Berghaus has piled technology into this pack. Many of its features – the Bioflex back system, the Bioflex Light pivot hipbelt – have come from its think-outside-the-box MtnHaus development team, which recently presented the world with the lightest commercially available waterproof top.
As with other adjustable backs among the packs tested here, a little fiddling was necessary before I felt I had the Bioflex back system as comfortable as possible. Initially, I strode out with the backlength set to ‘XL’ but soon reset that to ‘M’. Still dissatisfied, half an hour later I readjusted again, to ‘L’, which did the trick. I’ve no issue with having to readjust the pack a few times to get it right – comfort is all, after all. Here, though, the adjustable harness is attached to the pack and two rear alloy stays by sandwiched layers of Velcro pads which, to me, don’t seem sufficiently strong. Donning the pack after each adjustment was done to the accompanying sound of Velcro peeling apart due to the pack’s suspended weight. If the pack is put on carefully – timidly even – the Velcro stays in place and isn’t a problem. On one occasion, however, I found on removing the pack that the Velcro had partially slipped, resulting in a less comfortable, skewed load.
You could argue that I should have got the back length correct before loading it and setting off but adjustments ought to be possible on the trail without having to empty the pack first; anyway, the weight would still be an issue when putting the pack back on.
The pivoting hip belt is designed to enable the pack to move with each step, saving energy. I found this most comfortable when walking on the flat but on ascents the movement was a little too unwieldy; fortunately, the pivot action can be easily disabled on the hoof using straps concealed behind your midriff. Slackening the shoulder straps compensated sufficiently.
Hip fin pockets are a good size and easy to use, as are the stretch wand/bottle pockets. The stretch-mesh pocket on the front is voluminous and good for damp waterproofs, gaiters, even a wet fly sheet at a pinch. Alloy stays either side of the front keep the pack upright for packing and secure the compression straps but are an otherwise mysterious curiosity.