Thursday, 24 March 2022 08:31

Exped Serac 35l pack tested and reviewed

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Carrying a laptop, a climbing rack, a DSLR camera, spare layers, and my lunch – just some of the things that has seen my EXPED 35L Serac bag get used and abused in the past few months.

It’s certainly been on some exciting travels, from being stowed under a plastic seat riding on the choppy waters aboard the HMS Oldenburg en-route to the sea cliffs of Lundy, to being my go-to cabin bag and the perfect rucksack for carrying all my tech and climbing kit around the Swiss Alps. It’s proven to me, time and time again, that EXPED packs are the design conscious bags that are also versatile, comfortable, and well-designed. If you’re looking for a water-resistant rucksack, suitable from alpine climbing to everyday commuting, this might be *the one*……

EXPED SERAC 35 Jessie Leong F79A0621

What Exped say:

The Serac 35 is a minimalist alpine pack with roll-top closure and a side-entry zipper for easy access to the taped main compartment. A generous front pocket for a shovel blade, ski skins etc., an excellent ski attachment system and various anchor points for additional gear dial it in for all-season use in any weather condition. An extremely technical backpack fabric with a rip-stop structure for increased tear resistance, featuring an outer PU coating and an internal white dyed TPU-film laminate for waterproof performance (> 10,000 mm water column). This durable and lightweight fabric is waterproof and can be either welded or factory seam-taped and its outer PU coating allows easy cleaning. An additional highlight is the white internal laminate that creates a bright interior in the pack (not a black hole!) for excellent overview of contents. This fabric is free of PFC-treatment.

Features: 

Volume: 35 l

Size (closed): 62 × 30 × 23 cm

Weight: 845 g

Back length: M

Back length range: 48 - 52 cm

Hip belt range: 31 - 145 cm

Load Limit: 14 kg

Water Resistance: Weatherproof

Intended use: Alpine, Ski touring,Climbing

 Body: 400 D HD ripstop nylon, TPU film laminated, 10'000 mm water column

Frame: removable crosslinked PE foam board

 400 D ripstop Nylon, TPU film laminate, (> 10,000 mm water column)

Fit

During the review, I was curious to see whether a climbing rucksack with heavy load could be comfortable enough to wear, from long walk-ins on rough terrain to in transit travelling. Having previously owned a smaller EXPED 30L pack that I loved, I have traditionally found EXPED packs have fitted me very well as it allows for a full pack to be carried using a durable and well considered design. With wider shoulder straps that were fully adjustable so they could be cinched in close to the body, and a chest strap that sits on the sternum. EXPED offers a size Small, Medium and Lage in the SERAC range, with my test bag as a Medium. According to the EXPED website, the suspension system can become bs an essential feature. Defining torso length is not necessarily critical on a daypack but crucial on backpacking or alpine touring packs, as only perfect fit can warrant transfer of the bulk of the pack weight to the hips. As I was using the pack for a trad climbing trip, it was important that I had a hip belt that fitted correctly as I was carrying a full rack, rope, shoes, climbing harness and enough water for the day. To gauge the correct torso length, EXPED recommend using a measuring tape to measure the distance between the top edge of the shoulders or C7 vertebrae (the one that protrudes when facing down) to the top crest of the hip bone (pelvis) and chose a pack based accordingly medium (M) = 48 - 52 cm / 19 - 20.5-inch torso length, whilst long (L) = 53 - 58 cm / 21 - 23 inch. Like all backpacks, it’s worth getting a pack fitted in an outdoor shop, as no two backs are the same.

EXPED SERAC 35 Jessie Leong F79A0559

Additional features

The EXPED 35L Serac has several features that make it super useful, despite its minimalist design. A series of webbing loops at the front which can be threaded using some spare cord which could be used to attach a bulkier piece of kit such as a sleeping mat or use the two supplied daisy chains to attach additional kit, such as climbing shoes and walking poles. Additional great features include a zip that allows access into the main compartment, perfect if you pack a bag ‘top down’ and need to get in to access heavier kit located in the bottom. The feature that really made it for me was the front zip pocket, which was surprisingly roomy and could fit a small first aid kit, a pair of sunglasses, snacks and a small key hook helps save keys from falling out.

EXPED SERAC 35 Jessie Leong F79A0594

Durability

The EXPED 35L Serac has been tested with over three months of heavy use. From being exposed to challenging weather conditions (rain, wind, sleet, and snow) to being used in everyday situations from boarding a train, plane and crag, the pack is now a firm favourite. The front zip helps isolate items that need easy access, whilst a roll top with a male and female buckle that clips together at the top, looks as good as new. A top cinch buckle (to attach ropes) helps attach up to two skinny 50m ropes, or one main 60m rope.

EXPED SERAC 35 Jessie Leong F79A0608

Waterproofing

I was super impressed with the EXPED 35L for its ability to keep out the heavy rain without having a super heavy and rigid pack. Using a 400 D HD ripstop nylon, TPU film laminated material, the waterproof material was rated to a 10'000 mm hydrostatic head, whilst the nylon helps stop any residual water from permeating. The material is also PFC free which is a huge bonus as it also means it’s not used harmful chemicals during the manufacturing process.

Colour

The EXPED 35L serac is available in black and red. Although I would have loved to have tried a brighter colour, the black proved to be a truly versatile pack in black as it didn’t show up the marks when it was popped onto the ground and scuffs from in transit. It was available in black, chilli (red) and forest (green.) If I was purchasing the pack for climbing adventures, choosing a bright colour bag would help with visibility and making sure the photographs pop.

EXPED SERAC 35 Jessie Leong F79A0624

Summary

Overall, the EXPED 35 L serac bag proved to be a hugely versatile pack, for climbing, mountaineering and travel. Its minimalist design suited my end intentions as it allowed me to think concisely about how I wanted the weight to be distributed, and allowed for easy transportation of bulky items, such as climbing gear. It also allowed me to carry my 15-inch laptop and camera gear during transit, which I thought was a huge plus, as well as the subtle and sleek black colour. EXPED continue to make top climbing and general lifestyle packs that are worth their weight in gold. For any alpine and trad climbers looking for their next go to pack, I would recommend the EXPED 35 L Serac in Medium (for a longer women’s fit.)

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