What differentiates one daypack from another? Design? Comfort? Ventilation? When it comes to Heimplanet’s new series of packs, the answer is, all three. Heimplanet designed their Motion series of active backpacks to combine mobility, flexibility, and streamlined design. Question is, did they succeed and, more importantly, should you support their Kickstarter or buy the packs?
There is no doubt that Heimplanet designs some unique-looking gear. They are the only company currently using air tubes for their civilian tent frames, now that NEMO has moved the Morpho to their military side only.
For the Motion series, Heimplanet appears to have taken whatever bible of pack design might exist and double-translated it. You know, when you take a phrase and plug it into Google Translate and translate it back and forth between, say, English and Mandarin? Which is not to rag on Google – Translate has become much better over the years. You get the point. Where were we?
Right. Design. We tested out the larger Ellipse Pack. First, the Motion series is much more modern than a traditional pack. Heimplanet made a point of concealing all of the straps, buckles, and other knicknacks from view until they’re needed. This leads to a streamlined appearance and makes it much more difficult to snag on branches.
The main compartment constitutes most of the packable space in the pack. Inside, there is a joint laptop/hydration sleeve. Heimplanet doesn’t specify, but it’s probably best to only use the sleeve for one or the other and not both at the same time. Point though – the dual purpose sleeve means you can take the pack both hiking and commuting. Heimplanet touts a light-colored interior. In reality, it’s just grey. Some packs use a bright yellow which, to our eyes at least, actually help see deeper into the pack. The grey liner doesn’t help, but it doesn’t seem to hurt either.
On the outside of the Ellipse, you get a pretty deep lid pocket and another, smaller pocket for small items like keys and glasses. You also get an interestingly divided stretch pocket that can house water bottles, layers, and other essentials. There’s a mysterious trend that repeats across the design of the Ellipse – the letter Y. It appears in the reinforcement seams of the stretch pocket, designed to direct compression strap forces and divide the pocket for organization.
The Y-shape also appears on the shoulder straps, where a Hypalon reinforcement sits to, according to Heimplanet, distribute forces from the shoulder strap adjuster without being sewn through the shoulder strap. Frankly, we didn’t load enough weight into the pack to require force redistribution. Given Heimplanet’s reputation, we don’t doubt that it does what it’s supposed to do. What does the Y mean? We don’t know.
We like the captive shoulder strap adjusters – no loose ends to flap around in the wind. We also like the disappearing anchor points. You wouldn’t know it, but the Ellipse can carry two ice axes. We also dig the compression strap design – because it’s looped, a single pull adjusts tension across two straps in two directions.
Overall, Heimplanet’s Motion series looks slick but also refuses to sacrifice function for aesthetics.
Comfort and Ventilation
Heimplanet definitely builds comfort into the Motion series. Their 3d-molded back panel and shoulder straps look overdesigned, but are actually supremely comfortable. Shoulder straps are curved enough that they don’t squeeze your neck, but not so curved that they fall off. The back panel design eliminates pressure points and provides some ventilation (though not as much as a suspended back panel).
Is there room for improvement? Perhaps some channels molded into the back panel would increase ventilation. Otherwise, we were pretty satisfied with how the Ellipse felt.
Should you Pledge or Buy?
At this point, Heimplanet has quadrupled their funding request. The packs will get made. If you pledge, for about $110, you can get a well-designed pack that will serve you every day on every task from commuting to summiting.
The packs will retail for about $170. At $110, we think you’re right in the neighborhood. Similar packs retail anywhere from $100-$150. At $170, you’re paying for looks as well as function and the value isn’t so hot.
If you need a new all-around pack in the 20-25L range, we can definitely tell you to head over to Heimpanet’s Kickstarter and pledge. (Hurry! only three days left!) If you don’t, wait until the Motion series goes on sale somewhere before you buy.
EDIT – the Kickstarter ended successfully. You can now head over there to see when the packs will be available at retail.