Friday, November 18, 2016

Bundeswehr Gebirgsjäger Rücksack

As an afterburner of my trip to Norway  to see Odd I thought I'd throw in a little gear talk for a change; a review if you will. I did bring a few "new" things with me on that trip just for that purpose; to try them out and I must say with mixed results.... sort of.


The first item is one that seems very popular within the bushcraft community; the German Bundeswehr Gebirgsjäger Rucksack. A smaller, 30 liter backpack, no frame, no bells 'n whistles. Made out of canvas with plastic fasteners.
The layout; one main compartment with a smaller, flat one on the back, 2 small outer side pockets. The lid has 4 plastic D-rings, which enable you fasten items on the top, as I did with the poncho. All straps are adjustable right under the fasteners. The carrying straps can be adjusted near the bottom.
The pack itself has a rubberised bottom, so you can put it down without worrying that the contents will get wet right away. The pack has a single hand carrying loop at the top as well.
Behind both sidepockets there is a gap, which allows you to carry gear behind them. Stuff like an axe or some poles for instance. You close off the top via a drawstring.
Overall I like this pack enough to not get in the way and traversing denser woods should not be a problem. it is small, yet big enough to hold whatever you might need on a daytrip. The construction is sturdy; strong canvas, straps and decent stitching. With care this pack will last years, as shows. This one has seen use in the military and after and still goes on without damages.

Is this pack all halleluja then?
No. I found it did have some shortcomings. Shortcomings big enough to make me have my reservations toward it.
For one there are the carrying straps. I did not find them overly comfortable and after the hike with Odd my shoulders felt tired, despite the fact that I had not overloaded the pack. I even had room to spare. Enough to bring spare clothes for instance. So that was not it. It might be a matter of getting used to them, but I would have like some adjustment features at the top as well.
Another matter was an equally pressing one; I felt the messkit pushing into my back the whole time; a bulge right at kidneylevel. Again not overly comfortable and I might have to rethink the way I load the pack, but when using the Swedish kit, there really isn't another option other then to carry it outside the pack, which should be possible. I'll look into it soon.
My third gripe concerns the sidepockets; they're too small!! Even something like a standard NATO canteen needs to be forced into one and my not huge hands barely fit into them to retrieve stuff, especially if something is positioned behind the pocket, like an axe. Hmmm.
And then there's the last one (and easiest fixed); no waist strap. A simple strap enhances the carrying comfort greatly and that's what I added; a longer strap with fastener, salvaged from a derelicted Berghaus Vulcan II. And what a difference that makes!
Some other things I did was to not carry the poncho during the trip with Odd. That greatly reduced not only the weight of the pack, but significantly shifted the gravity point of the pack a lot lower down the back. The proved a very smart move when crossing the rocky and slippery terrain! It most likely would have influenced the sense of balance in a negative way had I not omitted the poncho.
I added a first aid kit in such a way that when I opened the flap the kit popped right out and was immediately accessible if needed, but would not lie around or get lost otherwise.

So would I recommend this pack?
I don't know. Before you buy one, first have a look at it, try it. It is nice, but I do think that its virtues are a tad overrated.











Add 19-11;
A question that always seems to pop up is:"How much content does such a backpack actually have?" There are figures ranging from 25 up to the high 40's. Here's the answer; 30 liters filled to the brim!
Maybe with the sidepockets added 35 liters. But then you're really pushing it.


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