#TeamMontane Review: Trailblazer 30 Backpack

Fastpacking trailblazer Jenny Tough takes our newly revamped Trailblazer 30 backpack to the Himalayas to put it through its paces on a high-altitude adventure.

For anyone unfamiliar with #TeamMontane athlete Jenny Tough, just take a look at her film SOLO and you’ll quickly be blown away by the incredible mountain missions she has undertaken so far. With years of experience running across some of the most remote mountain ranges in the world, Jenny knows exactly what is needed from a pack on fast and light missions. 

Who better then, to test our new Trailblazer range? Updated for spring and summer 2024, these new packs build on our popular Trailblazer pack features and are now built with recycled materials, come in more capacities, as well as featuring an innovative new T-Hook system, designed to allow you to store more essentials easily on the move…

Sound good? Keep reading to find out Jenny’s verdict on our new Trailblazer 30.

Jenny Tough Montane Trailblazer 30

When I started fastpacking, that term hadn’t been circulated yet and no specific equipment was on the market - I realise that makes me sound very old, but hopefully it only highlights how new the sport is and how quickly it has risen to popularity. Hopefully. My first fastpacking trips were simply a case of using the lightest backpack I could and then cinching it so tightly around my waist and shoulders that I would come home with bruises. But it was a small price to pay - fastpacking had become My Thing, and I was instantly hooked. The concept of multi-day running, completely unsupported and self-reliant in the wilderness is thrilling, empowering, and, to me, the true heart of running adventures.

I decided to try to run across Kyrgyzstan in this fashion, a journey that took me 25-days and marked my first expedition in the never-done-before category. That snowballed into running across a mountain range on every continent, a series of expeditions that saw me run well over 4,000km in remote environments around the world.  All the while I was carrying everything I needed to survive in them for multiple days without resupply.

Lucky for me, early on in this project the Trailblazer pack was born. This was the first true fastpacking Backpack, and I got an early prototype to try. My beloved shoulder bruises faded away as I discovered the adjustable harness system. I joined Team Montane and had the opportunity to offer my feedback on this new product, as I put in the miles on the new pack series.

Testing the new Trailblazer 30 

Last autumn I went to the magical high Himalayas of Ladakh for some fastpacking. The altitude was the highest I’ve contended with on a fast and light set up, with temperatures at night dipping to at least -10c. Equipment was going to be tricky - I needed to carry enough to keep me comfortable at those low temperatures, contend with the altitude and snow, and try to keep my pack weight as low as possible to handle the climbs that soared over 5,000m high.

Jenny Tough Montane Trailblazer 30

For these reasons, it’s not an obvious place to fastpack, and most guided trips would include pack horses to haul the weight for their clients. But, being stubborn, I was excited to try the ultralight approach at high altitude, accepting that I might be temporarily uncomfortable. To be completely fair, being temporarily uncomfortable is a big part of fastpacking. We simply do everything we can to minimise discomfort, like selecting the right equipment and hopefully training for the terrain.

Comfort and fit

I could write a book (and one day, I probably will) about technical equipment never fitting female frames, and it is a constant frustration I have with backpacks especially. However, the Trailblazer uniquely avoids gender-specific design points. The harness system is completely adjustable in all directions, which is so important for running. A backpack will bob up and down unless perfectly fitted to your body, so being able to place every strap in just the right spot makes the pack mould to you, and stay put. It’s also essential that this can be done on the go, as the size and shape of your pack will likely change as you consume your rations or take layers on/off.  Throughout the day I’ll be regularly tightening and loosening some straps to keep the fit optimised.

The back panel features a velcro height adjustment, so you can get the back length just right. I sit mine at somewhere between the Small and Medium lines. The waist strap, probably the most important touch point for runners, sits neatly on the smallest point of my waist, which stops it from moving around. Many trekking backpacks will sit on the hips, which for most women will simply not work (the band will need to slide up to the narrowest part of your body). The adjustable side straps will help to pull the pack closer to my body, and then the shoulder straps will ensure the centre of gravity doesn’t pull you backwards.


For most fastpackers, faffing on the trail too much is a no-no. Having to stop, remove your pack, and pull out 20 items until you find the one thing you wanted goes entirely against the ethos of fast and light. This is where the outside storage compartments on the Trailblazer sing. There are mesh panels on the side that will take on water bottles, cameras, snacks, gloves, and a surprising volume of other things you want to quickly toss, or access throughout the day. 

Jenny Tough Trailblazer 30 Backpack

The top and back panels are also mesh, allowing extras to be piled in there. I usually have my waterproof jacket handy on the back on days when it’s raining on and off frequently.  On the top of the pack i’ll have my gloves, trusted tuque (that’s Canadian for hat!), and head torch, as these are items that when you need them, you generally need them quickly.

Finally, the shoulder straps host large storage zips for the easiest access. In one, I keep my phone, compass, whistle, and lip balm (that altitude dryness!). In the other, I keep a small water flask to ensure I keep drinking plenty (again, altitude dryness). 

Generally, I try not to need to access the main compartment of my pack during the day. Everyone has their own preferences, but my main compartment will tend to look like this: stove, fuel, and dinners packed at the very bottom; sleeping bag + mat and all extra clothing in one compression sack in the middle; dry bag with any chargers/cables alongside; then toiletries/first aid plopped on the top. 

Extra snacks and perhaps a midlayer will then be shoved in like tetris, to ensure the pack is perfectly filled, with no lopsidedness or gaps. Full details of what I usually take with me on a fastpacking mission can be found in my how to pack for fastpacking blog.

Favourite Features

I always fastpack with poles, and while they’ll mostly be in my hands it’s ideal to have a place to stow them away. The new T-hook system on the back comes in handy surprisingly often. It can even hold a tripod if you’re out to capture the night sky!

And while it shouldn’t matter, I really do love the new colourway. Purple is my favourite colour, and everyone knows you run faster in good colours…


This is a truly customisable pack that could work on a lot of body types for a lot of journey types. While it’s completely at home over wild terrain moving swiftly, it’s also a great pack for trekking, and cycling. It even fits a laptop if it’s going to be your only pack for getting about.

If you’re curious about fastpacking - either a trekker looking to try ultralight movement, or a runner looking to include a little bivvying to your adventures - getting the right pack is an essential piece of kit to get you started.

As a final note of reassurance, my OG Trailblazer has covered literally thousands of kilometres, been thrown off scrambles, endured every type of weather, and been thoroughly put through the paces. It’s still in great shape for many more adventures to come. Invest in good kit and it will take great care of you!

Jenny Tough Trailblazer 30 backpack

Get your Trailblazer Backpack

Jenny Tough reviewed our Trailblazer 30 backpack. Looking for more options? See our full range of Trailblazer backpacks and Waist Packs for men and women, featuring a range of capacities, to find your ultimate pack. 

For those eager to take on their own fastpacking adventure, don't miss Jenny's guide to fastpacking.