Spring 2014 has seen a lot of exciting new rucksack styles, designs and technologies come to our shelves. To make your decision that bit easier, our expert staff have been out testing the new range of luggage and packs and have put together some of their highlights...
Osprey Talon 11 Rucksack
"The Talon 11 has become a classic 'fast & light' pack for biking, walking or climbing. There's enough cargo space to carry a lightweight waterproof, hydration bladder and food, with enough pockets left over for tools, GPS etc.
"I'm a big fan of 'proper' waist belts on my bike packs rather than just webbing, as it helps keep things more stable when you hit the rough stuff or jumps, and when you use it off the bike, the load is transferred more efficiently to your hips. An added bonus of the waist belt is the waist pockets: big enough for a fist-full of gels for those long non-stop summer epics.
"The new stretch fabric used on the 2014 Talon is much stretchier than the older models, meaning that if you prefer more old-school hydration systems, you can squeeze a water bottle into the side pockets with ease! Also available in a women's-specific version (shorter back length and specially shaped straps) the Talon 11 now comes in bright orange! YES!!!"
Tried and tested by Tony Didcock - Chester
Osprey Farpoint 70
"With the summer coming lots of soon to be travellers will be in need of a rucksack. I find most people associate travel with the classic rucksack (Lid, drawstring, lots of straps and external pockets). While these bags are perfect for mountain activities, the Osprey Farpoint 70 is better in almost every way for travellers who are moving from hostel to hostel, spending most of their time in urban areas, and doing a few day hikes at the most. This would describe the majority of travellers and here is why the Farpoint is the bag I use and would happily recommend it..."
- Ease of Access: When travelling, stuff goes in and out of your bag constantly. The huge zip opening means you can see all your stuff and get to it as easy as a suitcase. No more digging around trying to feel the item that you're after, and messing everything up in the process.
- Becomes a suitcase: It has a zip away back system, and no external straps to catch on things. Perfect for checking it in at the airport, moving easily on public transport and laying it on the beach without filling the back system with sand.
- Integrated daysack: You're going to need one anyway, so why not kill two birds with one stone? And if you don't want to use it as a daysack, its just extra pocket space.
- Can be padlocked. Unlike most big rucksacks. A BIG plus for travellers.
- Lightweight: Weighs far less than most rucksacks, making it easier to keep within the baggage allowance. Ripstop fabric ensures durability.
- Still pretty darn comfortable: It might lack the uber-supportive hipbelts of some bags, but its more than comfy enough to wear for a few hours at a time, which is enough for most travellers.
- Daysack clips onto the front: A great feature that I've never seen on any other bag. So you can have the big one on your back, and the little one at your front, so you valuables are where you can see them and get to them easily.
"It's a great bag that makes total sense!"
Tried and tested by Simon Altman - Stratford
Osprey Exos 48
"This is one of the nicest rucksacks I have used. It's so comfortable you can easily forget you have it on. The new shoulder straps and waist belt make this rucksack feel amazing. If you are looking for a new medium-sized rucksack you need to try this on your back before making any decision."
Tried and tested by Brian Molyneux - Liverpool
Camelbak Mule NV Hydration Pack
"The latest version of the Camelbak Mule NV is awesome! Having owned an earlier version of the Mule for eight years I can highly recommend this durable hydration pack. I've used it for mountain biking trips, trail running races, general hiking, travelling and day-to-day commuting. In particular, the new back system is especially well thought out: it's comfortable, breathable, and flexes with the shape of your body, making it perfect for longer excursions into the hills. I'll definitely be upgrading to the Mule NV this season!"
Tried and Tested by Jared Ahmed - Manchester Deansgate
Osprey Ariel 65
"This pack has all the features I need from a backpacking rucksack: it fits really comfortably and can be easily adjusted, whilst leaving plenty of breathing room by the small of the back so you don't overheat carrying gear for long distances. And a custom mouldable hip belt means you don't need to worry about the bruises ill-fitting packs so often leave you with! I love that the top of the pack is detachable, and the main compartment accessible from the top, middle and bottom so you don't need to unpack everything to find stuff. The hydration compartment being separate from the main compartment makes topping up water incredibly easy and eliminates any worries about leaks. It has plenty of straps on the outside for gear too."
Tried and tested by Pippa Hobbs - Kensington
The North Face Base Camp Duffel
"If you're looking for an incredibly versatile and absolutely bombproof travel case, look no further than an ultra hard wearing Base Camp Duffel bag.
Ideal for all your travelling needs; be it five star weekend breaks to climbing expeditions (stuff it with sleeping bags/clothes and you've got a comfy rainproof campfire seat), this bag can adapt to any surroundings you put it in!
"With fantastic new colour ways released for spring/summer 14, there is sure to be something to suit your tastes, and you'll find it hard to miss your gear at the airport luggage carousel.
"A true backpacking essential."
Tried and tested by Laura Smith - Graphics Team