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Don't you just love the enjoyment of a new rucksack - all the pleasure of finding out uses for the multitude of up-to-date specifications and then the test as to whether it'll be comfy? Sad I may be, but I really do.
TNF Angstrom 30 - under starters orders at the RAB
UKC Gear, Jul 2011
© Bridget Collier
The North Face have produced the Angstrom 30; described as an ultra-light hydration compatible adventure race and extreme event rucksack. The pack has been aimed for use at events such as mountain marathons - like the RAB. The RAB is an orienteering type race in the mountains that requires carrying supplies and kit for an overnight camp, and so I tried it out at the last one, which was based in the eastern fells of the Lake District.
On the morning of the event I easily packed my weekend's kit into the 30 litre capacity rucksack. This included sleeping bag and mat, cooker, food for two people, extra clothes and waterproofs (Chris always takes the tent!). The shape of the sac makes it very roomy whilst compression straps reduce it down once packed. The large front pocket was perfect for safe storage of my waterproof. I was pleased with the integral whistle in the chest strap buckle - it works well - and while I'm talking buckles, the lightweight ones used here all fastened with a satisfying and secure click.
Was I concerned about filling a rucksack to near capacity and running with it for two days? – most definitely yes. I'd taken it out just once before with a couple of bags of water in it. It had proven comfortable enough, so things boded well. The Exolite back panel feels comfy; it also features enhanced lumbar padding.
Over the weekend it was better when fully packed than with the water jiggling around inside, and it fitted my back well. I'm a size 10, 5 foot 3 inch female and most universal sacks feel big or long on the back so I was pleased that the Angstrom 30 was near to perfect.
As I was packing for a long event, some easily grabbed jelly babies were necessary. I stuffed mine into the one mesh pocket on the right side of the waistband to ensure my hourly sugar rush. I would have preferred the loop on the other waist band to have been an additional pocket as I can't stand things jangling, or I'd have liked the righthand pocket to have been bigger as it did mean that there then wasn't any space left for energy gels or compass. As a consequence I held the compass and had to take the sack off to get at the gels. However the stretchy side pockets did come into their own as I used one to stow a beaker in to drink from streams instead of carrying water. On spying a stream, while still running I could reach round and pull it out with little fumbling or needing to take the sack off and I could stow it away again just as easily. The internal pocket kept my map marker pens handy too.
"...Was I concerned about filling a rucksack to near capacity and running with it for two days? – most definitely yes..."
There's one issue with this sack though and that is its weight. At 1000g it's heavy when compared to other race sacs I have come across. I liked all of the specifications of the rucksack, but they all add weight. This is especially so of the padded hydration pocket lining and even the material (210 HT ripstop cordura nylon) is on the heavy side. To compare - the Inov-8 30 litre sac comes in at 590g and the OMM 25 litre is 600g or the 32 litre is 775g.
However as a top quality all-rounder rucksack it ticks all the boxes. I managed OK with it on the RAB event and have used it since for day walks in the hills. It looks very stylish. I used it for an overnight business conference and it was perfect in this role, the padded hydration pocket comes into its own for carrying a laptop, and so simple and yet so clever is that the waist band folds into the back panel so it looks better for work. The design of the internal space holds files easily.
As a stylish and light general sack The North Face Angstrom gets an unreserved glowing report. I think it's a bit heavy for the extreme race market.
About Bridget Collier
Bridget likes to be outside when not chained to the desk in her office job. She started climbing when turning 30 on the local Lancashire quarried gritstone crags and since has enjoyed many Alpine summer and winter trips as well as getting as far as the via Ferrari route on Alpamayo, Peru and the various spires in Moab, America. Mostly though it's weekend warrior stuff in North Wales and the Lakes with fellow members of either the Vagabonds club or the Climbers club.
She also loves fell running (and used to love mountain biking until the running took over). Routes generally include a lot of mud over the west Pennine Moors or locally around Hilldale. She's completed several RAB mountain marathons and local fell races including the Winter Hill Race but sometimes just sets her own challenges running over various peaks in Snowdonia from the Vags hut in Nant Peris.
UKC Articles and Gear Reviews by Bridget Collier: