Swedish company Haglofs has its beginnings back in a Dalstugan cottage in Torsång, where in 1914 Victor Haglofs sewed the first batch of backpacks. Since then the brand has grown to be the largest supplier of outdoor equipment in the Nordic region. In this time however, it's philosophy has changed very little. They still aim to use the highest quality materials, the finest workmanship and the latest innovations, all added together to make kit that actually works and lasts.
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So, what are their packs like today? We gave UKclimbing.com gear reviewer Dave Sarkar one and he put it to the test!
Haglöfs describe the pack as a no frills mountain pack designed for maximum function and durability
So how does it perform?
Straight out the packaging the first thing I noticed was the weight. It felt heavier than the other 35 – 40 litre packs I've been using, weighing in at a mighty 1.5kg. Now, I'm a real lightweight fan. I've spent years and am near to bankruptcy lightening my climbing equipment and I own 45 litre sacks that weigh less than this. So where is the extra weight coming from? Well you get tough materials and bombproof construction. The sack feels very robust and has plenty of burly Hypalon reinforcement points and oversized zip tags. The burly styling is complete with hexagonal rivets; all very industrial. But I felt most of the excess weight came from the floating lid, this had 3 pockets and I was left wondering how organised a climber needs to be to warrant 3 lid pockets? One large lid with a key clip should be more than enough for stuffing gloves, hat, wallet, phone etc., Once the lid and suspension were removed the sack felt noticeably lighter.
Next, volume and fit; this sack swallowed kit. It felt more like 40 litres and easily swallowed a day's tradding kit. The interior was white which made locating kit easy. The fit was excellent, I'm of medium build and height and the sack fitted like a dream, I did remove the suspension system from it to get this fit and I tried to imagine what sort of weight I'd be carrying to justify a suspension system. The system comprised a polypropylene sheet into which fitted a preformed aluminium stay and two glass fibre rods. To be honest this felt far too over designed for the sort of loads you'd be likely to carry up to Cloggy and the sack felt great, and felt secure without any suspension at all.
The first real test came on a Mountain Leader day. I wore the sack leading a school group around the popular Yorkshire 3 Peaks. I wore it all day for 16 miles in the worst weather imaginable (I aborted the walk after the second peak). Kit did get damp, but to be honest I'd defy any sack to keep out rain, hail and snow in 40mph winds! Talking of wind, I did get some strap whip, but it was manageable. The sack felt really comfortable and was loaded up with a typical ML load for a school group, I hardly noticed I had it on and it felt tight, secure and didn't chafe in the usual armpit area. The 'one handed' closure method worked, once I got the hang of it and closed the 'snow skirt' tightly – but I doubt it would keep the Point Five spindrift at bay.
Next up, I noticed reinforced sleeve for ice axe stashing. I'm a fan of this system as I do carry my axes on the loops and have had the pick go through clothing I've stashed in the sack. So, although I got the sack in spring, I loaded it with a typical day's kit for a day in The Lakes or Northern Corries. When I laid out the kit ready for packing I thought it wasn't going to pack, but I was very surprised when it swallowed it all, including the rope with enough room for the food and flask/drink. It left a very tidy pack which felt very stable. I think it would be more than adequate for a day on The Ben if the rope was carried under the lid to make room for waterproofs and ice screws.
Finally, I stripped the sack down and climbed with it. It felt very secure and it tighted up very close when cinched down. Access to the climbing rack was easy. I reckon this would be the scenario for Alpine climbs from a hut: trot up to the hut/bivvy then strip the sack down for the day out. It could also be used for a lightweight day out: walking, scrambling or via ferrata. The sack would also prove very good for ski adventures, feeling very stable and tight. The compression straps are set up for carrying skis; it would certainly be big enough for short multi-day, although I doubt it would be enough for The Haute Route.
A couple of little features I really liked were the extra key fob in the main compartment – for when the lid is stripped, the sewn in loop on the shoulder strap to put your watch or GPS on (although it could be made from Hypalon and therefore last longer), the excellent waist belt tucks into a hidden pocket in the lumbar area and the lid buckles are reversed so you can tighten the lid down from above (the lid has two slots for the surplus strapping to thread through, although it was a pain to use). It's small details like these that make the sack stand out.
The lack of wand pockets (which are very useful and add little weight), ice clipper slots could be stitched to the waist belt (Hypalon reinforcement patches were there and could have easily been designed as clipper slots), daisy chain loops on the sides for attaching kit on belays and threading shock cord through (for crampon carrying and extra clothing), the label that I used for threading my watch through couild be made from Hypalon and the closure cord to be made from 4mm Perlon; the whole closure system felt over designed. All these changes could be weight neutral by simplifying the lid.
It is a great all mountain sack. It fits like a dream and swallows kit. It will fulfil all your requirements for a variety of mountain adventures and will last you years. Do all the fancy extras warrant the extra price tag? No, it's not the perfect sack and so the quest continues. Now then, where's my credit card...?
What Haglofs say:A no frills mountain pack designed for maximum function and durability.
About Dave Sarkar
© Dave Sarkar Dave Sarkar has been climbing for over 25 years and enjoys all aspects of climbing and mountaineering from redpointing, bouldering and trad to Alpine and winter gnarl. He is a self confessed gear addict suffering much derision on Malham catwalk; is seeking therapy to help him, which quite frankly is doing little good. He can often be found at his favourite stomping ground Almscliffe with his mates and 2 sons who are beginning to give him a run for his money!
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