Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca
Showing posts with label Rucksacks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rucksacks. Show all posts

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Deuter Act Lite 65+10 Rucksack

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When I started this blog in 2007 I was using a Karrimor Jaguar 65 litre rucksack for backpacking. Looking through some recently posted old pictures from 1991, the Karrimor sack looks quite new then. I’ve recently used it in South America and on a Lake District backpack. It works fine but it’s showing signs of wear and at 1900 gm it’s a little heavy, especially after rain; these days it seems the old Cordura fabric is quite capable of absorbing moisture. Not bad for over a quarter of a century of use though.

In October 2007 I bought a Golite Quest. It worked well until the hip belt failed after three and a half years. My reviews are here.

After reverting to the Jaguar for a while, in March 2012 I acquired a Lowe Alpine Nanon 50:60. It was fine until a key shoulder strap broke last summer as I was struggling across the Spanish Pyrenees. A botched repair got me home, but the rucksack was then binned. My review is here.

Since then I’ve been happily deploying the old Karrimor Jaguar, and I’ve stopped using Neo-Air sleeping mats, having reverted to the comfort and warmth of an old closed cell Karrimat. The Karrimat wouldn’t fit comfortably inside either the Quest or the Nanon, but it’s fine in the Jaguar.

So I wanted a sack that would take a Karrimat, inside which a dry bag with the rest of my gear can sit. So it needed a bit more volume. After not a lot of research, I shortlisted the Deuter Act Lite range, and the Osprey Atmos 65. Luckily, my local retailer, Alpenstock, stocks both of these sacks. The Osprey has more ‘bells and whistles’ but is heavier than the Deuter equivalent, and it is less stable.

I found the Deuter 65+10 accommodated my gear with space to spare. It may be a bit on the big side if I don’t use the Karrimat, but I do still have an ancient but very serviceable Karrimor Alpiniste 50 litre sack to fall back on, and that has additional large removable side pockets.

So it was something of a no-brainer. The new sack is a bit heavier than its Golite and Lowe Alpine predecessors, but it seems to be of a more robust construction. Time will tell as to its durability. It’s made of ‘Ripstop 210/Duratex Lite’ and it weighs 1900 gm, the same as the Jaguar.

There’s a highly adjustable back system.

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The hip belt pockets are quite roomy.

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Here’s a close-up of the Vari Quick back system.

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There’s actually a second shoulder strap fixing point, so if one of them breaks…. my Lowe Alpine experience won’t be repeated.

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The hip belt looks very secure. Hopefully my Golite experience won’t be repeated.

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Here’s what Deuter currently have to say about this product:actlite65

deuter act lite 40 10 back system

Selling Price
£140.00
Size
H x W x D: 86 x 36 x 32 cm
Volume
65 + 10 litre
Weight
1900g
Colour
Granite-Fire
Description & Details

Our freshly revised, sleek packs remain true to their lightweight credentials with their minimal weight and purist, technical design, the ACT Lite models are the perfect companions on any trekking and mountaineering tours. The new, very technical shoulder strap construction features a bilaminate foam and an exact anatomical shape.

  • Stretch front pocket
  • Compact bilaminate construction with Pull-Forward function makes the hip belt easy to fasten even with heavy loads
  • Vari Quick back length adjustment with two-layer foam construction and optimised shape
  • Anatomically shaped shoulder straps with soft edges
  • Lightweight multi-chamber aluminium X-frame
  • Separate bottom compartment
  • Height adjustable lid
  • Lid pocket
  • Internal valuables pocket
  • Zipped pocket on hip belt for valuables
  • Gear attachment loops on lid
  • Ice axe and hiking pole loops - also for foldable poles
  • Spacious stretch side pockets
  • Compression and load adjustment straps
  • Double layered base
  • SOS label
  • Hydration system compatible
  • Loops for helmet holder (accessory)
  • Wet laundry compartment
Back System
Aircontact System

Features

  1. Stabiliser straps allow optimal positioning of the backpack. These are easily repositioned on the shoulder straps using a “Triglide“ buckle. Aircontact models above 50+10 SL sizes also have two different fixing points, depending on the back length setting, in order to optimize the load adjustor strap angle.
  2. Breathable padding with special ventilating hollow chamber foam: With every movement, a pump effect circulates air through the breathable Aircontact cushions of this direct body contact system. Extra air channel ventilation between the back cushions is very effective. (on ACT Lite)
  3. The anatomically shaped hip fins are made from multiple layers. The inner side has a layer of soft foam with 3D AirMesh lining for heightened comfort. The firm foam on the outside is modelled to the anatomic shape and transfers the load to the hips. Side compression straps on the fins regulate the load and increase stability. On the compact ACT Lite fins this bilaminate construction is perfectly balanced between weight reduction and load transfer ratio. Aircontact models designed to carry heavier loads, maximise stability and load transfer thanks to the additional synthetic reinforcement in between foam layers.
  4. Head molding provides freedom of head movement. Effective on models Aircontact 50+10SL and up.
  5. Contoured shoulder straps with 3D Air mesh lining.
  6. Vari-Quick system for easy adjustment to any back length.
  7. The anatomic profiled X-frame offers a balance of torsional rigidity and flexibility to follow your body movements, and transfers weight through it's perfect back fit.
  8. All Aircontact models are fitted with Deuter’s Vari Flex System, leaving the generous hip fins fully mobile. The Vari Flex hip fins follow even the most complex movements allowing tricky sections to be negotiated without losing your balance – especially important when carrying a hefty load.

Lots of more detailed reviews are available, not necessarily showing this rucksack as a ‘best buy’. But having compared it with others, I think it’s suitable for my requirements. I hope so, and it’s going to be thoroughly tested over the course of the next two weeks.

I’ll add to this posting during the course of this rucksack’s life…

Monday, 12 March 2012

Gear Review - Lowe Alpine Nanon 50:60 Hyperlite Backpack

 Lowe Alpine Nanon 50:60 Hyperlite Backpack
I recently wrote about my last backpacking rucksack, the Golite Quest, here.

I’m very lucky in that over the past year or so Webtogs have been sending me useful items of kit to review.  I was therefore delighted when Gareth agreed to send me the closest of the rucksacks stocked by Webtogs to a direct replacement for the Quest.

[Note that on 5 September 2012, Webtogs Limited went into liquidation, but its business has been continued in the name of Dorset Mountain Sports Limited, t/a Webtogs, with whom I have had no contact whatsoever, nor did the liquidator of Webtogs Ltd respond to my enquiry as to whether any members of the public had lost money as a result of the liquidation.]

So way back in October last year the Lowe Alpine Nanon 50:60 Hyperlite Backpack plopped through my letter box (well, perhaps it’s not quite that small!).  At approximately 1400 gm the Nanon is perhaps slightly lighter than the Quest, and it is more compact, topping out at about 60 litres capacity compared with the Quest’s 72 litres.  However, the lightweight Dyneema fabric of the Nanon feels to me to be rather more robust than the old Quest’s less durable nylon fabric.

I’ve delayed reviewing the rucksack to give me time to make objective comments rather than a ‘first impressions: brilliant’ sort of review, but I also have to admit to not having used it all that much.  Yet!  It’ll get a lot more use in the coming months, after which I’ll append appropriate comments to this review.

Lowe Alpine Nanon 50:60 Hyperlite Backpack Lowe Alpine Nanon 50:60 Hyperlite Backpack

I have used it on an overnight backpacking trip (pictured above – not very well packed, and I lowered it a little after the pictures had been taken), for which it was perfect.  Once I’d spent a few minutes adjusting the straps I found it extremely comfortable, and it had plenty of room for all that I needed.  I’d have been quite happy to fit another couple of days’ food into the sack, but beyond that I may have been struggling.  I don’t however travel particularly ‘light’, and some of my gear is fairly bulky, so I reckon that someone who pays more attention to carrying lightweight gear than I do might get their kit and up to 5-6 day’s provisions into this bag, especially in summer.

Lowe Alpine Nanon 50:60 Hyperlite Backpack - as a day sack

The rucksack has also been used as a day sack (as above – recognise the hill?) for a number of winter walks, on which I tend to load a fair amount of extra gear – gloves, hats, down jacket, emergency shelter, etc - in case of ‘problems’ (some of my companions being less prepared than others for wintry conditions).  I’ve found it brilliant for this as the straps allow it to compress to a small size – you really don’t realise that you are carrying a 60 litre sack, and the ice axe stashes neatly rather than floating about in mid air.

Design 
     The Nanon’s main compartment sits below a removable, floating lid with a large and easily accessible external zipped pocket with a key clip.  On the underside of the lid is a secure internal lid pocket.  Two small hip belt pockets accommodate items such as a mobile ‘phone or a wallet, but these wouldn’t be big enough for GPS units much bigger than a Geko.  The main body of the rucksack can be entered from the bottom via a long zip – this is a large ‘plus’ over the Quest for me as it enables me to load the rucksack before striking camp, and the tent can then be slotted into the bottom of the rucksack without the need to remove the other contents.  There’s a deep pocket on the front that’s suitable for all the provisions and snacks you may wish to have ready access to during your walk, and behind that pocket is a cavernous space in which I have been keeping my waterproofs, but others may wish to stash their tent here.  Other features include extra external lashing points, large stretch side pockets, an SOS panel, ‘unique’ walking pole tip grabbers for secure storage, reflective logos, hydration pocket, and a ventilating harness.
I noticed one review that raised concern about the robustness of the buckles, but whilst these, and the straps, have clearly been cut down to minimise weight (“10mm web reduces weight with no loss of function” – according to the manufacturer), they appear to me to be well made, securely attached, and hopefully they will prove to be durable.

On the hill 
     I soon managed to adjust the rucksack to a comfortable position – it comes with clear fitting/adjustment guidance. The manufacturer has clearly put considerable effort into achieving a comfortable design, and they want customers to take advantage of this by following their guidance on how to achieve a comfortable fit.

I didn’t need to make significant adjustments to switch the rucksack from its role as a backpack for a multi-day wild camping trip to its role as a winter day sack, apart from drastic tightening of the compression straps.

At risk of being repetitive, here’s Lowe Alpine’s blurb on the product:

“The Nanon targets those people who want a lighter packs but also want functional features that help to organise their loads during the trek.
Key Features and Benefits: • Super lightweight pack that still carries well
• Lightweight but durable Dyneema fabric body
• Lightweight Centro adjustable back for maximum comfort from a precise fit
• Lightweight version of AdaptiveFit hip belt ensuring maximum comfort
• 10mm web reduces weight with no loss of function
• Airflow mesh in back panel reduces moisture build up
• Front compression pocket for wet gear or additional quick access items
Additional Features: Extra external lashing points, large stretch side pockets, key clip, lid lash points, SOS panel, secure internal lid pocket, unique walking pole tip grabbers for secure storage, reflective logos, hydration pocket, ventilating harness, hip belt pockets, extendible lid.
Volume: 50lt+10lt extension=60lt 4000+600cu.ins
Load Zone: 10-15kg / 22-33lb”


My comment on that would be that I feel that it would cope with a little more than 15 kilos if necessary.  I also note that there’s an ‘XL’ version for people with long backs, though Lowe Alpine don’t seem to say how long your back needs to be to require this version.

Practical Use:
  • I’ve used this rucksack for backpacking and for winter day walks over the past five months.  It has been a pleasure to wear for both those activities
  • I’ll expand this section of the review in due course for comments of the ‘used and abused’ nature (see below)
Price:
  • Webtogs’ price was £134.99 in March 2012, including a discount of 10%
Alternatives:
  • There are numerous alternatives, so much dependent upon personal requirements and preferences that I will leave readers to take their own counsel 
Used and Abused:
  • It's now early 2015 and this is still my rucksack of choice for backpacking. It accompanied me across the for two months in 2013, and it will shortly embark on its fourth TGO Challenge - a two week backpack across Scotland. I still think its an excellent piece of kit, though I have heard complaints from people taller than my 5 ft 8 inches - they say the back length of the sac is insufficient lengthwise, so they have sought alternative products. I don't know whether they investigated the XL version referred to below?
Update - it wasn't used for the TGO Challenge, I decided on a Karrimat rather than Neoair Thermarest, so the Karrimor Jaguar 65 was a more suitable container.

August 2015: just back from walking GR11 (Spanish Pyrenees, coast to coast) in seven weeks, during which this rucksack's life ended. The straps started to deteriorate, with the attachment shown below failing. Luckily there was a piece of elastic with which to effect a temporary repair.



Then the long zip on the rucksack that enabled insertion of the tent or other items without having to empty the rucksack - it failed. Whilst this zip was very useful, once it has failed the rucksack is pretty useless as the contents are prone to falling out. Luckily I managed to get the zip to grip, but every time I unzipped it another half hour would be spent trying to get it to grip again.


You can also see that the Dyneema fabric has started to show serious signs of wear, with some holes appearing.


 Time to recycle this item....

Conclusion:
  • The Lowe Alpine Nanon 50:60 Hyperlite Backpack is great for use as a compact backpacking rucksack or a voluminous day sack, and will also be ideal for Alpine hutting trips or similar
  • It’s well constructed from what appear to be quality components, and comes with clear instructions on how to achieve a comfortable fit.  There’s an ‘XL’ version for people with long backs
  • I like the ‘bells and whistles’ whereby this sack has lots of features for very little added weight, including a zip that facilitates the stashing of a wet tent at the bottom of my load without having to first empty the sack
  • Thanks have to go to Webtogs for providing a piece of kit that is a pleasure to use and will accompany me on many trips in the days to come
  • Can you tell?  I’m impressed with this one… initially, anyway
  • It was good while it lasted, but durability was not this rucksack's strong point. The indestructible Karrimor Jaguar 65, 20-30 years old, will resume it's position as my rucksack of choice.
__________________________________________________________
Note: Whilst the rucksack was provided by Webtogs, this review, over which I have total editorial control, is totally independent of that on-line retailer.
__________________________________________________________

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Rucksacks from Berghaus

Berghaus Freeflow 20 rucksacks

A couple of rucksacks have arrived from Berghaus.

Pictured above, they are Freeflow 20 day sacks, featuring Berghaus’s Freeflow IV backsystem, breathable shoulder straps and a front pocket that doubles as a 2 litre hydration reservoir pouch.  The swing tags also broadcast an ‘integrated raincover that is stowed away in the top lid’.  This must be a secret pocket that I can’t find, and as the rucksacks don’t have a lid as such I would recommend the use of a waterproof liner such as a 22 litre one from Bob and Rose.

These look to be excellent little day sacks, made from Ardura 420D fabric and weighing in at just under 900 grammes.  I see lots of them in use on the trails.  The size is a bit small for all the junk I tend to carry around, so I’ve found a couple of grateful recipients who will report back on their performance in due course.  Thanks Jenny and Sue.

The Freeflow 20 retails at around £55 from Berghaus, but costs rather less from numerous retailers.  The current specification is here.

The full range of Berghaus daysacks is here, and their larger packs are here, available from many sources.

Berghaus Freeflow 20 rucksacks

Sue’s Review (September 2012):

The hip (waist) belt was too high, and the fit of the shoulder straps was too tight for Sue’s broad shoulders.  The capacity was limited, so this wasn’t really for Sue, who can fit almost as many contents more comfortably into her bum bag.

Jenny’s Review (June 2012):

The shoulder straps and waist straps are substantial and provide quite a bit of support, all easily adjustable to suit.
The 'freeflow ventilation back system' (their words!) is impressive and certainly keeps the rucksack off your back.
I also liked the fact that you can fix (two) walking poles to the outside of the rucksack, I didn't end up using my poles but it was good to be able to take them with me for one or two of the walks, just in case.
However, all the 'technology' described above did seem a little over the top for such a small rucksack - you really can't fit much into it, so one wonders about the need for substantial (and a little bulky) shoulder and waist straps and the freeflow system. I also found the lack of smaller zip pockets to be a disadvantage - e.g. somewhere to zip in your camera rather than delving into the main bag. There are side pockets for water bottles, which is good, but it would have been nice to have the opportunity to zip them up or velcro them, for extra security - I wouldn't use them for anything other than bottles or tissues or the like. There is a section at the front for storage, but I found that once you had put your summer waterproofs, camera, etc into the main part of the bag, this section could hold very little.
So, overall I found the rucksack comfortable to carry, with some useful features such as the walking pole straps (or whatever you call them), but I thought the freeflow system could have been reduced a bit in order to allow a little more storage capacity/variety.

Other Reviews:

I’ve noticed another blogger’s more detailed review here
Helen’s review is
here.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Gear Review: Golite Quest Rucksack

Golite Quest rucksack after the equivalent of 4 months' continuous use

I bought this backpacking rucksack in October 2007, having enjoyed the comfort of a Karrimor Jaguar sack for many years.  The Quest, weighing in at 1400gm, provided a 600gm saving over the Jaguar.  That saving comes from the use of lighter, more fragile, materials.  Hence the Quest lasted until May 2011 – three and a half years – whereas the Jaguar shows no signs of wearing out other than a bit of loose stitching on the pockets.

I reported on my purchase of the Quest here.  Here’s what it looked like new:

A new Golite Quest rucksack

It’s still available from Bob and Rose at backpackinglight.co.ukhere, for a very good price.

The rucksack served me well for the equivalent of about four months’ continuous use with full camping gear, ranging from 14 to 20 kilos.  My main gripe, compared with the Jaguar, is that it doesn’t have a separate lower compartment, but I did more or less overcome that problem on this year’s TGO Challenge by packing my tent in the front pocket instead of at the bottom of the rucksack.  The latter system involved packing the tent before everything else – not the best approach when it’s raining.

A problem arose on one trip, whereby (over) tightening of the chest strap left me with a ‘frozen shoulder’ that took 18 months to recover.  I have not used a chest strap since that incident.

Otherwise, once properly adjusted to my back, the rucksack was excellent, until on this year’s TGO Challenge walk across Scotland both sides of the hip belt decided to attempt to part company with the body of the rucksack.

Golite Quest - hip belt wear (1) Golite Quest - hip belt wear (1)

I really do need to be confident of having a secure hip belt in position when backpacking, so this irreparable damage, which I nursed carefully to the end of the Challenge, signaled the death knell of the Quest.

On close inspection, the rest of the sack was looking pretty battered, with several punctures in the thin material, as well as one or two little tears, similar in nature to those you may find in an old pair of overtrousers that have been used for sitting on sharp rocks, or glissading. 

Golite Quest - weak fabric

Whilst the lid pocket maintained its integrity, the fabric below the zip for that pocket completely split away from the zipper.

Golite Quest - worn lid by zipper

Design
The Quest’s large main compartment sits below a removable, floating lid with a large and easily accessible zipped pocket.  Two hip belt pockets take care of small items, plus a large pocket on the front that’s big enough to take a tent. Golite rates this pack at 25 and 72 litres, where the lower volume refers to its compressed size after you’ve pulled tight the quick-release straps, and clipped the slightly fiddly clips on the bottom. (I never found a need to faff with this.)  Other features include a couple of mesh wand pockets, a hydration system pocket and axe/pole attachments. The Quest goes for a minimalist, non-adjustable back system design in either medium or large, so it’s important to buy the right size. It’s made from high-density polyethylene with mouldable aluminium stays and so offers some customisation. The hip belt’s supporting fins might be short on larger waists.

On the hill
At 72 litres the Golite Quest is pretty large, though it doesn’t necessarily feel so, thanks to decent compression straps, and it’s also competitively light.  The simple back system proved comfortable with heavy loads as the aluminium rods transferred the weight efficiently to the well-padded hip belt.  I did appreciate the mesh pockets on the hip belt as they offered space for a wallet and phone. In terms of packing, the large main compartment, the decent lid pocket and the large pocket on the front of the sack offered sufficient options for multi-day trips, subject to my personal gripe about not being able to pack my wet tent at the bottom of the sack without removing everything else. I didn’t really use the upper clipable side compression straps, which, in conjunction with the wand pockets, could be good for tent poles and a sleeping mat for people who (unlike me) don’t like to keep those items inside the sack.  I used these wand pockets more or less exclusively for water bottles.

Here is some more technical stuff, and my conclusions:

Materials:

  • Tier 1 Recycled 210 Denier Nylon Velocity™; Tier 1 Recycled 210 Denier Nylon Double Ripstop; High-Void Polyester Mesh

Sizes: (see here for advice on how to measure your back length)

  • Medium Size; Suit back length 17.5 - 19.5 Inches - Weight 1450g - Maximum Load 20kg - Maximum Volume 72lt - Compact Volume 25lt
  • Large Size; Suit back length 19.5 - 21.5 Inches - Weight 1500g - Maximum Load 20kg - Maximum Volume 76lt - Compact Volume 26lt

Quoted Features (current model):

  • Size-specific anatomically molded hip-belt with quick-access zippered stretch pockets
  • High-void meshes on back panel and shoulder harness move moisture quickly and promote rapid drying
  • S-contoured back panel with HDPE frame sheet and 2 aluminum stays mimic shape of the spine and are customizable for a dialed-in fit
  • Proprietary ComPACKtor™ system converts capacity incredibly efficiently
  • Sculpted lid with body-side zipper access detaches to shed 94 grams
  • Two side stretch pockets hold 1L bottles + trekking poles
  • Side compression straps with quick release buckles convert to front attachment system for sleeping pads, snowboards, snowshoes, etc.
  • Top compression strap and load lifters control and transfer weight effectively
  • Twin ice axe loops and handle straps
  • Internal stretch woven hydration sleeve with righty and lefty hydration tube ports
  • Adjustable sternum strap with whistle

Practical Use:

  • I’ve used this rucksack for backpacking, and it gave excellent service for three years before the hip belt failed
  • For anything less than a full blown backpacking trip with tent and gear, a smaller rucksack would probably suit most people
  • I was disappointed with the rucksack’s poor durability

Price:

  • RRP is currently £140, but discounts of at least 10% should be available

Alternatives:

  • There are numerous alternatives, so much dependent upon personal requirements and preferences that I will leave readers to take their own counsel.  However, I can from personal experience recommend a slightly smaller rucksack, the Lowe Alpine Nanon, available from Webtogs.  I’ve been using this recently and will be reviewing it in the next few days.

Conclusion:

  • The Golite Quest offers large size but low weight; rather clumsy compression to a 25 litre form; good pockets; side compression/attachment straps; hip belt pockets
  • It’s big - possibly bigger than needed for summer backpacking use, so given that modern equipment is becoming lighter and more compact a smaller rucksack may be adequate for most needs
  • There’s a non-adjustable back system, so you need to take care when purchasing to try one on or be sure of its suitability for you
  • For me, the lack of a lower compartment, or means of entry to stash a wet tent at the bottom of my load, was an annoyance that I learnt to live with …but it was still an annoyance
  • This is a good pack for those who want a bit of extra room but don’t want a heavy sack

BUT – this rucksack disappointingly lacked durability, in the strength of the fabric but more importantly in the manufacture of the hip belt, both sides of which started to part company with the body of the rucksack after the equivalent of about four months’ continuous use.

So, it’s out with the old…

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