Slide show of photos from our hikes
Slide show of photos from our hikes

What's The Best Backpack / Rucksack for Camping?

Having recently been asked by a viewer, Steve, which backpacks we would recommend for wild camping, I thought that it would be a great time to look back at the backpacks that we have worn in the past, and what they each have to offer. The highlighted underlined text are active links to amazon and ebay for each product, so be sure to check them out!

Get on lads. Loving your videos, very inspiring.
Very keen hiker myself done a lot of walking predominantly on Dartmoor also the lakes and Snowdonia. Want to do more camping now so am keen to know which rucksacks you recommend for night hikes.
Keep the vids coming
All the best
Steve

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to camping, as everyone will have different requirements and needs, and although we have both decreased our weight and pack sizes considerably since our first few camps, both Nathan and myself feel that there is still plenty of room for improvement. As we always say, we are still learning ourselves.

 

We have used a handful of different backpacks and rucksacks over the past few years on our numerous overnight adventures. It has been a challenge and a learning curve to whittle down the weight and the contents that we take with us.

 

But one piece of advice that we both agree on is “Try to keep the size down to start with”, as the bigger the backpack, the more room you have to fill it with, and you will always fill a bag if you have the room to spare.

 

But that being said, as you first embark on your won wild camping excursions, you will be finding your feet, and until you start to get into it, you will probably not know what you do and do not need.

What Limits You and Your Choice of Backpack?

whats the best backpack for camping Trev's wild camping backpack on Cadair Idris In Snowdonia.

Nathan perhaps has a different outlook to backpacking as I do. Nath would sooner sacrifice grams in weight for comfort. Where I myself would sooner have a good night sleep and carry that extra sleeping pad Nath would choose to live in a tent as opposed to laying on an uncomfortable slab of foam under a tarp. So his most recent backpack is a tidy minimalistic backpack, the Lowe Alpine Ascent.

 

Also, being a bachelor, with a freer budget too spend on those things he likes, Nath also has a pricier selection of backpacks and indeed, the products within it than I do. For myself, with a family to consider first and foremost, money is scared, and so I have to live on a budget, too, which also plays a large part in deciding what I carry and which backpacks I can afford.

 

So there are limits to what I can afford, and that is somewhat of a limitation, but hopefully, I can suggest some cheaper options that have done me fine out on the trail.  

Nath’s Backpacks 

Berghaus Freeflow 35L

best backpacking rucksacks Nath and his trusted Berghaus Freeflow

When Nathan first began his wild camping days he was using his Berghaus Freeflow 35L. This was his trusty backpack for his solo camping for years, with just his 2x3 tarp, bivvy bag, a few pieces of survival equipment (Stove and knife etc) and a stash of food it was about all that he needed.

 

Berghaus is a respectable make, and moderately priced, today they still retail for about £60/£70. Its designed with a ventilated curvature between the backpack and your back and adjustable straps for comfort and has some external webbed pockets as well as plenty of straps and loops for strapping roll mats and hiking poles to it. It weighs about 1.3Kgs, so not too much weight before loading it.

Osprey Atmos 65L

how to choose a backpack for camping The bigger the bag the more you put it in - Nath's Atmos 65

But as we began to get into larger hikes and started carrying the Vango Mirage tent for wild camping, Nath upgraded to the Osprey Atmos 65L backpack. Now the Osprey was all singing all dancing and boasted such state of the art attributes as antigravity back system, and twin ice pick loops and adjustable torso length etc, etc, but at a cost of £170 you would certainly hope that it would be.

 

This pack has numerous external pockets for stashing accessible goods and an integral rain cover, and whilst it is a sexy backpack, for many of us it is just a little too expensive. It also was quite a bulky product, weighing at 2190g’s and although it has adjustable straps and backpack to help to divert weight from your back to your legs, it was a larger backpack that was just yearning to be filled to the brim… with crap.

Lowe Alpine Alpine Ascent 40:50

how to choose a backpack for camping Nath's found his go to Rucksack - the Lowe Alpine Ascent

Nath’s pack these days tends to be the Lowe Alpine Alpine Ascent 40:50 – which, at £100 is quite not the most expensive option but still a lot for some of us. However, it is very lightweight. In case you aren’t aware, the 40:50 refers to the litres that it will carry, (40ltrs with option to expand to 50ltrs if needed) and 40litres may not be a lot for a first time wild camper. You must bare in mind that Nath uses a tarp as a shelter, which doesn’t take so much room in his back pack as a tent does, nor does it weigh as much. He also has a pricier sleeping bag which compacts a lot more than a cheaper one would.

 

However, the Lowe Alpine Ascent is a durable and well constructed backpack that is designed for use in all weather and at a weight of 1150g’s it is a considerably lightweight option. There aren’t as many external pockets on this product as some, which lends to its tidiness, but there are plenty of straps and loops to attach all manor of additional gear to the outside and it is a top loading backpack too (I will discuss this in more detail below) which in turn creates its own set of problems.  

Trev's Backpacks - Shopping on a Budget

choose a rucksack for camping Charity Trev sporting Naths old canvas rucksack

Before I realised how to choose the right backpack for hiking and camping, I used to borrow Nath’s old canvas military backpack. This was a large and hardy rucksack, and I would have it filled with loads of camera gear and clothes and more food than I would ever eat. Still, at this point, I had nothing to compare it too and so didn’t realise it was too big or too bulky.

 

Before long I bought my own backpack from Trespass. It was a 60L I think, and on our first two wild camps I overloaded it and the bloody thing was a nightmare. The adjustable straps would never stay in place, and I was forever shunting the thing back into place. But within minutes it was once again sinking down my back and the failing distribution of weight would play hell on my lower back. You buy cheap, you buy twice.

 

This was my first learning curve, and I took the thing back after two or three uses. Then I did a little research and bought the Vango Sherpa.

Vango Sherpa 65+10

what rucksack to use for camping Trev's Vango Sherpa at the Brecon Beacons

The Vango Sherpa 65 +10 is these days my winter backpack. At 2100g’s, it is not the lightest backpack on the market, but at around £60-£70 it isn’t bad for its money. Much like the Osprey, it has an adjustable back, which you can alter in height on your back as well as also having an additional adjustment on the shoulders to help with weight placement.

 

It also has a solid frame, which may well add to the weight, but has its benefits with regards to comfort and moves weight from your back to your legs. It also comes with a waterproof cover attached via a strap that tucks tidily away.

 

The only downfall, apart from the additional weight, is that this backpack is a top loading pack, which means that you cannot search through the pack without having to unpack half of it, so it becomes more important that you consider this when packing and pack those things that you may require throughout the day nearer to the top. But it does have a great number of external pockets for stashing those items that you may need to get to throughout the day. It also has an emergency whistle on its strap, which could one day be a life saver.

 

This pack used to be my summer pack too, but my desire to reduce my weight had me shopping around until I found the Quechua Forclas 50L.  

Quecha Forclaz 50L

what backpack / rucksack to use for camping The Quechua Forclaz - loaded like a one man band

In the summer I am more likely to use the Quecha Forclaz 50L backpack which is a reasonably priced backpack at about £45, and at 1353g’s is a great weight saver to start with. It doesn’t have a reinforced back, which is where the weight is saved, but it is comfortable none the less. Besides, its reduction in liters means that I will have to think about what I will be taking out with me, another sure-fire way of getting you to reduce your weight before you go.

 

It does have a good amount of external pockets, which I usually end up filling until they bulge untidily. However, it doesn’t come with its own rucksack cover, so I have attached one myself, and also it lacks straps on the outside to strap your tent or roll mats to it, but it does have loops in place so I have simply purchased additional straps with this in mind.

 

I have taken this backpack out with me in the winter months, but its perhaps a little too small once a third of it is filled with my winter sleeping bag, and as one viewer said, I end up looking like a one-man band with odds and ends attached to the outside of it.  

So, that was a run through of the tents of Summit or Nothing, from two different points of view. So, I hope that whether you are set to be a keen ultralight camper like Nath, or a budget backpacker like me, we have thrown some great options and ideas to consider your way. Of course, there are many other backpacks out there, and I am sure that many of you will have some recommendations and feedback yourself. It would be great to hear them in the comments below.

 

And be sure to check us out on YouTube for more wild camps, mountain hikes and gear reviews, and check out this new video about What to Pack for A Winter wild Camp.

 

Until next time, thanks for reading and happy camping!  

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