The trouble of hiking with a rucksack, especially a large one, is that when it’s fully loaded the weight inside distorts the shape and structure of the pack which often results in a very uncomfortable walk. The ghastly lump sagging behind you, feeling separate to your body and throwing you off balance.
Modern packs tend to skimp on the frame, with some not even having one at all! If you are lucky you will get a half assed effort consisting of a thin tensile wire that runs around the back exterior of the pack. They may be better than nothing at all but the fact they are referred to as ‘frames’ by the manufacturer is very misleading as they twist easily with stress and do not offer the user adequate support. Manufacturers then claim that this flexing of the frame is a benefit, suggesting that the weight “moves with you”, this is nonsense in my opinion.
The Berghaus Vulcan is different, it’s solid and feels very strong. It passes this feeling of strength onto the user who feels it when hiking. This is overwhelmingly due to the frame that is used in the pack, which is called Cyclops II. Even when fully loaded the frame holds the shape of the rucksack and maintains structural integrity. The surprising bit is that even though the Vulcan is heavier than some of my other packs it ‘feels’ lighter when worn as the frame keeps your posture in a positive position, so you don’t hunch over with the weight. The result is that you spend less energy keeping your back straight and can focus that instead on actually hiking and moving forward.
My first time using the Vulcan was not out on the hill, it was actually moving a bunch of bushcraft teaching supplies. The pack was very heavy and full of random objects, like axes, cooking pots and even some arrows! All of that added to the seriousness of this initial test as if the pack could cope with a very uneven load then it could cope well with a methodical pack that one does before setting out hiking. The Vulcan performed superbly and carried the weight exceptionally well, the load was around 25kg.
The Vulcan is a military pack but don’t let that distract you as it’s very well made without being over the top on additional features. A route that many military packs can go down, for example with super heavy buckles.The Berghaus Vulcan has durability where you need it and crucially shows restraint on superfluous features that just add unnecessary bulk and weight. It’s these unnecessary features that are sadly so common in most modern products so it’s refreshing to see the Vulcan give all of what you need and nothing added just for the sake of it.
The Vulcan consists of a main rucksack of 80 litre capacity which can be paired with it’s two side pockets of 10 litres each. This brings the total carrying potential to be 100 litres, certainly putting the Vulcan in the pigeon hole of expedition rucksacks. However one can leave the side pockets at home and compress the main pack which allows the user to utilise the pack on much shorter trips and increase the overall adaptability of the Vulcan.
Attaching the side pockets is not the quickest of tasks but it is simple, it just takes a couple of minutes to thread the webbing through and do the zips up on each side. The side pockets have a lovely feature by providing a place to attach skis. This rucksack is an all season workhorse and being able to venture into the backcountry in full on winter conditions where skis or snowshoes will be used one will appreciate this feature.
Other gear attachment points can be used for ice axes or walking poles, the webbing and closure design is made of strong webbing and a hard plastic buckle so they are held in place securely.
The lid has one large pocket which is good for those items we need to access quickly such as a head torch, I would have liked to see another internal pocket but this is something you could stitch on at a later date if you wanted. I would also have liked to see an internal sleeve to hold a hydration kit, this is sadly missing.
There is a sleeping bag compartment at the base of the pack with a fabric divider to separate that section out from the main internal space. A very handy feature to have when your pack is stowed in the vestibule of your tent and makes unpacking and repacking the pack a lot easier.
Wearing the Vulcan is a pleasure, the foam on the hip harness and back system is strong and firm and transfers the weight well through your hips, making the most of the excellent frame system. The buckle design around the hips is fantastic, its very strong, simple and practical with a very slick quick release feature.
The Vulcan user can take advantage of load adjustment points which bring the weight even closer to you, these can be found above the shoulders and behind the hips. These small features really add to the usability of the pack and increase the overall comfort. With everything tightened the pack becomes a dream to hike with.
Overall the Berghaus Vulcan is an excellent rucksack. It’s a fair price and you get one superbly designed and constructed piece of expedition and hill walking equipment. I really enjoy using it and it will be accompanying me on many trips to come.
The Berghaus Vulcan comes in 4 different back lengths so finding your correct size should be easy.
Highly Recommended. Buy yours HERE