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I do not hike. I merely bought this rucksack to complete my Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) expedition last year. This part of the award involves hiking for two days across the countryside, in my case the peak district. Considering I had never used a rucksack before, I had no idea what to look for in one and therefore I only went for this one after a recommendation from my instructor. At £50 (After my DofE discount) this was a pretty steep investment but it was certainly worth it!
One other person in my group also had this rucksack, or one very similar to it. I am a little over 6 feet tall but he is much smaller than me - he really struggled with this rucksack because of this although I found that it was perfectly sized for me. Th only downside to being able to cope with a larger bag was that I therefore had to carry more equipment. Although this was a downside for me, for the majority of you reading this, this would be an advantage!
The bag consists of a main 60L compartment, an additional 10L compartment and two side compartments which are best suited for drinks bottles and similar. To get an idea of the size of these. In my main compartment, I had my sleeping bag, cups, plates, cutlery, 2 days worth of food (breakfast, lunch and dinner), a cooker and a variety of other smaller items. In the 10L compartment I mainly stored my clothing for the 2 days. In the side pickets I stored a drinks bottle and snacks for easy access whilst walking.
Overall, you can store a lot in this rucksack!
The rucksack has three main straps; two shoulder straps and one waist strap. These are very strong and all are padded with thick sponge covered in a supposedly breathable fabric to prevent sweating underneath. The sweating feature didn't really work for me however the strap cushioning did help a lot with preventing major discomfort when carrying around all of my stuff up and down hills. All of the straps can be easily adjusted even when on the move. I found that the waist stray was good enough to hold the rucksack by itself for short periods which was very useful to give my shoulders a break and give them a bit of air every now and again.
We had awful weather on the second weekend, so much rain that we were forced to seek refuge in a farmers barn for a few minutes. This was a excellent opportunity to test the waterproofness of the rucksack. Even in torrential rain it appeared to hold up well. I opened up the rucksack whilst in the barn and no rain appeared to have seeped through at all. I did have a rucksack liner too as a secondary barrier but it appears as if that wasn't even needed!
With a rucksack like this, my only real issue on my expedition was getting lost!
I borrowed this rucksack from my brother when I spent 2 months travelling in Europe as he wasn't using it and it seemed silly to go out and buy another one. I really liked the bag as it had plenty of space for everything I wanted to carry and a range of outside pockets for easy access to certain items, such as a torch. The 2 side pockets are expandable, so if you're not using them then they are flat on the sides of the rucksack which looks really neat.
My brother had chosen this particular rucksack as the price was good compared with other brands. The quality of the rucksack is really good. It has been away with both of us on a few trips and has done really well. All of the zips and drawstrings are still working well and despite being thrown on and off buses and trains and around various airports by airport staff there is very little damage to the outside of the bag, just the odd scuff. The actual material of the bag is very tough and despite being caught on various things it just has not ripped.
Another feature I really like about the rucksack is that it comes with a detachable rain cover which was perfect for keeping all my possessions dry when caught in a sudden or unexpected shower, although unfortunately the material of this isn't as tough as the rucksack material and I ripped a small hole in it on some barbed wire. The rain cover packs up very small into a special pocket so doesn't take up any room in the rucksack and it's very lightweight too.
The rucksack is comfortable to wear as you can adjust the height of the straps, which means that it's not just a one size fits all rucksack which I usually find don't fit me! Being quite short I do struggle to find rucksacks which fit me comfortably, even the ones specifically designed for women. However, setting this up to the smallest setting meant that it was comfortable for me. My brother has said it's very comfortable for him too as he can set it exactly to his height. It also has special airmesh fabric on the straps, back and hip strap which is supposed to help keep you cool and dry, although I found in the heat of an Eastern European summer, it wasn't really doing anything to help me.
The only downside with this bag was that the capacity is so big (70L is a lot of space) and I simply didn't need anywhere near that much room for the stuff I was carrying. But as I had the space, I ended up buying lots of things along the way and by the time I got home I was hardly able to lift it onto my back!
Since borrowing this from my brother, I have been out and purchased a smaller Vango rucksack as I was very impressed with the quality of the product and it's features.