Price: R3220 (at time of writing)
Capacity: 52L + 8L
Dimensions: 72 x 35 x 30 cm
Access points: Top, front, sleeping bag compartment
Material: Main fabric: 79% Polyamide, 21% Polyester; 400 D Diamond Ripstop Polyurethane coated. Contrast fabric: 100% Polyester; 600 D Polyurethane coated 50% recycled. Lining: 100% Polyamide; 200 D Polyurethane coated.
Recommended load range: Load range: 7-12 kg
The Vaude Assymetric 52+8 is a good looking, lightweight, full-feature backpack, purpose-built for two- to three-day, hutted hikes. It is also available in a slightly smaller (38+8) women’s version.
The two main aspects that stand out are its light weight and stylish design and this approach seems to flow through the entire pack.
This bag was purpose-built for light, comfortable hiking between huts, with a suggested load range of 7-12kg. It still felt comfortable at about 15kg, but if you’re the kind of hiker that likes to carry the proverbial “kitchen sink”, then this is not the pack for you.
The suspension system allows for a lot of height adjustability – so much so that if women find the 38+8 version is just too small, the standard version will most likely be a good fit too.
The back panel, hip belt and shoulder straps are thinly padded, but quite comfortable. The padding has a “loose weave” allowing for breathability and quick drying.
The pack’s fabric is light but has a high denier rating which promises to stand up to a fair amount of abuse. Considering that this pack was not designed for hauling heavy loads, it doesn’t have the tank-like feel of some heavier packs.
Because Vaude did not have to over-engineer the pack to accommodate heavy loads, it sits light on one’s back, allowing for maximum freedom of movement. The hip belt easily conforms to the shape of one’s hips, taking any excessive strain off the shoulders.
This is a full-feature pack with all the usual bells and whistles, such as trekking pole loops, compression straps, multiple access points including a sleeping bag compartment with internal separation, hydration bladder compatibility, hip belt pocket, key-hook inside the lid and a whistle in the sternum strap.
The lid height is extendable, perfect for stuffing in those last few luxuries. This is a nice addition for a pack that has been trimmed down quite a bit, allowing for some flexibility.
Vaude have also used an innovative “cinch toggle” on the drawstring of the top “collar” of the backpack. It took a bit of getting used to, but once I got the hang of it, I was amazed at how much more efficient something so small could make opening and closing the top of the pack.
The external mesh pockets comfortably hold a 1L Nalgene bottle and the external vertically zipped storage on the front of the pack is ideal for a wet rain jacket or a pair of hut booties or flip-flops.
Being able to access the contents of your pack from the front makes quick lunch stops a no-brainer. Whether you need to access your stove, food or a warm layer, the front access point opens wide enough that you can reach almost everything in your pack with ease.
The Assymetric also carries Vaude’s Green Shape stamp, which ensures environmentally friendly products made from sustainable materials. Click here for more info on Vaude’s Green Shape eco products.
The Vaude Assymetric has forgone the “jack of all trades” approach that we see in most backpack designs and focusses on mastering the lightweight style and convenience of hut-to-hut excursions. At R3220, some would say it’s a lot of money for such a purpose-built backpack, but if your preferred hiking is weekend excursions to your local mountain hut, this pack has everything you need while keeping the weight down by shaving off excessive structural and padding weight.
This backpack was supplied by Mountain Mail Order for review purposes and can be purchased from their online store.