/R+/NA||Bell||B||Dimension Polyant VX-21, 420 nylon, HALO|
|Macpac||Pursuit NZ AT.||37L||610g||Uni||C?||No||B||??/??/??||Box||C||210D Dyneema Ripstop|
|Deuter||Gravity Exped.||45+8L||870g||Uni||C?||Yes||D||??/??/??||Box||C||100D rip-stop PA|
|Blue Ice||Yeti 50L Pack||50L||1350/900g||Uni||C?||Yes||C||R /R+/??||Box||B||210D rip-stop CORDURA, 100D nylon|
|Lowe Alp.||Alpine Ascent||40+10L||1080g||M,L(41/46cm)||C||Yes||B||R /R /??||Box||C||210D Ripstop main, 420d abrasion|
|BD||Speed 50 Pack||50L||1250g||S&M,M&L||C?||Yes||C||??/??/??||Box||B||210D nylon and 630D nylon|
|Gregory||Alpinisto 50||50L||1721/1010g||S,M,L||C?||Yes||D||??/??/??||Box||D||330D Cross, HydroShield.|
2.3 Table 3 (Adjustability etc)
- Col 11: Closure (Zipper, Rolltop, Draw-cord, with Lid)
- Col 12: Buckles ((metal, plastic, zipper) for (main/hip-belt))
- Col 13: Upper-shoulder strap (Yes, No)
- Col 14: Lid strap at the head side (Yes, No)
- Col 15: Side straps (Compress(ion), Points-only, None)
- Col 16: Outer attaching points (Daisy, Several, Few, None)
- Col 17: Top attaching points (Daisy, Yes, None)
- Col 18: Lid or outer pocket size (L, M, S, None)
- Col 19: Existence of Internal-pocket / Key-attachment (Yes,No / Yes,No)
- Col 20: Haulability (Single-loop, Double-loops, (too) Weak)
|Arc’teryx||Alpha FL 45||Rolltop/Draw-cord||plastic/plastic||No||No||Points-only||Daisy||None||S?||No/Yes||Double|
|Macpac||Pursuit NZ AT.||Zipper||zipper/metal||No||No||Compress||Daisy||Daisy||S?||No/??||Double|
|Blue Ice||Yeti 50L Pack||Draw-cord/Lid||plastic/plastic||Yes||Yes||Compress||Few||None||L||Yes/No||Single?|
|Lowe Alp.||Alpine Ascent||Draw-cord/Lid||metal/plastic||Yes||Yes||Compress||Daisy||None||M||Yes/Yes||Single|
|BD||Speed 50 Pack||Draw-cord/Zipper||plastic/plastic||Yes||Yes||Compress||Daisy-||None||M||No/??||Single|
2.4 Table 4 (Minor points)
- Col 21: Closed-form back-panel (Yes, No)
- Col 22: Hydration compatibility (Yes, No)
- Col 23: Rope attachment (Yes, No)
- Col 24: Purpose-made attachments for Axes (Modern, Basic, None)
- Col 25: Purpose-made attachments for Crampons (Daisy, DIY, Buckle, Protected, None) (“DIY” means you can attach your own.)
- Col 26: Purpose-made attachments for Helmet / Skis (Yes, No)
- Col 27: Hip-belt replaceable? (Yes, No, N/A) (“N/A” means the default hip belt is not a padded one.)
- Col 28: On hip-belt, Gear-loop is? (Decent, Hybrid, Cord, None)
- Col 29: On hip-belt, existence of Ice-clipper-attachment / Pockets (Yes, No)
- Col 30: Pockets on the Side-bottoms / Shoulder-straps (Yes,No / Yes,No)
- Col 31: Bottom compartment accessible directly? (Yes, No)
|M.Equip.||Tupilak||??||No||No||Modern||Daisy||No / No||Yes||None||No / No||No / No||No|
|Arc’teryx||Alpha FL 45||??||No||Yes||Modern||Daisy||No / No||No||None||No / No||No / No||No|
|Patagonia||Ascensionist||??||No||No||Basic||DIY||No / Yes||Yes||Cord||No / No||No / No||No|
|Montane||Ultra Alpine||??||No||Yes||None||None||No / No||No||None||No / No||No / No||No|
|Macpac||Pursuit NZ AT.||Yes||No||Yes||Modern||DIY||No / No||No||None||No / No||No / No||No|
|Deuter||Gravity Exped.||No||Yes||Yes||Basic||None||No / No||Yes||Cord||No / Yes||Yes/ No||No|
|Blue Ice||Yeti 50L Pack||??||Yes||Yes||Modern||DIY||Yes / Yes||Yes||None||No / Yes||No / No||No|
|BD||Speed 50 Pack||??||Yes||Yes||Modern||Buckle||No / No||Yes||Cord||Yes/ No||No / No||No|
|Gregory||Alpinisto 50||No||??||Yes||Modern||Protected||No / Yes||Yes||Hybrid||Yes/ No||No / No||No|
|Lowe Alp.||Alpine Ascent||??||Yes||Yes||Modern||DIY||Yes / No||Yes||Cord||No / No||Yes/ No||No|
2.5 Additional comment
Other companies worth checking out include Mountain Hardware (good selections for waterproof sacks), Exped, Mammut, Outdoor Research, and Berghaus (light-weight ranges, but more for runners).
[Afternote: 2018-06-14] One ultimate company for alpine rucksacks of repute is Alpine Luddites, which offers fully custom-made rucksacks for you. It will take 4-6 weeks or possibly even longer, but in principle you can make everything as close to perfect as you desire.