Newly arrived, lightweight mountain day-sac from rope specialist Edelrid.
We previewed the new for 2012 Edelrid Helix 25 lightweight technical mountain pack last month, but now we have an actual pack here at OM Mansions and we thought you might appreciate a quick hands-on look.
First off, it's a 25-litre technical mountain pack, which as you might expect from a brand with Edelrid's background in rope production, has a distinctly alpine bent with pretty much everything you'd need for an alpine day bar, oddly enough, a dedicated rope attachment system.
Real World Weight
The pack in fully-assembled mode, weighs a decent, real world 1100g. You can strip things down further by removing the lid and sliding out the removable Nylon stiffening plate, which is held in place in its pocket by a Velcro strip, but for the sake of 300g, we'd probably stick with the extra support and lid capacity.
What we like initially about the Helix is, that like Montane's new packs, it's light enough without being intrusively minimalist. In this case it means you get tough but light ballistic Nylon fabric, Velcro and Hypalon ice-tool attachments, which should be easy enough to use with gloved hands and a full, traditional, side-mounted zig-zag compression system.
A Familiar Buckle...
There's also a double snow closure top opening, a substantial lid pocket and a chunky aluminium closure quick buckle for the single central strap which has obvious similarities with the Lowe Alpine Lid Locker. The main difference apart from size is that the Lowe Alpine buckle has a double closure system which means you can lock it more securely, while the Edelrid one simply slips through. We'll be keeping an eye on it to see just how secure it actually is.
The back system is pretty stripped down and minimal. Just a stiffening plate inside the pack to make for more support and protection from spiky contents, plus reticiulated foam shoulder straps with a mesh covering. The back itself has three foam padded areas, but looks like it should shrug off snow and not soak up rain and sweat.
There's also a simple mesh and Hypalon hip belt complete with two simple gear loops for easy clipping on the move, plus a couple of slits you could use to add a carabiner for more racking of ice screws perhaps.
Close And Stable
An experimental try-on and yomp round the block suggests the pack sits close, stable and high, which should help with harness clearance and doesn't seem any the worse for the lack of top-tensioner straps. In addition, the back plate feels as if it would cope with a mediim rack and rope when needed. Speaking of rope, there's no top rope strap under the lid, so you'll have to improvise if you want to carry a rope under the lid - a shame really, all that's needed is a strap to stop it flopping down the back of the pack.
One thing we do like is the way the base of pack has been cut away at a slight angle which should make it less likely to catch up on the rock when descending steepish but easy ground facing out from the rock.
Oh, it's hydration-system compatible, though we nearly missed that as the single outlet on the righthand side, isn't labelled in any way. It is there though, which is what matters after all.
First impressions are of a competent and impressively light mountain day pack. It's comparable in weight to something like Montane's new Medusa 32 or the Osprey Mutant 28 though arguably not as slick, though it does have a stiffer back system than either of those.
The question marks for us are the lack of a rope attachment strap under the lid, the security of that Load Locker-style buckle in use and finally, if you're using technical ice tools, how well the lower Velcro and Hypalon lower axe attachments will cope with odd-shaped modern axes. In general we find shock-corded attachments more flexible and resistant to interference from snow.
Price in the UK is £90. More details at www.edelrid.de.