Reviewed by Olivia Abbott
I’m a bit awkward when it comes to rucksacks – I hate carrying anything too big and heavy and I like lots of easily-reachable external pockets, which most bigger bags don’t seem to have. I also find that because of the lack of pockets, it’s a faff to get water/hat/gloves/camera/something to snack on out of a bigger bag, so I avoid it, and end up having a much less comfortable and enjoyable day. So I’ve a tendency to try to cram a small, cheap daysack with too much stuff, rather than use a bigger, heavier rucksack and I usually end up with lumpy bits digging into my back, too-thin shoulder straps chafing my shoulders and an inadequate waist strap not taking any of the weight.
Graham was sent the Vaude Brenta 25 to test some time back, and he was very impressed with it (his review is here). The thing that persuaded me to give it a go was the fact that it was adjustable – so he could fit it for his 6ft frame, and then we could adjust it for my 5ft 3inches. You can also adjust the fit so that the bulk of the pack stands further away from your back – giving you more room to breathe, and also meaning that awkward corners of stuff in the bag don’t stick in your back.
Like I said, I’ve a tendency to stuff rucksacks too full, but despite being only 25 litres, this one coped pretty well with my DSLR camera and chunky lens, light waterproof trousers, lunch in a re-used Chinese takeaway tub and extra hat and gloves. Then binoculars, Sigg bottle and various sundries such as purse, tissues, dog treats and lipbalm went in the various pockets that the bag has on its outside – always, as far as I’m concerned, a great advantage for keeping things handy.
The bag was really stuffed (I could maybe ideally do with one with just five litres more space, if, for instance I want to get heavy duty waterproof trousers and an extra fleece layer in for winter – but still with all those handy pockets. Why does it seem that with bigger rucksacks, those extra spaces all get absorbed into the main body?) but because the main body of the sack is kept standing away from your back, it’s comfortable to carry no matter how awkwardly packed, and the wide, well-padded shoulder straps help with this too. My main criticism is that the padding on the waist belt doesn’t extend far enough – it ends at about your hip bones, the problem being that I would have liked to used my camera bag’s waist-belt loop for convenience, but the webbing straps that begin where the waist belt ends just aren’t sturdy or wide enough for this. A bit more width there would also be more comfortable.
Apart from that, though, this rucksack has opened my eyes to the benefits of getting a proper daysack. And now Graham and I are fighting over who gets to use the Brenta 25 on days out together…
The Vaude Brenta retails at around £80.