USWE AIRBORNE 9 BACKPACK REVIEW
Words by Drew Rohde | Photos by Dusten Ryen
The USWE Airborne 9 backpack is one of the many packs we’ve recently been riding in from the Swedish hydration pack company that first started making off-road motorcycle packs. Since then, USWE has continued to expand their line by creating more offerings for various outdoor activities and even adding some enduro-bro ready hip packs to their product line. The Airborne 9 we tested here is their Race Edition model, so it’s a limited color but sports all the same features and technology found in their other packs.
USWE’s Airborne pack is offered in a couple of sizes but we opted for the 9L size as it offers enough storage space for tools, a rain shell and plenty of snacks. The pack’s construction is durable but not abrasive and looks to be rather sturdy for inclement weather and dense shrubbery, something we have lots of here in the high desert. USWE gives the Airborne 9 a ventilated back panel with foam ridges and high-vent foam shoulder straps with an ergonomic form fit.
Inside the pack is a spot to hold a 3L hydration bladder with plug-n-ply coupling and a Hydraflex Drink Tube. We liked how easy the bladder is to fill, reseal and drink from. It’s not the highest flow system we’ve used but it doesn’t feel like sucking a golf ball through a garden hose either. It’s just enough to quench our thirst without having any leaking issues when we’re bouncing down the trail.
There are a total of seven pockets on the Airborne 9, including a quick-stash pocket, a tool organizer pocket, a water resistant phone pocket and a cargo compression area. We wished the straps on this section could be pulled tighter as they’re a bit flappy when nothing is stuffed in the cargo compression area. Riders also have the option of carrying their helmet, both trail or full-face.
One of the most unique features about USWE’s hydration packs is their No Dancing Monkey (NDM) technology. This bounce-free design keeps the pack tight against the rider’s upper back and prevents it from bouncing around, like a dancing monkey. The NDM harness is comfortable, relatively easy to use and takes all the buckles and puts them in one centralized clip, right at the sternum. USWE made the system adjustable with multiple size loops for different-sized chests. We didn’t get the pack to anyone with a super wide torso, but we suspect that if you’re a true barrel-chested lumberjack, that you may find some fitment issues, so try one on first if you can!
Besides the pack sitting up higher than we’re used to, we had zero complaints about the pack. In fact, we actually really liked how it rode and stayed in place. It’s comfortable and once on the move, we actually forgot it was there, something not many backpacks can claim.
Organizationally, the pack does the job. The tool organizer, zippered sections and space all make it a functional and easy to use piece. We do wish that we could have pulled the straps a bit tighter on the open pouch area to keep it looking tight and tidy. The tool organizer isn’t revolutionary in its features or organization but once again, it does the job and keeps the things you’ll likely need most at the top and you can stuff the rest in the mesh net.
We’ve certainly been wearing our USWE packs a lot more lately. While the internals aren’t quite as refined or impressive, visually, as some higher end CamelBak packs, the comfort, weight and secure fit of the USWE are top notch! If you ride lots of bouncy, rough trails and don’t want a pack moving around, bouncing up and down on your back, the USWE harness will be a dream come true. They even offer an action camera version with mounts integrated into the clip for a GoPro. Overall, USWE’s Airborne 9L pack is a solid offering and one that we’ll continue to use in the future. It’s a great size for our riders as it lets us pack all the accessories and gear we need without being super bulky or heavy. One thing we don’t love about USWE however is that not all of their packs come with bladders so be sure to check their site when you’re looking at packs so you can check the box and buy a bladder if needed. The upside is, if you’ve already got your own bladder you can just reuse that and save a few bucks.