Neve Gear Wallaroo 45L Framed Backpack V2 Review

Ultralight backpacks prioritise minimising weight for the backpack itself. This translates to less weight on your back, making hikes easier and more enjoyable. Ultralight packs achieve this by using lighter materials, having fewer features, and sacrificing some durability. While these packs excel at reducing weight, it’s important to understand the trade-offs involved.

Testing the Wallaroo 45L Framed Backpack

The Neve Gear Wallaroo 45L Framed Backpack V2 is an Australian-made ultralight pack that strikes a good balance between weight, comfort, and features. Here’s a closer look at its strengths and considerations based on field testing in Victoria’s High Country and western Victoria for day hikes, overnight trips, and multi-day adventures.

Neve Gear Wallaroo
Australian-made ultralight pack

A Comfortable Pack

The Wallaroo is truly a comfortable pack. The wide, well-padded hip belt effectively transfers weight to your hips, even with a load pushing its 18kg capacity. This makes a huge difference on long hikes, keeping your shoulders fresh and allowing you to focus on enjoying the scenery. The shoulder straps are also comfortable, and the inclusion of load lifter straps is a welcome feature in an ultralight pack. These straps fine-tune the fit and further improve weight distribution, ensuring a balanced carry throughout your trek. I’ve often found that an incorrectly fitted pack will sit on your shoulders and after days of the trail, they can feel bruised and sore. Not with this pack, they felt as fresh as the day I started out, even with 15kg on board.

Well Configured Storage
The Wallaroo has well configured storage

Well Configured Storage

The Wallaroo provides a good amount of external storage for an ultralight pack without sacrificing weight with unnecessary compartments. The hip belt pockets are large enough to hold essentials like navigation tools, a headlamp, or a compact first-aid kit, keeping them readily accessible.

The side pockets are tall and easily accessible, fitting 1.5L water bottles perfectly. This eliminates the need for external water bottle holders, which can add weight and snag on brush. The shoulder pockets are ideal for stashing snacks, sunglasses, and other quick-access items, although they might not be suitable for a large water bottle.

The Wallaroo provides a good amount of external storage
The Wallaroo provides a good amount of external storage

On the front of the pack, the Wallaroo has a large mesh pocket, perfect for stashing gear or a wet outer fly that you need to keep separated from your gear. The Wallaroo V2 has stronger mesh than the previous version for added protection against snags and abrasion. I am always concerned about mesh pockets for this reason but so far, it seems to be performing well.

Hip belt pockets for carrying essential gear
Hip belt pockets for carrying essential gear

The 48-litre internal volume of the Wallaroo proved to be more than enough for my three-day trip. Despite carrying a 15kg load, I had ample space for all my gear, including my sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent, clothes, cooking essentials, and food. The roll-top closure with its studded design made accessing my gear throughout the hike a breeze, provided I put what I thought I might need close to the top. Unrolling the top and peering inside, I could quickly locate everything I needed. As this pack only has one external access point, you would need to unload the entire pack to access gear you’ve packed at the bottom. This is common with lighter packs as extra zips for multiple access points add significant weight. This simple yet effective closure system, with studs for securing the roll top opening, seemed to work well for ease of access.

The Wallaroo has a large mesh pocket
The Wallaroo has a large mesh pocket

I have packs with a similar roll top feature that use Velcro to close the top as well as clips and straps on either side. The primary function of these is compression. By cinching down the straps, you can compress the contents of your pack, making it more compact and reducing its overall size. The Wallaroo doesn’t have this feature, but it didn’t appear to be an issue. Another advantage of the cinching down the straps is they allow you to arrange the top of the pack to prevent water from pooling if it rains, so it will be interesting to see how the Wallaroo performs in wet conditions.

the 210d HDPE Gridstop nylon fabric feels robust
The 210d HDPE Gridstop nylon fabric feels robust

Built to Withstand the Elements

Despite its ultralight design, the 210d HDPE Gridstop nylon fabric feels robust. After several hikes including technical sections with rock scrambles and encounters with abrasive bushes, the pack shows no signs of wear. This inspires confidence when venturing off the beaten path and into rugged terrain.

How waterproof is the pack? 210D HDPE Gridstop is likely water-resistant due to a DWR coating and potentially a PU backing. However, it’s not fully waterproof. It can handle light rain or splashes, but extended exposure to heavy rain will eventually lead to water penetration. For true waterproofness, look for a pack that uses a waterproof fabric like Dyneema® Composite Fabric (DCF) or use the Wallaroo with a rain cover or waterproof liner.

The Wallaroo should be able to handle light rain or short bursts of heavier rain for a while, thanks likely to a DWR coating. However, extended downpours will eventually penetrate the nylon fabric. For me, this wasn’t a major concern as I always pack essential gear and my sleeping system in waterproof stuff sacks for added protection. Unfortunately (or fortunately!), I haven’t had any rain on my hikes with the Wallaroo yet. To truly test its water resistance, I might have to resort to a home shower test with the hose.

The Wallaroo demonstrated thoughtful design
The Wallaroo demonstrated thoughtful design

Functional Simplicity

The Wallaroo offers some features not commonly found in ultralight packs, demonstrating thoughtful design. Load lifter straps, which are often absent in ultralight backpacks to save weight, are included here to improve balance and weight distribution. A Y-shaped top strap provides a secure way to lash additional gear like a sleeping pad or tent to the outside of the pack. Bound seams enhance durability, and YKK zippers ensure smooth operation on the trail.

Quick note: YKK zippers are zippers made by Yoshida Kogyo Kabushiki-gaisha, a Japanese company. YKK is the world’s largest zipper manufacturer and is known for its high-quality, reliable zippers. So, when you see a backpack or other piece of gear that features YKK zippers, it’s a good indication that the manufacturer has paid attention to quality and durability.

The Wallaroo prioritises a minimalist design, and one trade-off for its lightweight construction is the reduction of dedicated external gear loops. There are two small loops at the base of the front pocket but no dedicated loops for an ice axe. For hikers who regularly use an ice axe there may be other ways you can secure one to the pack. If you have a few sewing skills, you may even be able to fashion your own. Another possible solution would be strapping to the sides. While not the most elegant (and safest) solution, you could secure an ice axe to the sides of the pack using the side compression line-locs. It’s important to ensure the axe is positioned and strapped down in a way that doesn’t hinder your movement or snag on brush.

The Wallaroo prioritises a minimalist design
The Wallaroo prioritises a minimalist design

Supporting Local

An added bonus of choosing the Wallaroo was the satisfaction of supporting an Australian business like Neve Gear. Knowing my money stays within the local economy and contributes to the Aussie outdoor industry was a feel-good factor on the trail. This can be a deciding factor for some hikers who appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the local outdoor industry.

The Wallaroo is Aussie-made
The Wallaroo is Aussie-made

Considerations on the Trail

The ultralight design of the Wallaroo does come with a few trade-offs. The back panel lacks the mesh ventilation found on traditional packs. While this kept the weight down, it also meant a sweaty back, especially during the afternoon climbs. This is the first pack I have used on overnight or multi-day hikes that doesn’t have a ventilation panel and I must admit, it’s left me searching for a solution to the perspiration problem. I found at the end of a long day, it wasn’t only my back that was wet, but my hiking pants and underwear too.

This is a common compromise in ultralight backpacks, and for me, the breathability is trade-off worth considering given the significant weight reduction of the pack. However, if breathability is a major concern, you might be better suited with a traditional pack that prioritises air circulation.

The Wallaroo doesn’t have a dedicated internal hydration sleeve or port for a bladder. If you prefer using a bladder for easier on-the-go hydration, you’ll need to find another way to carry it inside the pack, potentially sacrificing some usable space.  You could easily overcome the lack of internal hydration sleeve by using a water bottle in the external side pockets and a separate bladder inside the pack (if space allows). This can be a minor inconvenience for some, but for those who rely on bladders, it’s worth considering. I’ve actually shifted away from the use of bladders, so this solution works really well for me.

A comfortable and well-made ultralight pack
A comfortable and well-made ultralight pack

A Worthy Companion

Despite these minor considerations, the Wallaroo 45L Framed Backpack V2 proved to be a comfortable and well-made ultralight pack for my overnight and multi-day adventures. It offered an excellent balance of features, functionality, and local Australian craftsmanship. The thoughtful design elements, like the load lifter straps and hip belt pockets, along with its robust construction, made it a valuable companion even on technical terrain. While breathability and internal hydration options are sacrificed for the ultralight design, the Wallaroo makes up for it in comfort, thoughtful features, and a build quality that inspires confidence. Neve Gear’s passion for creating quality gear shines through in the Wallaroo, making it a compelling choice for Australian hiker seeking a comfortable and feature-rich ultralight companion for their next adventure.

When you compare the price (only $299) to similar featured packs, it really does make the Wallaroo a worthy contender. I look forward to field testing this pack more.

Comfortable and well-made ultralight pack
Comfortable and well-made ultralight pack

Tech Specs


  • Weight: 775g
  • Torso: 36-43 cm
  • Internal Volume: 41L


  • Weight: 825g
  • Torso: 43-50 cm
  • Internal Volume: 45L


  • Weight: 875g
  • Torso: 50-57 cm
  • Internal Volume: 48L


  • 210d HDPE Gridstop Nylon, well known and well trusted fabric (4.8oz/yd).
  • Inverted U frame for both vertical and horizontal structure.
  • 5″ Load lifters for optimal load transfer.
  • Reverse Pull Hip belt strap for easy tightening and greater wrap around hips.
  • Y-shaped top strap for extra security when carrying items on top.
  • Extra grosgrain attachments above the side pockets and on the front.
  • Easy to use hip belt pockets.
  • Shoulder strap pockets that fit up to mid-sized drink bottles.
  • Bound seams for extra strength.
  • YKK Zippers.
  • Warranty: 5 years against defects (does not include standard wear and tear beyond a certain point).
Field tested – 04/04/2024

Field Tested by Darren Edwards >

My reviews are based on my own on-trail field tests and I provide an unbiased account of the gear I use. Often, reviewers won’t take gear into the field but search online for existing reviews and collate them to form a conclusion. If you’re a retailer or manufacturer, I’d love to field-test your gear. If you are keen to hear how your gear performs, please get in touch.

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