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Six Moon Designs Swift X/V: A 4500-Mile Review

Six Moon Designs Swift X/V: A 4500-Mile Review

Want the best overall deal on an ultralight thru-hiking backpack?  Check out either the Six Moon Designs Swift X or Swift V for versatility, durability, and affordability!

At some point a threshold gets crossed of how much you should spend on a thru-hiking backpack before the cost outweighs its durability.  That’s where the Swift X and Swift V come into the picture.

They might not be the most ultralight packs on the market, but their durability for the cost makes them a great option!

My partner and I both used a Swift V for our second CDT thru-hike (2800 miles).  Then, I switched to a Swift X and he got a new version of the Swift V for the Grand Enchantment Trail (825 miles with our additions).  This year, we continued with the same packs from the GET on the Desert Winter Thru-Hike (875 miles with our additions).

This review covers everything we learned about both packs from 4,500 miles of experience on one of the rougher trails and two routes in the United States.

Side note: I am an ambassador and affiliate for Six Moon Designs.  However, this post is for my personal blog and outside of my commitments as an ambassador.  The opinions and observations stated below are true and my own.

This post contains affiliate links.  I have used every product mentioned, and if you purchase one of these products, I can make a small commission at no cost to you.

SMD Swift X vs V Specs

Here is a helpful comparison of the Six Moon Designs Swift X and Swift V by the numbers for all you gearheads.

Seeing the numbers side-by-side might help you make your decision about these packs.

However, I do urge you to read on afterward to hear my thoughts on the packs as well.

Swift X

Weight: 40.2 oz (based on med hip & lg vest harness)

Frameless Weight: 37.2 oz (Frame is 3 oz)

Vest Harness, No Frame, No Hipbelt Weight: 30 oz

Cost: $375

Capacity: 50L

Materials: LiteSkin 21 or EPX 200 (ECOPAK) (body – material based on color) & Challenge Ultra Stretch (outer mesh & side pockets

Recommended Base Weight w/ Frame: 12 lbs

MAX Recommended Weight w/ Frame: 35 lbs

Recommended Base Weight w/o Frame: 8 lbs

MAX Recommended Weight w/o Frame: 25 lbs

Swift V

Weight: 40.2 oz (based on med hip & lg vest harness)

Frameless Weight: 37.2 oz (Frame is 3 oz)

Vest Harness, No Frame, No Hipbelt Weight: 30 oz

Cost: $275

Capacity: 50L

Materials: LiteSkin 21 or EPX 200 (ECOPAK) (body – material based on color) & Challenge Ultra Stretch (outer mesh & side pockets

Recommended Base Weight w/ Frame: 12 lbs

MAX Recommended Weight w/ Frame: 35 lbs

Recommended Base Weight w/o Frame: 8 lbs

MAX Recommended Weight w/o Frame: 25 lbs

*Recommended weights are from Six Moon Designs.

➡️ ➡️ As you can see, the primary differences are weight and body material. The Swift X is a few ounces heavier but has slightly stronger, more waterproof body material. It’s a trade-off.

What We’ve Put the Six Moon Designs Swift X/V Through

Woman backpacker on a ridge looking into a valley with a Six Moon Designs Swift V.
Swift V on the CDT in Montana

My partner Karma and I put two Six Moon Designs Swift V packs through a rough CDT thru-hike for 2800 miles. 

Then, we got another Swift V and a Swift X for the GET for 800 miles.

We do not go easy on backpacks, but we also try not to sit on them or purposely batter them extra.

CDT: During our second CDT thru-hike, we had an incredible number of thunderstorms.  All manner of weather got us including rain, sleet, hail, and blaring sun.  In both New Mexico, Idaho, and Montana we had decently large water carries as the season became drier. 

GET: On the Grand Enchantment Trail, we bushwhacked through catclaw (one of the most painful desert plants), as well as other spikey plants while walking or taking breaks.  We had some brutal heat with strong sun and large water carries.

Food and Water Carries: Neither one of us shy away from larger food or water carries.  If we can skip a crappy town, we will.  Thus, on each trail, both packs endured several 6 and 7-day food carries.  Furthermore, we also had 20-mile water gaps at the beginning of 2 of those big food carries.

Extra Camera Gear: I also front-pack a 4lb OM-System camera with a telephoto lens.  I’ve modified the vest harness to account for this on both packs.  It does put an extra strain on the vest harness that would not otherwise be there and worth nothing.

Why I Switched from Hyperlite Mountain Gear to Six Moon Designs

Woman backpacker with a on the CDT.
CDT Ridge Hiking

I’m on my 10th different type of backpack in the last 15 years.  I’ve used assorted packs from Gregory (2), Osprey (2), ULA (1), MLD (1), HMG (2), and SMD (2).

Like many thru-hikers, when I found a comfortable pack, it wasn’t light.  And, when I found a light pack, it wasn’t comfortable.

As a small woman, I found that most ultralight backpack straps don’t fit well.

I actually loved my Hyperlite packs except for the straps, which were not quite right for my build.

That’s when I heard about the Six Moon Designs Swift X and Swift V, specifically with the vest harness option. 

I started with the Swift V and after lots of fiddling, I got the vest harness to actually fit my narrow, short build! 

Now, I use the Swift X with the vest harness.  It’s amazing to have a pack fit well. 

Adjustments

  • I cut off about 2 ounces of extra straps after I adjusted the pack while wearing all my layers
  • I’ve added camera front packs to both packs by sewing on clips to the vest.
  • Removed water bladder holder from inside.

Six Moon Designs Swift X/V Pros and Cons

Every single thru-hiking backpack you get will have pros and cons.  To find what pack is right for you, the pros must outweigh the cons. 

After 3,600 miles with the Six Moon Designs Swift X & Swift V, here is my pros and cons list for both. 

Since the main difference between the two packs is their body material, the list is basically the same.

An extra note on the vest harness: This is actually my favorite part of either pack once you adjust it. If you’ve ever used a running vest…this is for you! Yes, you can fit water bottles there (squishy ones better). It makes the small items you need frequently more accessible so you don’t need to take the pack off to get them.

Pros

  • The vest harness is highly adjustable
  • Shoulder pockets hold phones and headphones well
  • Zipper shoulder pockets
  • The smaller mesh pocket holds half a protein cookie perfectly
  • Hip belts and shoulder straps are interchangeable if you lose weight on trail
  • The current updated outer mesh is strong & flexible
  • Can hold a bear canister
  • Packed 7 days of food and 20 miles of water
  • Lightweight, but can do carries
  • Swift X material more durable than Swift V
  • More affordable than other UL packs

Cons

  • I wish the vest harness had better options to add front packs
  • The Velcro closing the top of the pack curls after a few hundred miles
  • The hip belt zippers could be a bit stronger
  • The vest harness only comes in small and large

What Lasted the Miles and What Didn’t

We did not do easy thru-hikes with either the Six Moon Designs Swift X or Swift V. We even took turns packing out a 14-pound elk shed on the Grand Enchantment Trail!

I’ve had catastrophic failures with backpacks in the past where I’m halfway up a boulder hanging onto a tree branch for one bar of cell signal to call customer service. 

That did not happen.

The bottom line?  Neither pack had catastrophic failures during 3600 miles of hiking. 

We kept the frame in so we could do larger water and food carries.  It stayed intact. 

Only normal wear and tear occurred to our Swift X and Swift V.  Similar wear and tear that I noted on my HMG, MLD, and ULA packs was what we noticed.

First, going under the billionth blowdown on the CDT, Karma ripped the outer mesh on his Swift V.  However, Six Moon Designs has since updated the outer mesh to an ultra-stretch more durable mesh.  After another 800 miles on the GET, it has not ripped despite repeated bushwhacking through Catclaw.

Second, the hip belt zippers begin to show wear around the 1500-mile mark.  On the CDT, we both had to sew some dental floss over the zipper to create new stoppers.  Thus, the zippers became shorter.

Third, the Velcro curls where it is used at the upper closing of the pack before the roll-down.  It’s a minor frustration. 

Other than those three things, the Six Moon Designs Swift X and Swift V held up great. 

Six Moon Designs Swift X/V: What I’d Like to See in the Future

This actually applies to every ultralight pack I’ve ever used…an extra small hipbelt.

I can use small hip belts regardless of the company for the first 300-600 miles of a hike. Then, I always need to attach panels of zlite to the hip belt for padding.

By 300-600 miles into a hike, two things happen. In those miles, I lose any excess weight I have around my hips. Thus, two problems arise.

First, my hip bones are just below the surface and I need extra padding.

Second, I lose the ability to cinch the hip belt properly, and the pack weight transfers back to my shoulders.

Therefore, the extra panel or two of zlite replaces any excess weight I’ve lost.

While I love to see body inclusivity for larger individuals, it should go both ways. I’d love to see an extra small hip belt for those of us who get extra thin on a thru-hike.

Who is the Six Moon Designs Swift X/V Designed For?

Three CDT thru-hikers with Six Moon Designs Swift X/V backpacks.
On the CDT

Six Moon Designs made these packs for thru-hikers or weight-conscious backpackers. 

At 50L, the Swift X and Swift V can both cinch down for a 2-3 day pack or expand for a 4-7 day pack. 

And, let’s be real…7 days of food is uncomfortable no matter what pack you’ve got.  On the same note, so is 4-5 liters of water.

Either way, the Six Moon Designs Swift X or Swift V are meant for thru-hikers who want to balance ultralight gear with affordability.

If you’re on a tight budget, the Swift V was made for you.

Should YOU Try the Six Moon Designs Swift X or V?

Six Moon Designs Swift V sitting on a rock in Glacier National Park

Yes!

You should definitely try the Six Moon Designs Swift X/Swift V if:

  • You love running vests and want to take advantage of your shoulder straps.
  • You’re a lightweight hiker, but like a few luxuries.
  • No other shoulder straps fit you well…the vest harness might change your life (like mine).
  • You want to go ultralight, but not break your budget for on trail hotels, restaurants, and zeros.
  • You want to support a small company of thru-hikers out of Oregon.

Final Thoughts

Personally, I’m happy with the Six Moon Designs Swift X. After using the Swift V for an entire CDT thru-hike…I like it, but I prefer the Swift X.

On one hand, I enjoyed the slightly lighter pack made of Rubic Nylon. On the other hand, I prefer the extra durability of the ECOPAK.

All in all, I’m happy with the switch and I hope you are, too.

Finally, if you have any extra questions, feel free to drop them below.