'Haglöfs' minimalist albino statement pack is actually a lot more practical and functional than it looks, though still an uncompromisingly specialist bit of kit aimed squarely at 'fast and light' climbing machines'
Outdoors Magic: Properly light, surprisingly comfortable and stable with medium loads, tough fabrics, rope-strap, no harness conflicts.
Outdoors Tragic: Just one, tiny, secure pocket, hydration system compatibility an afterthought, it's very white.
Outdoors Grabbit? Put the terrifying whiteness to one side and the Roc Helios 25 is an interesting and surprisingly practical bit of minimalist climbing design. It's light and tough, works great with a harness and even has a rope-carrying strap up top. Back panel opening means you can get easy access without completely removing - and dropping - the pack and creative use of shock cording ups the carrying capacity. On the down side, it has just one tiny zipped pocket, no guide loops exit for a hydration tube even though there's a sleeve and demands careful kit choice from the user. It's singleminded and extreme if you're wired the same way. Did we mention it's very white?
Minimalist mountaineering and rock climbing pack / VX 07 Dimension Polyant X-Pac and HT Cordura (210D) fabrics / Interact suspension system / zipped rear panel access / shock-corded accessory carrying system / ice-axe loops / side-pocket with key-holder / hydration reservoir sleeve / rope carrying loop up top / sternum strap with integral whistle.
Full Review Below
Haglöfs Roc Helios 25 Pack | Performance
The Roc Helios is probably the most singleminded pack we've come across this year. It's an unapologetic, minimalist, 600-gramme technical climbing and mountaineering pack that makes few concessions to more general usability.
For a start, it's white because that's the colour the light, crackly but super tough VX 07 Dimension Polyant X-Pac sail-type fabric happens to be. It has just one small zipped side pocket that will hold your keys and a spare tenner if you're lucky. And the fasteners and buckles are kept to a minimum.
The 'suspension' system is a zip-down, dense foam back panel giving access to the main compartment, some simple, curved shoulder-straps and a minimal, removable waist-belt. Additional stowage is courtesy of a simple shock-corded next come compression system. And you get simple ice-axe loops, though you have to fit the top cords yourself.
None of which sounds very promising, but the thing is, it all works pretty well. The pack nestles neatly and comfortably into the small of your back. The thin waist-belt sits above harness level to avoid jumbling and has no loose ends. The shock cord holds spare clothing in place. The rope holder cinches down nicely and seems secure enough in use. And the side pocket will take both a set of keys and an iPhone 5 or similar medium-sized phone.
Not only that, while the flop-open back panel is a pain to use with the pack vertical, it does actually make sense when you do the whole 'spin it round' on your waist thing. Of course the lack of pockets means anything you're not carrying in your shell clothing will likely be in the pack, but it's easy to get access to it without fully removing it.
One oddity is that although there's an internal hydration sleeve, which we also used to stash small items inside the main compartment, there's no dedicated tube outlet or guide loop on the shoulder straps, so you'll need to improvise unless you're happy to have a free-swinging bite-valve, which we're not.
And the elephant in the room? It's very, very white. Not the most practical colour out there - Haglöfs web-site pointedly carries advice on cleaning your pack using a 'soap-based detergent' - but something of a statement, which you'll either love or find faintly embarrassing.
Haglöfs Roc Helios 25 Pack | Verdict
The Roc Helios 25's single-minded, polar bear-hued minimalism won't be for everyone, but if you're prepared to sacrifice everyday usability for weight saving focus, it's surprisingly effective.
We like the easy on the fly back-panel access and the tough, but lightweight fabric and found it, with light to medium loads at least, surprisingly comfortable due to the way it nestles into the curve of your back.
What you won't get are handy stash pockets, cunning helmet-stowage gizmos or anything other than the bare essentials. If you want a Haglöfs mountain pack with more to it, check out the Roc Spirit 30 as a more amenable alternative. But if fast and light is your thing, packs don't come much more minimalist without losing out on essential functionality.