Why I considered changing my rucksack / backpack

Since my first Camino trip in 2016 I have always worn the Osprey Aura 50 L backpack. I absolutely love this pack as it is super comfortable and has lots of bells and whistles. The Osprey packs are durable, and even four years on it is still going strong (just a bit worn in places).

In July 2019, I walked the South Downs Way (which I wrote a book about – here!), and this trip included wild camping. Suddenly, my small 5ft 2″ frame and needed to carry extra gear such as sleeping mats, a tent, tent poles & pegs, and extra clothes to keep warm at night. My base weight rose from around 12lbs on the Camino to 25lbs! After the 100 mile trip along the South Downs, I had a few areas of chafing, my ankles, hips and feet were painful and it simply wasn't as pleasant an experience as it could have been. I was time to reduce the weight of my gear, starting with my backpack.

What I like about the Salomon Out Week 38 + 6 pack.

If I am honest, I had no intentions of buying this pack at all. I was all set on purchasing an Atom Pack, but I was struggling to part with £300 (ish). I kept putting it off and was patiently waiting for an Atom Pack Sale! Meanwhile, my Lone Peak Altra Trail running shoes developed splits in both sides, so I needed some new walking boots/shoes. The Lone Peaks are super comfortable, but they are not overly durable. With only 200 miles on these shoes I already needed to replace them – so I was on the hunt for some mid boot, lightweight boots. As I was searching the Salomon website for boots, I stumbled upon their backpack range. The words “Ultralight” caught my attention and I ended up down a rabbit warren of Salomon backpacks!

I fell in love with this particular pack because:-

  • Purchase one from Amazon here. Or check out the Salomon website.
  • It weighs just 1.7lbs (compared to my Osprey at 4.7 lbs)
  • The front opens up like a suitcase, which is super handy when you are looking for something. (I love this and not seen the feature on any other lightweight pack. Not even the Atom Pack!)
  • The price – I spent £125
  • The colour – it is the same colour as my Osprey, so I am still “on brand”. (although they have other colours available).
  • Hydration system – I'm not one for hydration bladders, although they do have a pouch inside the pack for a bladder with hose. But I love the run-vest style hydration pockets on the shoulder straps. These are designed to work with the Salomon Soft Flask (other bottles fit, including the Smart Water Bottles). I then discovered that Salomon also has a water filter which can be incorporated into their flasks – genius! I will let you know how I get on with this. (No need to buy an additional water filter kit – it is all built as one).
  • It has a “motion fit harness” – which are strategically aligned straps that pull the pack into your body. I was worried about wearing a frameless pack with no support, but this system works a treat.
  • The top lid comes off with a toggle and two small clips. This was such a difference to the Osprey “brain”, which needed to be unthreaded. Needless to say, with the Osprey I never removed the brain and ended up taking a separate lightweight day pack with me for shopping in the evening etc – more weight saving!
  • The front mesh pocket was a struggle to get into at first but when I found the hidden zip I realised how much I love this feature. Everything inside is secure, breathable and perfect for my rain gear.
  • It has a unique system for your trekking poles and ice-axe. Unlike the Osprey, where my poles would get caught in the shock cord loop (frustrating), these fit with a snug clip instead. Why hasn't anyone thought of doing that with a pack before? It is so much easier to use.
  • Stretch side pockets are a good size, and the shoulder pocket is perfect for snacks.
  • The Y strap on the front is great for holding a fleece, jumper or sit pad.

What didn't I like about this pack?

  • The hip belt pockets are a bit small. For those wanting to use these pockets for a mobile phone may struggle (especially if you have a thick case, or a bigger phone such as the iPhone Plus series).
  • If you want to hike without the brain section, then the flap that covers the main opening at the top only just fits. It is a small triangle section and it did not give me confidence that it would keep the rain at bay.
  • The pack is water-resistant but not waterproof. It is made from a mix of Polyamide, Polyester and elastane. Other packs are made from Dyneema which is waterproof, but also super expensive. A pack liner will give you the protection you need from the rain.

In a nutshell

As an initial review of this pack, I am very happy with it. I will report back when I have more mileage under my belt as I am curious to see how it will wear over time and if it is comfortable fully loaded (44 litres) on a multi-day backpacking trip. Watch this space!