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Montane VIA Fang 5 Running Pack | Review

Comfortable, small capacity, vest-type running pack that's ideal for longer outings, races and extended trail running days in the hills.

‘Super comfortable, versatile, lightweight all-day running pack that can be used either with soft-bottles or a hydration system.’

Outdoors Magic: Comfortable and non-restrictive and super stable no matter how bouncy the going, Lots of handy storage, excellent soft bottles included. All this and easy adjustment too.

Outdoors Tragic: Warm on hotter days, minor sloshing noises.

Outdoors Grabbit? A cracking pack for longer trail runs when you want to carry water, food and some spare clothes and equipment comfortably and securely. It stays firmly planted and doesn’t interfere with breathing or movement while giving quick and easy access to essentials.

Full Specification

Lightweight running pack / RAPTOR UL fabric / MONTANE® Freelight Chassis with CONTACT Flyte Mesh / stretch hook and loop lower body adjustment / low profile sternum stretch adjustment with multiple attachment points / 2 x Montane SoftFlasks™ 500ml / elastic loops for hydration tube / stretch mesh storage pockets on chassis / Montane SoftFlask™ compatible pockets on chassis / zipped lower compartment / pole attachment point / removable whistle / external compression and storage bungee cord.

Full Review Below

Pockets aplenty make stowing stuff for quick use straightforward - Photo: Lukasz Warzecha (lwimages.co.uk)
Wide lower chest strap is elasticated and held securely in place by hook and loop fastening - Photo: Lukasz Warzecha (lwimages.co.uk)

VIA Fang 5 – The Tech

Think of the Fang 5 as a sort of giant oversize sports bra and you won’t go far wrong. Well, you will, but the concept is surprisingly similar. Enough stretch in the right places not to be restrictive, enough security to keep things secure and planted even on the roughest terrain.

The key to it all is just enough stretch in strategic parts of the harness and, particularly, the wide, lower elasticated strap that’s held in place by a hook and loop, Velcro-type join. The upper sternum strap is stretchy too and has four different positioning options.

Other stuff to know is that there are lots of pockets, four up front, and two stash ones on the side of the harness. A main compartment and a lower one, both zipped. Bungee cord and even a pole holder, if you mix running and click sticks. We don’t.

Hydration Option

Finally, the pack come with two of Montane’s neat 500ml soft bottles, which sit in dedicated front pockets. Or you can opt to use a 1.5L reservoir of your choice. Down to you.

We find reservoirs more intuitive to use on the move, but bottles make it easier to keep an eye on water levels over the course of the day.

Pockets aplenty make stowing stuff for quick use straightforward - Photo: Lukasz Warzecha (lwimages.co.uk)
Moving the lower strap to suit preference is simple thanks to the hooked fastener and four webbing loops - Photo: Lukasz Warzecha (lwimages.co.uk)

VIA Fang 5 – Performance

In the way it sits high on your torso, the Fang 5 is similar to the Osprey Rev 1.5 we’ve also recently tested, but the increased surface area gives if a softer, more enveloping feel. ‘Wear it, don’t carry it’ is Montane’s line and it rings true.

The wide, stretchy main chest strap does a great job of holding things super secure, but with enough give that you’d have to really crank things up uncomfortably tight to affect mobility or breathing. It just feels very natural and stable even over really bouncy off-road terrain. No splinting or discomfort.

Storage Solutions

There’s plenty of storage too. Four pockets up front on the harness, two of them zipped, swallow sundries, bars and gels and, if you’re using them, the two soft flasks. There are two more stretch pockets sat below your armpits and then a main and lower pocket out back.

There’s plenty of space for a lightweight waterproof shell, a hat and gloves, phone, some bars, a gel, maybe even a very  lightweight insulated jacket. The only proviso is that there’s no padding in the back – the total weight is only 275g remember – so you need to pack carefully.

We like Montane’s soft flasks. They’re floppy bottle with a bite-valve top that reduce in volume as you use them like a giant tube of toothpaste. Once they’re empty, you can just tuck them away. They’re not as easy to handle as solid bottles, but you save on weight and empty storage volume.

The only downside was a little gentle sloshing as we ran. Nothing dreadful, but if you want to move in stealthy silence, you might be better off utilising a 1.5L reservoir.

Our only other issue is that the vest-type harness is slightly warmer than a conventional pack on hotter days, but it was never a big issue during our test, this being the UK and all…

Two 500ml soft bottles sit in dedicated pockets up front. One is zipped, the other open topped – Photo: Lukasz Warzecha (lwimages.co.uk)

 

Verdict

Brilliant, comfortable, stable, carrying solution for longer trail runs where you want to tote enough water for a few hours out, plus some spare clothing, food and sundries, but without compromising your running.

The subtle stretch of the harness works really well to keep things snug but not restrictive, there’s lots of storage too, with the bungee offering extra options.

Just about the only downside is a slight increase in warmth on really hot days, but it’s more an observation than a problem.

More Information

See montane.co.uk Finally, although the Fang 5 is officially a unisex pack, Montane also produces the VIA Snap 4, which is a dedicated, women’s-specific design with similar features and specs as the Fang 5.

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