24 December 2007

bikefix Exclusive Review: Vaude Alpin Air 25+5 pack

Most mountain bikers who ride for over an hour or two use a hydration system. Like many people, I started with a Camelback because there weren’t many choices at the time and it worked just fine. These days we have many more choices, and after trying quite a few, I have settled on the Vaude Alpin Air 25+5.

As my rides got longer and longer and I carried more and more equipment (I am a bit of a boy scout) – I can always use more room. I used a Deuter pack for awhile and it was also great but didn’t have enough separate organizing pockets- is essential for a gear guy. The Vaude picks up where the Deuter stopped short. The Alpin Air has many different size pockets and the main chamber can be increased a lot by unzipping a divider between it and the next biggest chamber. The Vaude has a large 1274 cu. inches of space but doesn’t feel big on your back.

One of the truly standout features is its suspension system which elevates the pack off the riders back so they don’t sweat to death in the summer. It works and works well. I live in New Mexico and consistently ride in temperatures in the 90’s and 100’s and it is soooo nice to not have a huge wet spot on my back (the Deuter uses a similar system and convinced me that I would never use anything else).


Another special feature of the pack is it’s adjustability for people of different torso lengths. Most hydration packs have the shoulders sewn on to the top of the pack. This is fine if it fits, but if it doesn’t you’re out of luck, or you have to move the load up or down on your back to make it more comfortable. The Vaude solves this by attaching the shoulder straps to an adjustable “carrier” that can slide up and down the inside of the pack. This allows the user to get a custom fit while keeping the load exactly where on his back he prefers it to be.

I have used the Alpin Air for over a year now and it is very durable and resistant to damage. It is made from 210D Diamond Ripstop fabric (whatever that means) and though the material is tough, it also seems thin- so it might rip with a big enough impact. So far, it has defeated my normal use-related attempts to rip or puncture it it.

The one thing that we Americans aren’t used to, and might find annoying, is that the pack doesn’t come with a water reservoir of its own- you have to buy one separately. This is typical of packs from European companies which believe some folks may not want a reservoir so why should they pay for it. Also, as many people have preferences about which reservoir [or bite valve] they like to use and this allows them mix and match. This is more of an annoyance than anything else, because the Vaude is very well priced for its size and capabilities at $80.00.

I would recommend the Vaude Alpin Air 25+5 to anyone who rides long distance. I will be using it for a long time, or at least until Vaude makes a new model.

6 comments:

Carolena said...

Well written article.

SFH said...

Hi there, do you remember where you picked your pack up? they're not exactly easy to find here in the US. Thanks.

bikefix said...

SFH, picked mine up at ATA in Cambridge, MA several years back- I think. I do think that they're available online, though, even if it means ordering from the UK. Good luck,

mb

bikefix said...

Bikeworks in Albuquerque also stocks them- check out www.bikeworksabq.com

marc

Anonymous said...

Hi,

thanks for the review, it's extremely helpful for me.

bikefix said...

Thanks! Charlie's got another bag review up tonight- have a look!

marc