Friday 21 November 2008

Andy's guide to rucksacs

Probably the most important purchase before you go travelling.  Your rucksack will be your home for the time you are away so getting one that is comfortable, durable, easy to pack and the correct size is key.  If you buy wisely and look after your rucksack it should serve you well for many years.

Don't rush into buying a rucksack; first ask yourself the following questions:

1. Am I going to be doing a lot of walking with heavy loads? - If yes then look for a bag with excellent back support systems and padded shoulder and waist straps.  Try on the bag with a heavy load.  There are now bags designed specifically for women that take into account higher hips and shorter backs.
2. How large does it need to be? - If you are looking for a day bag for a few nights in the hills walking then up to 50 litres will be sufficient.  If planning to travel for 4 weeks or more you will need between 65 - 80litres.  Remember the bigger your bag the more you will take!
3. Does it have several compartments, easy openings? - Makes it easier to pack and unpack, saves having to empty and repack every time you reach your new destination.
4. Are the zips and straps durable hard wearing? - Remember this is one piece of kit you are going to be using on a daily basis.  If you plan to travel a lot then get something tough.  Generally the more you spend the better quality you will get.  Shop on-line to get discounts and always ask in camping shops for a discount if you are a volunteer, doing DofE or you’re a student.
5. Does it come with a rain cover and or flight bag? - Rain covers keep the bag dry in poor weather, and thus lighter.  They can also prevent dust if on the roof of a bus.  Dust is a zips worst enemy!
6. Does it have hidden pockets, water pouches? - Hidden pockets are excellent for keeping photocopies of important documents and spare medication.  If you have a platypus you will need a pouch to hold it and a hole for the tube.
Some excellent rucksacks to take a look at are:

Lowe Alpine TFX tundra 65+15l - £119.99
Lowe Alpine TFX ridge ladies fit 65+15l - £99.99
Berghouse C7 1series 65+10 - £99.99
Berghouse C7 1series ladies fit 65+10 - £99.99
The North Face Primero 70l - £179.99

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