photo: Savotta Saddle Sack 339 external frame backpack

Specs

External dimensions height 50 cm, width 45 cm, depth 25–35 cm
Capacity approximately 55–65 L
Weight approximately 1.90 kg (Frame weight 650g)
Materials paraffin-treated cotton, polyamide strap
Frame steel pipe

Reviews

A robust well-made bag that will last for decades.

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Source: bought it used
Price Paid: £150

Summary

A robust well-made bag that will last for decades. Heavier than many other backpacks, its environmental credentials, durability, robust construction, and ease of use more than make up for it.

Pros

  • High quality production
  • Environmental credentials
  • Simple design
  • Very robust
  • Large capacity which ca be adjusted

Cons

  • Lid is too narrow so rain can enter the main compartment if it is not done up tightly.
  • Rear pocket is too low for easy access.
  • It is heavier than most modern backpacks.
  • External frame may not suit everyone.

The Savotta Saddle Sack is a real workhorse. Yes, it is significantly heavier than most other modern sacks but, unlike them, this pack is likely to be still be carrying loads for decades to come and it can take a serious amount of abuse. This is central to the company’s values which reject our "throw away culture." Savotta are a Finnish company founded in 1955. Today, their core business is the design and production of high quality functional gear.

The first thing you will notice about the bag is the absence of a waist strap. This is because the Savotta Saddle Sack uses a very different load bearing system based on an external frame. Essentially, the load is borne on the shoulders not the waist. It's a simpler system and once the pack is fine-tuned you get used to it. It’s not as comfortable as a waist belt system, but it’s good enough if you are reasonably careful with what you put in it and you take the time to adjust the back system correctly.

The external frame has webbing and lacing which can be adjusted to fit your back. The tension on the webbing can also be adjusted depending on how firm or soft you prefer. Thanks to the external frame, the pack is free-standing, which is really useful for packing and unpacking.

The bag has a generous main compartment with a drawstring. There is enough room for all the essentials, food, etc. There are two side pockets large enough to take a Nalgene 1l standard bottle and a rear pocket at the base of the bag. The sides of the main compartment are laced so the space can be made bigger or smaller as needed. They can also be used to compress the load for added stability. I also find it a handy space to stow my Gransfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet. There is a zipped side pocket for access to the main compartment, but I found this unnecessary. A small tent could also be stowed here.

All of the straps are thread through (i.e. not quick release). At first, I found this annoying, but now I’m used to it and I actually prefer it. They are less likely to snap than the quick release buckles and there is no chance of them coming undone.

The two quibbles I have with the bag are that the lid is too narrow and if the bag is quite full rain can get in if the drawstring cannot be tightened sufficiently. The other is that the rear pocket sits too low and is difficult to gain access to it. Also, bear in mind as I have already described, this is a heavy bag and if weight is crucial this would not be the right bag for you.

Overall, the Savotta Sack 339 is a well made bag that will probably outlast me. I am happy to exchange extra weight for a bag that will last and is robust enough to take a serious amount of rough treatment whether it be in the forest, mountain, or trail. When my other lighter less well-made bags have worn out I may well just stick with the Savotta.

Experience

I use this for my bush crafting trips in the forest, Forest School work, and a few short trips along the Jurassic Coast in the UK (with full set of fishing gear!).

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Nice review of your external, Oliver! It's always good to hear about less well known brands, so thanks for sharing a review of this brand and its pack. If you have some pictures of it, those would be great to see in your review too.


7 months ago

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