Backpack Frame Overview
Review of the Vaucluse Gear Cool-Dry Backpack Airflow Frame with 0.75’ airflow spacers (color: black lava + black spacers)
TLDR version: Drier is better! :)
Easily rates 10 out of 5 stars! The black lava airflow frame I bought is comfortable, flexible, strong, easy to clean, colorfast, and safe on all the fabrics I tested. It allows perspiration to escape, keeping my back drier and warmer in cold weather, and enables evaporative cooling in warm weather, effectively lowering my core body temperature. It also keeps prodding backpack items safely away from my back.
Backpack Frame Full Overview
I loved the Vaucluse cool-dry backpack airflow frame during my first hike test, so I put it through the paces in order to answer questions anyone else may have.
I conducted these tests so you wouldn’t have to (I’d already decided I was going to buy another one if I broke it via extreme testing).
[Background: The comment sections of competing airflow frames and meshes contained complaints about flimsy materials, broken frames, etc. The Vaucluse backpack airflow frame looked much more durable - I wanted something effective, comfortable, easy to use, and reliable.]
As far as my tests on fabrics go:
Business people and students might wear this black lava airflow frame over a white dress shirt, so I tested its colorfastness on both dry and wet white dress shirts (simulating a rain-soaked shirt). It left no black marks, stains, or smudges and caused no damage to polyester/cotton mix fabrics.
I tested it on casual business suits. It left no marks, and caused no damage to the fabric types I tested (wool and linen).
I tested it on different weight merino wool sweaters - 150, 200, and 250gsm (grams per square meter) - some blended with polyester and/or nylon. It neither caused pilling, nor harmed the wool fibers.
I tested it on various sweat-wicking hiking fabrics, and various travel-type quick-drying UV-blocking fabrics, and they were unharmed.
It did not harm my DWR-treated puffy winter ski jacket or DWR-treated rain jacket. It did not harm my US Marine Corps ‘woolly pully’ wool sweater (a favorite backpacking sweater - because it’s polyester/cotton epaulets protect the sweater from abrasive backpack straps).
[Note: an occlusive non-breathable polyurethane rain jacket would render this airflow spacer ineffective. If you want to use that type of material, wear a polyurethane rain poncho instead (over both yourself and the airflow-spaced backpack… to allow proper air circulation).]
It did not harm cotton T-shirts, sweatshirts, or any fabric that students and casual backpackers might wear.
Some people hike wearing Hawaiian-type shirts, so I tested it on a TENCEL™ (wood fiber) shirt, a silk shirt, a rayon shirt, and a bamboo fiber shirt. It did not harm any of these fabrics. I did not test it on a leather jacket because I don’t have one.
It also did not mark, smudge, stain, or damage any of the backpacks I used. In fact, keeping the backpacks off my back kept them free from soaking perspiration stains.
Strength of the Vaucluse Cool-Dry Backpack Airflow Frame:
Most people tote a 15 to 35-pound (6.8 - 13.6kg) backpack weight. The Vaucluse backpack airflow frame easily handles that.
I tested it sandwiched between my back and my 4.5pound GR1 26L GoRuck rucking backpack (using a hip belt), variously loaded with 10, 20, 30, 45, 55, 65, 75, and 130 pounds (4.5, 9, 13.6, 20.4, 24.9, 29.5, 34, 58.9kg). I hiked at various speeds, including a bouncy shuffle-run (using 45 pounds at a 4mph pace). Vaucluse’s airflow frame just laughed at these tests. No problemo. :)
I loaded my backpack with 45 pounds, and did a jostling set of pushups, pullups, rope climbs, burpees, mountain climbers, and bear crawls. Again, no problem for the Vaucluse airflow frame.
I loaded my pack with 75 pounds and rode a bicycle in a bent over racing position for an hour. The airflow frame handled it easily. I didn’t try a downhill run on a mountain bike… because I’m old, don’t have a mountain bike… and I’m not crazy. :) Someone else will have to do the Evel Knievel-type testing. :)
Explanation of Pictures included for Backpack Frame Review
In the pictures I’ve included, you can see that this airflow frame has not harmed my backpacks. And my backpacks (and testing antics) have not harmed the frame. In two pictures, I’ve placed weights directly on the backpack so that you can see that the airflow frame is holding up well under a fully horizontal 75-pound load… and a fully horizontal 130-pound load. Wow! No hiker hikes (or cyclist cycles) fully horizontal under their backpack weight. I hope. :)
So you can see that the backpack airflow frame will easily handle being sandwiched between a typically postured upright person and their backpack.
Weight Test - "Will the Vaucluse Backpack Frame break with a ton of pack weight?"
I even tested it with my Frankenstein monster external backpacking frame… which I load multiple 100-pound plates.
The Vaucluse airflow frame actually withstood a short hike sandwiched between me and 200 pounds (90.7kg). I wore out. The Vaucluse airflow frame did not. :)
So don’t worry whether the Vaucluse frame will hold up to the weight you typically haul around.
It will. Unless you’re The Incredible HULK.
Cleaning the Backpack Frame
Simply wash it off with regular soap and water, rinse, and it’s dry within an hour.
Easy peasy. :)
It attaches to a backpack easily. I didn’t notice a difference in center of gravity while hiking, climbing, descending, or stepping over obstacles.
Comes with 4 additional frame-positioning velcro straps… but I didn’t need them. The backpack weight, straps, and hip belt easily held the airflow frame in place.
Hope this helps. Best wishes to you in your outdoor endeavors!
-Chuck T, hiker/rucker with 26l ruck pack, 38l backpack, Tennessee