The Vaude Brenta is billed as "a sporty hiking backpack", and is one of this sustainability-focused outdoor brand's bestsellers. Made from 50% recycled polyester, with a PFC-free water repellent finish, the design is available in a range of sizes to suit different trip types and lengths: 24L, 30L, 36+6L and 44+6L. I tried the 24L version, which is a generous day sack size, on a sunny camping trip in Dorset. So how does it compare with the rest of the best hiking backpacks on the market? Read on for my full Vaude Brenta hiking backpack review.
Vaude Brenta hiking backpack review: design and features
The Vaude Brenta 24 might be the smallest of this particular range, but it sports plenty of features that you'd usually only expect to find on bigger packs. It's solidly a hiking backpack – if you want something that'll double up as a casual city backpack, you'd probably be better looking elsewhere in our general best backpack guide.
The back is height-adjustable, and there are hip and chest straps to help with weight distribution (here's how to fit a backpack, if you need a reminder). However, the star of the show is the 'Aeroflex 3D suspension system', which is essentially a clever back design that uses mesh to keep the main part of the bag arched away from the wearer's back, to aid breathability.
Vaude Brenta 24 backpack specs
Dimensions: 52 x 30 x 23cm
Load range: 3-8kg
Alternative sizes: 24L, 30L, 36+6L, 44+6L
The idea is fairly common in more advanced backpack designs, but here the mesh extends to your lower back too, where it's arched out both horizontally and vertically. It's tricky to see on my photo, but the result is that very little of the pack is in contact with your back at all, aside from the aside from the mesh sections. And the straps, of course, but there's no avoiding that.
Other features include a rain cover tucked into the bottom, a flap for a platypus tube, a cleverly designed hoop to hold a walking pole (although sadly, only one) and a thin, elasticated strap onto which you can hook your sunglasses (I know this because there's a picture of a pair of glasses on it).
On the pocket front, you're pretty spoilt: there's a large part-mesh one on the front into which to stuff waterproofs and the like, two on the sides for water bottles, and a large elasticated one inside the main body of the bag. The lid section opens into another generous pocket with a slightly padded, phone-shaped pouch and another zip pocket for valuables. Finally, the hip strap has another, very easy to access zip pocket, which is roomy enough to comfortably stash, for example, an action camera.
Use the arrows to scroll through the gallery and check out the bag's features.
Vaude as a brand prides itself on its sustainability practices, and the Brenta hiking backpack shines on that front, too. The fabric is 50% recycled polyester made from PET bottles, and production is offset for climate neutrality, using eco-friendly manufacturing methods.
Vaude Brenta hiking backpack review: comfort and usability
I found the Vaude Brenta extremely comfortable to wear, with excellent weight distribution. After adjusting – which was a straightforward process – I found it fitted perfectly on my back. The mesh back design is super effective; I wore it on a sunny hike in Dorset which involved some steep ascents, and it felt really breathable and about as un-sweaty as you could possibly hope for in such a situation.
The same mesh fabric that's used for the back section also lines the straps, which are generously padded and again very comfortable in wear. The arm straps are cleverly shaped to allow for greater freedom of movement at the top, which is useful if you wanted to wear this pack for something more active, like scrambling or kayaking.
In terms of organisation, there are pockets for almost every eventuality. The arched back means there's no flat padded section in which to stash a laptop or tablet, but as I said above, this is definitely a hiking / outdoors pack, rather than the kind of thing you'd use for commuting. A slight niggle is that the side pockets aren't easy to reach while you're wearing the pack, although I was impressed with the addition of the generous waist strap pocket – this makes for a great place to pop a GoPro for quick access.
Vaude Brenta hiking backpack review: verdict
I was very impressed with the Vaude Brenta hiking backpack. If you're looking for a specialised hiking backpack for a day's excursion, the 24L is near-perfect, and packs plenty of features you'd only really find on bigger bags. The back ventilation system works well to stop you getting too sweaty, the design is comfy and ergonomic, with multiple adjustment options to ensure a snug fit with even weight distribution. Multiple useful pockets help you stay organised, and eco-friendly materials and production are an added bonus. It's overkill for casual use, but if you want something for hiking or days exploring the great outdoors, this is a strong recommendation.