Size: 24litre | Waterproofing: DWR | Weight: 790g
The Montane Azote 24 (£90) is a simple, well thought out backpack with everything you need for a day out exploring, that’s comfortable thanks to the adjustable velcro back panel that allows you to fine-tune the length of the bag to your back.
Available in either women’s specific 24litre or larger 25litre alternative, its compact dimensions bely a generous amount of space. There’s a large main cavity, zipped top pocket for valuables, waist band zipped pockets, two large water bottle-sized side pockets and a handy mesh stash pocket on the front, ideally sized to fit a layer or two when you start to heat up. There’s also an external hydration bladder sleeve, which is always a welcome touch.
Made, as we’ve come to expect these days, using a healthy amount of recycled nylon, the 100 denier fabric is thick and durable, and will happily survive a heavy shower, although persistent rain will saturate eventually as there’s no rain cover included.
For a relatively small backpack we’re impressed by the design and fit of the waist strap that offers great protection and support. The large women’s specific hip fins take the weight brilliantly.
It might lack the hipster aesthetic of the Mont-Bell but we found it to be a bag with a thousand uses – in town, on a bike and out walking – that’s comfortable, easy to pack and hardwearing.
Pros: External hydration pack access; adjustable comfort; superb waist strap; good value
Cons: No rain cover
Price: £90 | Check price on Cotswold Outdoor | Montane | SportsShoes
Mont-Bell Antiplano Pack 20
One for minimalist mountaineers
Size: 20litre | Waterproofing: DWR | Weight: 760g
With its achingly cool Gorpcore aesthetic, WIRED imagines there will be more sightings of this super light, Japanese made, minimalist pack in Soho House than the Swiss Alps, but nevertheless, it is a fantastically designed day pack that marries form and function.
With thick, well-padded shoulder straps, supportive waist-strap and plenty of padding for your upper bag you’ll be comfortable for hours with the Antiplano Pack 20 (£165). There’s a firm board underneath the padding to help keep everything balanced and supportive – and stop the contents of the bag pushing in your back – and while it lacks the structure of the Osprey, or Klattermusen, it does the job.
Having just one main roll-top opening maintains the minimalist aesthetic, and while they haven’t included a main zipped front pocket, there are four generous zippered pouches (two on the waist, two in the shoulder straps that will even take a water bottle) and two discrete super stretchy mesh side pockets. There’s also a latch for walking poles and an internal hydration pack hook.
Despite feeling gossamer thin, the Antilano is actually double lined and the use of 30-denier rip-stop nylon (100-denier on the base) protects it from tears, and, combined with the roll-top closure also makes it very waterproof. The internal waterproof liner is velcroed into place, and easily removable, great if you want to shave grams of weight on a dry day, or for taking dry kit into the tent while leaving a soaking bag out to dry.
Pros: Stylish; waterproof; practical double-layer; great compression; lightweight
Cons: Warmer than some
Price: £165 | Check price on Mont-Bell | Outsiders