Mike Parsons was the man behind Karrimor when they were good, the Alpiniste and Elite series of clothes and equipment being what gets me misty eyed still… However, now he’s the man behind OMM. The kit produced is the spiritual and design successor to that old Karrimor kit. If you had an Alpiniste 45+10, you’ll be wanting a Villain 45+10RL MSC.
I suppose it is really a mountaineering sack, but the simplicity, weight and functionality make it a fantastic lightweight backpacking sack. I use mine with the OMM chest pouch which is dead handy in it’s own right and fits other packs.
The features and technicalities of the Villain are better explained on the OMM site here. What I like is how it is in use.
Every time I’ve used the Villain it’s been full of camping kit, tent, mat, sleeping bag, food, stove, clothes and all the rest. It loads very well and keeps it’s shape. The main compartment is a neat 45L. It has a 2 bladder sleeves, one central and one side access with a zip. This side one is okay until the sack is rammed full then it’s awkward. The bottle/wand pockets are easily accessible, the large pockets on the hipbelt work without squashing the contents or the zips jamming, the ususal lid pocket is usable when wearing the pack and there is the wee bit of genius that is the MSC. It’s the external stretch pocket that also allows extra storage behind it and is attached in with straps that gives you your sack compression.
All these features work, I use all the wee pockets and I’ve always got my bits and pieces to hand. The chest pouch as well, you can stuff it with kit, gloves, a Buff, snacks, map, compass and camera being my usual.
The harness is good, the shoulder straps are well shaped and padded just right. The previous orange version’s straps were maybe a little thin for heavy loads, and although I initially was dismayed at the increase in bulk I now prefer the thicker straps. The hip fins are padded to the same thickness as is the lumbar pad. Again, I like them just fine although I did replace the 25mm webbing waist belt with a 40mm one for better comfort. The tried and trusted Platformat (FFormat in old money) back system feels like an old pair of slippers.
The stability is very good. I’ve walked many a mile without it moving about of its own accord, but more importantly when on scrambles it stays put even when fully loaded. Even running down the side of Druim a Choire Odhair in Knoydart failed to turn it into the bin liner full of footballs that most rucksacks become in a similar situation. The stability is partly due to the close contact the pack has with your back as well as the design. Some folk will whine about the lack of back padding and the lack of ventilation here. I don’t care, it hasn’t been an issue for me once.
I’ve had no durability issues, the dyneema fabric seems pretty much waterproof. All the ropey looking thin adjustment cords and attachment points have survived without trouble. I did change the cord locks on the pole/axe holders to the double aperture diamond shaped ones as the supplied ones are rubbish for their intended task.
It just works so well, I now know that’s what I’ll be using most times for shorter trips. Recommended. If it fits you of course, think “Regular” Alpiniste back length and you’re away.