In addition to compatibility charts (in the works) we will be putting out review and compatibility articles. These will go in-depth on items that we get to spend more time testing to better inform your gear decisions. Today we’re starting with the Arc’teryx Aerios 10 backpack: A lightweight, hydration compatible, trail-running pack. The 10 refers to its 10 liter capacity (Arc’teryx puts the liter capacity in most of their packs’ names). The IcePlate does not fit inside the bladder sleeve but external attachment offers a unique benefit, discussed later in the article.
This pack offers huge bang for your buck. Mesh backed, with a removable corrugated plastic backplate, and compatible with a 2 liter bladder (not included), this pack has a serious feature set in a small form. It also has external webbing to further expand storage; I often put my weather layer or IFAK in the webbing for accessibility. There are 2 pockets on the side but they’re largely useless for common items like water bottles when the main pack is full. The pack tapers in towards the bottom so the already shallow pockets end up putting most contents at risk of tipping out; you can try to make use of the webbing but end up getting snagged.
The Aerios 10 isn’t a waterproof pack but it’s closer than most. The material in the main body has a waterproof coating so it doesn’t wet out. But it’s not seam taped and the zipper is not watertight. I still never bother with a pack cover because the pack is so small that if really necessary I can fit it under a weather layer. Both the sternum and waist straps are elasticated which gives an extremely comfortable fit. Usually you have to choose between securing your load or being able to breath but the elastic lets you have both. The sternum strap has multiple attachment points as usual but impressively the waist belt has a low and high attachment option as well.
The main compartment is great but oddly shaped. It’s lined with a bright yellowish material for good visibility in low light conditions. You can stuff in snacks, Jetboil, and Mountain House meal, for longer outings. The bottom taper can be awkward; if you use plastic food containers it can become a real puzzle. A regular sized Nalgene leaves a fair amount of dead space beneath as well. The benefits of the pack far outweigh the cons but this is something that requires some getting used to. My usual daily load is a container of almonds, a container of overnight oats, a container with lunch, and a mini Nalgene for my afternoon Strikeforce pick me up. It’s doable but I had to adapt to this pack instead of the other way around. There’s also a small zip pocket on the inside with a key loop.
The biggest shortfall is that the mesh backing is very aggressive. If you have any kind of load in the pack it basically acts as a steel wool brush on whatever it’s against. Especially in the warmer months that personally means a cotton t-shirt, not good. However, externally attaching the IcePlate over the mesh actually provides a nice barrier in addition to maximizing contact between the user and plate. Even more beneficially if you have another bladder in the pack it will be cooled by the other side of the plate so you can instantly double your cold water. I’m still optimizing my attachment method (currently just paracord) but ultimately I use the grab handle up top and the higher belt attachment loops on the sides to fasten the IcePlate. This is very secure with no excess bouncing while I’m moving. I use my usual Source Tactical Hydration hose which is a bit long but manageable.
For day to day use I’ve really come to rely on this pack. It’s exceptionally comfortable and the tiny form factor keeps it out of the way even when worn. Once you figure out how to fill the main compartment it can carry a handy amount. Considering it’s tiny size it really maximizes efficiency and uniquely benefits from being paired with IcePlate.