Montane Via Razor 15

This is now my ‘go to’ pack for trail running. That should be the end of the review right? concise and to the point. Nope, I want to rave about it a little more…. I’ve been fortunate to try both the Jaws 10 and the Razor 15 packs from Montane’s excellent VIA range of trail equipment. Both utilise the same technology and chassis design, varying only in their volume and bungee system. The razor 15 is my preference (purely based on the additional space) and I’ve completed multiple runs and events (including 100km races) with this pack.

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Razor 15

Comfort and fit

I’ve the s/m size and it fits like a glove, albeit a glove for my back that I can store everything I need in. Although it cannot be adjusted (there are other sizes suitable for your needs as well as a Female specific fit variation – Claw 14), it does have flexible (elastic) sternum and waist belts. I think these are a neat touch as, the pack content will vary (as you consume food/liquid and add/remove layers etc) and the elastic easily helps adjust to the contours of your body (also helps as you breathe) whilst wearing it. Since I first ‘set it up’ for my preferences I’ve not had to adjust these straps. The attachments feel very high quality and I’m confident they will last. The pack, worn like a vest, also has articulated straps. What I mean by this is that they extend out around the waist slightly, providing comfort, padding and an improved fit using the velcro waist strap. The sternum strap can easily be adjusted to different heights or removed completely (and I think the Claw 14 variation comes with two straps and an additional anchor point over the Razor 15)

The pack is very light (350g) and the material (CONTACT Flyte Mesh Air) is breathable and smooth on the skin. I’ve not experienced any chaffing when wearing this bag.

Size/volume

The razor is 15 ltrs ( and the Jaws 10 ltrs) and it really does feel more than adequate for some of the larger mandatory kit lists you are likely to encounter (I’m using mine for the CCC which has 3 variations of mandatory kit that you are required to carry!).

The bungee compression system is very versatile and allows compression of the bag to suit the content and also trap/hold lighter items securely. When looking at the stock photos it isn’t clear how many variations you can actually do with the bungee. Some configurations I’ve used are:

  • firstly it ‘loops’ around the main compartment – you can tighten it and ‘hug’ the compartment tight.
  • secondly you can attach the bungee to the main chassis of the bag, pulling the font and main compartments tight against the bag with little hooks.
  • Thirdly you can crisscross the bungee across the front compartment, again compressing the bag in on itself by attaching the hooks back to the opposite side of the bungee
  • fourthly – you can do variations of these and attach it in different ways as you see fit. There are also two tightening points, one external at the base of the bag and one internal on the front compartment to adjust as you need too
  • besides compressing the bag and limiting movement as you run, the bungee can be used to clasp lighter items (think rain jacket etc).
  • The bungee on the Jaws 10 is at the base of the bag and a more  of what I feel is a ‘traditional’ style attachment/compressor. On this style, heavier items can’t really be held securely as they will bounce around and stretch the bungee.

 

Pockets

One main compartment, one bladder compartment, one smaller elasticated front compartment, two side ‘stretch’ mesh compartments and 4 x pockets on the straps (2 x large for 500ml soft flasks and 2x smaller pockets higher on the straps).

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Shoulder Strap Pocket Configuration

The configuration of the soft flask pockets felt odd at first, these are the lower pockets, more at lower rib height. I’ve been used to wearing bottles higher on my chest area and I was expecting these to be uncomfortable when the flasks are filled. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find you hardly notice them in this position. I’ve also found they ‘bounce’ about less as a result of being lower down.

The soft flask pockets also appear odd as one has a zip on it (the smaller strap pockets have the opposite configuration  – one zipped one not). I don’t see the point and it really makes no difference. If I find out the reason/benefit of having a zip here I will let you know. Possibly more useful and secure if you aren’t using the soft flasks?

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Soft Flask zip pocket (and sternum adjustment strap!)

As an aside, I purchased the soft flask flexi straws to use because of the lower positioning. I use one of these (there is a strap to hold the straw in place) on the pocket without a zip.

The zipped compartments (the main and bladder compartments) have housings for the zip tracks, helping to make waterproof I presume. A neat little touch. The main zips also have a feature where they won’t naturally come un-done with motion of the two parts of the zip moving away from one another (does that make any sense?), you really need to use the zipper to open them!

Other Features 

The Via packs all have an ‘underarm’ pole attachment system. Again something that looks and sounds weird but which works perfectly! The poles attach into a bungee loop at the base of the bag, positioned under the arm, another bungee on the shoulder strap then holds them securely in place. I imagined this would be uncomfortable and that you’d feel the poles with your arm. You don’t. Using my Black Diamond Carbon Z poles, I hardly felt a thing (and they don’t bounce around either!).

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If you look closely you can see the poles under the arm!

If preferred, the poles can be attached diagonally across the back of the pack.

The packs all come with a built in odour protection (POLYGIENE® permanent odour control, a first for any trail running pack) something which is really noticeable after a long day sweating. easiest to describe as it smells less funky than other packs/items I use!

Colour scheme – The bag comes in a black and neon green configuration or a more on brand Montane Red/grey combo.  The Claw 14 comes in other colourways (black/purple, Blue/Yellow).

What I Like

  • The bungee system. I can’t get my mind around just how versatile it is.
  • The bag is a good fit and very little movement/chaffing has been experienced
  • The odour protection – surprisingly effective! I don’t understand it though so presume there are little cleaning wizards woven inside the material working the magic
  • The side pockets are large and very accessible without needing to contort your arms and strain your wrists. I use them for storing food items.
  • The under arm pole attachment. It’s quite clever. I wouldn’t have thought of carrying my poles here.

What I Dislike

  • I’m not a big fan of the hydration bladder space – I find the Velcro clasp allows some movement and the bladder doesn’t “fill the space” (this could be related to the 2 ltr bladder I’m using, although its pretty universal and like most packs, the Razor 15 doesn’t come with a bladder of its own). I’ve on occasion found the plastic of the bladder system sticks into my back/shoulder blades, not particularly nice and results in the classic jumping up and down on the spot to rearrange it.
  • The main compartment zip isn’t a full length zip, so it can be slightly difficult to fill the compartment (this is far more noticeable on the Jaws 10 than the Razor 15), you have to do a sort of diagonal insert and then rotate and push down motion.
  • I do have a very slight concern over some of the stitching on certain pockets, they look like they might come ‘un-done’ easily – time will tell if this is a valid fear or not! So far, a few 100km in and all OK.

 

Conclusion

This is my go to pack for trail running (any distance). Enough said 😉