Unique harness system for optimum load distribution
The Enduro 20 features a unique harness that joins at the chest with a large velcro patch to distribute weight across the chest and take some load and abrasion off the shoulders. It feels stable like a packvest but more breathable and durable. The main compartment is accessed by a U shaped zipper across the top of the pack and inside is a bladder sleeve and one central hose exit port at the top of the pack. A hook inside is designed to hold a Nalgene bladder and is a bit awkward with other brand’s designs. There is a small external zip pocket on the front of the pack and there are welcome loops for carrying ice axes or trekking poles. An external helmet holder is a clumsy mixture of mesh and bungee that doesn’t do anything to compress the pack when not completely full but does hold a helmet securely. Side bottle holders are quite tight and hold bottles well, but aren’t the easiest to access on the move. An interesting feature is the waist belt, which closes with velcro and is elasticated for comfort but can also be removed completely, as can the mesh hip pockets which again attach by velcro. The mix of 70 (light) and 210 (tougher) denier fabrics produces a lightweight but robust bag and the smooth fabrics have been well placed on the back of the pack to minimise next to skin abrasion.
A few points since the original review that have been noted. The chest strap configuration can be problematic for bigger breasted women, so one to definitely try fully loaded in the shop before purchase, just in case. Aside from that, the pack has been passed onto other testers and I’ve heard nothing bad to report. I wish I’d had a bit more time with this one to really put it through its paces but that’s the way it works with 8 bags to review at a time, there’s just not enough training hours in the week!
(Review written for UK Adventure Sports Magazine)
Updated version of Classic AR pack
Salomon packs have been extremely popular in recent years particularly their 20 litre version, now called the XA 20 M. The classic U-shaped zip access remains from previous versions and that’s a good thing as accessibility into the pack is very good. Over time, with regular overstuffing, the water resistant zips can get a bit tired, but you probably need a bigger bag then! Inside the main compartment there is a small mesh zip pocket at the top and some fine mesh covered water drainage holes at the other end. A small horizontal zip on the front of the pack accesses a deep pocket and externally to that is a stretch mesh pocket, but unfortunately not stretchy or big enough to fit a helmet . Hydration bladders slot into a separate zip accessed bladder panel with a couple of velcro loops at the top to accept all manner of vertical bladder types. A bladder hose can be fed through either shoulder strap at your preference, however, it’s a tight squeeze if using a hose with a 90 degree bend. Also on the shoulder straps are clips to securely attach an optional extra chest pouch.
The back is well padded with the Airvent Lite system of expanded foam, which does add comfort, if a little bulk, but at very little weight, so gets the thumbs up. The waist belt is a wide mesh with a real enveloping fit. A buckle clips in the middle but adjustment is made at either end of the strap which has the effect of really hugging the pack in tight to the hips. With a well fitting shoulder harness yoke the bag is extremely comfortable in use. An interesting touch is the zips on the deep hip pockets which are reversed and open forwards to prevent the pullers catching on bushes and splaying open. Personally I’ve never found conventional zip direction a problem and I found accessing pocket contents a bit more difficult this way. Side bottle pockets are easy to use on the go and hold bottles securely. Side compression straps cinch the lower pack in tight for stability, but an external bungee cord tucked into one pocket just confuses. There are a number of loops through which the bungee cord can be passed in whatever configuration the user likes, but it’s not long enough to stash a helmet under and just seems like an afterthought. This lack of external carrying capacity is the only real drawback to an otherwise excellent bag.
Choosing the right pack for adventure racing is
almost as important as choosing footwear. For one to two day races like
the Rat Race Urban Adventure, Polaris Challenge, Open 24 etc, where a
reasonable load needs to be carried, then a 20-25 litre pack is what
most racers are going to need. Key factors in choosing a pack are the
volume, ease of access, comfort, stability, lightweight, hydration
bladder compatibility, volume adjustment or compression, and on the
Some things to look for are hip belt
pockets, adjustable chest strap, external bungees or mesh to hold
helmet or shoes, easy access side bottle pockets and a comfortable
harness that doesn’t dig into your neck. It’s unlikely that you’re load
will be heavy enough to require much padding on shoulder straps and you
may wish to look for optional removable back padding to reduce weight.
Often packs have ‘breathable’ mesh panels to keep your back cool but
rarely do they work well enough to make them a significant buying
A more important consideration is fit and comfort. A bag that bounces around when running is going to cause chafing and discomfort so look for back hugging packs that hold tight but allow you to move your arms and torso without restriction. I recently reviewed a range of packs for the UK Adventure Sports Mag July edition which I’ll publish here in due course.