I am a rather big fan of outdoor pursuits, camping, walking, travelling etc. My rucksack is an essential piece of my kit for all of the above. I'm also a firm believer in the "you get what you pay for" school of thought, particularly when it comes to outdoor kit.
I brought my Karrimor Bobcat 65 a few years ago before going Inter-railing during the summer. I knew that I wanted good quality, so I headed to Blacks where I found it. The great thing was that the assistant in Blacks recommended this for my purpose rather than trying to flog us the most expensive piece of kit.
The 65 litre rucksack is a perfect size for me, as any more and I would stuff it too full! Firstly, the rucksack has a large main compartment, which is really roomy and has loads of space for your kit, then underneath is a zipped up separate compartment which is great for storage of your shoes and anything that gets wet before you get chance to dry it off! The underneath compartment is separated from the big compartment so comes in really handy, especially in British camping weather!! The large compartment has a drawstring and a flap that goes over the top, which shuts with two clicky straps. There is a pocket on the flap which also comes in useful for the rain cover and also for your map etc.
The front of this bag has some extra clicky straps in front of the smaller pocket, which are adjustable and are a great fit for your sleeping bag in its compression bag, giving you that essential extra bit of space in your bag.
There are also two side pockets, which are useful for all the things which you are going to want to access easily. They don't stick out too much, but extend quite far down, making them really useful. One of the things I really like about the zips on the pockets is the size. It was rather reassuring that you can put a padlock through the metal bits of the zips, especially with how baggage handlers chuck everything around!
The fit of this rucksack is great for me. I'm an average height, 5 foot 5 and a half (yes the extra half an inch makes a difference) average build female. The frame of this bag is the right size for me. The hip strap is at a good position and is adjustable. The straps (although you don't bear the weight on your shoulders) have really thick padding on them and are so comfortable. Even stuffed full, it's never felt too heavy, whether you're on and off trains or walking around.
This bag has now lasted a good 5 years or so, and is still going strong and looks like new. I'm glad I invested in this, at the time it was about £80. So far it's done me really well whether inter-railing, international camps or just brownie camp! I can't see me having to replace it for a very long time.
There are so many places in the world that I want to travel to and this will most definitely be coming with me!
I bought the Karrimor Bobcat 65 when my £25 rucksack from Aldi gave up the ghost after five years of service (I had hoped for one so it was pretty good).
I normally buy cheapie walking equipment (apart from boots) as I think there is a lot of snobbery and ''statement making'' about all those brands that are perhaps offering added advantages for serious mountaineers or at the advanced age when every bit of technological help one can get is important but are just a way of showing off for most people who climb an odd hill and use the kit for ''normal'' travelling and walking around. It never ceases to amaze me how an unfit 20-something or a child can go up a hill in trainers and jeans but a 60 year-old, even a fit and experienced one, needs hundreds if not thousands of pounds worth of kit.
I am digressing though, or being jealous of those able to afford £400 waterproofs. The point I was trying to make is that at £50 (reduced from about £70, and bought in an actual high-street shop due to leaving the next day), this Karrimor rucksack was by my standards quite expensive.
I am pleased to report that it performed well, and I used it extensively during about a 14 months' worth of travel (of which about 6 was by car though, so the rucksack didn't have to do much) in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
65 litres is the perfect size for me, anything bigger and when I stuff it too much it becomes to heavy to walk any distance, anything smaller and it's just not enough. We travel as a family and when travelling by public transport we tend to have two rucksacks for the adults, a small (maybe 20-30 litre) for the Big Child to carry which acts as the on-board bag as well as a day pack for all the important documents, electronics and similar. This means that all the clothes as well as any other items like sleeping bags, mats and similar have to fit in the rucksacks. The 65 litres holds basic clothing for me and the children for autumn/spring/summer travel without too much problems, resulting in a weight of about 14-18kg depending on stuffing and the number of books sneaked in. This is just about the weight I can carry around for a while when walking between stations and terminals, to meetings, accommodation or on public transport, although anything above 2-3 km would become a little bit of a struggle.
The fit is important with any rucksack but is also largely individual and if you have a chance it's good to try, especially if you are uncommonly short, tall, or otherwise non-standard in body shape. I have big boobs and I like to have the sternum strap that can be moved fairly high to prevent the shoulder straps digging into the armpits and yet allowing me to breathe. This pack has just such a strap, which slides up and down easily.
The shoulder straps on the Bobcat are excellent: very well padded and wide, and again, the adjusting straps (two sets of them as usual) allow them to be made just right. I do think, however, that men, especially bigger ones, might find the straps less comfortable fit. I am fairly broad-shouldered for a woman, but my other half (of average built) finds this pack less comfortable than his very old, fairly thin-strapped Berghaus one (he doesn't use sternum straps or hip belts much though). The hip belt is also fine, very well padded again, and with a buckle that's fairly easy to adjust and easy to clip on and off.
The rucksack consists of two main compartments, the bottom one is accessible through a zip (nicely covered with a flap which I suppose prevents minor rain getting in and things get caught) but also through the main one - you can in fact have just one internal space if you want to.
The main compartment is accessible only through the top, which is not so good. I like the ability to pull out things from the middle through a side zip that some rucksacks have, but it's not a huge issue.
The side pockets are excellent, really roomy but without sticking out too much. The top flap cover has two pockets, one underneath (good for papers and similar) and one externally accessible. The well padded back (does nobody use external-frame packs now?) has also a space for one of those hydration bladders and there is a hole to thread the pipe through. As I don't use this pack for longer-distance walking I never tested the arrangements (and I don't have - and don't wish for - a hydration thingy anyway). There are also net pocket at the bottom, ideal for things like sun screen, insect repellent, wipes and a smallish water bottle.
The straps, toggles and buckles are strong, sturdy and east to clip on and off (and believe me, anything that survives with intact buckles and straps in this family must be sturdy). Numerous loops and straps allow attachment of external loads like foam mats and even a sleeping bag, and there is also a large, flat pocket along the front side of the main compartment presumably for a map.
This map pocket brings me to my only real complaint about the Bobcat. I think the zips are on a slightly weak side. I am making this statement with a caveat that I tend to stuff bags and packs too much, and that both I and the children yank the zips badly. In the light of such treatment, the fact that ONLY the map pocket zip is completely gone, and that the bottom compartment one became temperamental, may be taken as a compliment, but I still think that if the teeth were a wee bit bigger, the issue could have been avoided.
Apart from this, I have been very happy with the Bobcat, and I can recommend it as a lower-priced branded choice, available online from around £40. It's very comfortable to carry, well padded, with good compartments and quite light for a rucksack of this size.
NB. Dooyoo picture that goes with this general category actually happens to show the Bobcat 65.