There are lots of ways to improve the comfort of a rucksack on the hill, and one of the most important factors to consider is how well the sack’s back system is designed to match the shape of the wearer’s back.
Vaude’s Versametric back system features a stiff and supportive polycarbonate frame to reduce the energy used on every step by the user. This is preshaped to follow the spinal and pelvic contours, so that it fits the back closely without the need for excessive padding. However there is more to carrying comfort than simply having a back system that mirrors the wearer’s shape. The problem is that the back twists and turns as the walker moves, so for a sack to be comfortable it needs a degree of movement.
The Versametric’s back system has a pendulum hipbelt that pivots in the same place that your back twists, reducing energy used, increasing comfort and distributing the load onto the pelvis without the lateral pressure caused by a normal hipbelt. The back length can also be adjusted on the move, thanks to the red webbing that can be pulled tight or loosened at the hipbelt.
I loaded this sack with gear and headed for the hills. The fit was great, although the stiffness of the back panel felt strange at first. However, it was not uncomfortable and I soon got used to the lack of sway.
There was just the right amount of padding too, so my back was cushioned against the stiff polycarbonate frame, but there was still enough airflow around my back to keep me cool. After a few miles I relaxed into the walk and enjoyed the supportive feel of the sack on my back. I think I would prefer a little more flexibility in the back system ideally, but it’s still preferable to other overly stiff or flexible options.
The body of the sack features waterproof seams, so in theory you don’t need a waterproof cover or rucksack liner – indeed, the Vaude brochure states a raincover is ‘not necessary’. However in the rain I found that this rucksack leaked, so it does need a liner and perhaps a rain cover would be useful too. On closer examination I discovered that the impressive front zip leaks like a sieve when water gently runs over it from a tap!
The Vaude Versametric Proof has a good back system and the welded seams are useful for keeping some water out, but you still need a waterproof liner, a rucksack cover is useful and while the stiff back is not uncomfortable I am not sure that it is the ideal option.
Vaude is certainly on to something good with this development, but I’m not bowled over by this attempt at improving backpacking comfort – particularly as Vaude suggests this rucksack will keep your gear dry when it clearly does not.
Capacity 65-75 litres
Materials 420D diamond ripstop polymid PU-coated, 600D polyester ripstop
Features Versametric back system; waterproof welded seams; main compartment with front zip opening and lid opening; compression straps; extending lid with baffle; lid internal and external pockets
Made in Far East
A good but not stunning sack let down a bit by Vaude’s claims of waterproofness – that front zip leaks!
>> Watch a video of GT checking out this sack here