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Montane women's VIA Claw 14 review

by editor
Monday 17th July 2017
Tags  Montane   |   Montane Via   |   Montane VIA Claw 14
The backpack is a very difficult piece of kit for runners to get right. We’ve done a few backpack reviews in the last year or so, to try to help suggest some options, and we were lucky enough to be offered a Montane VIA Claw 14 for review. We opted for a women’s version.
So that’s the first thing that’s worth noting really - there is a women’s version, unlike many other packs. This means that it’s a narrower fit and the bottles sit differently, to account for the obvious anatomical differences. This pack is really adjustable. There’s a wide waist belt, secured by velcro, and two adjustable straps across your front that you can attach to a variety of loops to keep it secured across your chest comfortably. This combination of straps and loops should cater for all shapes and sizes. I’ve found that the fit is really close, there’s no movement at all when you run. I’m a bit undecided about the velcro - it’s great for quick release but it does have a tendency to stick to other bits of the pack when you’re putting it on. 

Montane claw 1
The system of adjusters on the front of the pack (right)

It’s made of a really tough material on the outer part, and a very breathable kind of webbed material on the part that sits against your body - on the back and the straps. It also has soft, brushed fabric detail on any parts that might touch your skin (e.g. around the neck, under the arms). It’s all held together with some very tough stitching, which I just thought I’d mention as I’ve had real issues with the stitching coming apart on another pack I’ve had. 
There’s a brilliant mix of pockets on this pack. In the main section there’s one big zip pocket, plus one smaller one outside that. The big one will fit a lot of kit - jacket, spare top, waterproof trousers, gloves, hat - easily. The smaller one is useful for stuff you might want to keep separate or access quickly, such as a head torch or food. There are two big stash pockets at the sides, which you can quickly access to shove things like hats and gloves in. You can even get a jacket in these, if it’s one of those days when the jacket is on/off again. On the front there’s a small elasticated pocket (perfect for bars or tissues) and a small zip pocket, big enough for a small head torch. 

Montane Claw 2
The breathable material on the inside (left) and the big stuff pockets at the side (right)

There are two pockets on the front for 500ml water bottles. One is elasticated and one is a big zip pocket. I really liked having the zip pocket because when you only need one water bottle it’s so useful for things like a phone or gloves that you want to keep secure but access quickly. There’s also a zip pocket at the rear for a bladder. 
There are lots of loops for attaching bits, if you want to add anything to the outside of the pack for easy access. There are also pole attachments but I can never work out how to use these properly. When I’ve used poles with the pack I’ve stashed them in the bungee system on the back and it’s held them firm. 
I’ve used this pack a lot over the last 3 months I’ve been trying it out. It’s been tested on long days out in the Lakes in wind and rain, packed to the brim with kit, on long, hot runs with very little kit in it and on run-commutes. It’s a very comfortable pack, which is close-fitting and doesn’t jiggle around. As you’d expect with a 14 litre capacity you can get a lot of stuff in it, particularly with all the different pockets. It’s perfect for long days out or ultras when you need to take the standard mandatory kit with you. 
The Montane VIA Claw 14 is priced at £120 and is available from www.montane.co.uk

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