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Vaude make an impressive range of small capacity packs but does that successful design translate to the larger backpacks? We put the Asymmetric 42+8 to the test to find out.

Best for...
Lightweight, easy-going summer adventures
Price
£140
Value
7
Quality
9
Performance
6
Looks
8
Comfort
6
Overall Score
7
+
Good range of storage options
Padding on the back panel
vaude.com

The Asymmetric 42+8 is a lightweight backpacking pack described by Vaude as being for 'hut hopping, pilgrimages and shorter treks'.

This pack features the Tergolight suspension system which integrates two aluminium stays into the back panel for structure, rigidity and weight transfer from the shoulders to the hips.

This works to a degree but is fairly basic in construction compared to other lightweight packs in this category and therefore weight transfer down to the hips isn't quite as efficient as it could be, especially with the pack fully loaded.

Sitting up against your back (if you've set it up right of course) are two sections of padding, one of which sits between the wings of the hipbelt, rising up above your hipbones and the other against the shoulder blades. The top section of padding is adjustable by sliding it up and down the aluminium stays to cater for different torso lengths, this gives a wide range of adjustment without compromising on the ergonomics of the pack.

The padding is plump and has air channels cut into it so is comfortable and ventilates. It feels a little strange though to have just the two points of contact against your back and having a long torso length emphasises this feeling by leaving a gaping chasm of nothing between the two. This makes it tricky to get a fit that you feel confident with, the two contact points are also narrow, so the pack often feels detached from the back in one or more places depending on how tightly you've yanked those adjustment straps. The hipbelt and shoulder straps are padded enough to guarantee comfort over the long haul, being mesh lined as well helps with ventilation and moisture management.

The lid of the pack has great storage in a zipped main compartment and a mesh inner pocket. These swallow up spades of quick access items like power banks, head torches and multi tools. The main compartment is easily accessible from the top drawstring opening but by far the best way to get at your gear is through the clamshell opening which enables you to lay the pack down on the ground and open it up like a duffel bag so no one bit of kit remains hidden under another. There's a further cavernous zipped front pocket which is great for maps and wet weather gear although probably not the best for gear that's actually wet as there's no mesh for venting moisture.

Tool loop fixing points on the front of the Asymmetric are good for ice axes, hiking poles or anything else you care to lash to them but the pack is sorely missing tethering points at the bottom for a tent or sleeping bag. Considering the recommended capacity of 12kg this could be a sensible move though as even with lightweight gear you're likely to be hitting the 12kg mark if you load the pack to the brim without then strapping extras to the outside. As with any pack, if you do overload you're asking for trouble and the Asymmetric is no exception, we recently crammed 15kg into it and it floated around like a stranded ship and became very difficult to tweak for weight transfer down to the hips.

The durability of this pack has never come into question, it's built with a PU coated 400D diamond ripstop fabric which feels as thick and gnarly as it sounds. The buckles, webbing straps and drawstring closures are all satisfyingly chunky and the zips are smooth running, snag free and robust. This doesn't add too much to the weight which comes in at a reasonable 1475g, mid-range for a lightweight backpacking pack.

We liked the Asymmetric 42+8 but the compromised suspension system and back padding lets it down.