Well I took what everyone said on board. Yesterday (Saturday) I took the boss into Edinburgh for a nice lunch and also to try some more bags. The alternative was to go for a walk in the not too pleasant weather as we were children-free for the day. There were quite a few severe showers during the day and the cloud was touching the ground. So some retail therapy seemed like a good idea.
As I’ve previously said, I have a Cotswolds Outdoor shop about 2.5miles from where I live. Edinburgh boasts a Nevisports and Tiso. The staff appear to know about the products in Tiso and Nevisports! I’d narrowed the selection down to a few, Berghaus FreeflowIV 40+10, OMM Villain 45+, The North Face Prophet 45, Berghaus Sentinal 45. The last 3 bags are classed as Alpine rucksacks, more suitable for climbing than walking and having features like haul loops etc. and the ability to strip the bag down to a leaner lighter feature set.
So after a nice lunch we checked out the stores. The prices on offer were the RRP, online prices are of course better. However, I take the view that if I want to have specialist niche stores like these in easy reach, then I have to buy from them. It’s far too easy to checkout the gear in the store and then buy online from Amazon and save a tenner or so. If everyone does that then one day there’ll be no high street shop, just the online shop. Great if you know exactly what you want but awkward if you want to try on boots or bags. Also the staff in Tiso have always been helpful and knowledgeable. The extra seems worthwhile to me, you may feel differently!
So the Bergahus was dismissed early on as it lacked attachment loops. Or for what it cost, there were similar bags that did more. The OMM was exceptionally lightweight. The downloadable owners manual is very detailed showing how you can customise the bag. However, to my mind it just felt too flimsy. I’m sure it would be fine but I was worried it wouldn’t last. The Sentinal 45 is another league. Hugely customisable, well made with a neat ice-axe stowage system for when you need to stow it but might want to get it without removing the bag. A removable dry liner and more attachment points that you could imagine. The price was £40 more than the others but Nevisports’ online shop had it on offer for £40 discount. The Prophet 45 looks to be an excellent bag, well made with decent size clips. However, I dismissed them as none of them had airflow backs. That was one of the major requirements as I’m fed up with how wet my back gets with any close fitting bag.
So that left 2 bags not on my short list, Lowe Alpine AirCentro 45 and a Deuter Futura Pro 38. Both are framed with mesh backs and they stand clear of your back with the downside of awkward interior shape. The Lowe was lovely but the clips were just so teeny tiny and flimsy. The boss agreed, she didn’t expect the clips to last at all with my big paws. So to the Deuter. Well featured, not too curved a frame, lots of attachment points, the clips and belts were almost as big as Berghaus. It also felt so comfortable to wear. After a lifetime of indecision the sales guy said “Well don’t forget you can take it home and check everything fits and bring it back if you want a bigger or smaller one.” The Deuter was swiftly purchased.
I’d also had a realistion whilst working through these bags. 99% of the time I carry the same stuff, so what I need is a bag that fits all I normally take that is comfortable. There’s little to be gained sacrificing the advantages of airflow backs just to have a bag that can occasionally carry more gear. What seems the best idea is a bag that does what I need for the vast majority of activations. For the odd occasion when I need more space I can strap extra to the outside or buy a bigger bag that will be a comprise for those few times. Anything that gives me the chance to buy more toys has to be good!
With the Deuter back home I transferred all the gear over. It all fits without anygreat trouble and like my old bag, this one feels quite full. However, there are lots of pockets of unused space primarily because my SOTA gear is currently packed into boxes that fitted inside the old almost rectanguloid shape. Fitting them into a curvy shape in the Deuter is not optimal. So I’m working on alternate packing arrangements. Watch this space.
How does it feel? Well the bag is lighter than the old one. But the difference loaded up is amazing. The same contents as before in the new bag feels about half as heavy! This is simply because the weight is now effectively transferred to the hip belt and less on the shoulders that with the old (27 year old) design. It feels nice and stable too. The proof of the pudding will be in the use. Sadly not this weekend, I’m just about to go to the office to enjoy an few hours unpaid overtime just to keep a client happy. Pah! Still I had the company of the boss yesterday, a nice lunch and hours pouring the contents of outdoor shops. Nice!