Ergon BC2 Pack Review

by Brian Mullin on November 3, 2010

The Ergon BC2 is one of the most interesting packs, that I have ever used, and it’s got some highly innovative and functional features. The foremost is their unique frame system. It uses their flexible Profax PP frame, which transfers 80% of the pack’s load onto the hips, and is combined with the Flink ball joint (ball and socket), which allows the shoulder harness to freely pivot. The system is comprised of the pack, the plastic Profax PP frame, a massively padded hip belt, the Flink ball joint and a shoulder harness.

The BC2 is the middle brethren of the Ergon pack line, and lies between the Bc1 and BC3, all of which use the plastic frame and Flink ball joint system. The capacity of the BC2 is 16 liters (975 cubic inches), and can be expanded to another 4 liters (245 cubic inches), which makes a pretty voluminous pack. The pack is made with 600 Denier Nylon, comes with a rain cover, has a sleeve for an optional hydration reservoir, and is available in two colors, Black and Team Ergon (late 2010).

Measured Specs (regular size):

  • Weight – 1315 grams/46 oz/2.9 lbs
  • Size – 7″ x 11″ x 20″/18cm x 28cm x 51cm

The frame is a large plastic exoskeleton, which follows the rear circumference of the pack, connects up to the Flink ball joint with a cross member, and has a bottom pan that cradles the pack, and finishes with two long tongues that slide into each side of the hip belt. The Flink ball joint is unique, as the shoulder harness not only freely rotates in a spherical direction (though it does have some stops), but it’s also free floating, meaning it’s only attached to the ball joint and is therefore, isolated from the frame and pack. The ball itself, which is just a half of a sphere, rotates in the frame’s socket, and is attached with a single large bolt. I never had any issues with the singular bolt, but it does mean a single point of failure in the grand scheme of things.

The pack comes in two sizes, regular (which I tested) and large, and the size is chosen by a height range. Regular is for heights between 5’1″-5’11”, while large is for those between 5’9″-6’5″. Each of the sizes has three back length adjustment settings for varying torso’s (small, medium and large), and are adjusted by moving the Flink ball joint onto one of the accompanying slots in the frame of the shoulder harness. Once the proper position is located, a bolt comes through the back of the shoulder harness, through the ball and threads into the socket. You can adjust the firmness of the ball and socket, by the amount of torque you apply to the bolt. There is a nice instruction booklet, and a label inside the pack that gives detailed information into the procedure. I set the connection to the lowest slot, or large setting, since I was towards the maximum torso length (5’9″) for the regular frame size.

The first time you put the pack on, it’s a bit odd, as the shoulder pads sit out extremely wide and high. I have started to get used to the feeling, but it is still a bit disconcerting. The next odd feeling is that the shoulder harness wiggles so freely around, while the pack and frame stay isolated, and offers an unrestricted range of motion. It feels like the ball joint is on ice, and moving your shoulders around doesn’t cause undue pack movement. When you cinch down the hip belt (it does need to be kept tight), the pack disappears underneath you, and the weight along with it, since it drops it directly onto your hips. Riding along with this pack on (especially when full) is pretty amazing, since you don’t notice any weight, nor does the pack flop around, no matter how rough the terrain becomes, it floats along like it’s not there. I really appreciated it in technical terrain, especially going down, since the pack didn’t come flopping up off your back towards your head, it just stayed solidly planted. Like most of the frame mounted systems, it keeps most of the pack off your back, so you don’t get large perspiration spots, except for the hip belt area and oddly enough the outer pectorals.

Nitpicks: When doing hike a bike, I found that the hip section of the frame and the side pocket would keep bumping into and catching on my saddle, which I found annoying? When taking the pack off, the shoulder harness was a pain, especially when wearing body armor, since the wide and high setup would catch on things and require some wild body contortions to get out. The snaps for the webbing that holds the frame into the hip belt, would come undone on rare occasions, and the frame’s forks would pop out. Sometimes the entire hip belt would rotate or move and the pack along with it, but it was easily remedied by yanking it back into position, and I am not sure if it was due to the belt loosening up or not?

The entire system is pretty innovative and brilliant, and makes everything ride in a very centered manner, and keep the weight on your hips and off your shoulders, and offer a lower center of gravity, with little swaying.

The pack had a lot of useful pockets and compartments. The main compartment was vast, and had a five non zippered pouches on the back side, though I wish there were some zippered ones on the inner front. The main had a nice long zipper that opened almost 2/3 of the circumference of the pack, making it easy to extract and organize items, clothes and gear. The two compression straps worked quite well, and not only compressed the pack properly, but allowed any number of items to be easily attached as required, and a really nice feature was that the straps stayed out of the way of the main’s zipper when unclipped. The hydration compartment was useful, but it was difficult to squeeze in a full reservoir, especially when the pack was already loaded. The front zippered pocket was long and flat, and although it could hold lots of smaller items, it was hard to organize anything, since it lacked any subsections. The side pocket was a handy, and was large enough for a cell phone and point and shoot camera, and could easily be opened by reaching to your hip. On the inside rear by the each hip, were two zippered entrances to the same mini compartment, which were great for carrying small tools, headgear, and other sundry items. The optional hydration reservoir, is available in two sizes, the BH200 (2L) and BH300 (3L), and Ergon partnered with Hydrapak for the unit.

Nitpicks: Although the main compartment was vast, and the front pocket was useful, they both need some additional organizational subdivision (pockets, zippered sections, etc.), since it made for a poor layout. The lack of a hydration reservoir seems a bit odd in such a tricked out pack, although it does lessen the sticker shock.

Another oddity, is that it can be difficult to set the pack down in the field (or anywhere), since the hard form frame doesn’t sit very well on surfaces that aren’t flat.

Bottom Line
The Ergon BC2 is a pretty amazing pack, the Profax PP frame and the Flink ball joint work in a fantastic synergistic manner, to make the pack’s weight and all of its contents disappear, and keep the pack isolated so that it doesn’t unduly move around, even on the roughest and ugliest terrain. It’s durable (though the plastic scratches easily), is made with tough heavy duty nylon and strong zippers, has a plethora of pockets and useful compartments, and includes a rain cover. The BC2 is an excellent multi-sport pack, and can be used for backcountry skiing, biking, day hikes and rock climbing, and its capacity of 16L+4L makes it ideal.

It does lack some proper organization layout for pockets and pouches, and the hydration reservoir is optional, and it’s pricey, but most of the other issues are minor in an otherwise great pack.

The Ergon BC2 is a well made pack, using great materials, with many innovations, and is loaded with features and functionality, and is another excellent German ergonomically engineered product from the Ergon team.

Strengths
– Brilliant frame and Flink ball joint system
– Tough pack
– Vast main compartment: easy to fill/extract with large zippered opening
– Pack doesn’t flop around
– Carries weight well: disappears

Weaknesses
– Lack of a hydration reservoir
– Pricey
– A contortion getting the arms out of the shoulder harness
– Hip belt and side pocket catch on things
– Hip belt to frame snaps can come undone
– Lack of organizational pockets in main and front compartments

MSRP: $160

Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Click here to visit the Ergon Website

Ergon BC Specs

  • Optional hydration reservoir – BH200 (2L) or BH300 (3L)
  • Size – Regular or Large
  • Material – 600 D Nylon
  • Capacity – 975 + 245 cu. inches (Expando function)
  • Max. load recommended up to 13 lbs

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous November 10, 2010 at 11:56 pm

I just added your blog site to my blogroll, I pray you would give some thought to doing the same.

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Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet November 11, 2010 at 6:03 pm

What is your site?

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Anonymous December 9, 2010 at 3:10 am

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

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Anonymous February 13, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Great in-depth review. Thanks for putting it up.

I just ordered a BC2.

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet February 13, 2011 at 5:09 pm

I am glad you enjoyed the review, thanks!

Reply

Anonymous March 2, 2011 at 3:21 am

Does Camelbak 2011 antidote bladder (100oz) compatible with BC2? TIA!

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet March 4, 2011 at 6:19 am

Yes, the BC2 will fit any of the Camelbak reservoirs. The BC2 has a buckle snap for the Hydrapak and a loop for the Camelbak.

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