At first glance, the Berghaus Centurio 45 seems rather diminutive, with limited capacity. But it is deceptively large.
The top extension goes up fairly far, allowing the pack to be stuffed with a fair amount of gear.
Many reviewers have commented that the straps on the side are ineffective compression straps, but this is because they aren’t compression straps at all. Rather, the straps on the side are designed to hold skis or snow shoes, and to that end, they are very effective. Having two straps on each side means you can not only strap on the skis or snow shoes, but you can lock them in securely, preventing a lot of movement.
There is also molle webbing on the front, which is ideal for attaching an extra large pouch or random molle attachment peripherals. The top flap also has molle webbing which can be used either for a large pouch or to jerry rig useful items. I typically attach a solar battery on the top flap to allow for recharging while hiking. A satellite GPS messenger and a camping knife are also attached to the top for my setup.
The shoulder straps are a cross between backpacking straps and a more regular pack. They are reasonably thick and curved to mitigate the straps digging in, and have the chest strap to keep the straps pulled towards the center of your chest.
The waist strap is thin, with no padding, but is very wide, much like a tactical belt, which compensates somewhat for the lack of padding. The buckle system has no moving or clipping parts, improving overall ruggedness of the buckle, though when tightened, makes removal just a notch more difficult than clip in buckles. I actually prefer this type of buckle as it minimizes points of failure in the field. The lack of padding also means that this waist strap is ideal for use over a tactical vest and also doesn’t get in the way of any hip belt attachments.
There is an internal, removable, upside down “u” shaped frame and this is helpful, especially when loads start nearing 35 lbs. The frame has some flex and a thin overlay foam pad to keep it from digging in. It works well, and while i have removed it for lighter loads and when i used to attach it to the Lastenkraxe, nowadays, i just leave it in.
For those who use hydration bladders, there are velcro hooks and a separate area designed for one along with a pass-through hole for the hydration tube.
If you have a long torso, you may find that the bottom doesn’t act as lumbar support meaning the entire weight of the pack is supported by the lower back. However, this is likely intentional. First, to get out of the way of hip belt attachments as mentioned earlier, but I suspect also to allow better torsional movement. The Berghaus Centurio is designed, it seems, as a system for the hybrid field operative who needs more cargo carrying capacity than a minimalist might carry, while providing much more mobility than an over-sized pack would allow. Assuming reasonable levels of fitness, this pack is ideal for a 25-35 lb load.
Sold separately are a pair of side-zipped pockets, called the MMPS (Multi-Mission Pack System). these attach to either side of the Berghaus Centurio 45, are also compatible with other Berghaus Backpacks, and because they zip in and take away the side straps used for skis/snow shoes on the main backpack, they have identical side straps of their own.
The MMPS is also unique because they have their own shoulder straps. Each of the two pockets has its own strap for a simple over-the-shoulder pack. At 10 Liters, each pocket is large enough for a considerable amount of gear. What’s more, the two side pockets can be zipped together to form their own backpack, totaling 20 Liters, certainly enough for an overnight trip or a fair bit of cargo for a day hike.
The zipper system for the MMPS is very large. The oversized zippers again seem designed for field ruggedness. With smaller zipper, you might have small jams and sand or dust might damage the zipper. But the tines on these zippers are so large, with just enough looseness built in, that damage to them is highly unlikely.
Usefully, even while the MMPS is attached, it is possible to use the side straps on the main pack. Thinner items simply attach to the side straps of the main pack, with the MMPS going over it, sort of like a pass through. This is great for attaching maybe a rifle, a fishing pole, or hiking poles without having to use the outer side straps that are on the MMPS itself.
One nice result of the MMPS is airplane use. These days, there are many limitations with the number of items that can brought on the plane. I typically keep everything together when going through checkin and security, and then unzip one or both of the MMPS depending on overhead space availability and the tightness of the space underneath the seat in front. That level of flexibility has proven extremely useful. On a packed flight, I was able to remove one MMPS pocket and place that above, which decreased the size of the main pack enough to put it underneath the seat, and on another flight I removed both MMPS pockets and placed them underneath the seat while placing the main pack in the overhead compartment. This entire system proved extremely versatile and flexible for plane travel and may become my permanent air travel companion for this reason alone. Get a separate sleeve for a laptop, and it really becomes the only pack you need for an overnight or two day business trip.
With the rugged nylon material used in the Berghaus Centurio 45, this is certainly not designed as an ultralight system like the kind made with Dyneema based Cuben Fiber, but The Berghaus Centurio 45 is design for Ruggedness in the field, and long term use.
This pack is easily ideal for a 2-3 day trip, and with just a little care, could easily last well into two weeks.
For all the ruggedness built in, the pack does not have extra durable layers underneath. Perhaps the nylon material is plenty rugged enough to not worry about wear and tear on the bottom, which will suffer the most abrasions, but I would much prefer an extra layer. I might just sew one in myself.
As a pack designed for less cargo than a full sized expedition pack, but minimal failure in the field, this pack is hard to beat.