Ok, so a chance to catch up with posting a review of the Berghaus Freeflow 20 rucksack. I have owned several Berghaus rucksacks in the past and so its a brand I am used to. I have had this rucksack for a week now and managed to use it on 2 separate occasions. The first use was last weekend doing a mixture of low level rambling around Brecon and Crickhowell. The second use was yesterday going for a walk up Sugar Loaf mountain in the Brecon Beacons. On both occasions I used the rucksack to carry drinks, food, some spare clothing and a few bits and pieces for the dog. I used it in the mode for which it is designed ie as a daysack. There are no illusions with this being anything but a daysack although obviously its bigger siblings especially the 30+6 L and the 35+8 L could be used for longer trips.
Initial thoughts? Very green! Actually the colour grew on me by the time I had completed my second walk with it. Other things to note were the weight of 871g (my scales) which is fairly respectable for a framed rucksack even though only 20 litres in size. Also the rucksack is pretty clean cut and doesn’t have much in the way of unnecessary belts, straps, lids or pockets. There is a zipped compartment on the back for quick access to items as well as the main compartment accessed from a top zip. Two angled side pockets allow easy access to water bottles stored there without needing to stop. There is a padded hip belt, padded shoulder straps and a chest strap.
To finish off, there is the defining bit of this particular rucksack, the mesh back which combined with the support struts gives it a distinctive shape. The pack appears well made with no loose or uneven stitching.
I have to admit that this type of rucksack is not one I normally go for preferring instead a close fitting frame-less pack. Still, I was prepared to give it a go especially in the light of needing a day sack to carry bits and bobs for a day when walking with the puppy. 20 litres is spot on for my needs in this respect so I was keen to see if I could not only get on with a more rigid pack as well as also carrying it for a whole day.
The first walk involved carrying the pack along with drinks, food, a couple of tops along with some stuff for the pooch. It was a mixture of walking along a river, through low level fields and through a few towns. In this respect, the rucksack worked well. It was comfortable and didn’t hurt to carry it on my back or as I normally do when in town, just on one shoulder. In fact I hardly noticed I was carrying it at all. I had around 3-4 kg of stuff in it that day
A sterner test was for yesterday’s walk up to the top of Sugar Loaf mountain.
This was proper day-walking although to be fair the weather was superb (no chance to see how weather proof the pack is yet). The pack was laden with 2 vacuum flasks, 3 large water bottles, 2 waterproofs and some food probably totalling around 7 kg in weight. The Freeflow 20 swallowed the above easily and without bulging at the seams. So far so good. So how did it carry? Surprisingly well considering I am not used to framed packs these days. The shoulder straps are padded and comfortable. The hip belt is comfortable too and the Freeflow frame and mesh arrangement seemed to hug my back well.
One small point to make though, which didn’t impede the comfort of the carry but is worth mentioning. I have a medium length back (around 20 inches) but found that the Freeflow 20 rides above my normal resting point for the hip belt. For a shortish day walk this didn’t make a difference to me at all but might be an issue for one of the larger capacity Freeflow packs carried over a longer period (I am talking the 30+Litre packs here)?
All in all, I was really enjoyed using the Freeflow 20 as a daysack and was pleasantly surprised that a framed pack could be comfortable on my back. It carried all I needed for the day, was a snug fit and had a nice streamlined design. I didn’t get chance to test out how it faired in poor weather and the back-length might be seen as on the short side but overall I really liked the pack. I have another walk next week further out into the Brecon Beacons so I am looking forward to testing it again. I have a feeling that this might become may day-walking “go-to” pack from now on