OMM Villain 45+10RL MSC Review

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.

47 thoughts on “OMM Villain 45+10RL MSC Review”

  1. “think “Regular” Alpiniste back length and you’re away”

    Aye, spot on. I’ve only used it a couple of times this year but I cannae fault it. I’ve never said but I picked up a 2nd hand Mountain Mover via Ebay just because the Villain was so good. And the MM came with the shorter-strapped chest pouch so no mods required. Result! :o)

  2. Good lad, the Mountain Mover is a cracking sack as well. The external pockets are better I think.
    OMM have really been on the ball the last couple of years.

    Apart from the 7 foot long pouch attachments…

    Gratuitous MM shot->

  3. OMM, grrrrrr, back lengths, grrrrrr!!!

    Why, oh why, don’t OMM do their larger packs in different back sizes??

    Can you guess, they don’t fit me? ;)

  4. Nearly got one of these a couple of weeks ago s/h on ebay, but a Golite jam came up for £30 new, so I ordered that instead. Hope I`ve made the right decision.
    The Jam seems a similar size, if not bigger, and has a front pocket instead of a lid, which`ll take some getting used to. Plus it looks like a pillowcase, so should be good for the comedy value :)
    I still want to get the OMM chest pouch, hopefully it`ll fit the Jam ok.

  5. I like Golite. Their kit is always a bit under represented I think. We’ve got quite a few bits of it kicking around, more bike or multisport stuff though.

    The Jam comes in some mad colours if I remember correctly :o)

  6. The Jam’s a good bag, you just have to be careful how you pack it or it’s the proverbial bag of spuds :o)

    Mine’s a sane green.

  7. Unfortunately the one I`ve ordered is black. I like the red Gingham one, a bit like a modern day Bindle! I take it the white stitching is the Dyneema?

    I guess it`s probably hard for a company like Golite in the UK, I imagine trying to sell gingham pillowcases to a market that traditionally uses 2+kg framed packs must be hard, and would need a change of attitude as well as some very good marketing and plenty of places to try the gear on.

    It`s not so hard for me, I`m new to this game, so I`ll have nothing to compare it to. I can get all my 1 nighter gear in my Berghaus Freeflow III 35, but the Golite gives me a bit more space for food and a bit easier to keep dryy and wet stuff seperate, so I should be able to use it for two+ nighters if I need to.

  8. Aye the dyneema is the white bit. It gives it a nice look I think whatever colour thay weave it into. I’ve got some eyewatering orange OMM dyneema sacks.

    I think the big stores are afraid to stock Golite, their buyers are notoriously out of touch and scared of anything that can’t be used exclusively for dog walking. The independants love it though.
    I’ll need to get one of the bigger packs and have a shot of it.

    Good point about capacity, I like a sack that’s never full. It’s more comfy and as you say more flexible. I can get all my camp kit into a 35L OMM Jirishanca, but it feels like a beach ball full of sand bungeed onto my back, whereas a 2/3 full Villain just sits there anonymously.

  9. I got my GoLite Jam last week and used it for the first time yesterday for the Yorkshire 3 Peaks.
    I was concerned that with it having so little in for a day walk it wouldn`t work. I put my survival bag and sitmat in the bladder pocket, which improved rigidity.
    It compressed down very well onto my gear and was a delight to carry. With such a low load in I carried it with the belt and chest undone very comfortably on flat ground. On steeper stuff it was great, stable on the little bits of rockiness we encountered.
    The side mesh pockets aren`t accessible to me, so I think I`ll look at putting my bladder in one instead of a bottle.
    The roll top is easy to get used to, and the front pocket is great, took my waterproofs easily.
    It leaked like a sieve, but I`d expected this and used waterproof stuff sacks for all my gear.
    At the end of the day I took it off and my shoulders felt as good as at the start. My knees though, well, that`s a different story altogether.

  10. That’s interesting to hear, glad it went well (apart from the knees, you have mt sympathies there)
    I’ve got a roll-top sack coming in for test soonish and it’s not something I’m used to.
    Comfort is the thing though, if you’ve got that youycan put up with some niggles like the bottle pockets being out of reach.

  11. That`s definately true, the pack is comfy enough to slip on and off at stops if no one is near to pass you a bottle! A 1 litre camelbak fits in the side pocket, I tried it this evening.

  12. I think I’m going back to a bladder this weekend as well. I’ve been using the Camelbak bottles for a while, but the bite valves freeze really easily.
    I just hate having to clean them :o)

  13. Hi Ptc, thanks for the review! Its difficult to find good information for some of the smaller companies. I’ve been using an old (quite modified) berghaus freeflow 25l or a big lowe alpine 70l for everything for years but am looking for something now that I can use for a variety of different things, multiday trekking, climbing, alpinism etc. The lowe is just too big and heavy for anything other than long backpacking trips and the freeflow is too small for a day with winter gear or anything more than an overnight summer camp. The Villain looks perfect, light, carries everything i want it to etc but I’m unsure whether it will fit me :(

    I understand there is just one back size, I’m about 5’7 with a relatively long back for my height. What do you recon? Obviously it would be best to try it on with some weight but I’m living in France so that makes it a bit difficult. I’ve never used a Karrimor Alpiniste so I’m not really sure what a regular is like size wise.



  14. Hi Chris

    The Villain’s back length is 48cm from where the shoulder straps are attached to the bottom of the pack. That’s only part of the story though as the shoulder strap shape alters where the pack sits on your back as well.
    I don’t have a long back, but I am six foot and the Villain feels perfect.

    It might fit, it might not. I’m sure you’d love the pack if it did. Like you say, you really need to try it with weight in it and see what happens.

    Here’s a link to the UK stockists I know that any of the guys with the clicky links on that page would be happy with a return and refund if you got one and it didn’t fit.

    I’ll find out if anybody has got OMM packs near you, even a Jirishanca or a Classic32 as they’ve got the same back length.


  15. And the news is that there’s nobody outside the UK has got any and that they’re in short supply in the UK as well. Tiso might be best for stock at the moment.

    The man that designed it says that the Villain will fit shorter backs, but the platformat stiffener will limit how far that goes.

    Worth a gamble?

    Let me know how you get on,


  16. Thanks Ptc, really appreciate you having a look around. I think I will buy one, a bit of a gamble but worth it I think! I really hope it fits! I’ll give you a shout when it arrives with my verdict. I haven’t used any of the sites listed there before but I see that needlesports has them and I’ve had very good experience with them in the past so I think I’ll buy from them again. Cheers for the advice,


  17. Thought I’d post an update! Received the pack today and went for a quick walk after work with about 10kg (more than I normally carry) of unnecessary climbing and camping equipment and…….it seems to be by far the most comfortable pack I have ever worn! No problems with the back length, the pack feels light but tough (not so sure about the top attachment points of the ice tools) carries exceedingly well – virtually no movement running and jumping around like a maniac to “test” it :) the hip belt pockets seem useful too. Thanks for the review and advice, seems that the gamble paid off :) I’m planning on taking it on an overnight climbing trip this weekend so I’ll put it through its paces a bit more then :)


  18. That’s great news Chris. I used mine for the first time in a while on my Cluanie trip last week and you do forget just how good it is. So comfortable and stable.
    I changed my top axe attachments to thicker bungee cord and put the diamond shaped cordlock buckles on, and they work fine. The ones that come on it are a bit rubbish.

    Have a good trip!

  19. Nice review and comments ptc. the villain has been a favorite of mine for some time now, but as yet still dont have one. I have seen online at 89.99 which is pretty good. I currently have a pod black ice; strong and a Karrimor Ether OK. the villain didnt seem so impressive in the shop, but I actually feel it will now be the better pack for my needs as it weighs the least for a start; with more potential volume and other bells and whistles. Which manufacturer actually put a whistle on a sac??
    It was quite funny to read your latest adventure with snowman1 on a wildcamp 1 nighter. It would be great to have a regular feature with selected readers, over 1 year, one story per issue, doing a 1 or 2 night lightweight wild camp. Of course you would discuss gear, weights, preferences, comforts and performances too. It would be really cool as it would include more reader input in the form of posting opinions and requests of destinations. Plus it would help the reader to see that lightening up is a principle to greater enjoyment of the outdoors and not a fanatical religious movement. If the idea sounds good and original, although probably not; give us a tootle and Ill join you for a night out with my lightweight hip flask..:) Gfam64

  20. Snow Peak make a titanium hipflask!

    It would be good to get folk out to see that it’s not difficult, there’s no suffering and as you say, lightweight camping isn’t a strange cult.

    I’d take folk further off the beaten track and higher up the mountain as well, that’s what all this gear lets me do :o)

    Now there’s a thought, I’m away to pack for the weekend now…

  21. Yep, that Snowpeak titanium hipflask is right at the top of my birthday wish list, as is their titanium coffe press (Hey, the whole ethos of going lightweight means i can take a little luxury too!). The green titanium double wall mug should be here by Friday…

  22. PTC* said “I like them just fine although I did replace the 25mm webbing waist belt with a 40mm one for better comfort.”

    Do you have any pictures of how you did this? Did you just stitch it on top or undo the seems. Looking at the seems it looks a little difficult to do that? Thanks

  23. Hi Robert, I’ll get some shots up during the week.
    I sewed it onto what was there, the pocket dge and a bit of the existing strap. It’s not the prettiest, but it’s been rock solid and It’s made it a better pack for me.

  24. OOh I’ve been having fun packing my new Villain with my own kit. Seems to be a load more room inside than my Berghaus thing. Ive pulled the back support out to get my sleep mat in but I’ll hang onto it for when I’ve got a heavier load.

    Struggling to get the chest pouch to fit the Adventure light tho. Oh yeah that was the thing, do you know off the top of your head whether the folding OMM mat thingy fits in the adventure light or not?

  25. The shorter Duomat fits, the “45” one. The bigger Duomat fits the Villain
    Good point about the pouch, the Adventure light is prefitted with buckles for the new version.
    You’ll just need to buy one…

    Here, did you get another electric shock when you pulled out the back support :o)

  26. You need ANOTHER size Duomat for the Adventure Light?! I already have two Duomats for my Villain and Jiri and now I have an AL winging it’s way over you say I’ll need more?! Christ I’ll be able to supply enough sleeping mats for a Bedouin tent village! Although to be fair, they’re not what I call real ‘sleeping mats’ and I can’t see myself overnighting in an AL… although that would be a good challenge.

  27. Aye, it’s because of the different backlengths that they’re different sizes.
    The Duomat is great in winter for day trips, I dig myself a bucket seat in the snow and line with it.
    It makes you look like such a smart arse.

  28. Aye, but don’t you find any mat down the back of a pack is always a pain to get back in without emptying the pack completely (same as refilling a bladder!)? :(
    No problem in a tent for overnight, but not always great on a winter hillside. I’d do it in an emergency but for planned stops I’d rather have a sitmat more readily to hand.

  29. If I was jampacked for an overnighter it would probably cause no end of grief getting it in and out. But it works fine in the Jirishanca even if it’s moderately full. As demonstrated very recently on the Kilpatricks mini meet where I did have the best seat for lunch.
    The mat and sleeve interface is pretty low friction which helps. Plain foam sticks in there like shit to a blanket though.

  30. Even with a full pack I just lean over the pack with the harness towards me, wiggle the first inch or so in (?!), grab the pad in the middle on the lower edge and ‘pull’ the pad down. Works a treat.

  31. Aye the Adventure Light comes with a wee bit of closed cell foam about the size of my wee a*se but the folding one would be a much better size for hilltop lazing around.

    On the WHW there I was managing fine pulling the bladder in and out of my sac for refills, mind you like PTC* points out my pack wasn’t rammed full.

    I wonder if the Duomat thing will fit in with Wee Airic comfortably, that would improve my sleep system as well as having a shiny new pack?

  32. If you just want to extend the mat coverage under your feet or head, you can cut a Duomat in half and take two of the folding sections instead of four. You can still velcro both bits onto a second Duomat to give you your full length sleep mat.

    Modularity, see? :o)

  33. Ah I see, this OMM stuff is really well thought out.

    Aye there was one more electric shock but I was ready for it this time ;0)

  34. Hi PTC,
    sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I’m seriously looking at the OMM villain, for a Winter skills course at the end of Feb, but also for use as a scrambling pack.
    I currently use a 7 year old Berghause Freeflow 35+8, but it sits a bit wide for scrambling, and also hangs well off the back with the freeflow system, (but it’s been really good for multiday wild camp adventures, for which it was originally bought).
    Obviously, your review is a few years old now and I wondered if you knew how the current packs fare, or if there’s any difference?

  35. OMM never did sort out a choice of back lengths on packs like the Villain and Mountain Mover, did they? They pass me by simply because they don’t fit! :(

  36. cheers PTC
    Just ordered one for 89 quid with free delivery,
    from Expedition Hardware.
    So I’ll see if it fits, and how it packs up as a short multi-dayer, winter pack and a scrambling/climbing pack.

    Looks like it’ll be a bit narrower than my Freeflow, for the latter, and roomy enough without being over large for the long weekenders, especially if it’ll cinch down well with the compression straps.

  37. Good price that.

    For me it’s been a good all-rounder, never really had an issue with it.
    It’s funny seeing those two Villain posts again, I’ve been using different packs for ages now, and I do kinda miss my Villain!

  38. Just a quick update.
    Got the Villain and took it on a 6 day winter skills, course which included snowholing and climbing courses.
    Good points are that it adapted well to different situations,
    from loads of gear for snowholing, to being trimmed down for winter climbing.
    Robust enough to take snow shovel and crampons
    Only gripe would be the waist belt being thin, as you mentioned, I might look at trying to reconfigure it like the Osprey belt system that’s on my Argon pack, and uses a double pulley system that really pulls up tight.

  39. Oh!
    meant to say fellow outdoorsey person, Kelvin, also had a villain and swapped out the back support for a foam mat, to do the snowholing. He did reckon that it didn’t carry as well without the reinforcements that come in the standard back panel.

  40. The 40mm webbing I sew onto my Villain waist belts helps quite a lot. That 25mm that comes of standard just isn’t enough for any kind of load, the hipbelt’s the one real weak point.

    I quite like having the Platformat in my Villain. but it’s just as usable with a flexible Duomat as a back system, handyo for camping too. Two duomats is stiffer and gives a full-length sleepmat!

    Sounds like it had a good test there!

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