What's It For?
The Arete 35 is the latest in Berghaus's line of affordable, no-nonsense mountain packs aimed at mountain walkers, climbers and mountaineers. It's a technical pack with features like the smooth back panel to shrug off snow, but has quite a basic back system and lacks the sophistication of Berghaus's top-end Extrem packs like the Sentinel 35. Then again, the Sentinel costs a whopping £115 compared to £45 for the Arete 35.
The Techy Bits
The Arete packs are quite simple beasts, so the Fusion 2 back system is a mix of foam and a very flexible frame sheet with a snow-hostile, smooth surface. That's not to say that the pack lacks useful features though, we liked the stuff pockets, which are often lacking on technical climbing packs, the ice axe loops are a neat shock-corded design - easy to use when iced and with gloves - and we like the pull inwards to tighten hip-belt configuration.
How It Performed
First off, the Arete 35 definitely looks the part. It's a nicely sculpted shape with a slanted base to minimise catching when descending steep ground facing out and the fabrics feel tough and workmanlike. We also like the 'pull inwards to tighten' hip-belt and ergonomically shaped shoulder straps.
Where it does fall down a little is with the very basic back system. The frame sheet is quite floppy and flexible and doesn't offer much support beyond basic padding from the foam. With normal loads this isn't really an issue, but if you're likely to gear up with a full rack and ropes - there's a neat rope stowage strap under the lid - you may find the Arete uncomfortable for extended use.
That's a shame because most of the basic features like the shockcord ice-axe loops and the handy stash pockets work fine and there are neat touches like the emergency instructions panel under the lid. Basic compression straps are adequate and there's a handy lid pocket, albeit with no key retainer, neat gear loops on the hip-belt and a 3-litre bladder-friendly hydration system pocket with a single exit on the righthand side.
The Arete 35 is decent enough pack that functions well enough unless you really load it up, when the basic back system struggles to cope with the sort of loads many climbers will carry. Even with lighter loads it's a little basic, but most of the features work pretty well and it feels and looks like a quality pack.
Ultimately we'd say it's more suited to mountain walking and scrambing with moderate loads rather than full-on climbing or mountaineering use when you'd be better off with a slightly more supportive pack.
Buy if... you're a mountain walker and scrambler on a budget who wants a neat, technical pack for walking and scrambling but probably won't load up with lots of ropes and hardware on a regular basis.
- Pros: Nice aesthetics, neat features and what feels like decent build quality.
- Cons: Basic back system feels floppy and unsupportive with heavier loads
- Price: £45.00
- Year: 2009
[score overall='4.0' performance='3.5' reliability='0.0' value='4.5']