Looking for a back pack for day hikes and overnight camps this season? – I think I have found an answer!
A backpack for the Spring and Summer
I have a 20 litre day pack which has been adequate for short day walks. Sometimes though I have got a bit frustrated with it, when I have needed to pack extra gear, say for a mountain walk. When I think the temperature or the weather might change quite a bit over the period of my walk. Trying to stuff extra clothing into the 20ltr pack, sometimes with my sarnies and emergency bag, has been a bit of a mission.
When thinking about the trips I have planned this year, I wanted a bag that was big enough to easily take all the gear I might need for the mountains, and also for an overnight camping trips.
I have already tried out the Osprey AG 65 Backpacking Rucksack, and was impressed with their now famous Airspeed™Suspended Mesh Backsystem. So my choice of bag this season is the Osprey Mens Stratos 36 Pack
The Stratos 36 Backpack
The first thing I noted about the pack is it’s shape. Some packs can be a bit ‘bulky’ in their shape, especially the older designs. Which means the centre of gravity of the pack is further away from the wearers back. The Stratos is relatively narrow and long, the pack makes full use of the length of your back. This means that the centre of gravity of the pack is much nearer to the wearer, helping to reduce any back strain.
The Airspeed™Trampoline Suspended Mesh Backsystem is amazingly comfortable and works well at keeping your back dry. This is one of the major winning features for me. The mesh backsystem with the aid of the waist strap literally hugs your back. The frame holds the pack itself away from the wearer, creating a space between the mesh and the main pack. This allows a constant airflow to help ‘wicking’ your back and keep you dry. I found that the mesh system also holds the pack tight to your back and absorbs any ‘bumping’ around when scrambling up rocks or over rough ground. The draw back is that the pack weighs 1.49kg. This is mainly due to the frame that holds the pack away from the mesh system, but to be honest for me that is a small price to pay, compared to the rest of the Stratos’s features.
The mesh fabric covers the lower back and the waist straps of the pack. The waist straps are a bit wide, but help to pull the pack into the lumber section of the back. Which brings me to the other major plus point for me. I could feel the weight of the pack sitting on my hips and lumber, which is where I want it to be. Not dragging on my shoulders, making them ache, and causing me to stoop. This is a very comfortable place to carry the weight for any length of time, or when scrambling, and is much better for your deportment.
Because the waist strap is so wide, the pockets on either side are a useful size for such items as a compass, GPS or some snack bars. In fact all the pockets on the pack are a good size which is so helpful. Trying to squeeze something into a silly little pocket on your pack really irritates me.
The mesh side pockets are a good depth. I once lost a water bottle in the middle of the Chilterns because the side pockets of my rucksack were too shallow. This meant that we had to ration our water for our last days walking on a warm sunny day. We were dry and thirsty and the ‘Borders’ pub at Kirk Yetholm was a welcome sight indeed. I am sure not many walkers enter the pub and ask for a pint of water! After that experience deep side pockets get a big thumbs up from me.
One of the side pockets has an internal compression strap – why? I don’t know!
The main compartment has a sizable pocket for a hydration sack with pipe access, should that be your prefered method of hydration.
The Stratos 36 also has two access points to the main sack of the pack. There is the usual drawcord one from the top. The other is a zip all the way down one side, this is so useful. How many times have you had to empty half your pack to get to something that’s near the bottom on a wet or windy day. Well no more with the Stratos 36! The side zip allows much easier access to all your pack contents
The external lid pocket is a good size to stow away all those ‘at hand’ items, with an internal mesh pocket on the underside. The face of the pack has a full length zip pocket, so useful for storing waterproofs. No need to undo the whole pack and expose the contents to the rain when getting your waterproofs out as a shower starts.
The one pocket that I am not too sure about, it is the one at the base. Normally this is where a sleeping bag is stored, but I cannot get any of my sleeping bags into it! The material between this pocket and the main sack is very flexible, so that the pocket can be absorbed into the main sack, so I am not really sure of its use.
Below this pocket is another one that contains a water cover, another essential in this country.
Other features include, compression straps on the sides to keep the contents secure. Walking pole straps, including Ospreys Stow-on-the-go™ trekking pole attachment. Ice axe carry loop and removable sleeping mat straps on the base.
I have used the Stratos 36 twice now, firstly when climbing three ‘Welsh Munros’, and also when climbing Sharp Edge on Blencathra. I have really appreciated the size and accessibility of the pockets, being able to get to various kit a different times is so much more convenient.
The ‘carry’ of the bag on my back was very comfortable and secure, especially when scrambling. Of course I did get a sweaty back at times, but it did dry quickly thanks to the Airspeed™ Backsystem.
I have not used it to its full capacity yet, I will though when the weather is warmer and hopefully drier. I intend to use it for overnight wild camps.
Summary of Features
- Adjustable AirSpeed™ trampoline suspended mesh backsystem
- Adjustable torso length
- Base zip entry
- External hydration access
- Integrated & detachable raincover
- Internal key attachment clip
- Removable sleeping pad straps
- Side compression straps
- Single ice axe loop
- Single vertical zippered side access point
- Sternum strap with emergency whistle
- Stow-on-the-Go™ trekking pole attachment
- Top lid access
- Twin zippered hip belt pockets
- Under lid zipped mesh pocket
- Vertical centred zippered pocket
- Weight 1.49 KG
- Max dimensions (cm) 69(l) 33(w) 32(d)
- Buy now: Osprey Mens Stratos 36 Pack