Test: lightweight backpacks (2)

March 17, 2021

In addition to an earlier test of lightweight backpacks for Hike & Fly, two newer models in comparison: Airdesign Hike & Fly trail and Niviuk Kargo Expe. Two lightweight backpacks in the 70-80 liter class: Niviuk Kargo Expe (l.) And Airdesign Hike & Fly trail (r.) // Photos: Lu-Glidz Those who follow the trend towards hike and fly will put all their equipment to the test in terms of weight savings . You can also slim down with the pack sack. However, there is one factor that is more important than just calculating in grams: the pack sack must be functional and, above all, it must be easy to carry on longer journeys, even with significantly heavy contents. With this in mind, I had already tested four lightweight backpacks on Lu-Glidz 2018, each of which follows different concepts: UP Summiteer light, Skywalk Hike 80, Supair Trek light and Skye Eyrie light. Last year, two other manufacturers presented interesting models with yet another unique design. This post is therefore the continuation of the first test in the same format. It's about the models Hike & Fly trail 70 from Airdesign and Kargo Expe 75 + 15 from Niviuk. They were kindly made available to me for the test by the manufacturer or importer. I hiked at least 1000 meters in altitude for the test with each of these pack sacks. The same equipment in each bag: a paraglider in a Concertina Compress Bag, a light harness (Karpofly Extra light), a cockpit with additional equipment, a helmet, a 1.5 l water bag and some clothing. This combination is not specially optimized for weight and volume, but allows a bag of around 70-80 liters to be filled well. The weight was typically between 13 and 15 kg (depending on additional clothing and water ballast). In the test, my aim was not to choose the "best" backpack in this series at the end of the day. Because a significant proportion of the carrying comfort depends not only on the backpack itself, but also on your own equipment, how you pack it and the physical dimensions of the wearer. A model that fits one person may only be suboptimal for another with different equipment. That has to be taken into account. Anyone who has decided on a backpack should also try a variety of packing methods. It is important to find out how you can fill in the model with your own equipment and also compress it so that a compact package results, with the center of gravity as close as possible to the body. In the following, I will not describe all the technical details of the backpacks. You can read about it on the respective manufacturer's website. In my remarks, I mainly address points that I have noticed particularly positively or negatively in practice - or that I consider relevant for an assessment. Airdesign Hike & fly trail 70 The Hike & Fly trail 70 is unusually slim and tall. It has a well padded carrying system. Volume: 70 liters Weight: 740 grams Description: The Hike & Fly trail 70 is a lightweight backpack that has not been optimized for the lowest weight, but for the best possible fit and comfort. Its silhouette is narrower than that of other paragliding backpacks, but it is high. This helps to keep the center of gravity close to the body. However, the slim cut means that you can only fit more narrowly packable, seatboard-less harnesses well in them. The width of my test packing equipment was just about enough. The backpack has a central two-way zipper, a roll top and two side compression straps, with which the packing volume can be varied. What is striking is a very solid carrying system with two plastic-reinforced back pads and wide shoulder and hip straps. The upper shoulder lashing straps are height adjustable, which means that they can be adapted to different back lengths. With stretchable side pockets, patch pockets on hip and shoulder straps and a small extra pocket on top of the main bag, there is enough storage space for various small items. Compression: With the two compression straps on each side, the volume of the backpack can be easily adapted to your own equipment. Due to the narrow cut, the equipment sits pretty tight in the bag anyway. The main purpose of the belts is then to increase the rigidity of the overall package. The load is transferred well to the shoulder straps via a V-shaped linkage. Carrying comfort: Of all the models tested, I would give the Hike & Fly trail the best load distribution. In addition to the body-hugging cut, the wide, pre-shaped shoulder straps, which can be closed in front of the chest with two additional straps like a kind of vest, also contribute to this. The shoulder straps attach to two points of the backpack at the bottom via a V-shaped linkage, which means that the weight is really drawn to the body very well (see picture). The hip belt is also well sized. Especially those who sometimes go into more exposed terrain with hike-and-fly, where balance, surefootedness and perhaps even easy climbing passages are required, will appreciate a sack that sits like a glove on the back. This solution also offers advantages for a faster running pace, for example in H&F races. One disadvantage: you sweat more under the wide shoulder straps. Pack size: The plastic reinforcements in the back cushions, shoulder and hip straps add a little when rolled up. In the test comparison, this results in an average pack size, but still well below that of classic paraglider backpacks. Quality: There is hardly anything to complain about. The backpack looks well thought out and optimized in almost all points. Only on the ground, which could often come into contact with sharp-edged stones, would I want a more stable Cordura fabric. In addition, Airdesign should have used symmetrical buckles for better handling of the rolltop closure, which not only fit in one direction, but also rotated by 180 degrees. For whom, for what: The Hike & Fly trail 70 offers a particularly good fit and comfort, which should pay off especially on hikes or ski tours up into the high mountains. For multi-day bivouac tours with somewhat larger and variable luggage over the days, I would not see the sack with its (only) 70 liters and the narrow cut as the first choice. Before making a purchase, you should definitely test whether there is enough space for your own equipment in terms of width. Niviuk Kargo Expe The Niviuk Kargo Expe has the basic shape of a box. The side straps of the rolltop are unfortunately very short. Volume: 75 liters (+15 with helmet net) Weight: 790 grams Description: At almost 800 grams, the Kargo Expe is the heaviest model in the test (parts 1 + 2). It is cut significantly different from the Airdesign model. Instead of narrow and high, the sack is shaped more like a rucksack or box - narrower at the bottom and wider at the top like a swimmer's back. It is closed with a slightly asymmetrical two-way zipper and a roll top (the flanks of which snap shut with the help of small magnets). There are two compression straps on each side. Additional straps are sewn on the front, which offer additional fastening options, e.g. for climbing equipment or sticks. The helmet carrying net supplied is also looped in there. There are non-closable mesh pockets on the hip belt (unfortunately a bit too narrow for modern smartphones). In terms of material, the Kargo Expe is designed to be comparatively stable. The bottom and back are made of light ripstop Cordura, the orange rest is nylon with honeycomb ripstop reinforcements. Inside, the sack is doubled with another fabric on the back and sides (can also be used as pockets there). This means that the equipment in the sack is relatively well protected from the wearer's sweat or other moisture. Compression: The Kargo Expe can be tightened using two compression straps. However, the introduction of force takes place quite selectively and therefore suboptimal. Above all, the upper part of the sack is difficult to pull against the body. Theoretically, the roll top closure could also take over this function. However, for reasons completely incomprehensible to me, Niviuk kept the side straps of the roll top extremely short. With a higher "fill level" it becomes difficult to close the backpack properly at all. It would have been easy to make these straps just 15 cm longer, which means that packing volume and compression options can be used much more flexibly. Carrying comfort: The carrying comfort of the Kargo Expe is surprisingly good, despite the comparatively thinly padded shoulder and hip straps. But there is one restriction: Niviuk, as a Spanish brand, seems to me that the dimensions have been optimized for "Spanish dimensions". Users taller than 180 cm or with a comparatively long back will feel the slightly more distant center of gravity more clearly, especially with heavier loads. On the other hand, I found carrying straps very comfortable, as the fabric and their internal structure are quite breathable. You sweat less underneath. Pack size: With the partly doubled fabrics, the Kargo Expe can only be packaged small to a limited extent, but can still beat classic paragliding backpacks well. Quality: Due to the solid choice of materials and workmanship, the Kargo Expe is the most stable model in the test. There is no need to fear using it in somewhat rougher terrain. Some details like the too short guy belts of the rolltop, but also the asymmetrical front zipper (which makes it more difficult to place the equipment symmetrically on the back) seem a bit immature to me. Others, however, such as the doubled fabric as a welding brake in the back and the many additional fastening options on the front are very practical. The small locking magnets on the rolltop and the symmetrical locking buckles (there is no mandatory insertion orientation) also prove to be advantageous in everyday life. For whom, for what: The Niviuk Kargo Expe is not necessarily a model for H&F races in terms of shape, weight and carrying system. As a lighter but more stable backpack for equipment that does not have a particularly long pack size, it is interesting. With its many attachment options and the optional helmet net, I would also take it on the shortlist for multi-day bivouac adventures because of the variability. However, this applies with the restriction to pilots who are not too tall (up to ~ 180 cm). I would also recommend "pimping" the backpack with extended guy straps for the roll top. While you're here ... ... I have a small request. Lu-Glidz is read by more and more pilots. They appreciate the variety, topicality, quality and independence of the posts and tests. In contrast to other paragliding magazines, Lu-Glidz is completely free of advertising. At the same time, there are no subscription fees or a paywall. I would like to keep Lu-Glidz as independent and open as possible in the future. But for that I need the support of my readers. Everyone as they want and can. Are you in? You can support Lu-Glidz very easily via PayPal. 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This article has been translated for your convenience and was originally written in allemand.


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