“Everything inside the backpack”, that was one of the first trekking lessons I learned. Believe me no wiser words were ever spoken.
Because I’m a slow learner, I took my time to understand the deep meaning behind this simple assertion. A water bottle lost at 2800 meters, a pair of sunglasses at 4300 meters, trekking pole at 3600 meters and so forth. My 50L backpack wasn’t enough for my alpinist needs.
Sensing my predicament, the good folks at Wildcraft sent me the Rhodas 65 L claiming it to be the “best bet for a long trip where you need to minimize pack weight and maximize storage.“
Assuming the name Rhodas derived from rhododendrons, I really liked the feel of it. Here’s what my preliminary findings revealed:
- Spacious: The loading area is deep and that’s one of the biggest plus points of this bag. I inserted three pillows vertically, two towels, and five jackets inside the pack just to observe the volumetric effects on the pack.
- Top and frontal loading: Dual loading is always helpful for long treks. I’ve always liked frontal loading because it enables fast access to pack/unpack stuff on the go.
- Separate cabinet for sleeping bag: Outside the main loading area is a big plus. I’ve had a bag that couldn’t accommodate my sleeping bag inside the back and if your sleeping bag is hanging loose outside the backpack, it’s nothing short of a bloody noose. Can take you down on a rainy day or on a slippery slope.
- An integrated rain-cover: Takes less than a second to pull out. And you don’t have to worry about losing it as it comes with a string attachment fitted to the lowermost part of the pack.
- Bungee Cord on the top to adjust the sleeping mat. I tried fitting two mats on the top and that worked pretty well.
- The pack weighs a little more than I had expected and that can be a major turn down for trekkers obsessed with weight. But to account for durability few extra hundred grams shouldn’t hurt.
- Stretchable deep pockets in the front and sides.
I don’t know what material is that but it has a velvety touch andMade of spandex, it really can outstretch itself beyond imagination.
- Shoulder straps are sufficiently padded and there’s an additional padding to support area surrounding the shoulder blades. Interestingly, torso adjustment system is a big win as it can be done just by pulling the strap while you walk.
- Hip belt pockets are deep but are connected to the belt stiffly that makes it awkward at times to pull stuff out of them.
During our Jogini Falls hike, we decided to load the bag with everything we had, which included a camera kit weighing 7.5kg, two sleeping bags, (1.9kg+1.3kg) and our food supplies for two days. The idea was to test the strength of non-structural components of the bag. Then the pack was hanged to a tree with the bag strap.
I’ve observed that non-structural parts of the bag aren’t made strong as they should be but that wasn’t the case this time. I hope it works well at high-altitudes too because that’s when real stress testing of the mind and non-structural components happens.
All things said and done, Wildcraft Rhodas is indeed stylish. Come summers of 2017 and we will have a detailed look at its performance at high altitudes.