Berghaus Arete 45

Berghaus Arete 45

Berghaus Arete 45

I was heartily sick of looking for a rucksack, I was in danger of just saying “bollocks to it” and buying the next one I saw. But I had steeled myself to the task in hand and did not waver in the face of overwhelming odds.

My shortlist for tents was 4 long, for sleeping bags it was 2 long, for stoves it was a shortlist of one! For a rucksack my list included 10 different packs, from 8 different manufacturers. There is a bewildering choice out there – and most of them are not what I want – yet still I can only bring the list down to 10. The problem is getting access to them!

My target weight for the rucksack was no more than 1.5kg – its only going to be carrying about 8 or 9 kg of stuff at any one time, so why the hell would I want to get one that weighs 3kg, which most of the 60 litre packs come in at.

The first thing I did was to check the Trail gear list and sure enough they had done a recent test of 40-50 litres packs. The packs placed number 1 (Berghaus Extrem Guide 45) and number 2 (Crux AK47) both fell within my 1.5Kg limit (well, the Berghaus was 1.6kg), so they went on the shortlist. To them I added the fourth placed bag (Mammut Granit 40) and number five (Osprey Atmos 50). I also hand picked a number of other packs from other reviews and articles, the key additions being one of the brand new X-Lite range from Karrimor (the Vapour 45) and a lightweight Berghaus pack (Arete 45).

I prioritised my list based on weight, price and how well they did in any reviews I found for them. The list came out as follows:

1. Crux AK47 – 1.2kg – £120 – not a bad word from anyone
2. Karrimor Vapour 45 – 1.2kg – £90 – no reviews
3. Berghaus Extrem Guide 45 – 1.6kg – £90 – rave reviews
4. Marmot Vapour 45 – 1.5kg – £70 – no reviews
5. Osprey Atmos 50 – 1.4kg – £120 – excellent reviews
6. Berghaus Arete 45 – 1.3kg – £40 – one or two positive comments
….plus 4 others

As I’ve already mentioned, I’m 6′4″ and not the slimmest of chaps, so trying these packs on for comfort and fit was a key consideration. There’s no point spending money on something thats going to be uncomfortable, or worse still, doesn’t fit me at all.

I looked for local stockists for all the 10 bags on my list – those that listed stockists on their websites – one or two only listed online emporiums. This produced a list of about 7 different shops – another case of no shop holding more than two different manufacturers bags.

I started at the top of the list with the Crux, to find only 1 highstreet stockist in the Manchester area, Snow and Rock. Off I toddled to find not a single Crux bag in the whole place – none of the assistants had even heard of them. Not being prepared to travel to London or Newcastle (Tyne, not Lyme) I reluctantly crossed my first choice off the list.

The quest for the Karrimor was not so easily thwarted – I really wanted this bag. Light, clean lines, modern and sexy I drove to Chester to try and track it down in Field and Trek, one of only two named stockists in the North West. They told me they had none in yet as the bag was so new, but to ring back in a couple of weeks. This I did, only to be told that they had the bag in, but it was only in the regular back size and that they would not order a tall one without an order from me first. I explained I needed to try it for size, to which the guy said, “try the regular and if thats too small get the tall”, “that’s not much help really is it?” I said.

So, I rang Karrimor, thinking they could help me locate a tall back model somewhere. I spent 20 minutes on hold and being bounced from one person to another, before the line went dead. I was almost at the point of scratching it off the list when I stumbled across a Karrimor advertisement in Trail magazine and there was a contact phone number of a distributor on the page. I rang Eurotech and spoke to a very helpful lady called Tracy, who found me another retailer in the area. I rang them and explained my quest – they put me on hold for two days then rang back and said they couldn’t get a tall back size unless I placed an order. BOLLOCKS!!!! I gave up on that one too.

To cut an increasingly long story short I could not find anyone in the North West who was stocking a Berghause Extrem Guide or a Marmot Vapor 45. Scratch 3 and 4!

I found an outlet in Chester – can’t remember which one, they all blurred into one after a while – that stocked the Osprey Atmos. Now thats a nice pack, its a tad expensive, but its light and comfortable with nice space and pockets etc etc. The only problem is the hip belt would not buckle around my hips – its was too short, or rather I’m too fat! Scratch choice number 5.

I found the Berghaus Arete in about 3 stores (Blacks and Go Outdoors being two I can remember). It was a little way down the wish list – but it was cheap and light, but more of a climbers pack really. However, it has a good hip belt – which as a bonus fits around me – and plenty of gear loops and compression straps. Its comfy on me and at £40 (in Go Outdoors) I thought why not?

[notice]So the moral of the story is, you can produce the best bag in the world, get everyone salivating and adding it to their wish lists, get rave reviews from the walking magazines, but unless you get the damn things in the shops – what’s the bloody point?[/notice]

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  1. LJ Dellar says:

    Actually, the only things I need a compression sack for are my sleeping bags: the summer one is a Snugpak Travelpak Extreme (2008 version) and the winter one is a Marmot Never Winter down bag. They both reduce in size to something a little smaller than a loaf of bread. My sleeping mat is an Exped Downmat 7, which is smaller than a Thermarest when packed: about the same as the sleeping bag. The biggest thing is my tent, when I take that rather than the hammock, which is about 14 or 15 inches long by about 6 inches diameter. I take very few spare clothes and my stove is a Trangia Solo in summer and an MSR Whisperlite in winter. The main space-eater in my rucksack is 7 days worth of food…

    When I simply CANNOT get it all in I put the tent on the outside of the sack.

  2. LJ Dellar says:

    I bought one of these but a slightly earlier version, probably 2008 or 2009. I love it to bits. There are lots of things more modern packs have that it does not, and all these are advantages as far as I am concerned. It has a proper adjustable back system, just one main compartment, the hip belt cannot be removed and it seems, in my experience, to be nearly waterproof. It may way a little more than the equivalent Osprey, Crux or Exped sacks, but then it cost me rather less than half what any of them would have been.

    I recently went for a seven night wild camping trip on Dartmoor and took my Lowe Alpine Sierra 65-10 rucksack. That is a big bag and weighs nearly three Kg, but I was taking quite a lot of gear and food, and I needed to be able to carry 4 litres of water. I am returning for another 7 nights in late August/early September and am determined to get the lot into the Arrete, even if it means strapping stuff to the outside…

    • lonewalker says:

      I’ve been using a GoLite Jam2 recently and that’s the best pack I’ve had since the Arete died. I guess you use compression bags to get all the gear you need into the Arete. Lovely bag, pleased to hear you’re still getting good use out of it.

  3. Dipak says:

    Glad you found your bag….it’s like the search for the holy Grail !
    Did you find the Arete cheaper online?
    And if so, did you purchase it online after trying it out at the store ?

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