Columbia Mobex 2010

Some gear simply demands closer inspection, and that includes the Columbia Mobex. It could be described as eye-catching, innovative or just weird – but is it wonderful too?
This rucksack’s design is inspired by adventure racers who charge from bike to trail to water all in one race, so it is built to be light and fast, and to excel at on-the-fly performance. However I suspect most walkers and climbers will conclude it is based on the classic geodesic tent configuration, which is well-proven to provide a stable shelter for high and wild camping.
The Mobex has a capacity of 26 litres, so it’s ideal for travelling fast and light when biking or hiking. The sack is opened with a zip that allows the Flex Frame to fold away from the back system like a clamshell. As with all rucksacks a waterproof liner needs to be added, but once fitted this makes the vertical mesh divider less useable.
There is a small external pocket on the top, but the opening to this is quite narrow while the pocket itself is irritatingly small. There’s another on the base, which is even smaller. These pockets would be useful for small items like snacks and gel bars but they are irritatingly small for larger items like  guidebooks or maps. The two large external mesh pockets are however ideal for stashing lightweight waterproofs. Trekking poles could also be attached to bungees on the outside.
I took the Columbia Mobex over my local Lakeland fells and found it to be comfortable and very stable, and it really hugged my back. But at 838g it is not that light compared some alternatives. The Omni-Shield back panel does not allow the airflow of other sacks, so this proved to be a bit sweaty too, which was a problem. The shoulder straps have perforated padding to allow airflow, but the hipbelt lacks this feature, which would have helped performance.


Internal compartments
Inside you get various compartments, including a hydration bladder pocket and removable mesh divider. The outer pocket proved difficult to access.

Omni-Shield back panel
A water-resistant back panel sheds light rain while giving the Mobex a close fit but we did experience poor airflow around the back.

Hipbelt pockets
A quick-draw water bottle holder and large zipped cargo pocket are provided on the hipbelt for on-the-move access to essential gear.

External frame
The external Flex Frame gives the Mobex an aerodynamic profile while preventing the sack from sagging or flapping in the wind. The frame can be squashed flat without damage.

Price £65
Material 20D nylon Triple Rip with Omni-Shield water repellency
Features Flex Frame with tool loops; internal compartments; wide hipbelt with pockets; breathable shoulder straps; two external pockets; hydration system-compatible
Capacity 26 litres
Weight 838g
Made in Vietnam
Stockist details tel. (01189) 220130;

May suit adventure racers but the geodesic framework doesn’t achieve many benefits over lighter sacks with two compression straps and better airflow across the back.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine May 2010