Impetro is a new Austrian company that has launched a modular backpack with varying main storage areas, according to the intended purpose. Perhaps talking about a single backpack is a bit simplistic, because in reality there are three backpacks, with one part that, however, always remains the same.
The idea of Impetro is in fact to keep the backrest, shoulder straps and lumbar band always identical, but changing the capacity and organization of the actual bag. In this way you can first decide what type of backpack to buy (bike, ski or mountaineering) and possibly buy two or three modules. An example: if I ride a bike in summer and ski in winter, I will orient myself towards these two disciplines, forgoing the larger mountaineering backpack.
In addition to the internal organization of the backpack, therefore pockets and compartments, the capacity also changes:
- Bike: 15l, dimensions: 530/330/170 mm
- Ski: 22l, dimensions: 530/330/210 mm
- Mountaineering: 33l, dimensions: 630/330/250 mm
The base unit is very well thought out, especially regarding its fastening system on the chest, which is the best I have ever experienced. As you can see from the image, it has been designed like an X, bringing the shoulder straps much further inboard than usual, which gives more freedom of movement and ensures a bombproof closure. Speaking of closing, the mechanism is magnetic, so it’s very fast and easy to use even with winter gloves.
The base unit has a capacity of 3 liters, as it has a small zipped pocket at the top, and a compartment for a water bladder, to be purchased separately as the back protector. Neither was in the package we received for testing. The detail of the Recco retrieval system is interesting, not to be confused with an Arva avalanche system. The Recco only works if you are searched for with the appropriate equipment, usually mounted on a helicopter.
The lumbar band is another modular detail, because you can choose whether to insert it on the lanyard with clip or not. On the other hand, the whole base unit is a mini backpack in itself, and if you want you can put it under a jersey when riding downhill/park.
We’ve arrived at the system that allows you to change the type of backpack. It is a very sturdy and high quality zipper, very easy to use, so much so that the operation takes a few seconds even the first few times it is done.
Below you can see in detail the various backpacks.
The bike backpack has 15 liters and many well thought out compartments, in particular the two side zips, which are very easy to reach even when the backpack is full or if you fix the helmet on the external net. In the right one I put the emergency tools such as pump, multitool and inner tube. These two compartments take up a part of the space of the main part, but they do not bother too much, since I usually put on a jacket and winter gloves, that is soft things.
The backpack material is not waterproof, so there is a rain cover in a pocket on the bottom.
All the zippers glide very well and, thanks to the generous sized loops, are easy to open / close even with gloves. There are two compression straps at the top of the pack only.
This module was designed for days in the snow doing ski mountaineering or freeride. You can secure your skis or snowboard and there is a net to attach the helmet when not in use.
Compact and easy to compress via the side bands.
When I went for a couple of trips with snowshoes and snowboard (waiting for my new splitboard to arrive) I used this module as it is the largest.
As you can see from the photo, I needed a lot of space …
The weight of the equipment was around 12kg, so I was able to appreciate the shoulder strap closure system and the excellent weight distribution between shoulders, hips and back.
The board didn’t move an inch during the whole climb.
In the field
Obviously the module I used the most was the one for mountain biking. As you should know, I’m not a big fan of backpacks. If I can, I prefer to use systems like Specialized’s SWAT to keep my back clear and sweat less on the climb, as well as have more freedom of movement on the descents. Not only that, finding a backpack that stays in its place on the downhills is not easy. On the Impetro, once the bands on the chest and hips are closed, it no longer moves. You can refer to one of the most technical trails I’ve ever ridden for a demonstation:
The great idea lies in having brought the position of the shoulder straps more internally on the chest, leaving more freedom of movement to the arms. In fact, it almost seems like you don’t have a backpack on your shoulders, also thanks to the very ventilated and comfortable backrest, without any annoying contact points.
It’s difficult to give a definitive judgment on ventilation, given the season, but precisely because sweating on your back in winter, in the cold, is no fun, I can tell you that I seemed to have less problems in this regard.
Another detail that I really liked is the magnetic closure of the chest band, combined with two soft inserts that prevent tightening the chest too much and release pressure over a large surface. When I tighten the shoulder straps as much as possible, they never bother me and above all I don’t get that feeling of fatigue in breathing that happens when I typically tighten a chest strap too much. As you may have noticed, the Impetro guys have thought of emergencies not only with the Recco system, but also with a small orange whistle which can help you be noticed and heard in case of need.
In the photos you can see the backpack with the helmet net, but it can be hidden in the special pocket on the bottom, close to that of the rain cover.
It is difficult to find fault with this backpack. I find it brilliant for its closure system and for its modularity, which is very convenient if one goes around the mountains even on foot or with skis / snowboards. All materials are of excellent quality, starting with the zippers and their slots. It is the first backpack that really gives me great freedom of movement downhill, making me forget that I have it on my shoulders. Highly recommended!
Base unit: 95 €
Each single backpack: 95 €
Basic package + 1 backpack: 169 €
Basic package + 2 backpacks: 239 €
Basic package + 3 backpacks: 279 €
Available online at Impetrogear.com