Gelert Oxygen 35 Rucksac from the 2011 Beyond range
We’ve been lucky in having a sneak preview of Gelert’s new Oxygen 35 rucksack ahead of the launch of their inspiring new 2011 ‘Beyond’ range. The Oxygen 35 is positioned as a technical, lightweight rucksack and features include a breathable back panel and hip belt to help keep you cool so you can push yourself that bit further. Sounds great, but how will it do in our tests?
Where and how tested?
We tested it in a range of places and situations, including leisurely family walks in the woodlands, during filming on location, and even on extended treks in the cold wintry mountains. We used it instead of our normal gear in as many situations as we could, all of which were relevant to the usage of the average 35L rucksack.
The rucksack has a pre curved steel frame in the back panel which allows the bag to sit slightly away from your back so you don’t get the uncomfortable poke from any objects that might be sticking out of the bag. The shoulder straps feel comfortable and wide enough to spread the load but not too wide that they rub or make you feel like you are strapped in with no escape. The pre curved hip-belt is thinly padded with holes cut away to allow air to circulate which makes them light but still supportive and less likely to rub like thick padded straps. They really hug you around the hip area and a side effect of their design means they feel more flexible and seem to mould to the natural lines of your waist and hips better than bags with heavily padded straps. This also allows more freedom of movement which I tested out with a bit of scrambling, and after a long walk still no areas of discomfort.
I packed the rucksack to full capacity with extra layers and other essential kit you need to take when you are off for a walk in the hills. I threw it on and clicked all the buckles in and bent over forwards and backwards and from left to right to test how stable it felt. I thought the curved frame inside the rucksack might make it feel uncomfortable or less connected to you, but it fact it was very stable and hugs your back well. On the one of the walks I had a quick jog down a forest track to check we were going the right way, and although the sac bounced up and down as much as any would it still felt well attached and didn’t throw me off balance.
Lightweight ‘Nylon ripstop’ materials are used where possible in this rucksack and this material feels light and thin but also tough. When fully packed the sac looks and feels sturdy and up to the job. The bottom is the part of the rucksack which normally wears the most for me, from me dropping it down on all manner of surfaces when I need to rummage for extra layers or snacks. The bottom is reinforced in this rucksack which makes this part of the bag feel much more durable. The zips worked well and have thick, gripped plastic holds making them easier to grab hold of and zip/unzip with cold hands or gloves when compared to traditional zip holds. The stitching in the sac looks sound and even looks double stitched in places.
The buckles used to secure the bag and strap up the hip belt are again a lightweight design and have also been designed to make them less likely to hook to branches and rocks. They do work well, although they are relatively small and I found them a little more tricky to do up when I had gloves on.
The rain-cover is stashed away in a velcro pocket at the bottom of the bag and is easy to locate and pull over the whole rucksack when the heavens open. It is attached to the bag by a strap, but handily it can be removed so that you can dry it separately from the bag. You don’t have to try and balance the whole bag and all of your belongings precariously against the radiator when you do get to somewhere dry! I used the cover during a couple of rain showers and was impressed – the bag and my spare layers inside stayed nice and dry. I also walked behind a waterfall in the Brecon’s, but forgetting just how wet it was behind there didn’t put the rain-cover on. I got a good soaking from the back spray, and although we had one damp corner on the map stowed in the back pocket the bag did pretty well without the rain cover.
This rucksack has a Hybrid Air system. Basically this means that there are two mesh straps running down the back of the rucksack and a visible gap between the fabric of the main compartment and your back. This allows good air movement and shouldn’t make you sweat as much as if you had the fabric of the bag sitting up against your back. I found that it worked well when we got a soaking in the rain and i didn’t sweat at all, the real test will come in the summer for this area which we intend on adding in a few months time. The airflow should also speed up the drying process between your jacket and rucksack after rain. The shoulder straps are made from EVA foam which has been perforated with lots of 7mm diameter holes which should help circulate air around your shoulders, and it should act like a quick wicking top.
There are a number of handy pockets, the handiest for me being a zip-pocket at the top of the bag. There is plenty of space here for stashing away stuff you need faster access to, like sunglasses, snacks and gloves. There is a flat pocket on the front of the bag with a zip running down the length of the bag. There is enough space to pop an OS map and pair of gloves in here and the pocket is also easily accessible. There are two netted pockets, one on either side of the bag for spare clothing or water bottles and these both have an elasticated top to hold things in better.
There are the normal loops and bungee type straps on the outside of the bag where you can attach two walking poles or your ice axe in winter, and these were effective and easy to use. You can further secure stuff to the outside of your bag by using the main bag straps.
Value for money
This rucksac has a RRP of £54.99 and like most Gelert rucksac’s are reasonably priced.
This bag has been tested by both myself and my wife. We are different in size, strength and shape, but both found the bag to be comfortable to use and easy to adjust to fit properly, and it didn’t rub for either of us.
Overall I think that if you are looking for a rucksack that is affordable, comfortable and lightweight this is a good choice. You often trade off lightweight for durability, although I think this bag has struck a good balance of the two. A rucksack with a simple designed like this can provide better long term performance as there are less things to go wrong and for this reason alone i think this is a good buy.
For more information on this rucksac check out the following link:
Gelert Oxygen 35L Rucksac