The most prominent feature of this Berghaus sac is the Freeflow back system. This is designed to alleviate the sweaty back sensation often encountered when wearing a rucksack.
The Freeflow system is not a particularly effective solution to this, although the back of the pack is held away from your skin, this is replaced by a plastic-y mesh which seems almost as bad. The airflow between the pack and your back seemed to result only in your back feeling a bit sweaty all the time, rather than just when you take the bag off.
The shape of the Freeflow system drastically reduces the available volume of the bag, and it seems very small for the stated 40+10 volume. This shape also makes it very difficult to pack the bag efficiently, and tends to place the weight further from your back, making it less stable to carry. This is particularly noticeable if wearing it when scrambling or walking on steep terrain.
This is a shame, since there are many positive aspects to this pack, the waist belt is superb, being both comfortable and supportive. The bag seems solidly built, and all the standard features are neatly executed. The reflective tabs are a nice touch for walking down stretches of road after a late evening at the crag. The ‘EVAbreathe’ material in the shoulder straps seemed to work well. The raincover is unobtrusively stashed until needed, when it is effective, and the right size for the bag.
Overall, the Freeflow is possibly a reasonable idea for smaller walking sacks where they can yield a more comfortable carry with light loads. On a slightly larger sack such as the 40+10, for me, the drawbacks outweigh the advantages. It seems as though the Berghaus designers have sacrificed any devotion to practicality in favour of incorporating a slightly inappropriate unique selling point.
If you can cope with having to stuff things into your rucksack around a curved backplate, and get on with the curious back system, everything else about the pack is really good.
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