The Vaude Asymmetric 42+8 is a medium sized backpack made from recycled PET bottles and designed for alpine adventures, shorter trekkings and city trips. Enjoy the review!
- Price: € 168,-/£ 160,-
- Weight: 1692 grams (Claimed 1640 grams)
- Volume: 42 + 8 liter (Womens 38 + 8)
- Load range: 7 – 12 kg
Vaude – a German company – has developed in the last 10 years towards a leading company in producing in a more sustainable manner. The Vaude Asymmetric 42+8 has been designed and produced in that philosophy and it has a lot of environmental labels attached to it: Green Shape, Grüner Knopf, Fair Wear, MyClimate Neutral and Bluesign approved materials.
Main fabric is a polyester yarn that is made from recycled PET bottles. This is good because – according to Vaude – this not only eliminates the use of new fossil fuels but also reduces the energy consumption and CO2 emission by 50%. To be a bit more precise on the materials: like stated above the main fabric is 100% 600D* recycled polyester. On the inside it is coated with polyurethane to make the material waterproof. The second fabric is a 300D* recycled polyester that is also polyurethane coated. The lining material is a 150D* polyester that is also 100% from recycled PET. Again a polyurethane coating keeps moisture out.
Next to the materials Vaude also produces the backpack with a climate neutral footprint. All in all I think it is fair to say that Vaude did her best to make the backpack as sustainable as possible.
*The D stands for Denier and indicaties the thickness of the yarn. 600D is a thicker yarn than a 400D yarn.
What I do like is that Vaude is one company – if not the only – that makes a clear statement about the use of Durable Water Repellent coating (DWR) on a backpack. The DWR coating is applied on the outside of a fabric so that water pearls up and runs off. This prevents the material getting wet and heavy. It’s not a way to make a material waterproof. The problem with a lot of DWR’s is that they contain harmful fluorocarbons (PFC’s). In use the DWR washes off due to wear and tear and the PFC’s end up in nature and even in our food chain. The DWR that Vaude uses is called Eco Finish and contains no PFC’s but you will need to re-apply the DWR once in a while.
Size and weight
With a volume of 42+8 liters the Vaude Asymmetric is a mid sized backpack. For those who are new to backpacks and volume: 42+8 indicates that the main compartment has a volume of 42 liters and it can be enlarged by 8 liters. Later more how this is done. I put a large waterproof bag in the backpack and filled it with water to measure the volume – 1 liter is one kilo – and I measured 50 liters. So Vaude is almost spot on. Regarding the weight: Vaude claims 14,75 kg and I measured 1,5 kg on my calibrated scale. This weight is without a raincover since it does not come as standard with the Vaude.
Adjustable back length
The Vaude Asymmetric 42+8 is a ‘one size fit all’ backpack and that means almost automatically that it has an adjustable back length. The carrying system and the adjustable suspension system is called Tergolight and works with a strap and a buckle. Loosen the buckle and you can move the shoulder straps up and down. Once you have found your sweet spot – watch this video on finding your back length – just let go of the buckle and shoulder straps are secured. Vaude does not state what the reach of the adjustability is but I measure a back length from 44 cm minimum to 56 cm maximum.
With adjusting the shoulder straps you also change the angle of the loadlifters. The load lifters are positioned on top of the shoulder straps and connected to the top part of the backpack. Their purpose is keeping the balance in the top part of the backpack and making your hike more secure and comfortable. This all depends on the trial: descending, walking level or ascending. Again more on this in my How to fit a backpack tutorial video. When changing the back length you also need to adjust the point where the load lifters are connected to the backpack. On the Vaude this is possible and that alone makes the Vaude Asymmetric 42+8 stand out from the crowd. The load lifters have four positions over a distance of 4 cm.
Backbone of the Tergolight carrying system is an aluminum frame inside the Vaude Asymmetric. It gives the backpack its rigidity and also spreads the weight throughout the backpack over the shoulder straps and the waistband. The frame can be adjusted – bend with brute force that is – a little if you like a bit more airflow between the back panel and your back. The frame can be taken out by loosening a few velcro straps. Good at the end of life moment to separate all recyclable materials.
The shoulder straps
The Ergo Shape shoulder straps are – as the name suggests – ergonomically shaped. Vaude leaves us in the dark if this backpack is a male specific or a unisex model that should fit both sexes. There is a dedicated Vaude Asymmetric 38+8 for womens too. But next to me my wife tested the 42+8 as well and we both have no issues with the fit.
The shoulder straps have a nice S-curve. But we are neither tall nor big (approx 170 cm and 65 kg) so try it in a shop if you are taller or larger or a woman. A chest strap is attached to the shoulder straps with sliders and it is easy to move up and down. The buckle of the chest strap has an emergency whistle. The left shoulder strap has a loop for the guidance of the tube of the hydration system, the right shoulder strap has a loop for your sunglasses.
The hip belt
The hip is part of the carrying construction and can not be taken out like on some backpacks. Like the shoulder straps it is ergonomically shaped and sits nicely on the hip bones. Again more on this in my How to fit a backpack tutorial video. The hip belt is 14 cm wide and the padding is a little softer than the shoulder straps. For even more comfort and stability, the hip belt has straps on each side.
The hip belt can be adjusted from approx. 80 cm to 142 cm. The hip belt has one pocket on the right side with a zipper that is easy to use when walking. It is large enough for a pocket knife, a muesli bar and some other small stuff. Never put the smartphone in a hip belt pocket. Hip belts are curved and sometimes a lot of stress is applied too whatever is in them.
Carrying system padding and ventilation
The Tergolight suspension system has a nice soft padding at the back of the shoulders and also at the very comfortable lumbar support. The padding material is embedded in a mesh webbing that enhances ventilation and moisture control. Although the Tergolight suspension system is close to the body, there still remains a fair amount of ventilation. But don’t be mistaken; with warmer weather and working hard to gain height, you will get a wet back.
Vaude Asymmetric 42+8 carrying practice
The Vaude Asymmetric 42+8 has proven to be a comfortable backpack. Lifting the Vaude is easy thanks to the sturdy lifting loop that it has between the shoulder straps. When adjusted well the pack sits comfortable on the hips and only a small part of the weight is carried on the shoulders. Adjusting en route is possible. I like that it is a-close-to-the-back backpack because that is good for balance. I have been using it up to 15 kg – Vaude states a load range of 7 to 12 kg – and it performed fine. To be complete: the 15 kg is the backpack and gear in total. The pockets on the Vaude are well in reach and very practical.
Top loader and suitcase style opening
The Vaude Asymmetric 42+8 has one main compartment that is accessible from the top but also it has a suitcase style opening on the front.
Entering from the top is a matter of getting the top lid out of the way, releasing a compression strap with buckle and pulling a toggle on a string. The opening is wide so getting your gear in from above is easy. Like I mentioned in the beginning, the main compartment has a volume of 42 liters. This is the volume to the first toggle and string. There is a second toggle and string with an extra piece of fabric that is 19 cm high and that gives an extra 8 liters. The compression strap on top is handy for storing a tent or a mattress securely under it.
The suitcase style opening is a large U-zipper from YKK and it has a huge pulling tab. This opening is called the suitcase style opening because when putting the backpack on its back panel, this opening faces upwards. Easy in use when doing hut to hut hikes for example when laying the backpack on your bed. This zipper is often also the most vulnerable part of the backpack so I am happy that the ‘lid’ also has two straps to take pressure off the zipper when not in use.
The ‘lid’ of the suitcase style opening is a combination of flexible mesh on the sides and fabric that has a pocket with a zipper. It is a good place to store a map, gloves and a hat. Or some wet clothing but the pockets drying capabilities are limited due to the closed fabric part.
Inside the main compartment and close to the back, is a pocket with an attachment point for a hydration bladder. The opening for the hose is on the right side.
The top lid is detachable and has a floating connection to the backpack. Floating means that I can adjust the height at all four corners to create space for the extension. The top lid of the Vaude is accessible by opening a zipper. Inside you will find a second compartment with a zipper. This compartment is made from mesh. Everything you put in it is clearly visible. Inside the mesh compartment is a keychain. The top lid is very specious and a lot of kit fits in. When you turn the top lid upside down there is a print with all the alpine emergency signals. Clever! I do miss a security pocket for my wallet and passport that is not accessible from the outside.
On the outside the Vaude Asymmetric 42+8 has two small rows of daisy chains that can be used to hook for example a carabiner with my beloved Kupilka muga mug on too.
The backpack has only one spot to store trekking poles. It’s a loop at bottom and an elastic band with a hook that is attached to the right row of daisy chains. I rather have two but I discovered that the compression straps on the side of the Vaude are usable as trekking pole storage too.
On the sides the Asymmetric 42+8 has two excellent stretch mesh pockets to store water bottles. Tall bottles can be placed upright and smaller bottles can be placed facing forwards. Like a pistol in a holster. A loop can be placed around the neck of the bottle to prevent it from falling out accidentally. Be aware not to put anything else in the mesh pockets since it might fall out. I lost a glove this way but discovered it in time to retrieve it. A hook for the loop to close the gap would be an improvement.
Not much to be honest. The Vaude Asymmetric 42+8 is a very complete backpack. Above from things mentioned above I would prefer a larger flexible mesh top loader pocket on the rear instead of the combination of mesh and a closed fabric pocket. In the mesh I like to store a wet rain jacket for example.
Although the backpack has some reflection – two logos on the sides and one on the top lid – a bright spot in the middle would be a suggestion.
The other thing is the raincover. It doesn’t come with this backpack. I do get the reason: we don’t always need it and maybe you have one already. This is a sustainable way of thinking but finding out that you miss it when you are out…. It’s not that obvious it’s not there. Maybe a bright hang tag would be a solution.
With a volume of 42 plus 8 liters the Vaude Asymmetric 42+8 has proven to be a fine sustainable companion for hut to hut hikes, shorter trekkings or just out for the weekend on a citytrip. The backpack is well made of sustainable materials. The Tergolight carrying system is well adjustable and comfortable on the back. Getting gear in and out the backpack is easy. You can choose between being a top loader or a suitcase style person.
The double function of the bottle holders is super. Small improvements: a bit more reflective material and two trekking pole attachment points. Be aware that a raincover is not come with the Asymmetric. The Vaude Asymmetric 42+8 retails for € 168,00 (the women’s version is the Vaude Asymmetric 38+8, same price) and the raincover € 21,00. The price is a bit higher than average; sustainability has its price. I rate the Vaude Asymmetric 42+8 at 8.9 out of 10 total.