* Prices may differ from that shown
One thing I learned throughout my bronze and silver Duke of Edinburgh awards is that comfortable, reliable equipment is of paramount importance. The most important piece of kit is undoubtedly the rucksack - it keeps all your clothes, food, camping equipment, maps etc. clean and dry (or not!) and can really make or break the trip. For my bronze award, not really knowing anything about walking and camping, I hired a rucksack very cheaply through my school. This was a huge mistake - it was uncomfortable, smelly and just generally awkward to use. Having learnt my lesson, I went out and bought one of these prior to my silver award, and what a difference.
The rucksack has a 60 + 10 litre capacity - plenty of room for a 4 day/3 night trip. It has a total weight of only 2.1 kg, which is a good starting point if you don't want to heave around a lot!! The straps are quick and easy to adjust, and the zipped base allows easy access to clothes etc stored right at the bottom of the bag. The hip belt is one of the most comfortable I have tried, and this is particularly important as it is the function which moves the weight off your back and shoulders and onto your hips which can carry the weight much easier and with less risk of injury. There are many pockets on the front and sides, ideal for maps, compasses and snacks. The bag is compatible with hydration sacs, although I have never tried one, as well as hooks for walking poles or ice axes, if you're really serious! The detachable waterproof cover is ideal for the weather I am used to up here in Scotland, but at the same time the mesh keeps your body dry and comfortable and sweat-free. The sternum strap just adds to the comfort due to the weight distribution, and also provides a safety whistle, which is essential for hiking out in the hills.
Overall, I really enjoyed this product and it improved my overall experience drastically. I would recommend it to anyone thinking of walking and camping recreationally, doing DoE awards, or scouts etc. However I am not sure about the validity of the bag for the more experienced and serious walker; Vango do recommend the bag as entry-level.