Arc’teryx took the Trekitt Team on a full-day’s walk around the Black Mountains in July 2017, giving us the chance to test out some of their hiking backpacks. Here is how we got on…
Meeting at White Haywood Farm at 8:30am, greeted by coffee and bacon baps, courtesy of Pauline, we gathered around for our product overviews provided by Sean from Arc’teryx.
As the title of this blog suggests, we were there to test out some Arc’teryx backpacks. Sean had managed to get hold of Brize 25 and 32 backpacks for each of us to carry our personal kit, while a lucky few were given Bora 50’s to carry all the added extras we needed such as lunchtime shelters and extra water. The extra weight in the Bora ‘s was purposefully done so we could fully test the benefits of the RotoGlide Hipbelt, and as we aren’t mean people, we cycled the Bora’s around so we could all feel how comfortable it was to wear even when loaded with 15-20kgs.
To start with, I want to talk about the Brize packs. These lightweight, no fuss walking backpacks are brilliant! They have a clean-cut look about them with a minimalist approach to features which works extremely well. Unlike other brands which will stick pockets everywhere for the sake of having pockets, Arc’teryx have only given you what you need. The first thing most people notice is the hipbelt. Now I will agree, it doesn’t look like the most comfortable hibbelt in the world, but just wait until you put it on. I was roughly carrying 10kgs in my pack and the hipbelt transferred pretty much all the weight directly on to my hips and felt barely anything on my shoulders, just what you’d hope for. Yes, okay, so it doesn’t have any pockets on the hipbelt, but hey - that’s what jacket and trouser pockets are for right?
The other cool feature you’ll notice is that the top lid opening pivots toward the front of the pack and not towards the back. This ingenious decision was made because in doing so the pack will fall forward and not backward when you take it off and open the lid. This prevents the back system from ending face down in the dirt, thus not transferring the dirt on to your clothes; simple, yet effective. You also get the usual walking pack feature, such as walking pole holders, side pockets for water bottles and snacks, hydration sleeve, as well as a vertical zip pocket on the front which is great for storing maps or jackets. I would highly recommend this bag to all walkers who want a durable, great looking backpack without all the fuss.
Next up, The Bora! Now yes, this bag will cost you an arm and a leg. However your back with thank you so much for it. The clever little geeks at Arc’teryx have of course found an issue with standard backpacks when compared to your spine. When you lean forward the distance between your hips and shoulders naturally increases. This is a fact. In fact, on average this distance can increase by up to 3 – 4cm. Now let’s be honest, you aren’t going to be trying to touch your toes whilst walking, but you will be leaning forward when walking uphill and your hips will be pivoting as you take each step. Most normal backpacks don’t move with your body, some will do a little bit, these are the ones that have a pivoting hipbelt. These are great as pivoting increases stability by keeping the pack more upright when you walk. However, none of them works as well as the Arc’teryx RotoGlide Hipbelt. This revolutionary hipbelt not only pivots with the natural movement of your hips, but it also allows the packs back system to lengthen by up to 4cm as you lean forward. This 4cm movement results in less restriction and fatigue whilst walking in the hills and mountains, that’s because your back muscles aren’t wasting energy trying to stretch a back system that doesn’t move. Just like you, I was sceptical when Sean first told us this at the beginning of our summer season, but after wearing it whilst slogging up steep ground, I can happily tell you it does makes such a difference. So much so that it actually made the pack I was wearing feel a lot lighter than it actually was.
The whole back system itself is a work of art! Ignoring the epic RotoGlide technology for the moment, the hipbelt itself fully wraps your waist and is made from a dense foam that as been pre-moulded (and further forms whilst wearing) to match the natural contours of your hips. The shoulder straps are also made from the same kind of foam and use the exclusive GridLock system that allows you to completely fine-tune the height and width of the shoulder harness, which again, nobody else does!
If you have the money to invest in the Bora AR backpack then I would seriously consider it! This is by far the comfiest multiday pack we have ever had the privilege of wearing.
A big thank you to Graham ‘Sven’ Hassal from Summit Mountaineering, who kindly stepped in to help in Contour Outdoor’s absence.
Let’s not forget to thank Sean, who not only gave up his Sunday to chill with the Trekitt Team, he also got Atom SL’s and Motus baselayers for us to test and keep! We also all got the chance to test out the phenomenal Alpha FL jacket. These reviews will follow shortly, so stay tuned!