First test: Berghaus Bioflex 60+15 (2012)

Berghaus first introduced its Bioflex back system in 2005 to rave reviews. The latest incarnation is lighter, and – on first appearances – completely different from the original.

The Bioflex system is designed to flex and move with your body as you walk, while ensuring that the load remains stable and well-balanced on your back. This has the effect of giving you a less restricted walking experience when carrying a big pack. According to Berghaus you also need less energy to carry this pack compared to other similar-sized rucksacks.

The latest version combines DAC poles, as commonly used in backpacking tents, in an internal Cross-Load Frame with a pivot point at the base that links this frame to a new Hyperlink hipbelt. This design allows the hipbelt to move freely with your body while maintaining vertical rigidity, and the Cross-Load Frame allows the back system to twist with your shoulder movement. The effect is noticeable as soon as you put the sack on, as your hips and shoulders are free to move naturally as you walk. You can also adjust the back length very simply by unVelcroing the shoulder strap panel, moving it up or down, and then reVelcroing it back into place.

I first used the new Berghaus Bioflex 60+15 back in autumn 2011, and it’s been out and about with me ever since. The main problem with the 2005 version of the Bioflex system was its weight of 2720g, but the latest version is over half a kilo lighter at 2150g – and this is an instant benefit. The back system moves well with the body and is generally great, although I have noticed a firm area in the lumbar region – and this does not appear to have softened up over time. It felt firm on day one and it still feels firm to me today, and so I’d prefer some more cushioning in that area to improve comfort.

The body of the Berghaus Bioflex 60+15 is great, and it’s ideal for extended backpacking trips where you need loads of kit. You get a fairly standard configuration of base compartment, side pockets and lid. But there are some good additions, such as a lid that can be raised for more capacity while preventing water from entering the main body; and there are nice big mesh wand pockets as well as a huge front panel pocket.

My pack has developed a squeak where the DAC poles are slotted into mouldings in the corners of the Cross-Load Frame that resides within the pack, and so there is a slight creaking sound when I twist my upper body as if going to look over my shoulder. The hipbelt, however, is beautifully silent. This noise is not a major issue, but it does detract slightly from the silence of the mountains on a sunny day when carrying the pack!

Price £180
Capacity 60+15 litres
Fabric Ardura 210D ripstop, 840D ballistic
Features Bioflex back system, Hyperlink hipbelt, base and main internal compartments with zip-out divider, zipped front pocket, zipped front area to main compartment, side compression straps, bellows side pockets, internal lid pocket, external lid pocket, twin ice axe holders, hydration system-compatible
Weight 2150g
Website www.berghaus.com

 

Verdict

The Berghaus Bioflex 60+15 allows a far more natural walking gait than other big packs, is lighter than its predecessor and saves energy. But it still needs a little more work before it’s perfect.

 

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine August 2012