OMM Villain 45+10 2010

Original Mountain Marathon (OMM) was set up in 1996 by Mike Parsons, who originally owned Karrimor. Today Mike has moved on to greater things, but the OMM range of packs are recognised as modern classics. The OMM Villain takes what was great about Karrimor in its heyday and gives it a modern twist.

Design
I bought an orange Karrimor Alpiniste in the late Eighties, used it for Alpine and UK routes and to this day I still love that sack and still use it. The OMM Villain is based on the proven design of the Alpiniste, but with the advantage of being lighter. The teardrop profile is the key to the design, as this keeps the sack out of the way when scrambling. Better still is the single buckle lid, which is faster to use than twin buckled lids or rolltops. You get that massive snow-lock extension too, which means you can over-stuff this sack as and when needed. A side zip has been added to the main compartment and also a Multi-sport Compressor panel to stash gear. The back system is clean and simple, very much like the old Karrimor Alpiniste from which this sack has evolved. But importantly it is lighter than of old. Also the sack can be stripped down to 710g by removing various parts, which is useful for summit assaults from huts in the Alps.

On the hill
I’m not a fan of side zips into main compartments so I never use this feature, though I can see that some may find this useful for stashing gear inside the pack but outside of a waterproof liner. But I do like the OMM Villain 45+10’s Multi-sport Compressor for stashing wet waterproofs. The side compression straps have quick-release buckles, which make them useful for attaching trekking poles when scrambling, or rollmats when camping. The drawcorded wand pockets are ideal for pole handles too. The back system is not as well-padded or as comfy as other modern sacks. Also the shoulder straps and hipbelt lack the integral support offered by others. The result is that this is not quite so comfortable or quite as stable to carry as other sacks. Having said that, it depends how comfy and stable you need the sack to be, as I’ve found this perfectly adequate. The back system does not allow as much airflow as others, so this tends to feel a little sweatier than some and certainly in warm weather I’d prefer a bit more airflow. One of the best features of this pack for lightweight campers is that an OMM DuoMat sleeping pad can be used to replace the back system padding. This effectively means the padding of the rucksack becomes your sleeping mat.

Capacity 45-55 litres
Fabric Dyneema
Features Leanweight chassis back system; removable lumbar pad; removable internal back stiffener; removable front compressor; top tensioning straps; compression straps; wand pockets; external lid pocket; twin ice axe/pole attachment points; hydration system-compatible
Back sizes 55cm
Weight 1160g (710g stripped)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 100
Stockist details tel. (01524) 822084; www.theomm.com

Verdict
The OMM Villain 45+10 is very functional, lightweight; can be stripped; quick-release compression straps; sheds snow easily; extendible lid with extension baffle to keep rain out. But the back system is not as breathable as designs that encourage more airflow; doesn’t feel as stable or as comfy as others. It’s an ideal hill-goer’s sack when weight is the priority, but others may be better for Alpine use and comfort.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine April 2010