Berghaus Octans 40 2011

Developed for award-winning adventure race team Orion, the Berghaus Octans 40 is a large but seriously light pack designed for multi-day adventure racing. You don’t have to run with it, but you won’t mind that race pedigree on the hill. It’s a simple, clean design for minimalists, with sufficient pockets and versatility for multi-activity.

At 684g, the Berghaus Octans 40 is an absurdly light pack for its size. This is partly down to the use of the Ardura 70D RS fabric, but also because the design has been kept simple. The rudimentary back system is comprised of a removable honeycomb foam pad, and the hipbelt is an elasticated fabric affair without reinforcement. You get two decent hip pockets, and great, stretchy mesh pockets on the sides and the rear. The large mesh pocket on the lid is brilliant and easily accessed, plus there’s a small key pocket on the underside. There is also a hydration pocket inside and some useful touches for hill-walkers: the quick-release ice axe/trekking pole attachments are appreciated, as are the effective compression straps at the side. But finally there’s that colour scheme, which might limit this pack’s appeal to primary colour fetishists and those whose highest ambition is to be a walking Berghaus billboard.

On the hill
As with other packs on test that use thin foam mats for their back system, the Berghaus Octans 40 doesn’t forgive sloppy packing. You’ll feel sharp, pokey objects, or heavy kit at the top. But get it right and it’s comfy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get that elasticated waistbelt to transfer sufficient weight to my hips, particularly when the pack was not full. On one walk, this led to quite severe discomfort by the end. That waistbelt also left the pack quite unstable when scrambling. The side compression straps helped by being robust, easy to use and effective in stabilising the weight, but they didn’t compensate for the lack of back support. The mesh side pockets were accessible while wearing the pack, and the hip pockets large and well-designed. The top mesh pocket was excellent, but not weather-resistant. Overall the Berghaus Octans 40 is a very light pack for its size, but perhaps a little specialised. It’s light enough for racing, but I’d prefer something more stable and comfortable for everyday use.

Capacity 40 litres (17g per litre)
Fabric Ardura 70D RS (70 denier ripstop nylon)
Features removable foam back system; side mesh pockets; rear mesh pocket; hipbelt pockets; internal and external lid pockets; hydration system-compatible; compression straps; ice axe/pole attachments; tow loops; emergency whistle; reflective print
Sizes 40, 25 litres
Measured weight 684g
Made in Vietnam
Stores in the UK 50
Stockists (0191) 516 5600;

The Berghaus Octans 40 is a clean and simple design; extremely light for its size; well-built; great pockets. But it’s hard to make comfortable, mesh pockets offer no weather resistance; not the most stable; colour scheme? Overall, it’s a large, well-made pack that is great where weight counts, but not the most comfortable.

Review by Ben Winston
First published in Trail magazine April 2011