Bergans Glittertind 55
More than any other that I've tried, this backpack…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $205
More than any other that I've tried, this backpack seems like it's part of your body.
- Compact, "tight" design
- Just-right packing space
- Quality of construction
- Could use more padding across the belly region
- Hip-belt pockets would be nice
To work off a growing middle-age gut, I decided to get back into hiking and backpacking. I'd been a regular hiker when I was a teenager and young adult, but, like a lot of people, I started using my free time on other things as I settled into marriage and family life.
Though I still had most of my equipment, somewhere along the way my trusty Kelty pack had disappeared. When I started researching a replacement, I was amazed at the number of backpack manufacturers out there these days. Amazement turned into perplexity as I tried to choose one to buy.
My first new pack was an Osprey Aether 60. It's a sturdy, well-designed pack with a lot of padding and a lot of pockets, both of which I liked. Even though Osprey offers a good choice of hip belt and shoulder strap combinations, my first two trips — a three-nighter and a four-nighter — showed me that either I hadn't picked the optimal strap sizes or the pack just wasn't well-suited for my physique. As much as I adjusted the straps or redistributed the weight in the pack, I wasn't able to get a really good fit. I worried that maybe my body was just too old to handle a pack full of equipment.
Figuring there must be something better, I decided to pass the Osprey on to a family member and resume looking for the Perfect Pack. This time, as I scanned the manufacturer descriptions and, especially, the owner reviews, I looked for packs that were known for their great fit. That's when I ran across Bergan's of Norway.
"Form-fitting," "doesn't slip when I bend over," "feels like part of my own body" — these were the descriptive phrases that caught my eye when I read about Bergan packs. So, I decided to take a chance on a pack brand I'd never heard of and a model name, Glittertind, that I wasn't sure how to pronounce.
The Glittertind pack itself seems a lot more compact than the Osprey. The Osprey is covered with straps and buckles, which could be a great thing if you're transporting a lot of poles or tripods or weather station equipment. In my case, I really didn't need or want to haul a lot of gear through the woods; I needed a sturdy pack that holds my stuff as comfortably as possible. The Glittertind is exactly that.
When I put on the pack empty, it felt fine, though not any different from other packs I'd tried. But when I strapped it on with 35+ pounds of gear, I could tell it was different. This is more than a happy coincidence. The Glittertind has an internal frame that seems to mimic the human spine's vertebral system.
In other words, it's jointed in a way that permits complex movements of the body without sacrificing stability or support. From what I've gleaned from Bergan's lab reports (yes, they have a test lab), it's built around a system of springs — I'm thinking leaf springs, like underneath a pickup truck's frame, rather than coil springs.
Whatever they'd done, and I gather this company likes to try new designs, they've come up with something that really works. I can carry just as much weight in my Glittertind as in the Osprey, but it feels so much better. It's not like I forget that 35 pounds is there, but, since it's bending with me rather than forcing me to fight it, it's a lot more manageable. If I lean forward going up hill or tilt back a bit going down, or especially if I bend over to adjust my boot laces, that mass on my back conforms much, much better to my body. I feel much more balanced.
That has made all the difference for me. The only things I miss are those nice hip-belt pockets that the Osprey has. I really liked keeping my pocket knife and a few other such things close at hand. Also, the connector part of the hip belt is not padded. It sort of gets me right in the gut, but I find I can shift it up or down and tolerate it with no trouble. And, thanks to frequent hikes, I'm seeing that gut start to disappear, so maybe it won't be a problem much longer.
UPDATE THREE MONTHS AFTER PURCHASE 8/14:
After three months, I'm still singing the praises of this pack. In training hikes of 5-7 miles up and down local hills, I've gradually increased the load, just to see how it manages it. This pack continues to be the most comfortable pack I've used.
I didn't give a good description of the pack's excellent suspension system, as I don't know enough about such things to comment. But I see that the company describes it as the "Spine" suspension system.
Here's what the manufacturer's site says about it: "A double helix-shaped frame in spring steel is the core element of the SPINE carrying system. What is unique about this design is that the carrying system is fastened to the rucksack at the centre of the back panel, whilst the hips and the shoulders can move freely. The carrying system quite simply moves just like your own spine."
One thing I failed to mention above is the included rain fly. That's a $20-30 bonus right there.
Also, other than the lack of hip-strap pockets (which I miss *so* much, Mr. Bergan), it's got all the storage space, slits, slots, and pockets that I could want.
Where to Buy
Here's what other sites are saying:
Cover longer distances, with heavier loads, on any terrain and have the greatest freedom of movement of any backpack on the market. The award winning Bergans of Norway Glittertind 55 L backpack features the revolutionary SPINE carrying system that follows all of your bodys contradictory movements simultaneously, providing amazing comfort regardless of the length of your trip.
The Bergans of Norway Glittertind 55 pack puts an innovative carrying system on your back and shoulders for hour after hour of comfort on the trail. Patent-pending, double-helix shaped spring steel frame is attached to the back panel, ensuring a free range of motion for hips and shoulders while preserving full load support. Double-helix design offers more freedom of movement than pivoting hip belts and allows your torso to flex, stretch and turn freely without loss of stability. Carrying system is so innovative it recently won the OutDoor Industry Award, a honor bestowed at an outdoor industry gathering in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Top-loading design features front-panel access and a lower sleeping bag compartment; detachable lid sits atop a spindrift collar and over-the-top compression strap. Organize and access often-used gear with a front pocket, side pockets and water-bottle pocket. Compression straps take up extra volume; sleeping pad straps and attachment points for tools and poles make it easy to secure gear to the outside of the pack body. The Bergans of Norway Glittertind 55 pack is made with YKK(R) zippers and 210- and 420-denier ripstop nylon for durability.
Bergans of Norway's award winning Glittertind 55 L Pack is equipped with the SPINE carrying system that allows for unparalleled freedom of movement in the hips and shoulders without compromising stability- even when carrying heavy loads. Shaped like a double-helix, the SPINE carrying system is a spring steel frame attached to the center of the back panel on the pack. The frame allows you to flex and stretch as well as providing shock absorption. This full featured, roomy pack is top loading for easy access, provides a separate sleeping bag compartment, numerous pockets and attachment points for the ultimate in gear management. Bergans attention to quality and detail makes the Glittertind an excellent choice for mountaineering, climbing or multi day treks. Spine carrying system frame allows you to stretch and flex, as well as providing shock absorption.Top-loading design features front-panel access and a lower sleeping bag compartmentStraps for attaching equipment under the backpack Hip belt with high comfort and a wide range of motion Detachable Top lid with internal and external pocket Top entry with spindrift collar and compression strap Half front zip entry Base entry compartment Open side pocket Front pocket Bottle pocket Internal zippered pocket for small items Compression straps on each side The main compartment can be divided in two separate compartments Hydration system compatible Grab and go handle Adjustable chest strap YKK zippers Straps under pack for attaching equipment Attachment points for: ice axe /poles, bicycle/light reflector Torso Length: M 18 -20" / L 19"-21"Number of pockets: 5Material: Ripstop nylonSize: M: n/a / L: n/aWeight: M 4 lb. 10 oz. / L 4 lb. 10 oz. Capacity: M 3,350 cu in / L 3,350 cu in