Rucksack: Berghaus Expedition 80
I’ve yet to find what I consider to be the perfect expedition sack and alas, the Berghaus Expedition is no exception. It comes close, but has a few serious failings in my book. My idea of a perfect expedition sack is something lightweight (I don’t want to add 3kg of weight to each and every load-carry), versatile and BIG. With a capacity of 80l the Expedition is pretty big, but nowhere near as big as other bags on the market. This is largely because the extendable lid section common to large sacks is not actually very extendable. Rather than being fixed to the body by a pair of extendable straps the lid has a sewn-in baffle which means that it can only raise by three or four inches. Furthermore the reverse taper of the pack means that the lid is not big enough to completely cover the top opening when it is full up! A very strange bit of design. On the upside there is a double drawcord and a central compression strap which means that you can synch everything up pretty tightly before closing the lid.
The other main issue I had was with the fixed back-system. This would appear to be a bit of a catch22 situation. Unlike virtually every other large sack on the market it is fixed in place with no potential for adjustment other than the normal sets of buckles under the arm-pit and above the shoulder. Where’s the catch22? It makes the sack very lightweight indeed. Combined with T2Dura fabric (reputedly 13% lighter than standard 1000D nylon, but stronger and as durable) this means that the sack weighs a shade under 2kg, a welcome change from some of the behemoths available today and a finger in the eye for Ryanair and their measly baggage allowance! The back system has another redeeming feature in its super comfortable foam padding. Switching between this one and another brand with state of the art high density foam it was a relief to shoulder the ‘old school’ model each time. There’s a big but though. No amount of tweaking the limited shoulder strap adjusters could stop the pack from pulling away from the shoulders after 15 minutes or so with a heavy load. This seemed to be down to the fixed back-system and the reverse taper of the bag which results in it invariably being loaded in a top-heavy manner. It was virtually impossible to adjust things so that the weight was shared between the shoulder straps and the hip belt.
Other than the above failings there were features that I liked. My favourite was the double haul loops on front and back which made picking it up a doddle. Whilst I wouldn’t want to haul it fully laden for much distance the double loops mean that it is well balanced. Also liked the long compression straps in the side, though the little plastic buckles in place to keep the strapping tidy are a bit irritating.
All in all a potentially great pack which doesn’t flirt with un-necessary extras and as a result weighs barely anything, but with some serious design issues when it comes to loading and actually carrying. A sack that I will use for lugging large amounts of gear for short distances, but unfortunately not the perfect expedition sack I was hoping for.
Reviewed by Matt Heason on behalf of planetFear