Berghaus Remote 20L – Catering To Everyone
The Berghaus 20L Remote is intended as a daysack that is compact, lightweight, breathable and one that offers a number of different compartments for organisation. It should cater to everyone, from the outdoor enthusiast to the city commuter. At least, that’s what Berghaus promise so we’re going to put it through its paces and see how it fares. Read on for our review of the Remote 20L which was kindly provided by OutdoorLook.
First off, let’s have a look at the aesthetics of the Berghaus Remote 20L daysack which is now in its second edition and is mostly all the same colour. Pink and black are the two colour options, one for either gender. Fortunately the one we were sent wasn’t Barbie inspired but instead the more masculine and appealing black version.
The long and short of it is that the entire rucksack is coloured black besides the small front zip and two logos. Top right, on the front is a large, diagonally oriented Berghaus logo which along with the curving red zip is the only thing that gives it some sense of shape and appeal. The second logo is located not-quite-so-prominently on the bottom of the right strap.
Two reflective loops are present at the base of the rucksack and do a good job of picking up any light in an otherwise dark environment. The same can be said about the Berghaus logos which add a small amount of additional visibility. Running down alongside the front pocket is the model name which is mostly concealed by zip-pullers.
Besides those details plus an H20 indicator, two reflective swirls a ‘FLOW Technology’ logo which is always covered by your back, everything else is black. I’d really have liked to have seen a few supplementary highlights or colours here, just to break it up a bit.
Still, the most important part is how it fits, whether it is comfortable, how adjustable it is and how much it holds.
Two things I am very pleased about are the inclusion of both a chest and a waist strap. On most rucksacks this size, where weight isn’t a factor – this one is 500g – one or both straps are usually excluded from the feature list but Berghaus kept both equipped on the Remote 20L. The waist strap takes zero weight off your back like a padded waist band would on a larger rucksack but it keeps it tight on your back so you can run comfortably without it bouncing around all over the place. One extremely minor detail that is becoming present on more and more rucksacks are strap tidies – a simple loop of elastic material that keeps the ends from flapping about everywhere. Minor it may be but the finer details matter, particular in a product that doesn’t offer too many excellent features. Of the things that are included, it must do them well.
It is also worth mentioning that the chest strap is adjustable vertically on a slider so depending how tight the straps are pulled, you can always reposition it and stop it asphyxiating you. I would have preferred the buckles to be equidistant (or more so) than one being directly attached to the left strap. It felt weird attaching it off-centre.
The straps are extremely well padded for such a small rucksack, with 15mm of pure luxury diminishing the few kilos you are carrying. The back padding, known as the ‘Berghaus Flow Back System’ is much harder. This isn’t to suggest it is un-comfortable. It is made this way so it compresses less, increasing airflow through the holes in the padding, your back and the rucksack. This wouldn’t work so well on a larger rucksack where weight is an issue and more padding is required.
Either side of the Berghaus Remote 20L sit two rather small, elasticated mesh pockets good for a 500ml bottle of water or something similar. Anything much bigger than that will struggle to fit and a wide-mouthed Nalgene bottle is certainly out of the question.
Two pockets have been fitted into the Remote 20L, one main compartment and another smaller area. The secondary pocket is fairly large alone but will almost always have its size defined by how full the main section is. Don’t think of it as an additional storage compartment but rather a separate area bring more order to main stuff – a pocket that will exclusively store any items you need to access quickly and regularly.
The main compartment features two very loosely elasticated pouches on the back, one with an iPad logo, suggesting it’s a good place to store your tablet. On the opposite side there is a shallow but full width pocket secured in the centre by velcro which is then backed by two half-width mesh pockets.
I was very surprised to see the lack of finish and quality on the velcro pocket. Even without being my usual picky self, this is appalling for a brand as well respected as Berghaus. I expect quality, as I’m sure everyone else does. Poor seams and a strip of velcro secured very literally on one edge – the other flapping around – by a single stitch line is something I would expect from a £10 market stall purchase not one of the leading outdoor brands. Fortunately this shoddy quality isn’t reflected anywhere else on the Remote 20L but it did sour my opinion slightly.
I was able to store a spare coat, socks, camera, water bottle, Jetboil stove and a few essentials inside its compact 20L without a problem. I also fixed my homemade tripod to the outside using both the elastic and reflective loops. The ample shoulder strap padding meant I had no issues with discomfort even when I tested with significant weight in the rucksack. Despite being happy at the inclusion of a waist strap, I did find it to be pretty loose around my body – I had to tie a knot in either side so it was tight. To be fair, I’m not the largest of people in the midriff so most others shouldn’t have this problem, but if you are of slender breed, you might find yourself tying a few knots in them too.
Berghaus say there is an ‘LED attachment point’ but if you’ve got any kind of improvisation skills then this really isn’t worth noting. The Remote 20L is hydration system compatible so you can fill up your Platypus and pull the hose through the central flap at the top. There is a wafer thing velcro attachment for hydration systems with a hanging loop – everyone else will have their two kilos of water moving erratically around inside the loose elastic pouch I mentioned earlier.
The ventilation system stood up to task and kept my back sweat free despite a close-fit. That is thanks mostly to the harder construction of padding.
Berghaus say the Remote 20L is ideal for a day on the hill or in the city. I’d agree to some extent. Ideal? No. I don’t think it fits either function perfectly – it’s a product designed for two profoundly different things. One is a very casual, slow walking day in a mostly clean environment where things need organising inside – your laptop, iPad, keys, chargers, pens and so on. The other is a more quickly paced, sweatier, exercise based affair that has no need for laptop and iPad pouches. I don’t believe such different activities should be catered for in a rucksack because it reflects negatively on the opinions of the user.
I believe there are a lot of rucksacks on the market for £50 that cater towards the adventure side of things but would work just fine in an every-day environment too. Removing the hydration system compatibility effectively makes it a casual rucksack for carrying around your £400 tablet and if that’s all it would take to make it so, the outdoors aspects of it must be incredibly limited. I’d even go as far as saying you could buy two rucksacks at half the price – one to use around the city and the other for adventuring. As an example, Mountain Hardwear offer a lightweight backpack for £25 that’s ideal as a daypack, leaving you £25 to buy a specific, smarter city bag.
To finish, let me summarise. I don’t think the Berghaus Remote 20L is a bad rucksack. It is finished nicely besides one calamity on the inside and there is enough space for a days worth of travel, plus it is perfectly comfortable and breathable too. I just don’t think it works very well as an adventure rucksack, one that you would take to the top of Scafell Pike or along the West Highland Way. There aren’t any straps for quickly attaching a rain jacket to when the weather subsides, the storage isn’t well thought out for adventure either. The strangest thing is that last years model is more feature rich than the 2014 version.
If I had to quantify what percentage of its features were adventure and casual based, it would be split 20/80 and that’s why it doesn’t quite work.
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