You may not have heard of USWE yet (pronounced you-swee), but this young Swedish company have been testing their new hydration systems on the backs of some of the biggest names in the business, riders like Cedric Gracia and Steve Peat. In 2007 they introduced their innovative harness system that is designed to keep the hydration pack stable over the roughest terrain, called, quite cleverly, “NoDancingMonkey”. Now, I have to admit that I dislike backpacks with a passion, having worked as a mountain guide for many years they bring back memories of sore shoulders, uncomfortable weights and shifting balance. I understand that for big days out it is important to carry proper gear, but hell, I really hate wearing a pack! So when these unusual looking packs hit the office, I was intrigued.
The F4 pack is the biggest in the UWSE Range (there are currently 2 other packs) with a 3.0L reservoir and 9.0 cubic litres of internal space. The pack features the 4-point suspension harness, “NoDancingMonkey” that gives the pack the unique look. Designed to keep the load secure and in place, and also offer more comfort over a conventional pack. The shoulder straps are ventilated with mesh and back panel features airstrips to allow air to circulate well behind your back. The storage space is divided into a main storage area with a fixed bladder pocket, and a second tool storage area with sewn in dividers and pockets to keep your tools handy. There is also the inclusion of a water-resistant smartphone pocket. The pack retails at €120 and weighs in at 795g.
If you wear this pack you will be sure to get lots of questions on the trail, and probably asked what the parachute is for, but rest assured, UWSE have created one amazing pack. The bag itself is good, it would be nice to see more weather proofing, but generally it is well made and the hydration system is functional and easy to clean. But it is the harness that impressed the most, nothing short of a revelation! The increased comfort on climbs without the waist strap is exceptional and the “NoDancingMonkey” really works. On really rough and challenging terrain, no longer does the bag swing around trying to kill you, everything is kept securely and comfortably in place.
We are now into the long days, and it is time to get out there for some big adventures. If you are looking for a pack that offers enough capacity for a jacket, tools and food, and has enough security and stability to hit up the roughest terrain, the USWE F4 may be just what you are looking for. The 4 point harness is exceptional in use, allowing you to push on harder with no interference. The only negative I have found so far is that the smartphone pocket should really be fully waterproof, it was a little damp in there after a day out in the rain. Also this pack may not be ideal for women with ample proportions due to the way the harness straps up.
For more information about the USWE packs visit their website
Words and Photos: Trev Worsey
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