Review: BLACKS Alpine Aqua II 60+10 Litre Rucksack
The rucksack. You can’t go backpacking without one! But with so many different brands and designs to choose from, the process of actually buying one can be a bit mind-boggling.
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I was preparing for a hiking/camping trip to Norway and, much as I love my Lowe Alpine Air Zone Pro 35:45*, it just wasn’t going to be big enough to hold everything I needed for 11 days out in the wild.
Here’s the low-down from Blacks’ product page:
- Spacious and practical daysack from Blacks
- Removable, waterproof roll up Dry System™ liner – featured within the hood and main compartment to keep the pack’s contents dry and protected.
- Antrofit™ ergonomically shaped back system
- Daisy chain attachment loops
- Side compression straps
- Map/document front pocket
- Adjustable pole attachment with buckle
- Bungee cord attachment system
- Lower compartment with divider – ideal storage for wet clothing or provides easy access to your sleeping bag.
- Walking pole support loops
- Hydration compatible
- Stabiliser straps
- Adjustable back system – tailor the fit to suit your body shape for maximum comfort.
- Adjustable chest and waist straps
- Expandable stretch mesh side pockets
- Padded hip fins
- Large zippered bellows side pockets
- Reflective tabs
- Hydration compatible
- Rain cover stored in base
- Haul loops
- Capacity: 70 litres
- Recommended activity – hiking / expeditions / backpacking
- Weight: 2.35kg
The rucksack has a number of adjustable systems in order to fit various body shapes. However, I shouldn’t need to point this out but, I am female! So I had to adjust the back system to the smallest “small” (as far down as it would go) in order to fit me… and I’m quite tall at 5ft 9, so I’m not sure how well it would fit someone more petite. There is a reason for the existence of “women’s rucksacks” after all; they’ve been designed to fit narrower shoulders and shorter torsos.
In the lower compartment, I kept my sleeping bag, my roll mat, my pillow and my towel (for easy access). In the top compartment, I carried the rest of my stuff: clothing, food. My boyfriend was custodian of the tent – thank God, because I’m not sure I would have been able to fit it in! Plus my rucksack was already 12.7kg (2.35kg of which was the rucksack itself).
The Dry System liner and rain cover were very effective in ensuring that all my kit remained dry and the large side pockets and mesh pockets were great on dry days to keep essentials handy (like SNACKS!)
I’ve got to say one thing though: TOO MANY BUCKLES AND STRAPS. It’s just overwhelming! I mean, you know when they say something has “bells and whistles” – well, this has too many bells and whistles. And it also literally has a whistle. On the chest strap. Which I’d have probably been grateful for in an emergency, but at the time I discovered it, I was like… really!?! At times it felt like I was carrying around a bag covered in Christmas tree decorations. Plus, one of the buckles that was actually necessary snapped on Day 2, so I had to knot the strap instead. I think I’d have preferred fewer, more sturdy buckles than a million flimsy ones. But I think that is my only complaint.
This is a really reasonably priced rucksack, which was part of the reason I chose it. I think you’d be hard pressed to find better value.
Pros: spacious, affordable, water-resistant, plenty of adjustable systems
Cons: too many buckles and straps, may not fit a petite female very well