Vaude Spline 40 2010

It would be easy to think that the standard rucksack design is the best design for the job. But it is possible to come up with a radical rethink of how a rucksack operates. And that is exactly what the designers of the Vaude Spline have done. This sack boasts a wealth of innovative design concepts. But do they work?

Design
The Vaude Spline comes in a 30 and 40 litre capacity. This makes it ideal for mountaineers and scramblers who need plenty of capacity, but a sack that is also neat and unobtrusive when moving up steep, rocky terrain. The first feature of note is the material, which boasts an external print that is said to increase abrasion resistance. It certainly feels extremely durable too. Then there are the side compression straps that use innovative alloy castings that can slide along splines (projecting wire tracks) that extend around the front of the pack. The ice axe loops are also attached to these spines. The idea is that this allows the compression straps and ice axe loops to be positioned as required. Then there is the pocketed lid, which can be zipped away and replaced by a basic zipped lid. The back system is a moulded design to allow airflow, without holding the snow and ice.

On the hill
I generally prefer simple, clutter-free rucksacks and at first I thought this was going to be just that. However I instantly took a dislike to the design of the lid. I think the idea of being able to make the top of the sack smaller to allow more space for head movement is a good idea, but I found this was just a complicated and rather messy
way to achieve this. I’ve used plenty of sacks that did not reduce my headroom but without this complex design. I must also confess not to liking zipped lids as the sack becomes redundant if the zip ever breaks. I do like the sliding compression straps though and also the clever alloy buckles that allow the compression straps to be clipped to webbing loops down the side of the sack. The back system is great too, as it is stiff and doesn’t hold snow, yet it allows plenty of airflow. It’s easy to bend the internal stays to create the shape that best fits your back. There are no wand pockets however, which is a feature I definitely look for and find useful for stashing trekking poles. Once you figure out how to use the lid, this sack does perform well – but for me the lid was just too annoying.

Capacity 40 litres
Fabric Cordura with ceramic overprint
Features stiffened moulded back system; zipped stowable lid; compression straps; external lid pocket; twin ice axe/pole attachment points; hydration system compatible
Back sizes one size
Weight 1395g
Made in China
Stores in the UK 10
Stockist details tel. (01665) 510660; www.vaude.co.uk

Verdict
The Vaude Spline 40’s unique innovative hood allows helmet clearance; highly abrasion resistant material; good airflow on back system; back panel does not attract snow. But it’s surprisingly heavier than expected; the innovative lid is annoying to use; relies on zips rather than buckles for lid closure. It’s an unusual design for mountaineering and scrambling if the hood design works for you.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine April 2010