My wife doesn’t understand me (as the saying goes). Is it so difficult to understand that an outdoors chap needs more than one rucksack? Well, this one does anyway. I’m also a ‘label’ man – I tend to stick with brand names that have proved reliable in the past on my hill trips, and when it comes to rucksacks, Berghaus is the brand I’ve come to trust.
My first Berghaus ‘sack’ was an early version of the ‘Cyclops Roc’ in Military Olive Green. I had it for 4 years in the Royal Marines, where it was used and abused, thrown into landing craft, dropped out of helicopters, stuffed into the back of Bedford 4 ton trucks, and used to carry silly weights all day without discomfort. As I said, it’s a brand I’ve come to trust.
I’m still using Berghaus Rucksacks. My general pack for 3 season use is the Berghaus ‘Powder’, one of the ‘Extrem’ range. For some reason Berghaus dropped this model from their UK range shortly after introducing it – they must have been crazy, because it’s a fantastic small rucksack that is big on quality (hope you are listening, Berghaus!) Originally designed for skiers, it also makes a great all-round mountaineering sack – their Powder Keg 30 is the nearest current equivalent.
A rucksack around 30 litres or so works fine for me in summer, but winter is a different matter – I’ve used the Berghaus Arete 40 Tour for a couple of winters now, and it does all I want. It’s another bag originally designed for skiers, but a narrow profile, attachments for ice axes and other equipment and 40 litre capacity for extra winter gear, make it as near perfect for winter use as I could wish for. Unfortunately this excellent pack has also been discontinued, but lives on as the Berghaus Tour 35.
As well as failing to understand my need for a collection of rucksacks, my wife also believes that even my summer weight rucksack is ridiculously heavy. She may have a point, so when I received a Berghaus Freeflow 20 to try out a couple of weeks ago, I stuffed a few things in it and gave it to her to carry. To make the photographs more interesting I suggested a walk round Llyn Idwal, and visitors Ros and Michael were also coerced into coming along to make up the numbers.
The Freeflow range has a useful feature – an integral frame that fits comfortably against the back, making a gap between the rucksack and the wearer to allow airflow and reduce sweat. I didn’t take to that immediately, as I prefer a closer body-hugging pack for mountaineering, and I am prepared to put up with a damp back. Chris thought it was great though, and the gap meant that hard, lumpy objects could be carried comfortably without having to pad them.
My other problem with this pack is the ‘teardrop’ shape – it surprised me by having more capacity than appearances suggested, but everything sat at the bottom of the pack, and it was difficult to utilise the space at the top and still be able to close the zip – there’s a new model of the Berghaus Freeflow 20 on the market now, and the new shape suggests that this issue has been addressed.
To summarise, I found this pack too small, but Chris says that I carry too much anyway. For serious mountain walking or mountaineering I go for about 30 litres, with 40 litres in winter. I’ll probably use the Freeflow 20 locally when walking the dog, where it’s smaller size will be ideal for a set of waterproofs, a doggie Frisbee and other dog stuff. In the meantime, it made a good excuse for a walk round Cwm Idwal.
When we got back to the car I couldn’t resist taking a pic of the three sacks together, like the Three Bears, Daddy, Mummy and Baby – I didn’t half get some funny looks!
Text and images © Paul Shorrock
Except image tagged (MB) © Mark Bradley, and images tagged (JB) © John Bamber