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This review focuses on the modularity of the Superior Wilderness Designs Movement 40L backpack. In particular, the Movement has the ability to morph from a frameless to a framed pack with a suspension capable of carrying 35 pounds (15.9 kg) or so. Testing the limits of the Movement, I loaded it with 36.5 pounds (16.5 kg), including a bear canister and snowshoes. The Movement weighs 23.3 ounces (661 g) when fully configured and 16 ounces (453 g) when fully stripped.

Man with Backpack
Testing the SWD Movement’s ability to carry a bear can on top in NH’s White Mountains.

Features and Specifications

  • Modular, removable straps and hardware.
  • Plenty of webbing loops to attach all sorts of needed equipment, from bear cans to snowshoes.
  • Ultra 100 and 200 (main packbag) fabric options.
  • Removable internal frame stay.
  • Exterior removable foam back pad.
  • Venom mesh front pocket.
  • Removable hipbelt with a forward pull cinch.
  • One hipbelt size, wraparound padding across 26 in (66 cm) of belt length.
  • Optional hipbelt pockets, both zippered and zipperless.
  • Spacer mesh in the shoulder straps and hipbelt so as not to collect debris and pine needles.
  • 35, 40 & 50L volume options.
  • 3 torso sizes.
  • Weight: pack body 16 ounces (450 g), hipbelt 4.5 ounces (130 g), frame 2 ounces (57 g), foam back pad 0.8 ounces (23 g). Total weight is 23.3 ounces (660 g) for pack body, hipbelt, frame, and back pad for a size large. The pack is shipped with additional straps, which reach a total weight of 25.3 ounces (720 g) in a size large.
Backpacking against tree
Superior Wilderness Designs Movement pack. Photo: Superior Wilderness Designs

Review Context

Outside of winter, I find myself often owning two three-season backpacking backpacks:

  1. A 40L frameless pack without a hipbelt for when the weight is under 22 pounds (10 kg), typically weighing under a pound (454 g). This seems to be my personal weight carry threshold for frameless packs in most cases.
  2. A 50-60L framed pack weighing in the 2 pound (907 g) range for when I need to carry heavier loads and/or a bear canister.

A few months back, Andrew Marshall wrote on one of our forum threads about lightweight backpacks:

“Everybody is searching for the quiver killer, but I don’t think it exists – at least not as marketed. I think the best we can do is one piece of gear that can excel in…maybe…70% of situations? At that point, it’s up to the consumer to decide if they want to suffer the other 30% for the sake of minimalist philosophy, storage space, budget, or all three.” – Andrew Marshall (link)

I had been eyeing Superior Wilderness Designs packs for a couple of years, and when the Movement product line came out, I thought this could very well be the “quiver killer” that Andrew Marshall was talking about. A pack that could serve both my light and heavy three-season loads without a hiccup while still maintaining attractive pack weights in both framed 23.3 ounces (661 g) and frameless 16 ounces (454 g) configurations. I believe this modularity would be very useful to many BPL readers.

Man looking over mountain valley
Sun breaking through the clouds.

Description of Field Testing

I have logged about eighteen trail days during the summer and fall seasons with the Movement pack, testing its different features, modularity, and weight-carry capacity in different locales in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The pack was used in its frameless configuration with weights up to 20 pounds (9 kg). As a framed pack, I kept adding weight until I maxed out its 40L volume. I then decided to add a bear can and snowshoes, which with four quarts (3.8 L) of water, came to a maximum tested weight of 36.5 pounds (16.5 kg).

Man with backpack
New Hampshire autumn pack testing.

Performance Assessment

The Superior Wilderness Designs Movement 40L pack’s performance is being considered based on the following criteria:

    • Features & Modularity
    • Weight Carry Capacity
    • Accessories & Attachment Options

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