Some designers seem determined to over-engineer their packs, adorning them with a multitude of features which, while catching a potential buyer’s eye with all the associated straps and buckles, will rarely be used in practice.
Not so here. The Wildtrek 70 is a neat exercise in minimalism, while sacrificing neither comfort nor robustness. Padding at key points – on the shoulders, at the hips – is light but sufficient. The test load just filled the pack – it should easily handle more weight though my 12kg occupied all the volume – which sat comfortably upright on my hips, weight nicely distributed, with no pulling backwards. Though more of the pack sat against my back than the Gregory Contour 60, sweating was barely more noticeable. However, the 12kg was handled better by this pack than most and I wouldn’t dispute the manufacturers’ claim that it’d handle up to 15kg.
The hip belt was comfortable and not prone to slippage. Hip fin pockets were a tad unusual – unique here – in that they are positioned well behind the user’s flanks and the zipped openings lie against the body, with just enough space to slip a hand in to open them. Space within is sufficient for keys and coins and not a lot more.
The pack has taped seams and a DWR treatment and is fairly watertight, right down to the large partition in the pack base (where traditional packs often have a division to hold a sleeping bag), which is an effective ‘wet zone’, with water-resistant zip, taped seam lining and DWR treatment. That was too great a temptation for any self-respecting gear tester and, of course, I shoved a down jacket in and got the pack wet to see what would happen. Unfortunately some water did enter (note it’s referred to as ‘resistant’ not ‘water-proof’) so I wouldn’t use it to store an otherwise unprotected down bag but I can envisage times when it would be useful, perhaps for keeping sodden waterproofs or a wet flysheet away from the rest of your kit.
All in all I reckon this is a damn fine backpacking model that benefits from lacking all the bells and whistles that clutter some other packs. It’s marginally heavier than the Osprey pack (whose bells and whistles I admire) but the carry comfort has the edge – hence the ‘Best Buy’ designation.