Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

A new rucksack

22nd March 2007

I now have got a replacement for my Eurohike pack: it has turned out to be Osprey‘s 1380 gram Atmos 50 after all my musings on Karrimor and Gregory packs. Mind you, I still have my eye on the Gregory Z55 for multi-day trips so my heavyweight Karrimor Cougar may yet get retired as well. That said, I have been tweaking the Karrimor’s adjustable back in light of the Osprey’s fit to see if it performs any better.

Returning to the Osprey, when I went looking for an Atmos 50 on the online stores that we have in the U.K., almost every single Atmos 50 pack that I saw available was in red and grey. This might now be changing: I have since spotted a blue Atmos 50, my preference because I think bright red to be a little loud, on Snow+Rock‘s website. In the U.S., I think that the colour availability is better.

Having seen that Atmos’ features were to my liking and that some good words written about it on OutdoorsMagic.com and BackpackingLight.com, I decided to see if I could get one in my choice of colour and fit (it’s medium back length for me). Alan Sloman also is using one that he ordered from the U.S. for his Big Walk from Land’s End to John O’ Groats to raise money for Sue Ryder Care who looked after his late father and he seems to be getting along fine with it (at least, it’s about his sore feet and beer drinking that we keep hearing…). My search started with my getting in touch with Osprey Europe who said that Snow+Rock and George Fisher should have what I was after. When I enquired Snow+Rock said they would have to get a blue one on special order, while George Fisher were expecting a delivery of Osprey packs, blue ones included. In the end, I ordered from George Fisher and the Atmos was with me in a matter of days, and very nice it is too.

It’s all very well for something to look good but it has to function well also so I loaded the pack up with a 12 kg weight to give it a good work out and tried it around the house to get some idea of how it performs, going up and down stairs as well to see how it would behave going up and down a hill. Of course, the real test would be to take out in the great outdoors but I want to see how things go in case I needed to send it back. In any event, I don’t think that muddy rucksacks can or should be returned and you can’t be too careful while out and about, hence the apparent madness of wearing a rucksack while going around my own home.

The first impression that I had when I put it on was how good the fit was. The weight in the sack was supported by what seems to be a solid hip belt with no folding apparent, a complaint levelled at other packs when you load them up, and it doesn’t compromise freedom of movement either. The shoulder straps function well but the hip belt reduces the amount of load that they need to carry, a relief to someone who has suffered from sore shoulders thanks to near useless hip belts (all they did was to strap the sack to your body). The curved back system, designed to improve ventilation, is also comfortable and having tried it a few times, it does seem to be getting more comfortable each time.

On the volume front, the pack also performs and the I found no problem so far with the curved back system impacting on what I can carry. The pockets on the back of the pack also work well with the big one taking overtrousers and a map case very easily; it’s very useful to have both near to hand. Speaking of having things near to hand, both wand pockets are handy places to put water bottles and the hip belt pockets are a neat touch. I still use a film camera and they make useful places to put rolls of film so film changes can be done without having to take the rucksack off. There is also a place to take a hydration bladder but my use of water bottles and the wand pockets mean that I may never use this feature.

All in all, the pack seems really well designed and I look forward to taking it out and about. If there is any omission, it is the lack of a rain cover but George Fisher sent a me a rucksack liner with the pack and use of that along with a spot of care on the packing front should see me through. Even though I don’t plan on walking in downpours, it has happened but thankfully not that often. In any case, I have always been able to dry out afterwards. Let’s see how things progress from here.


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