IT’S HARD TO LIKE A PACK this heavy thing that, like a bad boss, you can’t wait to get off your back. It’s harder still to love one. I do, however, think I love the Cross Ultralight 35 from Vaude. As its name infers, this is a superlight (2 pounds 2 ounces), medium-capacity (2,100 cubic inch) rucksack cut from “210 D Diamond Ripstop Polyamid PU.”
Of the 218 packs I compared to the Ultralight, only four had similar capacities for their weight. Ninety-eight percent of all climbing packs were heavier and smaller, heavier and bigger, or lighter but smaller.
How does the Ultralight achieve its lofty weight-to-capacity ratio? More important, is it wimpy?
Every component in the pack is streamlined. The waistbelt is mesh. The tool loops, drawcord and compression straps are 1/32-inch cord. The semi-rigid (and removable) backframe contributes a scant 5.5 ounces. Even the buckles have been scaled down. Everything works, too. Loaded up with 20-25 pounds, which is about all you can stuff in it, the Ultralight 35 carries well. The frame panel keeps stabs out of your back and prevents the sack from bagging and tottering. The hip belt wraps you nicely and breathes. The cords and buckles and toggles do their thing, which surprised me, as I figured they’d break. I used the pack ice climbing, peak bagging and (the ultimate test) as airline luggage.
All of this has me scheming on a little note that will go something like this: “Dear Ultralight 35, I don’t know if you’re busy this weekend, but.”