Pros and Cons
Filed under:Backpacking, Backpacks, Gear reviews, backpack, Berghaus, Berghaus Fast Hike 45, lightweight
Looking for a lightweight pack for multi-day hikes that is comfortable and offers plenty of storage? The Fast Hike 45 could be it, says Chris Kempster
The new Fast Hike range of rucksacks, available in 20L, 32L and (the model on test) 45L versions, joins an ever-growing collection of super-lightweight packs on the market from major outdoor brands. There’s some serious innovation going into pack design at the moment, and whether you’re a climber, mountaineer, hillwalker or backpacker, the choice really is better than ever. Berghaus have packed some really interesting features and ideas into the Fast Hike range and, especially with this 45L version, offers something a little bit different to other designs. The 45L is made from a weather-resistant material, has a rolltop opening, plenty of pockets on the outside and a bunch of features that are removable to reduce the already light 900g weight to just 530g when stripped. Interested? Then let’s take a closer look…
Weight was one of the things that Berghaus wanted to focus on when designing the Fast Hike 45, and at 900g it fares well against other models on the market. However, the pack has a few tricks up its sleeve, as it allows the user the option of reducing the weight down further by stripping off features. Not only can the waistbelt and back panel be removed if required, so also can the internal pocket, side webbing and back frame. The waistbelt is padded with honeycomb foam and can be removed simply by pulling through a retaining sheath at the bottom of the backsystem. It can be used as a separate summit pack, and features two mesh pockets (one zipped and one open) and a mesh tube that can be used to hold a water bottle. Like on some alpine packs, the foam back panel can be removed to save weight, or can be used as a mat to sit on or even a tiny bivvy mat. Inside the pack there’s a metal frame which gives shape to the pack. Because the Fast Hike’s opening is rolltop, Berghaus have included an internal pocket halfway down the back of the pack; this is held in place by snap fasteners and can be removed, as can the side webbing, though these last items weigh so little that I imagine that only real lightweight diehards will probably bother taking them off.
The rolltop opening system is quite the fashionable feature at the moment, and while the Fast Hike is not fully waterproof, the rolltop does have other advantages over a standard lid-type opening. For example, it is very quick to open and close, and you can also over-fill it on this pack, since it has clips on either side of the opening to fasten it in one direction, and a strap that goes across the top to secure it in the other direction. The backsystem consists of honeycomb mesh next to the wearer, with the previously-mentioned foam panel behind this, and then, inside the pack, a metal frame that gives the pack structure.
In terms of external storage, the Fast Hike is very well endowed. As well as the two previously mentioned pockets on the waistbelt, there are two, stacked mesh ‘water bottle’ pockets on either side (one deep and one shallow), a mesh stash pocket on the front of the pack. There’s even small stretchy pockets on the shoulder straps, ideal for keeping snacks, soft flasks or even a phone.
Despite offering plenty in the way of features, the Fast Hike feels unfussy and is straightforward to use. Filling it is easy thanks to the wide opening, though the back frame does impose slightly on the space in the main compartment. The ability to over-fill the pack by leaving the rolltop open is a real winner, and you can carry significantly more kit this way. The pack is comfortable to wear on long days, with the padding on the backsystem and hipbelt enabling you to carry sizeable loads without discomfort. The removable hipbelt is a great idea; not only is it useful for climbing or scrambling, but being able to load the belt up with snacks and water for a quick summit excursion or side-excursion really increases the versatility of the pack. We should mention that we found that softflasks tended to fall out of the mesh pouch, so a small rigid bottle is best used.
Overall we were really impressed with the thought that has gone into the Fast Hike 45. As well as its low weight, strippability and versatility, we especially liked the multitude of storage options on hand. These really come in useful on multi-day hikes when it’s good to have things like suncream, water bottles, snacks and phones easily to hand.