The Vaude Rock Ultralight 25 has enough options in its 13.4-ounce (380 g) body that it can be used for extended day hikes or short, minimalist backpacking trips. It is rugged enough to handle modest bushwhacking and has ample capacity and functionality for adventure racers. While the Rock Ultralight 25 is far from the lightest 1525 cubic inch (25 L) volume pack on the market, it is among the most versatile and durable at a very affordable price.
- Removable hipbelt
- Bungee cord compression system and external gear storage
- Ice axe loops and reinforced attachment points
- Very water resistant
- Loads compress well
What’s Not So Good
- Compression cords can interfere with mesh side pockets
- Mesh pockets are tight and hard to reach
|2005 Rock Ultralight 25|
|Frameless, top loading, top pocket|
|One size, 1525 ci (25 L)|
|Measured weight 13.4 oz (380 g) with hipbelt; manufacturer’s specification 13.8 oz (390 g)|
|Body is 210d diamond ripstop nylon PU coated; sides are silicone coated nylon; shoulder straps are padded with EVA foam with Gertex; backpanel is 210d diamond ripstop nylon PU coated|
|Removable hipbelt, two mesh side pockets, top pocket with internal loop, bungee cord attachment points, reinforced attachment points for additional webbing straps, two ice axe loops, sternum strap, hydration port|
Volume To Weight Ratio
|113.8 ci/oz (based on 1525 ci and a measured weight of 13.4 oz)|
Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity
|15 lb (6.82 kg) estimated comfortable load for an average person carrying the pack all day|
Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio
|17.9 (based on a 15 lb load and a measured weight of 0.84 lb)|
The world of small-volume backpacks is rife with heavy, very tough, and over built packs, as well as light, minimalist, and more fragile packs. The Rock Ultralight 25 fills a niche in between these two extremes and does so quite well. The pack’s main compartment can easily swallow all you need for an extended day hike, or brief backpacking trip if you pack extremely light. The top pocket is surprisingly roomy; I found it to be a fine place to store items I wanted easy access to during the day like lunch, snacks, my camera, and a windshirt. The two mesh side pockets are large enough to hold 1-liter Nalgene canteens securely. Items can be cinched down against the sides of the pack with side bungee cords and basic cordlocks. In fact, these horizontal cords sometimes are too secure and can get in the way of accessing items in the side pockets.
The front of the Rock Ultralight 25 sports two short and two long adjustable cords which give you plenty of options to stow gear – e.g. rain coat, poncho, sleeping pad, or tarp – to the outside of the pack. There are two reinforced attachment points on the front of the pack where you could attach such hard to position gear as crampons. The two ice axe loops on the bottom of the pack round out the external attachment options that this backpack offers.
A total of four cords provide compression. The two short cords above the mesh pockets serve best to secure items that extend outside the pockets. The two longer cords angle up from the mesh pockets towards the center of the backpack. All the cords have cordlocks that can easily be adjusted to tighten or loosen the cords as pack volume or external gear storage needs dictate. The top pocket can be cinched down to the pack with a webbing strap equipped with a lightweight buckle.
Four adjustable cords provide both ample compression, and extensive external gear storage options.
The Rock Ultralight 25 has the Vaude Alpin Light suspension system, consisting of two vertical contoured EVA foam pads sewn to the backpanel, 2.25-inch wide padded shoulder straps, and a 0.75-inch wide webbing hipbelt. I found the suspension system capable of comfortably carrying loads up to 15 pounds. Above that I started to notice the weight on my shoulders. The hipbelt is minimal and mostly serves to snug the pack to your body.
The Alpin Light suspension system is made of two body-contouring, slightly stiffer and padded pieces of material that are part of the backpanel. These provide enough rigidity to keep the Rock Ultralight 25 from being just a mere bag with shoulder straps.
Vaude does not provide torso fit lengths for the Rock Ultralight 25, but says the pack will best fit people between 5’7″ and 6’2″ in height. I am 5’5″ tall with a torso length of 18 inches. I found that the backpack fit me fairly well and I had no problem wearing it all day long.
You get quite a lot of backpack for the suggested retail price of $50 (US). The Rock Ultralight 25 will definitely replace my much heavier, comparably sized, standard daypack. I would have no qualms about using this pack under many off-trail conditions.
The Rock Ultralight 25 uses durable yet light fabrics throughout its construction. This makes the pack unusual in its weight class. I took it through several miles of dense Michigan forests and the pack has come through without a scratch (which is something my skin cannot attest too). The PU coated fabric is also remarkably water resistant. These features make this a solid, yet very light, performer in many more situations than you might first suspect.
Recommendations for Improvement
- Angling the side pocket openings forward could make inserting and removing gear easier.
- While the hipbelt is technically removable, I found it exceptionally difficult to slide it through the narrow sleeve in order to do so. Making the sleeve a little wider would solve this problem with only a slight increase in overall weight.