“No Dancing Monkey” is what Swedish backpack brand USWE call their patented and unique-looking carrying system, promising a secure fit even on the wildest descents. Can the new USWE Flow 25 Protector deliver on this promise? We took a detailed look at the backpack, testing it in everyday life and on the trails. This is our verdict.
The visually and technically most striking difference between USWE and other backpacks is the four-point “No Dancing Monkey” harness system. The proprietary belt system is elastic and doesn’t restrict the movement of your chest for easy breathing. The additional hip belt features two large hip pockets and in conjunction with the X-shaped shoulder straps, ensures that the backpack stays in place when things get rough. A total of six compression straps help secure the contents of the rucksack in such a way that it is almost impossible for them to move, stopping your load from shifting around on your back. However, the back section has to be adjusted to the rider’s size before hitting the trail. While it’s infinitely adjustable, there are numbered markings from 1 to 10 to guide you, with an adjustment range of approximately 15 cm. However, there are no recommendations based on body size – you’ll just have to try it out and see what works. The USWE Flow 25 Protector has a 25 litre capacity, divided into a large main compartment, a front compartment with numerous sub-compartments for tools and a glasses compartment, giving you plenty of space and also making it suitable for multi-day tours.
The adaptable SAS-TEC SCA 450 back protector, weighing 285 g, can be accessed via the main compartment. The removable protector is CE EN 1621-2 Level 2 certified and capable of taking multiple impacts, so you don’t have to replace it after a crash. The main compartment has an additional large open pocket and a smaller zip pocket for valuables. You can also fit a 3 litre hydration bladder in the main compartment, which USWE sell separately for € 30. The tool bag has 4 open compartments and a large zip pocket to keep things tidy, offering plenty of space for all the necessary accessories, including tire levers, a multi-tool, spare tube and tubeless repair kit. You’ll even be able to fit a 30 cm pump without issues. On the top of the backpack, you’ll find a large compartment with a soft lining and a removable cleaning cloth for your glasses or even your goggles – it’s big enough. The two outside mesh pockets and two pockets on the wide hip belt offer additional storage options. USWE haven’t skimped on the details here either, integrating useful features like a key hook. Rounding the bag off are a helmet storage compartment and a rain cover.
Back ventilation is average and you’re likely to get sweaty on warm days. That said, the adjustability of the fit of the backpack is outstanding and it’s very comfortable to wear. The system may be unfamiliar at first but it is intuitive and you’ll quickly get the hang of making small adjustments to dial in the fit. The ergonomically shaped shoulder straps are great at distributing the weight of the backpack. We had no issues with hot spots and pressure points at all. However, the waist belt is narrow and not the most comfortable. As an everyday backpack, the USWE Flow 25 Protector has one disadvantage. You have to close the “No Dancing Monkey” mechanism for it to work. In other words, it won’t stay put unless the straps are tightened and clipped in. The proprietary system doesn’t allow you to just throw the bag over your shoulders and go shopping, as you can with any other backpacks.
The USWE Flow 25 Protector is the Swedish brand’s flagship protector backpack, not only impressing us with its workmanship but also with its “No Dancing Monkey” harness system and resulting secure fit. If you like the look, you will get a good backpack that is suitable for use on rough trails, offering many adjustment options, clever compartments and a reusable back protector. However, it’s not cheap at € 219.95.
- comfortable to wear
- lots of adjustments
- excellent quality finish
- reusable back protector with motorcycle certification
- everyday practicality
Tester: Manne & Peter
Test duration: 2 Months
Price: € 219.95
Accessories: 3 litre hydration bladder for € 30
Weight: 1456 g (including protector 285 g)
Pack size: 54 x 29 x 22 cm (height x width x depth)
More information: uswe-sports.com
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Words & Photos: Manne Schmitt