THE FASTPACK 50 has been a favourite for several years now and in my opinion is still the best combination of weight, durability, comfort, features and price in this size of pack. It’s made from tough lightweight fabrics that have stood up to much wear.

All the seams except those attaching the back panel to the main body are taped, making the pack virtually waterproof. I’ve never had more than very slight leakage.

The pre-curved rigid frame and the wide, well-padded, curved hipbelt make for a comfortable carry. Lightwave say the pack is suitable for loads up to 15kg. I’d say it’s okay with a couple more kilos. The Fastpack hugs the back and is very stable, as I’ve found when using it for ski touring. The mesh covering on the foam back panel does allow some moisture to dissipate but as with other close-fitting packs, damp patches are to be expected after strenuous exercise.

The pack is roomy – Lightwave’s litres are bigger than those from some other rucksack manufacturers! It’s easy to attach extra gear to the diagonal compression straps too. There are tabs on the front that can be used to attach shockcord so gear can be carried there as well. It doesn’t have as many pockets as some packs but I haven’t missed having them. The pockets it does have are functional. The lid pocket is roomy and the angled stretch mesh side pockets are accessible when wearing the pack.

The Fastpack 50 is only available in one back length. There is a 40-litre version with a shorter back. The 48cm back of the Fastpack 50 fits me fine. I’m 5’ 8″ tall with a long back. Those of six foot or above might find the back a little short. If so, the very similar 60-litre Lightwave Ultrahike is available in 50 and 55cm back lengths.

First published: March 2014