I was looking for a replacement for my small, 20 year old, Lowe Alpine (15L) rucksack, for commuting to work in the main. Since I live on Dartmoor, rain is a constant so I wanted it weatherproof. Up until now I’ve used a Camelbak raincover off my Camelbak Mule hydration pack (that I use for mountain biking). But this doesn’t stop the rain from providing embarrassing wet patches on my clothes at work. Plus it’s too small. I pinched my wife’s rucksack for a while, but she noticed.
So I was after a slightly bigger rucksack that could be used for cycling as well as other activities (walking, beach etc). And I wanted it waterproof ideally. There are a few options around but I went for a brand I’ve used for years: Aquapac. They are a British company who produce all sorts of ways of waterproofing your gadgets. I’ve used their pouches for my phone for a long time and still have one of their original underwater camera pouches I bought 15 years ago, and it’s still going strong.
I went for the Aquapac 788 wet and dry 25L backpack, which they also do in a 15L and 35L version. It’s waterproof to IPX6 which is perfect for anything from commuting to work on your bike, to kayaking. My main use for it is for cycling, so 25L is just right for me. 35L might get a little heavy, and I know 15L isn’t enough.
Starting at the front, you have a carabiner and lashes to attach, for example, your cycling helmet. I’ve looped the waist strap through, since I don’t need it much. Then you’ve got the two full length meshed side pockets. These are a great feature and I use them a lot. I forgot to bring my water bottle for a longer ride recently, and even managed to fit a 2 pint milk bottle in one side as a makeshift water bottle:
Then you have the mechanism that, together with the sealed seams, makes the backpack waterproof: the roll-seal. Three folds for a complete seal – and if it’s going in the water, you have a couple of toggles that ensure nothing gets in. If it’s not going to get very wet, 2 folds is plenty.
Moving around to the back, we’ve got a really nice feature of these backpacks: the removable back support. This has a few purposes. Firstly you can dry it out if it gets wet. Secondly, you can also use it as an impromptu seat to protect your backside. And lastly, you can fit a hydration bladder into this pocket and loop the hose through the carabiner on the front. I have a fairly large bladder for my Camelback which may not fit but will try this out at some point.
You’ve also got a chest strap and a waist strap which I’ve not used much. I think the chest strap is slightly overkill on this size of backpack, for me at least. The waist strap is detachable and would be handy if I start using this on the mountain bike. I loop it through the carabiner on the front as mentioned above when not in use.
For commuting it holds this lot in the pack (also take a look at the video at the top of the post):
- 13″ Macbook in sleeve
- iPad in sleeve with some accessories
- Shirt and jumper
- Wallet, compact camera, keys
This is about its limit, but I can fit it all inside. I use the mesh pockets for a lock, a waterproof coat and sometimes a drink bottle. This is just about perfect for me – I don’t need to carry all of this all of the time, so generally I’ll have some space left over.
It’s a good fit on my back but would prefer some extra padding on the shoulder strap, but then my shoulders are quite boney! With a month’s use, I only really notice this when it’s fully loaded and I think the straps have already softened slightly so it’s not a big issue.
The removable inside pocket is great for separating the contents. I would love an an external pocket too but I could always strap something on the front.
- Waterproof to IPX6
- Full-length sizeable meshed side pockets
- Roomy 25L capacity
- Separate and detachable inner pocket with additional sealed valuables pocket
- Removable back support for use as sitting mat. Also possible to fit hydration bladder
- Comfortable fit on my back, with good adjustments including chest and detachable waist strap
- Handy carabiner and lashes to attach stuff
- Good quality construction throughout
- Would like a little more cushioning on shoulder straps for my boney shoulders
- An exterior pocket would be perfect!
I really like this backpack and am using it for a lot more than just commuting to work. I’d recommend it to a friend.
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