Judy Armstrong reviews a top women’s day pack that works for big or small loads.

This review is part of our women’s day packs gear guide, and was first published in the July 2018 issue of The Great Outdoors.

  • Weights: from my digital scales, brands’ weights in brackets
  • Test load: 3.5kg up to 30 litres, 6kg 30+ litres

This is a very impressive pack, made in durable, abrasion-resistant nylon. It was stable and comfortable with a 6kg load and I’m confident it would have taken more, making it ideal for hut or bothy trips as well as days on the hill carrying heavy gear like ropes and harnesses. The back system (Adjustable Custom-Fit Pro) is length-adjustable by sliding the shoulder straps on Velcro pads. In the highest position the shoulder straps are anchored 7cm below the top of the back panel, which allows the top tension straps to be effective, and because the panel is rigid it doesn’t collapse outward. Set for a shorter back, the top tension straps need careful adjustment to avoid a gap between shoulder blades and pack, but it’s still do-able. The sternum strap has plenty of adjustment to match the changeable back length.

Shoulder straps and hipbelt are mesh- lined, with comfortable padding and shaping. The hipbelt has a central cut-out with plastic reinforcement and carries weight very well. There are small zip pockets on each side and side tension straps to accommodate different loads and curves. By virtue of the solid back plate, the load is held at hip level and can’t slump over your backside: hurray!

I love the access to the main compartment: a two-way zip that opens base and side, plus top opening (extendible lid with internal and external pockets, tall gusset with drawcord, quick-release buckle and strap for extended loads). There’s also a really useful, large front pocket with side zip access, and a shockcord daisy chain. Side compression runs below slanting mesh side pockets. A hydration bladder sits in a pouch in the main body with a Velcro hanging loop of the correct length (if a loop is too long the bladder can hang too low or flop about), with a left-side tube exit. A well-designed, well-made pack that works for big and small loads, summer and winter, for tall or small people. Top job, Salewa.