Rucksack: Berghaus Freeflow 50
I already own one of the Freeflow range sacks, a super lightweight Freeflow Light (32l) so I had high expectations for this one. I have to say that I am a little disappointed though as it has one major drawback.
As with the other sacks in the range it has a rigid back system - a plastic frame that provides attachment points for the mesh panel which gives the sack its name. Rather like a taut trampoline the mesh panel rests against your back, a good couple of inches away from the back of the pack. This does away with the need for any moulded or foam padding to contour to your back at the same time as massively reducing the amount of sweating going on! I've yet to remove the pack to that piercing cold feeling as the wind wicks straight through your sweaty thermal. However, and here is the big frustration for me, in order to keep the sack away from the mesh back panel, and hence your back, the main body is shaped. This means that it can feel a very constraining when stuffing it full of kit and it really feels smaller than the advertised 50l of capacity. It also means that you can't put rigid items in very easily.
It fits snugly with a reasonably comfortable hip belt and chest clip, meaning that you can run or bike with it without much movement. I love the large-access lid pocket which makes storing and accessing guide books an absolute doddle. Strangely for a day sack it has a zipped bottom section which can be partitioned off from the main body and accessed by a separate zip. Not sure why you would want to do this on a day sack, especially when this makes the main body even more difficult to pack. It also features large elasticated wand pockets which are useful for storing water bottles, rubbish and all sorts of other paraphernalia in. I like the waterproof zip on the front of the sack which gives access to a map or guidebook pocket. Other normal rucksack features include compression straps, daisy chain, internal lid pocket, internal hydration bladder pocket and hose opening, pole or axe holders and reflectors.
All in all a good sack let down by the aggressive shaping of the main body meaning that it is difficult to pack properly. Sort this out and it should become a useful cragging sack big enough for ropes, rack and kit. Retails at £75 which is reasonable value for money.
Reviewed by Matt Heason on behalf of planetFear