I was really interested in reviewing Ortlieb's Elevation Pro pack because I had the ideal trip in mind to test it - a few days backpacking and Alpinism in Scotland during late April would put it to the use it was designed for and push its carrying capabilities as I needed a full backpacking load.
I'll say straight away that its a fantastic piece of kit - comfortable, completely waterproof and constructed with nuts and bolts to ensure everything stays where it should. Despite this its actually quite lightweight for what it delivers, 1.5kg in fact.
The back panel has an internal framesheet which is quite rigid and has a moulded foam outer that creates a raised lumber pad that allows good transfer of the load and works well with the hipbelt fins to give a really comfortable carry. Since I was carrying backpacking gear including food, crampons and ice axe the total load was about 27lbs, which is probably heavier than most would carry in this type of pack.
The hipfins are removable (?) I suppose if there was hardly anything in it and you were wearing a climbing harness that would be useful. There are two zipped stretch mesh pockets in the hipbelt fins but these are very small and next to useless for more than a bar of chocolate or a compass - I stored my lipstick sized face and lip sun screen in one of them and my compass in the other. There's also a short gear rack on each fin.
The main compartment is closed via a drybag style roll top closure with a buckle to keep it closed. The lid then covers the top and there's a single strap with a hook style adjustable buckle which is really easy to use. The lid has a large waterproof pocket with a waterproof zipper that's great for keeping organised. On the very top are loops that you can attach a bungee compressor to, the resulting system easily and securely carries a waterproof jacket or wet flysheet.
The external carrying options are endless. Front twin daisy chains are pretty flexible and side compression straps can be used to carry bigger stuff such as skis and the like. The side compression straps use the same hook-in, hook-out buckles making accessing gear very quick indeed, and were a feature I really liked.
There's a central adjustable strap for carrying twin climbing axes should the need arise and twin conventional ice axe loops for walking axes or trekking poles. There's even a grid on the base of the pack where crampons could be fastened.
Another thing I liked about the pack is its balance, its long and thin consistent with its function as an alpine pack and this puts the load squarely over your centre of gravity as you lean forward. It also stands up well - the base is flat and so it balances well on the ground for easy packing.
There's a watertight access port for a hydration tube with a stopper for when its not being used. Its a narrow port though and I suspect only an Ortlieb hydration system will fit.
I really appreciated the fact that whatever the environment threw at us I would have dry gear to dip into at the end of the day. The pack is supremely well made and a pleasure to use.
|Moulded foam back with lumbar pad|
|Coped with really bad weather||Nicely balanced pack - even with 27lbs||Quality construction|