Monday, 21 January 2013

Gear Review - Easy Camp Day Hiker 25 daysack

When you think of backpacks makers, the names which come to mind are perhaps Deuter, Black Diamond, Vango, perhaps Regatta…  One name certainly not towards the front of that list would be Easy Camp.

Easy Camp are part of the same group as Outwell – a brand well known in the camping world as possibly the best manufacturer of tents and associated gear.  But Outwell's quality does come at a cost, and so Easy Camp is the groups’ budget brand – with a range of tents and accessories to satisfy the cost-conscious outdoor fan.

So when Easy Camp released a new range of backpacks, we were interested in getting our hands on one – and the Day Hiker 25 dropped onto our mat.

At first look, the Day Hiker 25 is attractive – we got sent the “Black” version – which is around 80% black with a smattering of light blue and a light grey inner.  The packs 25 litres capacity puts it firmly in the daypack area – and so should be perfect for day walks.  So is it?

Well, let’s start at the top.  Unzipping the now common compartment on top of the lid reveals a good size pocket for small items you might want easy access to.  I can reach behind me with my left hand and unzip to compartment whilst the daysack is on my back… but that might tell you more about my bendy-ness than anything.  Most people will have to get the daysack of their backs before gaining access to the compartment – but that’s the same as all the others though.

The collar, which can be drawn together with a pullcord – is wide enough for easy access to the main compartment of the daysack, and offers further protection from the ingress of rain or snow.  Easy Camp have helpfully included a carry hand at the top too – which can also double as a hanging up hook when you need to store the sack away.

The main compartment is large and with the exception of the sleeve at the back, there is nothing else inside: one big compartment to store your stuff.  The sleeve is designed for a hydration bladder, but I often use them for storing maps, directions and other documents in a place where I can find them!

Moving to the front, and there’s a very useful front-mounted pocket with a vertical zip allows for a GPS unit and a supply of batteries… or if you are recording a podcast, it is perfect for a portable audio recorder.  Pull cords allow for control over the neck of daysack, and nicely designed hidden expanding sections – rather like a pleated skirt – allow for the daysack to grow when it needs to.  Two clips, one on either side, secure the lid down whilst you are walking.

On both sides there’s an almost full-length zipped pocket which would be useful for snacks or bottled drinks.  And talking about drinks, if you do use the internal sleeve for a hydration bladder, there’s even a port at the top of the daysack for the associated hydration pipe.  Thinking of double uses, this is actually a great place to pop the cable for a pair of headphones through – and have the player in the daysack!
There's also attachments to carry walking poles too.

Right, to the back.  The straps are fairly long, with a good amount of adjustment possible to fit most bodies.  They aren't the most padded I've seen, but you've got to bear in mind this is a daysack, and therefore there isn't perhaps the need for massive quantities of padding.  That said, I can point you to a pack from Tesco which has a lot less…

A chest support made with elasticated strips with clips supports the daysack on the shoulders, but there isn't a full-blown waist strap with this one.  There is, however, a rather nifty back ventilation system made of a padded, springy mesh – and I have to say, it works surprisingly well in keeping a flow of air between your back and the daysack.  Helping to keep your back sweat-free will make this pack endear itself to you…

Last, but by no means least, is the compartment at the underneath of the daypack – again accessed by a zip – and this one contains the rain cover for the pack.  Now, unlike some other daysacks, the rain cover provided isn't attached to the pack in a secure way.  There is a lose strap on the cover and a free buckle on the pack, so I presume that’s the connecting method should you wish it… but having the cover lose means that you can at least pop it on a radiator to dry it out – or leave it at home and use the compartment for something else!
In tests, the rain cover does an admiral job for a while, but does succumb to the water after a while –so it is still a good idea to put your stuff in carry bags first and then put the bagged items into your daysack if you’re sure it is going to rain.

How does the Day Hiker 25 feel?  Well, it is very light but does give you the impression it is well made.  On the back, once adjusted, it is comfortable – with the back ventilation system working well to keep that sweat away.  And with a total of 4 pockets and the main compartment, there’s plenty of storage space too.

I have to say, I really like it.  Styling is spot on; the right quality at the price; feels safe and secure whilst it is on – and for just under £30, you can’t go wrong.

What's good...

Great quality for the price
Lightweight but durable
Good number of pockets/compartments
Excellent fit and comfortable on the back

What's bad...

Difficult to really complain at this price.

Day Hiker 25 daysack by Easy Camp - Rough Price - £30

Walks Around Britain rating  9/10

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