A pack on your back
Craghoppers Dripac TT 35L
|The Dripac TT 35L features Craghoppers' acclaimed Dynamic Balance system, technology which the company says has been scientifically proven to save energy and reduce fatigue. Before you set out, it's a good idea to sit down for a few minutes at home with the sack and its owner's manual and spend sometime making sure it is properly adjusted to your back to ensure you get the best out of your Dripac. Once that is done you will find that this is a wonderfully comfortable and stable creation and the 3D Aerator does its work well, allowing a good flow of ventilation, preventing 'sweaty back' problems but at the same time ensuring the sack doesn't wobble about. The main straps are well padded and the hip belt sits comfortable. The Dripac has plenty of good sized pockets and one of our favourite features is the dry bag style closure on the waterproof main compartment. In another thoughtful departure from the other sacks tested, the ice axe/pole attachments are Velcro fastening, rather than strap and buckle. The Dripac technology is excellent and well worth checking out.||Pockets zip-fastened lid pocket with internal key clip; zip-fastened mesh pocket
inside lid; 2 large side pockets; shockcord and mesh front pocket for
helmet or wet gear.
Other features rolldown dry bag-style inner closure; chest strap; two ice axe/pole attachments.
|Size 35 litres|
|Colours choice of three|
Lowe Alpine Walkabout 35
|Like the Mountain Equipment Trek 35 (see below), the Lowe Alpine Walkabout is a good, simple sack to use, devoid of unnecessary clutter. The main compartment has a drawstring closure and the lid buckles down tightly over it, keeping the elements out. The deep mesh pocket on the back is great for stowing wet waterproofs and would also take a helmet. I was particularly pleased with the main straps which are very well padded, as is the hip belt, making for a very comfortable and at the same time stable rucksack. To prevent 'sweaty back', the Walkabout 35 features an AirCooled Back system and what Lowe Alpine describe as their 'chimney' ventilation - two wide strips of padding running the length of the back with a mesh section up the middle to allow a free flow of air. There are plenty of good sized pockets and particularly handy is the key clip in the lid pocket - great for those of us who forever worry about accidentally dropping the car keys on the summit of a mountain. Simplicity itself, the Walkabout 35 is a great package.||Pockets 2 spacious pockets, one on each side (suitable for flasks, etc) with long,
two way zip openings; large front mesh pocket, suitable for wet gear;
internal and external zip-fastened pockets on lid.
Other features drawcord on main bag; ice-axe straps; elasticated chest strap; lifting handle on top; top tensioners; key clip inside lid.
|Size 35 litres|
|Colours choice of five|
Mountain Equipment Trek 35
|The Mountain Equipment Trek 35 is designed for trekking, mountaineering and
scrambling and the company boasts that it will last a lifetime. The
quality of construction - including triple stitched and bound seams -
gives us no reason to disbelieve this reassuring claim.
The Trek 35 is a very simple sack and one that is very quick and easy to get in and out of - handy when the rain starts suddenly and you need to get at your waterproofs quickly. Two chunky buckles and a drawstring provide access to the main storage compartment and the lid closes down nice and snug over this to ensure maximum weather proofing - great in Scotland's inclement weather. There are plenty of pockets and the two side ones sit flush with the body when not in use (on first use I didn't even notice they were there!). Mountain Equipment's simple Free Flow harness, combined with a good hip belt is superbly comfortable, even with a heavy load. There's also plenty of scope for adjustment. This is a wonderfully uncomplicated rucksack with plenty of features and is highly recommended.
|Pockets 2 small zip-fastened pockets on belt; 2
spacious zip-fastened pockets, one on each side (suitable for flasks,
etc); 2 mesh pockets, one on each side; zip-fastened lid pocket;
zip-fastened mesh pocket inside (handy for car keys, etc); slim pocket
Other features drawcord on main bag; attachments for ice-axe/trekking poles, sternum strap; lifting handle on top.
|Size 35 litres|
|Colours stone, electric blue|
Osprey Eclipse 32
|At first glance the Osprey Eclipse 32 is an odd looking creature and its unusual design stands out from all the others rucksacks tested here. The most striking features are the two padded 'arms' which envelope the main compartment. These open out to reveal a large looping zip which provides easy access to the interior. Once you've loaded your gear up, you then bring the arms back in round the outside and fasten them together with adjustable straps and buckles. There are also adjustable tension bands. This design keeps the load firmly in place, however much you have in the rucksack, ensuring a greater stability and eliminates any wobble - very useful if you are scrambling. Even with these 'closed', access is retained to the smaller front pockets. The Eclipse 32 features a half-length aluminum stay, comfortable and well padded shoulder straps and a very well padded hip belt. For winter sports enthusiasts, there are ski straps and two ice axe straps, the latter holding trekking poles too. It's the heaviest of the sacks tested here and the most expensive, but it's very well engineered and does an excellent job.||Pockets 2 zip fastened pocket on front (one suitable for car keys, compass,
wallet, etc, the other map-sized); 2 mesh pockets, one on each side (for
bottles, etc); large slim zip-fastened pocket stretching down length of
Other features ski straps, one on each side; ice axe straps; shovel slot; chest strap.
|Size 32 litres|
|Colours nectar yellow, pinon green, lupis blue|
Regatta X-ert 30L - 35L Rucksack
|Regatta's X-ert pack can provide up to 30 litres of gear space in its basic form. But open up the expansion zip and you have another five litres to play with. It's ideal for all year round walking and mountaineering and the extra five litres can be a real bonus, especially in winter when you need to stuff in more warm clothing. The sack's padded mesh back complete with air channel for ventilation is very comfortable while the shoulder straps are well padded with a good, soft feel to them and sit nicely over the shoulders. There's also an internal, malleable frame sheet to give back shape and this works well. The main compartment has a long two way zip, offering easy access and the overall design is fine and simple with plenty of pockets. One is rather bizarre, however, opening from underneath the sack, but it seems to be a good example of making use of every available space! The X-ert pack is very well priced, providing good, solid and very affordable performance.||Pockets slim interior zip-fastened pocket down length of back; zip fastened pocket
on front; small zip fastened pocket access from the bottom; shockcord and mesh helmet or wet clothing holder; 2 mesh
pockets, one on each side.
Other features 2 pole holders, one on each side; reflective strips; chest strap; integral zip-away rain cover.
|Size 30-35 litre|
|Colours deep blue/ash alpine/ash birch/ash|
Salomon Raid 300
|Designed for walking, cycling and running, this mid-sized rip-stop nylon sac weighs in a very reasonable 660g. I stuffed it full of waterproofs, food and equipment for a combined bike/hike foray into Glenesk and found it to be very comfortable with a decent level of padding for its light weight. There are no less than eight exterior toggles to allow you to attach cumbersome items like walking poles, ice axes, climbing equipment and ropes.
The lid itself has two zipped compartments, the main one is constructed from mesh so while it won't keep the contents dry it does allow you to see what's in there at a glance. There are two further zipped pockets on the waistband for keys, coins etc, and three meshed pouches on the front of the bag for maps and suchlike. There's even a separate compartment inside the bag with a velcro fastener to hold a couple of hydration bags. My test bag came in a colour called Scream Yellow making it look a bit like a fat wasp. A small reflective badge on the waistband should further aid its visibility in darkness. Overall, another good value product from Salomon.
|Pockets 2 zip fastened lid pockets, one of them mesh; 2 zip-fastened pockets on
hip belt; 3 mesh pockets on front; velcro fastened interior pocket.
Other features ice axe/ walking pole straps, reflective strip.
|Size 30 litres|