Chris Townsend reviews a fully featured daypack
Unusually for a small daypack Vaude’s Wizard has a wealth of features and a complex back system. In fact, there are plenty of much bigger packs with simpler backs. The Wizard back system has shoulder straps whose position can be adjusted in height by moving the framesheet up or down, giving a minimum back length of 43cms and a maximum one of 52cms. The back has a curved sprung frame and a mesh backband to allow good ventilation to help keep your back dry. However, straps at the bottom of the back can be used to release the tension on the backband so the pack hugs your back for better stability. The padded hipbelt is quite wide and lined with mesh for ventilation.
The packbag is 24 litres in size, expandable to 28 litres by means of a long zip that runs down the sides and round the base and when opened expands the lower part of the pack, a method for increasing volume I hadn’t seen before. Another long zip runs two-thirds of the way round the main compartment, giving good access to the contents. Two more zips give access to pockets, the larger of which has a zipped security pocket inside plus slots for pens, phone, and other small items. There are mesh side pockets for water bottles and a zipped hipbelt pocket.
All this adds up to quite a heavy pack, given the small size, not that I think this is particularly significant for a day pack, unless you’re a runner. What matters is how well the features work and whether they are useful. The back length adjustment does mean the actual length of the back can be altered – on many adjustable back systems the back length is fixed and all you’re adjusting is the position of the shoulder straps on the back. I can see altering the back length could be useful on a big pack. I don’t think it’s necessary on a small pack. As it is, I didn’t find altering the back length made any noticeable difference to how the pack carried. It felt comfortable at every position. The pack has top tension straps. Whatever the back length these were below the top of the shoulder straps and had no effect on how the pack carried. They’re not needed.
Whilst I don’t think the adjustable back system has much value on a pack this size I do like the adjustable ventilation. Given the choice between a close-fitting pack or one with a ventilation gap I prefer the former as stability is much better if the pack is used for scrambling or even just walking on rough ground. Body hugging packs do lead to sweaty backs though and minimising this is the purpose of ventilated packs. Having a pack that can be either one is excellent.
I also like the packbag design. The three top zips make access to the contents easy and the side pockets are great for water bottles. The side straps – one each side – do cross the zips of the main compartment and larger pocket but these are still quite easy to use without unclipping the straps. The zip round volume extension is useful if you have extra bulky items.
The Wizard 24 is comfortable to carry and easy to use. I can’t fault it as a daypack. I do think the back system is unnecessarily complicated for a small pack but it’s not a problem. The pack is made from recycled polyester with a PFC-free treatment and meets various environmental standards, which is good.
RECOMMENDED: This product has been awarded our ‘Recommended’ endorsement, meaning our reviewer believes it is a strong product which works well for its intended purpose.