Exped Cloudburst 25
A lightweight, completely waterproof summit and day pack that can ride in a bigger pack for doing side trips on longer hikes, doubles as a dry bag in the pack. Attention to details make it comfortable and highly functional.
- Lightweight, compact when not in use
- Rugged enough for extended use
- Completely waterproof
- Sternum and waist straps
- Stretch cord for attaching helmet or other items
- No hydration or other pockets
My wife has a habit of conveniently forgetting critical items so that she can replace them with something newer and better. For five years or so we both have been using the minimalist Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Packs for side trips on longer backpacking trips. On the first stopover on our recent trip to Iceland, a daughter-visit in Oslo, my wife discovered she had forgotten hers. So we found our way to an outdoor gear emporium downtown, and sure enough they had the S2S packs prominently displayed right next to the cash register.
But they also had the Exped Cloudburst hanging nearby, and the wife spotted them like an eagle spots a jackrabbit from on high. I argued for the S2S at half the price, but no, she had to have the fancy one, so she got it. Then after leaving the store I took a good look at the Cloudburst and was impressed by its design and construction. I mean, it rains a lot in Iceland, and the S2S packs are not in the least waterproof…
Daypack, summit pack, and day bag
We both used our Cloudbursts as daypacks for side trips on our two multiday backpacking trips in Iceland as well as on other day hikes and around town, often in Iceland’s showery weather. In my case, the Cloudburst also rode under the top pocket of my backpack as a quick-draw day-bag, keeping snacks, a down jacket, wool hat and gloves, a guidebook, and my camera gear dry but ready when the rain came down.
It weighs 265 grams (9.3 oz) and can be rolled into a fairly compact donut. The main material is PU coated 70 denier taffeta nylon, a little tougher and heavier than the coated ripstop used for lightweight stuff sacks.
All the seams are taped, with (so far) no peeling as I have sometimes seen with older stuff sacks and seam-taped day packs. The back panel has a U-shaped strip of foam to help give it some shape, but it is not very supportive so, like any soft pack, this one needs to be packed with a little care to give it some shape and keep hard items off the back.
The straps spread naturally on the shoulders without bunching up but tend to twist more when putting the pack on compared to heavier and stiffer straps. The sternum strap runs on tracks on both sides to adjust to personal preference.
A lightweight stretch cord zigzag arrangement on the back of the pack works for attaching wet rain gear and the like. It has a center strap and releasable hooks in the middle for quickly attaching and detaching a helmet, which is centered and anchored firmly when on the back, a rather elegant system.
There is no ice axe loop, but the stretch cord system could probably be adapted to this purpose. There are also no internal or external pockets or provision for a hydration reservoir, but that is in line with the overall light weight and simplicity of the pack.
All these details add up to a highly functional package within the design goal of a lightweight, waterproof summit and side trip pack.
The garden (hose) test
Although I never had anything in the pack get wet in all the wet weather in Iceland, I also gave it a more rigorous test. I loaded it up with a day hike’s worth of gear, water, and food totaling about 5 kilos, then closed it up and hung it on the clothesline. I then arranged an oscillating garden sprinkler to spray it with water for 10 minutes. For good measure, I sprayed it with the hose by hand for another 3 minutes. When I opened it up, all the contents were dry.
The Cloudburst also comes in a 15-liter size, with both models available in a dozen different colors, some with tastefully contrasting accents on the shoulder straps and stretch cord, so there’s less potential confusion if everybody in the family gets one (a distinct possibility in our family).
I don’t expect this pack to last forever, but it seems rugged enough to last for many years of use as a side trip pack and day bag in my main pack. It is not as light or compact as my old S2S pack, but it is tougher, more comfortable, and waterproof and so may be the better choice for trips in wet and cold climates.
A month's worth of day hikes, side trips, and city sightseeing in Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: NOK 599 (about $65 incl. Norwegian tax)
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