There is no single answer when it comes to backpacks, everyone is looking for different things and working on different budgets.
Do you want a day pack or a are you planning a lengthy thru hike? Are you walking the coast path or camping in the Himalaya's? Do you want extra pockets and compartments? Have you got money to
burn or are you watching those pennies? Can you enjoy walking with a £20 budget pack on your back, or do you need a £200 backpack?
Well, we cannot answer all of these questions, only you can, but here at Summit or Nothing we have tried and tested a fair few backpacks. This is where we will give you a run down, with links to the products via the thumbnail images and product titles.
Price - £150 - £250
This pack steps up in price, but is of a superior quality. Osprey is a manufacturer of backpacks with a great reputation amoung the outdoors community and a company that excells in innovation, as you can tell with this pack.
The Osprey Atmos comes with an anti-gravity back system which through its design of the elasticated harnesses creates a tension that hugs your torso in such a way that it comfortably diverts weight from your back to your hips. Its mesh back also holds the pack away from your back creating great airflow and reduces sweating. It does come in different sizes so make sure yours is as close to your frame size for maximum comfort.
It has a decent amount of additional pockets and plenty of external tension straps to attach additional gear, including sleeping pad straps, standard hiking pole attachments as well the awesome addition of the 'Stow-on-the-Go' hiking pole attachnment to the over the shoulder straps, which allow you to store the poles out tof the way when not needed but allows them to remain easily accessible without having to remove your pack.
It has two large front pockets, as well as two side elasticated mesh pockets to keep bottles etc, and an additional large elasticated mesh pocket to the front, all of which also contain a hardened front cover for extra durability. And it also contains a detachable hood with plenty of pocket space, but which can be removed if not needed and replaced by its very own lightweight flat pack hood.
The Pros - A well engineered pack that has covered all bases, its comfortable, roomy, and offers plenty of storage space.
The Cons - A little pricey, a little heavy.
The Verdict - Nathan enjoyed this pack, but found it to be quite heavy and a little on the large side. He chose to go down a lighter and smaller route, which allowed him to downsize his gear. As he often says, you have a bigger backpack then you will inevetibly fil it up.
Find the Osprey Atmos here on Amazon
Price - £70 - £90
For a relatively cheap backpack, this has been one of my favourites since we started Summit or Nothing. Its a good quality, feels reliable and hardwaring.
It has plenty of pockets and additional space to store and separate all of your bits and bobs and a robust self adjusting back system to fit any back.
You can access the 65L internal space from the top and bottom to limit any unneccessary emptying out to reach those items buried deep within the bag and it has an additional 10L of space under the hood that can be called upon if needed,
It has two side pockets, two additional elasticated mesh pockets to keep water bottles in, and two pockets on the hood, one inside and one outside and it comes with an elasticated daisychain to attach things to the outside, as well as hiking pole attachments and plenty of drawstrings and additional compression straps to secure your load. It also has a small pocket to teh waste strap where you can keep small items, perhps your compass or mobile at a push.
It has an emergancy whistle on the chest strap, includes an attached rain cover that tidily slips away when not needed.
The pros - This pack is affordable, comfortable and durable. For th emoney its a great pack with plenty of storage space.
The cons- Well, its quite a heavy pack and I struggled to get to grips with the adjustable back, and found for a spell that my head was always butting the backpack limiting
my ability to look around.
The Verdict - I actually gave up on this back at one point for a lighter and tidier pack, but in the last year or so I have returned to it, finding it easier to pack and it looks a lot tidier. I have now managed to set it up to fit nicely, and to be honest, that additional weight is worth the added comfort of this pack.
Find the Vango Sherpa here on Amazon
Price - £80 - 100
For many years this was Nath's favoured backpack. He had it in service for 5 years and never really saw much in the way of deterioration .
Robust, comfortable and hardwaring, the Berghaus Freeflow 35 included adjustable back ventilation strapping system, numerous pockets, hiking pole attachments a waterproof cover and flexible mesh side pockets.
The Pros - Durable, comfortable, plenty of room and pockets
The Cons - A little on the heavy side
The Verdict - Nathan only replaced this backpack when he started to head down the ultralight route, as this bag weighs in at 1.8kgs. Apart from that it done him proud and he still favours it as one of the best packs he has ever owned.
Quechua Forclaz 50L
Price - £65 approx (Unavailable at present)
This lightweight backpack isn't as all singing and dancing as the previous backpacks, but it does have a lot going for it.
As mentioned, its lightweight, with a large single compartment to fill, plus additional side pockets as well as a single top pocket into the hood and three elasticated mesh pockets, two either side and one to the front.
The main compartment can be accessed through the top, as well as through the front via the double zipper which allows you to choose which area of the pack that you wish to access. It includes a single hiking pole attachment, but you an fit a pair in there.
The Pros - Lightweight and roomy, with plenty of straps.
The Cons - If you over fill it, then the side pockets become squashed and very limited for size. It also has no rain cover.
The Verdict - I found that this bag was ideal for the camping in the summer, its 50L storage falls nicely in between the larger packs and the day packs, but I would easily overpack it. If you are tidy and minimalist you may like this more than I do, but I always seem to over fill it and have it looking like it is untidily bursting at the seams.
Price - £100+ ? (Not currently available)
This pack of Naths was his follow up to his reliable and trusted Berghaus, and was chosen because of its incredible wieght reduction and additional space.
Engineered towards rock climbing The Alpine Ascent is a narrow pack which is designed not to snag, and includes such features as axe hook and inverted pockets to tuck the side straps into to keep it streamline.
The hood compartment can raise to allow the additional 10L or can be removed altogether. The inside of the hood includes a patch with mountain distress signals and emergency numbers within it.
It has numerous webbing, stash points and gear loops to attach more gear externally.
The Pro's - Spacious, tidy, comes with a lifetime guarantee.
The Cons - No airflow design to the back system and doesn't include a rain cover.
Price - £20 - £35
The Karrimor Urban backpack has been my favourite day pack for the past three years. It looks quite cool (red and grey is my favourite colour combination) and is spacious enough to cram full of gear, food, clothing and camera equipment.
Its designed to be a city backpack, but I have found it more than adequate on the trail for a day hike, especially along the south west coast path. In fact this is my go to backpack for many day to day activities.
With a main compartment that also includes a laptop comprtment within that, it also has an additional middle pocket which is just as roomy and includes organised pockets and dividers within. It also has a small front pocket which I always choose to keep my phone / USB charger etc.
It has two mesh pockets to the sides, and a bungee strap to the front.
The Pros - Cheap, sexy, lots of room and enough pockets to seperate gear if needed.
The Cons - The front bungee broke fairly early on, and the mesh pockets lose their elasticity if over stretched. You can get a sweaty back if you exert yourself too much.
Verdict - I have found this backpack to be ideal, it is roomy, comfy, relatively waterproof, and I have found that it also keeps food quite cool within it too. However, I feel that if it had a loop or two to attach hiking poles it would be even better.
Find the Karrimor Urban on Amazon here!
Price - £50 - £100
This 20L pack from Lowe Apline became Nath's daypack after his positive experiences with the Lowe Alpine Ascent pack that he used for wild camping.
Its designed for comfort with its own harness system which spreads the load evenly whilst its Airzone ventilated back system is sufficiantly breathable whilst remaining non intrusive to the pack space.
Its main compartment has zips which extend the full length of the side for optimal access, whilst also including trekking pole storage, side stretch pockets, a mobile phone stash on the shoulder strap, is hydration bladder ready, houses a large stretch front stash pocket, and it also includes a pull out raincover.
Price - £25-£30
This budget pack was an alternative option for my Karrimor Urban to my coast walks, with the intention of using it for a spot of lightweight wild camping.
The beauty of the Circul8 (apart from the price) was the fact that it also includes a curved ventilated back system plus 2 hiking pole hoops and bungee attachments which was what I was looking for, as I wanted to use either my tarp set up or Lanshan 2 to camp along the coast.
It has an outer and inner pocket in the hood, and two mesh pockets to the side as well as well as some loops to its front which you can attach your own straps / bungees for additional external loading.
The Pro's - Very lightweight and great value for the money
The Con's - The hiking pole attachments dont work unless the bag is packed to the hilt, and a bit of creative strapping is advised also to help the poles stay upright. The Ventilation system is pretty useless once the backpack is loaded up, and there is a lack of pockets for storage and separation.
Find the Trespass Circul8 30L here on Amazon!
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