Bergans of Norway Helium 40 ReviewAugust 25, 2016
- Small footprint on body enhances mobility
- Lightest pack in test
- Simple torso length adjustment
- Lack of pockets
- Inefficient compression system
- Comfort falters with heavy loads
The Bergans of Norway Helium 40 is an ultralight pack that still possesses the ability to adjust the torso length. It is the lightest pack in the test even though similar packs lacked this important ability. The pack is compact on the back, allowing free movement of both hips and shoulders. The pack is a great candidate for highly active pursuits with a smaller volume carry from the company that originally patented the backpack.
The Bergans of Norway Helium 40’s adjustable Quick Adjust PRO shoulder harness gives it a huge advantage in comfort and fit over other alpine style packs in the test. This simple system utilizes a single hook to engage webbing loops to quickly adjust torso length. The pack rides higher on the hips than the other packs and the surface area it occupies on the body is smaller. This frees up the shoulders and hips, increasing the comfort when really pushing the pace or tackling aggressive terrain. The light padding on the hip belt and shoulder harness limits the comfort factor to loads lower than 30 pounds in summer clothes. The pack is only available in one size but the QuickAdjust PRO system accommodates torso lengths from 16 inches to 21 inches.
The Bergans of Norway Helium 40’s suspension system is unobtrusive, harnessing loads into the mid 30 lb range without affecting mobility. The pack uses a unique compression system comprised of cord that can zig zag on the sides or across the front of the pack (taking load off the vertical center zipper that accesses the main body.) This increases the versatility of the compression system, but really cranking down on voluminous loads is not as efficient as the webbing based systems. The texture of the fabric used on the back panel and 3-D formed hip belt grips clothing well, adding to the feeling of stability.
The Bergans of Norway Helium 40’s top loading, alpine style design limits most gear storage to the main compartment and to two stretch mesh side pockets. The removable lid allows storage of smaller items and caps off a small extension/spindrift collar, allowing a small amount of overstuffing. The cord based compression system also allows stashing thinner layers on the outside of the pack.
This pack mixes 100 denier (d) ripstop, 210d and 420d nylons in logical areas to maximize lightness, but also to provide durability where it matters. These fabric choices and simple overall design allow the Bergans of Norway Helium 40 to be the lightest pack in the test, despite having an adjustable torso length. The zippers are on the smaller side and the cordage based compression system also reduces weight. These weight saving measures might cause concerns about durability, but no damage was suffered during the test, much of it occurring in craggy and brushy areas.
The Bergans of Norway Helium 40 is an alpine style pack so extra features are limited to: hydration system compatibility, trekking pole/ice axe/ski attachments, and sled attachment points.