The Marathon Magic is a 33 litre pack made up of a 30 litre main bag and 2 front pockets capable of holding 3 litres in total.
There are all sorts of fancy names for the harness system such as Omni Flow, U Flow and Conus Clip chest strap, however, what they do is ensure a snug fit of the pack with the body and as a result the the pack moves with you, partly as a consequence of shoulder harness where each side is connected using the U Flow system allowing the shoulder straps to move as you do. The conus clip which is perhaps best described as the alternative to the chest straps found on conventional packs, connects the shoulder straps together. The shoulder straps are in turn connected using the uflow strap. The net result of the harness system is that you are not “fighting” with the pack as you walk.
The hipbelt has a central buckle between the balance pockets and is connected to two points on each side of the pack, each of these straps are adjustable thus allowing the tension to be varied resulting in the ability to reduce pressure on any points or areas of discomfort that may occur.
The other unusual feature of the pack is the front balance pockets (which can be removed) these are designed to distribute the load with some of the weight placed on the front to counter balance the weight in the main sack. It is recommended that the pockets are loaded with heavy items such as water bottles etc.
For my recent trip trip the balance pockets contained a camera, my Velbon vpod tripod, tent stakes, approx 1 litre of water, all my food for the day as well as maps and other items for use during the day. In the past I have often used hipbelt pockets and shoulder strap pockets, to enable easy access while on the move, the balance pockets have replaced them, and have allowed me to access items such as camera and tripod without needing to remove my pack. The pockets may look strange but I felt that I was walking more upright, however, one trip does make a full test. One question that is often asked is can you see your feet, yes is the answer and the balance pockets do not interfere with my use of my pacer poles.
According to Aarn’s website the main sack holds 30 litres, I have no reason to disbelieve that as I was able to carry my bivy, tarp, sleeping bag, neo air mattress, down jacket, pot and stove as well as odds and ends with some space to spare. It has a draw string closure with a flap with a small zippered pocket on the inside of the flap. Of note is the aluminum bar across the top of the flap which allows the shoulder straps to move as you walk providing a “load lifter” effect. I was able to place my Haglöfs Pullover under the flap when not wearing it.
Between the back and the pack there is Matrix Mesh, which I found to be very comfortable and have no doubt that in warmer weather would provide some airflow on back as you walked.
The front of the pack has a mesh pocket which is ideal for placing small items in it such as gloves, hats etc. The cross straps allow the securing of items to the outside such as sleeping mats. Also tucked away under these straps are points to secure walking poles.
I loaded the pack up with 8.5 kgs of gear for my over night trip with the front balance pockets holding about 2.5 kg. I quickly felt that I was walking more upright with the pack and noticed how it moved with me as I walked, there did not seem to be any weight on my shoulders as well there seemed very little pressure on my hips, though the hip belt was tightened.
I believe that this pack will be ideal up to 3 days 2 nights using lightweight gear and I am looking forward to using it again very soon.
Aarns website also has several videos on how to fit and use the Aarn pack, which I found very helpful.