A new collection of rucksacks from Berghaus includes the Ridgeway 60+ 10.
If you are going to develop a new rucksack itâ€™s a good idea to do some market research. And who better to ask than walkers on Scotlandâ€™s most popular long-distance trail, the West Highland Way?
Berghaus did just this and used the results to inspireÂ their new rucksack collection, which includes three backpacking rucksacks for men and women.
- Menâ€™s Wilderness 65+15 and womenâ€™s Wilderness 60+15, Â Â£140
- Menâ€™s Ridgeway 65+10 and womenâ€™s Ridgeway 60+10, Â£120
- Menâ€™s Trailhead 65 and womenâ€™s Trailhead 60, Â£100.
The packs incorporate the brandâ€™s BIOFIT â€œon the move adjustableâ€ back system. The features and prices of the packs are designed to appeal to different types of backpackers, from experienced trekkers to young Duke of Edinburgh Award participants.
The Trailhead 65 and 60 are aimed at entry-level backpackers, while the Wilderness pack boasts more features for experienced walkers. The Ridgeway is the mid-way pack and the one I have been reviewing.
Berghaus Ridgeway rucksack
Youâ€™ll notice there is a difference of 5 litres between the menâ€™s and womenâ€™s rucksacks. I think this is a good idea, not because I think women are always weaker than men but because 60l is a good starting size for a rucksack that women will be carrying for day after day.
In general, the more space you have the more you will pack. I might even be tempted to suggest that the rucksacks should be kept to a 50+ 10 size for this very reason.
The +10 refers to an extra 10 litres of space that could be used in the top lid and compressible side pockets. My advice is not to use all of this space. Carrying a 60l pack filled to the brim will be tiring after a few hours, let alone a few days.
The male and female rucksacks also differ in terms of the back system. While easily adjustable, the packs are designed to fit the average male or female so the lengths are different.
The back system works by lengthening or shortening straps to raise or lower the padded back. The hip strap and padding stay put while the shoulder straps and cushioned back can be moved to suit your height.
For a stable load, you should aim to have the pack fairly high up your back rather than weighing you down around your middle. You can even adjust the back system while the pack is on your back.
The pack has a â€œpre-curvedâ€ hip belt. I am not entirely sure why this is needed but it does mean the two hip straps hug your body and clip together easily when you first put the pack on. I presume this prevents the hip straps from waving around at your side.Â The hip strap is well cushioned and very sturdy, which is important when carrying a heavier pack.
Wearing the pack with a big load is really comfortable. I have endured several styles of large rucksacks in my time that are not at all comfortable but in general the Berghaus brand has been a good quality choice. (Iâ€™ve owned, and had a lot of use out of, two larger Berghaus packs over three decades.)
Many features of the Ridgeway
The interior space can be used in different ways. You can separate a larger area at the top from a smaller area at the bottom if you want to segregate kit. Or you can leave it as one big storage area.
Usefully, there is access fromÂ the top, through a drawstring system, and from the front base of the rucksack via a large zip.
Thereâ€™s also an internal sleeve style pocket to the back of the pack, which would be goodÂ for storing flat documents, such as route notes, maps and even an electronic tablet, or a hydration bladder.
The lid has a larger outside zipped pocket and a smaller internal zipped pocket, presumably for small, valuable items.
The large side pockets are also zipped down each side and can be expanded to fit in your extra 10l allowance or compressed with straps to keep them neat and tidy.Â There are also two meshed side pockets for carrying water bottles or for keeping walking poles out of the way.
The rucksack fabric feels durable and robust and water repellent. If walking in heavy rainfall there is a useful integrated rain cover that resides inside a velcroed pocket to the base of the rucksack.
This rucksack is not remarkably different fromÂ many others on the market, but I do think the back system has been well designed. The cushioning is particularly impressive, as is the adjustability.
Itâ€™s the kind of pack that I would use for multi-day wild camping trips when I need to carry a tent, sleeping kit, food, water and spare clothing.
For more reviews of large capacity rucksacks see issue 30 of the magazine.