First impression:Winner!

Reviewed by Jay Bird from South Dakota on Saturday, December 12, 2015
This will be a first impression review without having taken the bag out yet. It will be from the impression of a 6’3” 250lb male who enjoys firepower over mobility (I’m not ultralight but do look for lightweight and practical/comfortable gear) A little backstory. I am moving from using a Dana Designs Arclight Swiftcurrent bag from the 90’s. It is a great bag, but I wanted something new that was perhaps a bit lighter. After research and trying/handling bags, I settled on the Gregory Baltoro 75. I happened to be perusing STP (always bad for the wallet) and saw this Vaude Astrum 70 + 10 at a reasonable price. With my deal saver coupon it was far less than half the cost of the Gregory. I decided to do some research to see if it would be worth buying. There was little information to be found about the bag, although I found one review which rated the smaller 60+10 Astrum as excellent. I found another review of the Vaude brand for backpacks in general which was very positive. My research determined that although there is no current distributor for Vaude currently in the U.S., they are highly regarded in Europe. I figured for the cost and with the chance to return it if I didn’t like it, there was little risk. On to the review.

Chassis: The Tergolight chassis is very comfortable with just the quick loadout I tried for fitting. It consists of two aluminum stays and has a sliding mesh lined back panel for easy adjustment. The lumbar panel is padded and mesh lined as well. The panel locks very tightly once you get it set where you want it. Overall chassis: 5 stars
Belts/Straps: The hip belt is well padded and thick (maybe slightly too thick for some although I don’t have a problem with it). It adjusts with a very nice pull forward design. There are load tightening straps from the hip belt to the base of the pack as well. One zippered pocket is present on the right hand side. I would have liked to see another one on the other side also but it’s not a huge deal. The hip belt is a one piece design but each side articulates very well independently. The shoulder straps are well padded and easily adjustable like most packs these days. They are individually pivoting for maximal flexibility. The load compression system consists of a host of straps in all the right areas. I really like the load leveling strap system which consists of a movable but lockable cam strap from the shoulder straps to a small daisy chain on the main pack body. It allows you to get just the right angle of load leveling for your body. The chest strap moves along on the shoulder strap rail for maximum adjustability.

Overall belts/straps: 4.5 stars

Organization: This pack doesn’t have a ton of pockets or internal organization, which is fine for me. I keep things organized in a few small stuff sacks which works well for me. However, there is an external zippered pocket on the lid which can fit 10 L of gear. Additionally there is a small zipper pocket in the bottom inside the lid. The neck of the pack has a drawstring so you can load out a ton of gear by expanding or compress for smaller loads. There are two stretchable mess pockets on the outside of the pack which easily fit a 32 oz. Nalgene. The pack is top and front loading with a nice zippered access positioned to get you to the lower half of the main compartment quickly. There is a sleeping bag compartment which has a zippered panel allowing access to the bottom of the main compartment. This pack is hydration compatible and easily fits a 3 L bladder. There are four lash points on the top of the lid, 2 ice ax loops on the main body, and two loops near the bottom.

Overall organization: 4.5 stars

Other thoughts: The pack comes with a little zippered pocket below the sleeping bag compartment which contains a nice pack cover attached to a clip. The pack is Holly Green with a red pack cover and red zippers. I like the green. It is not extremely hi viz but not military in color. I would have chosen a different color for zippers if I was designing the pack but it is not a huge deal since it makes finding the zipper very easy. The zipper pulls are not short but not too long. It weighs just shy of 6 lbs.

Overall other: 4.5 stars

Final thoughts: Compared to what I believe is the best pack out there in this size (Baltoro 75) this bag is very competitive. For me, it fits the bill. The big difference is that the Vaude doesn’t have as many pockets, but I don’t really need that type of organization. For half the price I am getting 95% of the features of any Osprey, Gregory, or Deuter. The only “negatives” (no 2nd hip belt pocket, slightly more weight, less overall pockets color choice), are far from practical negatives. I don’t think you can go wrong with this bag and if my initial impressions are backed up in the field as I expect, this will be a 4.5-5 star winner.

Overall first impressions: 4.5-5 star
Previous Review “Well-made and affordable!”