9 Of The Best Backpacks
Need some help to carry that load? Make sure you choose the right backpack for your needs, whether you’re hiking through the hills, going for a country walk or heading into town.
TOP TIPS FOR BUYING
1 Get the right capacity for you. No point in having a pack that’s too large… or too small. Figure out what trips you need it for and what you intend to carry.
2 Pick the right back system. Metal frameworks provide best support and ventilation, generally, but can add bulk. Remember, the more complex the system, the more it’s likely to add weight.
3 Think about the weather. A rain cover might just be a good idea here in the UK. It’s usually a good idea to keep any essential kit in waterproof bags inside your rucksack
4 Consider accessibility to the main storage area, as well as the number of additional pockets and their respective potential uses. Plus, any strap systems.
FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
Made completely from recycled materials, Patagonia has come up with a whole range here – in 15-, 20-, 25- and 28-litre capacities. All also use a solution dyeing process that saves half a gallon of water per bag as well as producing 96% less carbon dioxide compared to traditional dyeing methods. Both the outer fabric and internal lining are DWR (durable water repellent) treated. Top-of-the-range Arbor Grande comes in a choice of three colours. Inside, there’s a sleeve for a 15in laptop. It weighs 690g.
Key features 600D recycled polyester, 200D lining Bluesign-approved, padded laptop sleeve, top handle, zipped front and top pockets, “human curve” shoulder straps
FOR GREAT VALUE SPECIFICATION
BERGHAUS REMOTE 28
There’s a great ventilated back area to this 28-litre ‘sack. Plus, the large front pocket is adjustable, thanks to side zips and a central strap with clip. Other key features include top tension straps, height-adjustable chest strap, stretch side bottle pockets, side compression straps, zipped front pocket and another zipped pocket in the hip belt. In red or black. Weight is around 0.78kg and dimensions are 50cm high x29cm wide x 18cm deep.
Key features Ventilated mesh back panel, adjustable front pocket, top handle, hydration compatible, lifetime guarantee
FOR FASHION AND FUNCTION
FJALLRAVEN RAVEN 28
As likely to be seen on the streets of swanky metropolitan areas as the countryside, there’s nevertheless plenty that’s practical about the offerings from Fjӓllrӓven. That starts with the company’s durable G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco fabric, a 65% polyester/35% cotton blend. There are all kinds of storage options here, including a full-size zipped front pocket with double mesh pockets (the upper one with a key clip)and a small organiser panel, plus a zipped compartment for a small (up to 15in) laptop against the back. Also, two open side pockets and zipped entry to a small pocket at the top. For further weatherproofing, you can always add a coat of the company’s Greenland Wax. There’s a huge colour choice (11 at the last count). Also available in a 20-litre size.
Key features Recycled fabric, separate zipped laptop compartment, lots of storage
FOR PACKING RIGHT AWAY
LIFEVENTURE 25L PACKABLE BACKPACK
Perfect for emergencies. You might want to carry this inside any of the other bags mentioned here. This only weighs 235g and packs away to a pretty tiny 160mm x 170m x 40mm – yes, that’s mm – yet will really prove its worth when you need extra carrying capacity. Some 25 litres, in fact. Plus, there are pockets: a generous stretch mesh one with sleeve at the front; and two part-mesh side pouches. The shoulder straps are mesh, to help breathability as well as keeping weight down. And they’re adjustable.
Key features 70D ripstop nylon, tiny pack size, mesh straps, padded back, stretch side and front pockets, top grab handle
FOR RETRO DAYS OUT
VANGO HERITAGE STRYD 22
Building on the popular Stryd range, this all-new Heritage version uses a special version of Vango’s Excel fabric, with buckles and clips in aluminium. It also has the Airforce back system - two mesh areas with a central area designed to encourage air flow and this keep sweat to a minimum. There’s also mesh on the main straps. Capacity is 22 litres, weight 720g. Dimensions are 50cm x 30cm x 22cm
Key features Two-way adjustable sternum clip, hydration compatible, side pockets, top pocket with organiser section
FOR AN ENVIRONMENTAL ICON
HAGLOFS SHOSHO MEDIUM
Updated for the season ahead, from a company that made its first backpack over a century ago. The Shosho has a classic look, backed up by modern features such as the internal sleeve for a laptop. Fabric is a Bluesign-approved 500D Oxford polyamide, with a fluorocarbon-free durable water repellent treatment. Capacity is 26 litres and it weighs 550g.
P.S. Shosho means “I pay tribute to you”, as in a prayer used by the Sherpas of the Himalayas.
Key features 100% polyamide, compressions corded side panels, internal laptop sleeve, top lid pocket, snow lock and drawstring for the main compartment
FOR A LIFETIME GUARANTEE
CRAGHOPPERS 30L KIWI PRO
With a decent enough 30-litre capacity and features like the holder for walking poles, this is an ideal day-tripper. The padded shoulder straps have a good range of adjustment while the padded back has an Airflow system for ventilation. There’s a zipped front pocket plus side pockets, supplemented by shockcording that’s ideal for stashing a jacket of mid-layer if you start getting too warm. The all-polyester material is water resistant (but not fully waterproof), and comes in three colours – Red Earth, Blue Navy and Camo (ie camouflage). It’s all backed by a lifetime guarantee.
Key features 100% polyester, airflow back, hydration bladder pocket, padded shoulder straps, three colour choices
FOR FULL FUNCTION AND GREAT VALUE
EASY CAMP EN ROUTE
A new product to look out for in 2019, two En Routes top the range of rucksack offerings from Easy Camp for the season ahead. There’s a choice of 55- or 65-litre capacities, both using 420D polyester with added honeycomb ripstop where needed. En Routes also have an adjustable “ladder” back system with ventilating mesh and closed cell foam padding. There’s a rolltop closure to the main compartment, a great way of ensuring unwanted water and more doesn’t get in, plus there’s a laptop sleeve in here. The front pocket differs to many, too, with access via a side zip. Dimensions are 28cm x 47cm x 25cm and it weighs 620g.
Key features 100% polyester, integrated alloy frame, adjustable back system, stretch side pockets, rain cover
FOR DAILY DUTIES
MOUNTAIN WAREHOUSE MERLIN
A popular seller for Mountain Warehouse, this 30-litre bag has plenty of features all the way through to reflective details, should you want to be seen in the dark. There’s a good variety of pockets, including a sleeve for a 13in laptop and a front pocket accessed by a central vertical zip. The bungee cording, meanwhile, is ideal for carrying anything from walking poles to bottles. Choose between black or blue colours.
Key features 100% polyester, padded air mesh back, laptop pocket, front pocket, bungee cords, side mesh pockets, key clip