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ProView – Helly Hansen Capacitor Backpack

The best part of working in the outdoor industry is the connections you have with fellow coworkers. I spent a lot of time in 2021 working with a new guide through an intensive training program for Front Range Climbing Company. We ended up talking a lot about his experience as a mountain guide and his experiences on Mt. Rainier. This 14,411-foot mountain was the backdrop to my childhood growing up on the western slope of Washington. A summit that I have always wanted to reach since I first learned you could. The more he and I talked about it, the more “Why not?” would be asked. So, at the end of May 2022, almost a year-to-the-date later, I found myself hiking up the Muir Snowfield on the southern slopes of Mt. Rainier. I was a long way from my desert home in Moab, Utah when the snow started to fall, and the winds began to howl.

Helly Hansen Capacitor Backpack

Product Name: Helly Hansen Capacitor Backpack

Product Description: The 65L Capacitor Backpack has been put to the test. It delivers comfort for you and protection for your gear in the harshest conditions. Built for multi-day mountain expeditions, the Capacitor features a floating top lid for extra volume when securing larger pieces of gear. We designed it with an adjustable back panel so you can customize the torso length for comfort and load carrying efficiency.

Offer price: MSRP: $290.00

  • Performance
    (5)
  • Features
    (5)
  • Fit
    (5)
  • Durability
    (5)
  • Eco-Friendly
    (3)

Summary

I was beyond impressed with how the Capacitor handled the unseasonable winter weather on Rainier. The durability and protection it provided the contents of the pack as well as its overall comfort while slogging up the Muir Snowfield made the whole mountain endeavor as comfortable as possible.

Overall
4.6

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Rear “stash pocket”
  • Wide range of adjustability

Cons

  • No apparent sustainable materials

Up until that point in the year, only 1 guided party had reached the summit of Mt. Rainier and it had only been summited a small fraction of times compared to normal by private climbers like us. The Spring weather was proving more “winter” and “big mountain” than typical which meant nothing was going to be earned easily. As evening waned at Camp Muir, the winds became hurricane force; snow walls protecting tents began to collapse; tents were crushed and broken under the constant barrage of wind. By morning time, our crew was only one that did not need to retreat into the emergency shelter. I opened the tent vestibule door the next morning to find my anchored Helly Hansen Capacitor backpack holding strong despite being buried under freshly fallen snow and a thick layer of rime ice. The Capacitor stood up to everything the mountain threw at it over night and the contents were kept dry and protected.

Although there was no glimmer of a chance that we would get to summit Mt Rainier due to the 12 inches or more of fresh snow that fell on Rainier and strong wind-loading conditions our crew and our gear got the full mountain experience.

Fit and Comfort

The Capacitor backpack comes in one size: huge. This 65-liter backpack really carries a lot, and I was constantly surprised as I was able to fit more and more in it. This backpack was my checked luggage on my flight to Seattle: all my camp gear, mountaineering boots, winter clothes and extras fit wonderfully into the bag for safe travel to Seattle. 

Once packed for Rainier, the weight of the backpack was carried nicely. I was able to adjust the back panel to fit my torso and help put the weight where I needed it. I did not realize how comfortable and padded this backpack was until I returned home and started carrying my cragging pack with Indian Creek needed contents. The Capacitor’s padding and mesh ventilation really helps the weight of the pack feel a little less cumbersome as you trudge consistently up-hill.

Performance

The Capacitor is a fantastic all-in-one pack. It performed well as a big mountain pack, a simple overnight trip pack and even as a summit pack. I was pleased with its versatility as that kept me from having to pack a smaller pack for summit day on Rainier. The pack features a brain that is “free floating”, which just means the straps on the front and back are adjustable. This means you can pack larger or bulkier items on top of the pack but under the brain with ease. The side compression straps skinny up the pack under light loads, too. This made the pack highly functional as a summit pack despite its 65L carrying capacity or if you are carrying only 30L worth of gear for a short overnight backpacking trip.

My most liked feature of this pack while on Rainier was the auxiliary pocket on the rear of the backpack. At first glance, I took this as “just another pocket”. In function, it became where I stashed my spare gloves, hat, buff and even a warming layer. I found that pocket to be way easier to get in and out of over the brain which makes it a great place for trail food or layers.

Friendliness to the Earth

I was a bit disappointed to learn that the Capacitor does not seem to utilize any sustainable materials. Upon further research into Helly Hansen I was able to find some more broad stroke sustainability efforts. As a company, they are focusing on the whole life cycle of their products: materials, manufacturing, creating long-lasting products and their end-of-life use. Some of these efforts are in place now, like sourcing materials that are the least impactful as well as supporting fair working conditions and standards. They note that they are “currently evaluating” how Helly Hansen products can be reused for a second life: this is fantastic, and I would love to see more product-recycling opportunities in the outdoor industry.

All in all, I think Helly Hansen is striving to be friendly to the environment. However, I think they are doing what has now become the norm for outdoor gear companies. It is hard to always innovate but it is becoming even more crucial that companies continue to push for new ways to evolve their business practices for the benefit of the environment.

Final Word

I was beyond impressed with how the Capacitor handled the unseasonable winter weather on Rainier. The durability and protection it provided the contents of the pack as well as its overall comfort while slogging up the Muir Snowfield made the whole mountain endeavor as comfortable as possible.

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About the Gear Tester

Outdoor Prolink Pro
patrick-betts
Patrick Betts
Technical Director :: Front Range Climbing Company

Patrick Betts is the Technical Director at Front Range Climbing Company and is based in Moab, Utah. He has been in the Outdoor Industry since 2009 and guides year-round in Colorado, Utah, and beyond. When he is not guiding, you will find him traveling to climbing destinations around the world. Patrick is an experienced adventure photographer who enjoys taking photos of people pushing their own limits and capturing the landscapes of the areas that rock climbing takes you. Follow along @adventurethrulens

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