Adjustable ZephyrAD back system, RAPTOR Eco 100 denier Robic Nylon with 78% recycled content, CONTACT Air Mesh Eco shoulder straps and open mesh back panel
Large, flexible side pockets for water bottles and hip pockets for quick access
Security pocket for keys, wallet, etc.
Inner hydration system pocket
Form-fitting and lightweight
Made using recycled content
No system for carrying a rope
I’d like a larger main pocket to accommodate a helmet
WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR
I’ve recently been looking to replace my now nearly irreparable climbing backpack. For that kind of activity, 25 litres is about the right size – for a multi-pitch day out on the rock in any case.
To walk into a route, I want to secure the rope to the top of the pack and have easy access to a water bottle. Climbing-specific backpacks tend to be devoid of outer pockets for water bottles these days, taking a more cylindrical shape, with everything contained within one space. I find this a little faffy, having to remove the rope from the top first, to then get to the water bottle inside. To be able to reach back to grab the water bottle without even taking the bag off, is worthy of at least 2 stars in itself.
A backpack needs to fit me well and not wobble about on my back when loaded with gear for the day.
Montane market this piece of kit as a ‘go anywhere, do anything’ day pack. When opening the package upon its arrival, I immediately searched for a way to carry a rope and couldn’t find one.
Still, I was extremely pleased to find the flexible side pockets, perfectly designed to hold a 1 litre water bottle on either side. In fact, the pockets are pleasingly plentiful throughout the pack. I adore the waist strap hip pockets, they’re sized perfectly for sun glasses on one side and a phone on the other.
The back of the Azote 25 has a large stretchy pocket, large enough to stuff a light rain jacket in or a spare top or two, but not quite big enough to store a helmet. There’s a chest strap included and it uses a quick-release system that slides up and down according to where you want it to be. The strap is elasticated rather than webbing and so I wondered how that might support me when using the pack. I immediately enjoyed the way it sat on my back once I’d adjusted it to my size and longed to get it outside for the test!
I mentally poo-pooed the elasticated chest strap idea when I first saw it, to be honest. But while using the pack for the very first time on my mountain bike, I began to understand the thinking behind it. I could pull the ‘click and go harness’ fairly tight, and despite keeping the shoulder straps well in place, it had some give left in it – a kind of shock-absorber style system, I guess.
Rather than packing my hydration bladder, I loaded the flexible side pockets with a couple of 1 litre water bottles and was easily able to reach back for them while riding. Likewise, with the zipped hip fin pockets, I could easily whip my sunnies in and out of those all day in sync with the clouds. The waist strap itself pulls in nicely, however, if you have quite a lean waist like me, then you’re left with quite a lot of excess strap hanging down. Throughout my testing of this piece, I found myself tying the extra lengths into a loose knot to keep them tidy. This certainly isn’t a grumble, as of course Montane need to cater for all shapes and sizes.
Montane brand the back system the ZephyrAD. It’s clever and quick to adjust to size with a single velcro flap and the mesh part of the system kept some air between me and it while on the track. 75km later, I knew that the Azote 25 and I were going to be friends.
And so, to the mountains, on foot this time. Espot; located at the gates of the Aigüestortes National Park, in the Catalan Pyrenees. Alpine in appearance, loaded with lakes, roaring with rivers and teeming with trails. Putting a route into our watches we headed up the valley for some trail time. I packed the Azote lightly and once again went for the water bottle option over a bladder. It’s been a hot summer here so far in Catalunya and as per my time spent on the bike with this pack, I was thankful for the breathable mesh back system while hiking. The main storage compartment comes with two zips to close it and gapes widely when fully open. I like this as it niggles me when searching for something at the bottom of a back pack that I probably should have packed at the top, when the opening is not sufficient. The Azote sits well on the hips, almost hugging them. Ergonomically, this back pack for me is superb, although I haven’t climbed in it, the only reason being the lack of rope attachment for the walk in. It actually sits well with a harness, as it can sit quite high on the waist and therefore would not hinder hardware access.
There’s a single adjustable loop at the bottom left of the pack for a walking pole or ice axe attachment, I just wish that the pocket next to it could take a helmet. The Azote is that back pack that lives in the hallway, ready to go, when not on your back. It comes out with me every day.
WHO IS THIS BACKPACK FOR?
This pack pretty much covers most land-based adventure sport activities. Bear in mind that the volume is 25 litres and therefore probably best suited to those who pack light or prefer shorter trips. Perfect for day hikes and bikes. I have used this bag almost every day since I got it.
Worth noting that Montane also produce a 30 litre version too.
WHAT STANDS OUT?
I took a bit of a soaking while testing this pack on the bike. Everything inside stayed dry. That said, I would still always back up my valuables in a dry bag as well.
The pockets pleased me a lot with their ease of access and generous capacity for water bottles.
The Azote 25 is one of the most comfortable bags of this size that I have ever worn – simple.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Great value. Montane products come with a ‘lifetime guarantee against faults in workmanship and materials’ too. I think by the time you’d need this repairing, many mountain memories will have been made.
BASE BOTTOM LINE
Day packs don’t get much better than this one. The Azote 25 includes all the features one would need for a lightweight day pack that lends itself to multiple mountain activities. As a bag for climbing, it just needs two minor modifications. But at the end of the day, it still deserves 5 stars.