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Review

USWE Shred 16L MTB Daypack

Words Deniz Merdano
Photos Cover Photo: Dave Silver, Fashion shots: Graham Driedger
Date Oct 4, 2022
Reading time

Backpacks have become a rarity lately, with all the integrated frame storage options we have at our disposal. For people without the gaping hole with an acronym for a name on their frames, the hip pack seems to be the go-to modestly priced receptacle. I am often one of those people, storing the essentials in the frame of my personal Orbea Rallon and both the Santa Cruz Hightower and 5010 I have on test.

But there is usually more than just a tube and a tool that comes along for the ride. It has been a busy summer for me travelling a bunch and riding different bikes in different parts of the continent. Even though the essentials are stashed in each frame in the form of tube, tool and plugs, there are millions of reasons to carry a daypack for the photography and trail building I do often, even in my local woods.

I committed to the USWE [ you – swii ] SHRED 16L Pack for the majority of these rides and have developed a good idea of where this Swedish creation works and where it falls short. It seems like USWE packs were originally designed for moto use by the very people who invented the modern 3-point seatbelts in cars: the Swedes.

Their patented "No Dancing Monkey" harness and strap system is the heart of USWE pack designs.

deniz merdano uswe shred16 3

The center of the USWE universe falls somewhere between your nipples.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the widely-used backpack strap system unless a company totally botches it. Evoc, Osprey, Dakine, Camelbak, and Shimoda all have excellent systems that work with a wide range of body types and activities. USWE realised what makes all these packs work for action: the chest strap.

Try riding with your pack on a physically demanding trail with the chest strap undone and you’ll quickly realise how unstable they will feel around the shoulders. The straps will slowly make their way off your shoulders on every movement, forcing you to clench your shoulders forward in a futile effort to keep the straps on.

USWE's No Dancing Monkey is a harness system that uses the chest buckle as the focal point. With the help of the lumbar/waist buckle, you can create a pack that becomes a part of your back contour rather than hanging off your shoulders. Basically, it sucks the pack into your center of mass.

deniz merdano uswe shred16 9

Centered and sturdy.

deniz merdano uswe shred16 10

5'9" guy here with proportionate torso (sucking the belly in for these photos).

FEATURES

There are a lot of nooks and crannies all over this 16L daypack. Like the gigantic belt pockets and cavernous goggle pouch, there are enough places to cram all your gear. In fact, 16L is probably too much volume for short rides. I had 3 major events that I brought this bag to over the summer and It was generally the right choice.

Staring at the pack from the top, there are 3 zippers greeting you. The one closest to your back is the goggle pocket. Large enough to swallow your hand whole, it is my go to pocket for quick access items like glasses and packaged snacks. I have also shoved clean gloves in there many times and there is always more room left. One day I hope to find the capacity of this pocket.

In front of that zipper is your main compartment. The zippers unzip ¾ of the way down the sides of the pack and expose a big opening large enough for any hydration bladder you can fit and another mesh pocket for loose items. I haven’t found an immediate use for this mesh pocket but it would be ideal for spare gloves and other smaller items you don’t want lost in the bottom of the pit.

deniz merdano uswe shred16 8

I love these waist pockets. They are big enough for keys, wallet, a Google Pixel 6a phone and trailside beverage containers.

deniz merdano uswe 16 1

You could fit 3 pairs of Smith Bobcats in the goggle pouch.

The infamous goggle pocket that I love so much unfortunately backs right into the main compartment, meaning the more you pack your goggle pouch, the less space and access you will have to your main compartment. Not a deal breaker for many, but as someone who has to dig out a sizable camera multiple times a ride, I find it slightly annoying. This is not a photographer's pack so I will forgive this small nuisance.

In front of the main compartment you have the tool section where multiple mesh and elastic pockets keep your pump, spares and first-aid kit neatly separated. Unlike many other packs in the market, the capacity of this compartment does not seem to be hindered by the contents of the main one. The soft, expandable fabric allows for stretch and capacity expansion. I kept a Lezyne pump, spare parts and a first aid kit in this zone. I also chucked a spare lens in there more than once and the mesh pockets did a great job holding them tightly in place.

What I really came to like were the waist pockets. Equally spacious on both sides, I tossed keys and wallet in one, a small multitool and other randoms in the other. No zippers accidentally opened and I was content with the security of my belongings.

FIT

At 5’9” with a proportional torso, I set the pack to the 3rd position without much info on how I should be measuring my fit. After a few weeks of use, I decided to dig a little deeper to see if USWE had a guide for setting the torso height and found a couple of videos but not much else. If you are tall, try settings from 5 to 10 and if you are not, try from 1 to 5. I don’t think you will do terribly wrong either way but the comfort will speak for itself pretty quickly.

After shouldering the pack and buckling the chest, you pull the waist belt out and away from your hips and stretch it. This will pull the chest harness snugly into place and allow you to have the snuggest fit possible. There is plenty of extra strap for bigger bellies or going over a thick coat.

deniz merdano uswe shred16 15

The ventilation on the back could use more....ventilation.

Once on my back, I found the Shred 16 to be more comfortable than any of my Evoc packs, though I do love the stiffer back plate of Evoc packs as I tend to fill my bags with sharp edged objects like cameras, Bigboy saws and chainsaw batteries. The isolation from these objects is key when hurtling down the hill. The USWE approach is more form fitting and less about back protection. The overall soft construction of the pack may not be for everyone. It makes standing the pack up a little more of a challenge and all that contact with your back makes it warmer than others.

In the heat of the summer, I really felt the presence of the Shred 16 on my back confirmed with the massive sweat patch. This is not a ventilated pack like some of the others out there. This seems to be less of an issue with the moto crowd or people in cooler climates. I think it will be great in the winter but I disliked the heat generated on my back on a couple of big alpine missions this summer. I found myself unbuckling the front and letting air in between me and the pack to find some relief.

I also have been more out of shape than ever this summer following international travel and a steady diet of feta and olives in Turkey for a month followed by the damn Covid slap for a couple of weeks. It has been a sweatier than usual comeback to form for this chubster. Confirmed by not being able to fit into a pair of dress pants for a friend's wedding.

My fatness aside, this form-fitting pack does not breathe as well as my Evoc Stage12 but offers increased versatility.

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Not sure whats going on here but it's a good shot of me...

One thing that bothers me about most current packs is the absence of weather protection built into the fabric. Instead they use rain covers, which are inconvenient, limit access to the internals and look dorky. I would love a pack I can hose down at the end of a muddy ride and hang dry overnight. Include the raincover for emergencies but please make bags out of waterproof material. So far nobody is listening, although my Shimoda Photo pack is pretty close.

I am also undecided about the helmet carry straps passing over the main zipper. These make getting big items out tricky unless you undo the clips. Minor but still worth a mention.

The USWE Shred 16 with its contemporary graphics earned its keep in my arsenal of packs. Ask a photographer and you’ll hear there are no perfect packs. That is true and it is also how the industry stays alive. If you can manage your pack inventory in your house, you can get a pretty good routine going for the ride you are about to embark on.

249 CAD is steep for a pack with no included hydration bladder (but it's currently on sale at Competitive for 119 USD). I use a Camelbak 3L bladder successfully. USWE will sell you a 3L bladder for 49 CAD.

USWE Shred 16L Daypack

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Comments

FuTAnT
FuTAnT
2 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Deniz Merdano

USWE is an interesting one, certainly not cheap. Speaking of moto packs, I use a Kriega R20 which has had some development over time, but is their non-waterproof pack. They recently released the Kriega Trail 9 and Kriega Trail 18 packs which include inbuilt dry sacks. 

I've had my R20 for over 10 years, more like 15 I would say, and I originally had it as a moto pack as well. It then became my trail riding pack as it uses a similar harness system that I've found to be absolutely brilliant, and I couldn't go back to using an inferior harness system. I spent 3 years in Vancouver, but am based in Brisbane, Australia now (my normal home town) and I ride with it in summer as well (it's rather warm and humid here in Brisbane). Yeah, it gets hot, any pack will in summer, but that's what conditioning is for. If I were to take my time again, I would down size a little, to maybe an R16 (waterproof) or an R15 (non water proof) for MTB use. But the R20 will have to die first, and quite simply, it just doesn't want to! 

So - there are some water proof options out there but compromises in certain areas are to be made. Depends where you ride / what you prioritise. This might help someone though, I find the Kriega product amazing.

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 months ago
+2 Cr4w FuTAnT

Those Kriega packs look really trick indeed. I also would love to dig into some Osprey packs which I have zero experience with. They also seem to be well engineered. 

I find 12 to 16L to be a sweet spot for a pack and anything smaller can be replaced by 7L evoc hippack and anything bigger is a job for the Shimoda 30L action pack.

Reply

craw
Cr4w
2 months ago
+1 whotookit

I've been running an Osprey Raptor 14 for years and years and have yet to find anything better. I've always really liked the look of these ESWE ones and some of the Ergon ones. The Osprey is crazy light, super tough (very torn, never broken a zipper), and stays put. I swear they used to come in multiple sizes.

I'm always looking for something lighter or more minimal but hip packs don't work well if they're overloaded and all the ones I've tried are tricky to get a water bottle back in while you're riding and more minimal packs typically haven't fit well (don't carry what I need, move around a lot, etc) and they generally don't save any weight so what's the point. The Raptor is light, expandable and tough as hell. It's the oldest piece of gear I run on virtually every ride for the last 8 years.

I have Osprey travel packs too. I'm definitely a fan.

Edit: I did break the sternum buckle once when I slammed it in my car door. Ordered a replacement and had it installed by Leslie's Luggage across from the old MEC on Broadway.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
2 months ago
+1 FuTAnT

Those Kriegas look cool. FYI I just updated the article with a link to the USWE Shred 16 on Competitive which is currently on sale for 119 US - that is a much better deal on this pack.

Reply

kcy4130
kcy4130
2 months ago
+1 Deniz Merdano

How's the zippers? I always look for large heavy duty zippers for durability in a pack.

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 months ago
+1 kcy4130

Heavy duty zippers! Really nice stitched tabs on them aswell.

Reply

DanL
DanL
2 months ago
+1 FuTAnT

I have a couple of different USWE packs, the airborne9 and the patriot15 (which contains the spine protector). I really like the cross-your-heart setup which is easy to adjust and very fast to alter how much hugging you get from it- but I'll still climb with the straps unclipped and then lock in for descents. Same for snowboarding.
I'm surprised about the waist straps as the whole point for me, anyways, for these packs is to free up the waist area, so an interesting add on but I'm sure it does help with being able to easily access things. Very expensive though - I only pick them up when they're on sale.

Reply

Timer
Timer
2 months ago
0

I think the waist strap is a concession to the weight of all the stuff one can fit into a true 16l pack.

Reply

Friedel
Friedel
2 months ago
+1 Deniz Merdano

Regarding your wish for a waterproof backpack: Do you know the Ortlieb Active line backpacks?

https://ortlieb.ca/collections/active-backpacks

A friend of mine has one and loves it.

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
2 months ago
+1 Friedel

I may have to have a closer look at the lineup and maybe request a tester.

Although im usually not a fan of toploading packs. It is a very convenient way of making them waterproof.

Reply

smoochy
Max Nodwell
2 months ago
0

"we must of course transmit the water and tools to you in a receptacle."

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