For the last four months, I’ve been going on training hikes to prepare for climbing Chimborazo, a 20,564-foot stratovolcano down in Ecuador. Unfortunately, I don’t have endless time to go outdoors; I’m bound by the old desk and keyboard from 9 to 5 every weekday. So, when I punch that clock on Friday afternoon, that means it’s time for me to speed off toward the mountains and start logging some serious miles.

As a proud weekend warrior from the Northeast, I had to select a pack that would allow me to go light and fast for long and multi-day trips in the Catskills, High Peaks, and beyond. Throughout my training, I used the EMS Sector 42 backpack. In spite of me being the type of hiker who’s hard on gear, the Sector easily exceeded all of my expectations.

The first thing I noticed about the Sector 42 is that it’s light and comfortable. I’m 5′ 10″, and the hip belt fit snugly around my waist, supporting the majority of the weight I carried. The shoulder straps felt sturdy and flawless, sitting flush with my shoulders and upper back. The breathable back panel shaped easily, maximizing comfort.

In addition to this, I appreciated that the pack, given its size, allowed for a full range of arm motion. This was especially nice for scrambling up Devil’s Path’s steeper sections on a day trip in the Catskills.

Credit: Lucas Kelly
Credit: Lucas Kelly

I’ve always believed that the little details are what make a pack enjoyable to use

I also used the Sector 42 pack on a few multi-day winter trips up to the Adirondacks. This meant that I had to fit my zero-degree sleeping bag, warm clothing, and single-person tent, plus food and water, into the bag. And, it all fit! The pack can hold up to 42 liters, so I was pleased to find that I could carry all the bare necessities for a weekend winter hiking trip on my back.

The front stash pocket is a lifesaver, allowing for quick access to smaller and important items, like my headlamp and wallet. I used this pocket often in combination with the zippered one on the top lid, both of which saved me valuable time while setting up and breaking down camp.

I’ve always believed that the little details are what make a pack enjoyable to use, and the Sector 42 was certainly designed with the hiker in mind. The two side stretch pockets are perfect for holding water bottles and snacks: They are built deep enough that you don’t have to worry about either falling out—a small detail, but one that makes a big difference.

The hip belt also has two small pockets to keep little items (think matches) within an arm’s reach. And, if you’re looking to save weight, the supportive aluminum stay can be removed. Not knowing what conditions I might face above treeline in the Adirondacks, I carried my hiking poles on the pack’s outside by tying them into the handy attachment loops, which would work just as well for ice axes and other tools.


As our summit day for Chimborazo approaches, I’m happy that I was able to take the Sector 42 along on my weekend training hikes, and I’m really looking forward to using it again. Overall, it’s a solid choice for a day or weekend pack, and I’d even recommend it to those who like to go ultralight on extended backpacking trips. 

Credit: Lucas Kelly
Credit: Lucas Kelly