Historic Range: $139.97
A comfortable and capacious 65+15 litre rucksack with adjustable back system, front access to main compartment, and expanding side pockets.
- Front access to main compartment
- Relatively light for its size and features
- Roomy expandable pockets on the sides
- No front mesh compartment for wet items
My Berghaus Wilderness rucksack at the start of a recent long-distance hike. Bungee cords and carabiner clips are my additions. Same applies to the drying socks!
The Wilderness is the top end model in the range of rucksacks made by British brand Berghaus. It has Berghaus's Biofit back system which allows you to adjust the height of the shoulder straps according to your back length. The back is well padded where it needs to be, at the shoulders and the base of the spine, while leaving a gap in between so air can circulate. At 1.9 kilogrammes the rucksack is relatively light for its size and features. The Osprey Atmos 65, for instance, weighs 2.2kg.
The Wilderness has nine compartments in all, not counting the side mesh pockets or the raincover pocket. The main and base compartments are separated by a removable divider. The base compartment is separately accessible while the main compartment is accessible from the front as well as the top — a feature which I have found to be genuinely useful. There is also an internal compartment for a water bladder.
Main compartment opened from the front with water bladder (Source Widepac 3L) in its pocket
Roomy bellows pockets on the sides add useful extra space. Two hipbelt pockets can easily take a GPS or compact camera. The lid, which is not removable, has a large pocket which is accessible from the outside and a small one accessible from the underside of the lid.
Side bellows pocket. I can fit two days' worth of food in one pocket.
The side mesh pockets have openings at the back as well as the top, presumably so you can stash a water bottle sideways for greater accessibility while you are on the move. However, the side openings are rather narrow so putting the bottle back would be difficult.
The front of the pack has the usual attachment points for walking poles. There are additional attachment points on the front and top for external load-carrying. I have threaded bungee cord through these attachment points, as shown in the top photo, in case I want to carry things—a wet jacket, say—on the outside of the pack. This compensates for the lack of a front mesh compartment which some other backpacks have.
The pack has an integral raincover which is stowed in its own little pocket at the bottom of the pack.
The pack is well equipped with compression straps to hold its load securely. The bottom compression straps have extra length so they can be used to lash a sleeping mat to the pack. However, they are set too far apart to hold my particular model of mat, which folds in two lengthwise before rolling up for storage. If I needed to store the mat externally I would use the front or top attachment points instead. But I don’t need to because the base compartment of the pack is big enough to hold the mat along with my sleeping bag.
Overall I am very happy with this rucksack. It appears durable in spite of its relatively light weight. It took me some time to get the adjustment of the straps right, and now I've got it right I'm not willing to readjust them! Although I'm 6'1" I have found that the medium setting for the shoulder strap height works best for me.
I have found that it’s important to tighten the hipbelt really well to stop the pack from slipping down. It’s also important to pull the top stabilization straps tight to bring the pack close to your shoulders. But with this done the pack comes to feel like part of your body and I have carried loads of up to 14 kilogrammes (31lb) comfortably.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: £112 sterling