When I announced to Vango that I was working on a review of gear for UK winter mountaineering, and they sent me a Khumbu 50 rucksack, I was a bit surprised. It is, apparently, their latest development in lightweight trekking rucksacks.

The best bits

Size-wise, at 50l it is great for days out in the winter hills, giving you ample space for all your kit, plus a few extras in case the temperature plummets, or your favourite hat blows away.

For a well-priced rucksack it has some great features – an Airwave Back System, breathable shoulder and waist straps, a detachable waist belt, twin ice-axe loops, compression straps, and it is actually very well made.

A couple of things I didn’t like though.

It has a rain cover that packs away in the base of the rucksack. I hate these on any rucksack. Why give you ice axe loops, then add a cover that would be impossible to use if you had your twin axes strapped to the outside? Most rain covers just billow into an enormous sail in windy weather, and the Khumbu’s is no exception. Also, a rain cover only keeps the rain off the parts of the rucksack that are not against your body – so where the rucksack lies against your back rain drips down and is sure to find a way into the rucksack. On the positive side though, the rain cover on the Khumbu is completely detachable, and that’s what I’ve done with mine. No harm done.

The second thing I don’t like about the Khumbu is the width of the strapping and buckles. For a winter rucksack they are just far too thin and fiddly. With mine I have to remove my gloves to adjust anything on the rucksack. To be fair to Vango though, they don’t claim that this is a serious winter mountaineering rucksack, it is after all intended for lightweight trekking.

Overall impression

A very good rucksack that I’d use for summer hillwalking, trekking, and yes, winter walking too. At around £70 there’s a lot of robust, well-put-together rucksack going on here. I’d like to see thicker straps for use with gloved hands, and my own personal bee-in-me-bonnet over rain covers I’ll just have to live with. If you want a good, all-round load-carrier at a great price. This is the perfect place to start.

Go to the Vango website for further details: