22 April 2009

bikefix Exclusive Review: Vaude Ultratrail 20 pack

I really like Vaude Packs. I think they are a good value for the money and quite well-made. I'm not so enamored with this pack though. I bought the Ultratrail 20 when I finally decided to split my gear into two different packs- one for long rides far away from civilization, and another for 2-5 hour rides closer to the city. I had the big “adventure” pack in the (already tested) Vaude Alpin Air 25+5, so I bought the Ultratrail 20 to fill the roll of the lighter pack. I’m still the boy-scout type, so even my “light” pack is still heavy by most riders’ standards- but it ended up being about 4 lbs. lighter than the Alpin Air once I got it fully loaded. The number in the title of the Vaude pack system is the volume of the pack, so this pack is a 20 liter pack- still quite large really.

I really enjoy the Vaude Vent-Tex suspension system used on the Alpin Air but this pack doesn’t have it. It does have highly perforated islands of foam (called Aeroflex) to keep the pack off your back and while they work reasonably well, but not nearly as well as the Vent-Tex. The benefit of this though is that the pack and its weight sit closer to your body and therefore doesn’t throw your torso around as much while flying downhill and hitting turns and drops and such.

The Vaude is fairly tough and is made of waterproof material and has fully taped seams so inclement weather shouldn’t be an issue. It has generous mesh side pockets, which I think are very important in a riding pack, for food and quick-use items. The bag is basically one big storage space. It does have a few other pockets though: one reasonable zippered pocket on the inside, and another on the outside, while the inside also has a small valuables pouch which is mostly worthless (I can only fit my car keys in it). The whole system works fairly well but you can’t do too much organizing in this pack- you basically have to throw it all in the main cavity. There is a separate sleeve for the water-bladder but I'd like to see more dividers to help organize my 20L of stuff.


I really enjoy the Vaude Vent-Tex suspension system used on the Alpin Air but this pack doesn’t have it. It does have highly perforated islands of foam (called Aeroflex) to keep the pack off your back and while they work reasonably well, but not nearly as well as the Vent-Tex. The benefit of this though is that the pack and its weight sit closer to your body and therefore doesn’t throw your torso around as much while flying downhill and hitting turns and drops and such.

The Vaude is fairly tough and is made of waterproof material and has fully taped seams so inclement weather shouldn’t be an issue. It has generous mesh side pockets, which I think are very important in a riding pack, for food and quick-use items.

The Ultratrail 20 comes with a elastic helmet holder and reflective bits for the commuters out there. All in all this is a good pack. I prefer more pockets to organize things better but this pack is working fine for what I use it for. This pack is probably a better choice than most packs out there if pockets aren’t high on your list of requirements. The retail price for the Ultratrail 20 is $100.

charlie

www.vaudeusa.com

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