For many years I owned a Karrimor Hot Ice rucksack. Generally, I was very happy with it. However, it did have two slight failings: firstly it was slightly too small and secondly for something called "Hot Ice" it had absolutely rubbish axe attachments. Like all the original sacks made in Accrington it lasted for years.
A few years ago I bought a replacement Karrimor, wich was a tear drop design, with zip closure. I can't remember exactly how much it cost, but it was quite cheap. The materials and construction weren't up to the old Karrimor standard, but given the price, I didn't expect them to be. Recently, the stitching around the zip started to give way and the whole lot began to fray.
I wanted to replace it with something that was large enough to use as a climbing day sack, but could also be used for cycling, or just going for a day walk. I decided that what I wanted was a sack that was around 30 litres, single compartment and not a pear drop shape with zip fastening. There are probably hundreds of sacks that meet this specification, so it took quite a bit of research. I was happy to pay for something that would last, but if it was going to be expensive, I wanted to make sure I liked it!
Finally, I settled on an Osprey Talon 33. One of the things I liked was that it came in a range of back sizes. I am 6ft 2", so generally need a long back size. However, I had read a review on the TGO web site, which although quite positive stated that it was let down by the back being too flexible. I went along to my local branch of Cotswold, who had it in a sale, to try one out. I think that Osprey must have changed the design since TGO's review, since the back on the sack I tried on wasn't at all floppy.
The pack itself is very light (0.92kg according to the data sheet) and although the shoulder straps aren't padded, they seem comfortable enough when carrying a load. The shoulder straps have a couple of small pouches on them, which are apparently for holding energy gels. I can't see me using these, but then they don't weigh much! The back length is adjustable using a velcro attachment system. Easy to adjust, but you will probably only ever use it once. There isn't an internal frame, but there does seem to be some sort of semi rigid back panel, which gives the back some stability. The back panel itself is covered in some sort of mesh, which aids ventilation.
There are a number of tension straps, which make it easy to fold the sack down to carry small loads. There are several small features which make the pack more attractive:
- Zipped pockets in the hip belt, large enough to hold something like a compact camera.
- An external bladder pocket. Not much use to me, but nice if you use a bladder.
- Internal zipped mesh pocket in the lid.
- External zipped lid pocket, which also contains a velcroed pouch, for things like keys.
- Captive ends for the adjustable straps to stop them blowing in your face.
- Nifty web strap under the lid to hold your rope.
- Stretch front and side pockets.
I have used the sack a few times now and am very happy with it. It costs around £80.