Well here we go with the interim report on the Berghaus Freeflow 20 daysac
I was rather inveigled into doing this by a fellow blogger who shall remain nameless. Lets just say he is unlikely to be doing gear reviews for Gillette
Having bitten the bullet, I couldn't wait for the snail mail delivery, so I downloaded the file, printed it on my new 3D printer, and after a few minutes basic origami I had the product in front of me.
In a previous post I promised exhaustive testing and assessment, yet only a few weeks later here we are with a review. How come ?
Well,that's just the kind of guy I am. Suck it up.
I took it to the shops and the library. I took it to the city for a couple of days. I took it for some shortish 2-3 hour walks in what one of the uber-walkers scathingly derided as “the woods nearby”. And I took it on a couple of 8-10 mile walks in the hills.I have a pretty good idea of what I see as the strengths and weaknesses of the product – it's not something that needs to be tested on a trek to the South Pole.If I wait for a year to see if the stitching starts to unravel then it will probably have been replaced by a new line. And anyway, people don’t worry about how long things last these days – it’s a disposable society – loadsamoney. If I change my mind on anything, I'll let you know. OK ? Fine. Lets crack on.
First Impressions I usually start with Tommy Cooper and then move onto Michael Ca.........
I see what you mean.Well – its certainly compact. Neat even. Bijoux. Petite.
Can you sense that I'm trying to avoid the word “small” ?
Now, I know that all readers of this blog are familiar with the expression “Size doesn't matter”, but it has to be said that compared to my other daysacs - all in the 25-30 litre range- it looks tiny.I’ve been known to go out for a day walk in winter carrying a 7kg pack, and even at this time of year I will take a light fleece, light waterproof, first aid, meds, water, sometimes a flask, butties, banana,maps, camera and binoculars. And this little fella struggles to cope with that
What's it for ? Well. The label says that it is a “fully featured daysac ideal for single day trips, commuting to the office or college.” Fine. That explains the waist belt thingy which is obviously not meant to be load-bearing, but to give stability while jogging or cycling.
Now blogionados will be aware that lately have been unable to indulge my passion for jogging and cycling as much as I would like (cough).But I do undertake single day trips, so they haven't got completely the wrong guy.(Or have they ?.)
What about the “Technicals”. I seem to recall that it's made from recycled spinach and weighs 27 escudos, but then my memory for that sort of stuff is particularly poor these days. Best you check with the Berghaus site here. .However, my gear weighing equipment has only two readings – “OK” and “Too fucking heavy”. And this comes out as OK.I know this is utter heresy, but I feel that for something of this capacity, weight is not really all that important.
Comfy ? Again, by it's very nature, it's not something that you are going to wear for long distance walking, but for a couple of 6 hour days it was ok.
Waterproof ? Yet to test it in a downpour, but seemed fine in a couple of heavy showers. This is, I believe, a critical factor and one which obviously require further testing.I'll get back to you.
Features. Again you can get the technical stuff from the website, but here's my take. The haul-loop/grab-handle seems very robust. The main compartment opens flat with two zips, pretty well standard configuration these days, but one that I find irritating . The zips can be awkward to get round the corners at the top and tend to snag on the storm flap. I prefer a lid. There's a handy inside pocket for stuff, and a pouch for a hydration system. I tend to use these pouches for maps and paperwork and carry my water in a bottle.I'm never in such a hurry that I have to sook water from a teat on the move – just get the bottle out, maybe have a wee seat and enjoy the scenery while rehydrating.And the external mesh pockets on this sac seem adequate, if a bit flimsyThe front compartment has, I'm afraid, all the functionality of an ashtray on a motorbike. Perhaps it could hold some tickets, a slim volume of metaphysical poetry ( the Wit and Wisdom of Jeremy Clarkson if you prefer) or a small quantity of drugs ( for personal use), but that's about it. It opens with a vertical zip which goes up into a little hood which reminded me of a clitoris.
Freeflow V. This is the Berghaus arrangement of solid internal panel and webbing frame to keep the sac away from the wearers back and allow a cooling flow of air to reduce that annoying trickle of sweat running down the sheugh of your bum.
I have two daysacks with a similar feature – a Karrimor Somethingorother, and a Gregory Z 25. It's well known that these systems make the sack heavier, more difficult to pack, less stable when sitting on the ground and don't really work.So what about this one ? Well, I have to say it seems to work better than most
This may be due to the unique Berghaus features or, more likely I think, due to the smaller surface area of skin covered and the fact that it sits higher up the back with the lower pad sitting just below the shoulder blades and not on the sweaty small of the back area.I have been experimenting with my Gregory, which, according to the instructions, requires a micrometer, a spirit level, and Trinny and Susannah to fit properly, and now have it sitting higher up which might make a difference. More on this subject later, perhaps.
So would I buy one ? No.
Intrinsically, it may be a decent product, but I am just not it's “demographic” The small size, and the difficulty in using even the limited capacity with awkward shaped stuff just irritated me. Frankly I had to force myself to take it out instead of one or other of my old faithfuls. Now, there may be a graphic designer from Croydon who commutes by £2000 mountain bike to his job with a new-media consultancy and for whom this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it aint me babe.
And so endeth my brief career as a gear reviewer as yet another of life’s bridges goes up in flames.
have I ever mentioned Texas on here ?