Vaude Hyper Air 14+3 – First Look

by Brian Mullin on March 16, 2010

Go to http://www.gramslightbikes.com/2010/05/vaude-hyper-air-143-review.html for the full review!

Eons ago I recall seeing a Vaude tent at a local specialty shop, and I was highly impressed with its craftsmanship, innovation and functionality. Since then they have evolved into many sectors of outdoor recreational gear and clothing, including bike packs, bags, panniers and clothing. Recently, Magura USA picked up the distribution for Vaude in the US for the bike related items, and they were kind enough to pass along the Vaude Hyper Air 14+3 hydration pack for a test.

The Vaude Hyper Air 14+3, in which the 14+3 refers to a 14 liter carrying capacity, with additional 3 liters expansion. It comes with a 3 liter reservoir bag and a plethora of features.

The most obviously feature when examining the Hyper Air 14+3 is the Aeroflex back system, which uses a mesh panel and lightweight steel spring frame to hold the body of the pack away from your back. Hidden behind the mesh, is Vaude’s FLASH (Floating Length Adjustable Shoulder Harness) system so you can dial in the fit by adjusting the length of the padded shoulder strap sections.

The reservoir bag is made by Source and is called the Widepack, and it’s pretty trick. The Widepak closure is a river runner dry bag closure type of system, just slide the top bar off the reservoir, fold open the bag, clean or fill as needed, then fold over and slide the Widepak back on.

The reservoir sits in a large pocket within the main compartment, so it not separated in another compartment like most brands. It certainly makes it easier to pull the bag out for filling and cleaning. We’ll see if it causes any issues with packing, or gets in the way during compartment usage? Hanging off the back by the reservoir is a small coin bag, kind of a neat little zippered pouch for tiny items. The main compartment is nice and cavernous, and the 2 zippers can be snapped together to prevent accidental opening.

The front has 2 smaller pocket, the upper one being slightly large with 2 elastic slots to hold tools and stuff, while the lower one would be for smaller items. There are also 2 side elastic mesh pouches, for sundry items.

The very bottom of the pack has a zippered compartment that holds a rain cover for the pack, which is a totally trick item! During rain storms, I get protected by wearing a jacket, but the poor pack gets drenched and water creeps slowly in and items get wet. There is a detectable helmet net that clips onto the front of the bag, which should also be good for apparel items, etc.

The FLASH system is nice, and it’s real easy to adjust the length (shoulder strap to hip belt distance) to match your torso, something that is usually only common on large backpacks, not on small hydration bags. The shoulder and waist straps are nicely padded, and there is one zippered pouch on the left side hip pad. The craftsmanship really stands out, as does the stitching, placement of materials, and the choice of materials.

German engineering and design it evident throughout the pack. I am looking forward to testing out the pack, and seeing how it performs!

Update:
I have used the pack a few times now, and the Aeroflex is sure a highlight of the pack. At first the stiffness of the mesh frame seems strange, especially in comparison to the more conformable soft packs. The Aeroflex keeps the main pack away from your back, so it ventilates more efficiently, and keeps the usual soaked rear padding and jersey from happening. I strapped on a heavy full faced helmet, and the load was surprisingly well balanced, stable and evenly carried (almost like the extra weight wasn’t there). When I switched from the full faced to the normal XC noggin cover, I could use the attachable helmet net. It worked quite nicely, although the clipping system was difficult to use and the placement was a tad too high on the pack. The small pockets on the front were fine, and I appreciated the side mesh ones to toss in items like a windbreaker or an energy bar. The main compartment was large enough, but it really needs zippered pockets and/or pouches for sundry items. 
Specs

MSRP: $85
Volume: 14 liter with 3 liter expansion
weight: 770 g
Size: 43 x 25 x 13 cm
Material: 210 D Dobby Polyamid PU coated / 450 D Polyester PU coated

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