With loads of pockets and a built-in rain cover, this backpack is a good budget-friendly choice for occasional wet wild camping, though it could use more access to the main compartment and more reliable hip straps
Lots of expandable pockets and gear loops
Integrated rain cover
Adjustable straps and EVA foam back padding makes for a comfortable carry
Lightweight and durable
Comes with handy emergency numbers, packing guide and list
Hip strap loosens while walking
No side access to main compartment
Only one size available
Hydration compartment needs hook
Laptop sleeve a little tight (if that’s what it is)
Hip belt pockets not big enough for phone
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Highlander Vorlich 40L Rucksack: first impressions
This hiking backpack is named for one of Scotland’s beginner-friendly munros, and it remains true to its namesake in both toughness and simplicity. If you’re gearing up for your first night away in the hills, the Highlander Vorlich is reliable, roomy and packed full of features without being too technical.
The main compartment is expandable and will easily hold all your camping gear, with that space supplemented by expandable outer pockets, zipped pockets in the lid for small essentials and in the hip belt for easy access, and gear loops. Made from tough ripstop Nylon, you can confidently load up this pack for a few nights away and expect it to hold up under the weight, while the hip and sternum straps and padded foam back mean you’ll be able to do so in comfort.
• List price: £60.99
• Weight: 2.5 lbs / 1.1 kg
• Sizes available: One size
• Volume: 40L
• Dimesions: 64cm x 33cm x 5cm
• Materials: 210D Nylon honeycomb ripstop
• Colors: Charcoal, blue
• Best use: Backpacking
For such a budget-friendly backpack, this bag features some interesting bonus features, not least of which is an integrated rain cover which rolls away into a zipped pocket in the bottom, but can be whipped out to make it completely waterproof in seconds. On the inside of the lid, there’s also a handy graphic with emergency numbers, a guide to packing your backpack and a list of survival items to bring, making this appealing to the newer backpacker. Cheaper gear often means heavier gear, but this comes in at a light 2.5kg and while the hip strap isn’t as reliable as a more expensive pack and the main compartment would benefit from more access, we think it’s a great choice for occasional backpackers not looking to spend a lot of money.
Highlander Vorlich 40L Rucksack: in the field
The first thing to know about this backpack is that it took me a while to test it out, and that’s because when I tried it on at home, wearing regular clothes, the shoulder straps felt as though they were too narrow and going to cut uncomfortably into the sides of my neck. However, in name of giving good gear advice, I decided to bite the bullet recently and take it on an overnight jaunt in the Campsies, which are hills near Glasgow, and I was pleased to discover that once I loaded it up and wore it over my hiking clothes (fleece and down jacket due to wind chill) it was actually fine. Once I got that out of the way, I found quite a bit to like about this rucksack, and a few areas for improvement.
Here’s how performed:
Comfort and breathability
As I’ve mentioned, I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable this backpack was when full. Adjustable and padded hip and chest straps kept the load off my shoulders nicely, and the foam back meant nothing was jabbing me while I walked, and it didn’t make me sweaty even on a steep climb. Like with most bigger packs, I was aware of the load behind my head, but it wasn’t pushing my head forward and I could easily turn my neck to look around. The only thing that made it less comfortable is that the hip belt wouldn’t stay cinched, so it would slowly loosen as I walked. It’s certainly no big deal to just pull the strap to tighten it from time to time, but it would be nicer to not have to, especially as I kept forgetting then realizing the weight was mostly on my shoulders.
Size and storage
A 40L pack is easily big enough to carry all my camping gear, and the main compartment is expandable, so it seems huge. This is supplemented by three stretchy outer pockets that are great for water bottles or even a smaller sleeping pad or helmet. The lid has two roomy zipped pockets for smaller gear and there are two zipped pockets in the hip belt but unfortunately they weren’t quite big enough for my phone which is what I’d use them for. There’s a very deep, three-part sleeve that just held my laptop, doesn’t seem quite right for a hydration pack but would be useful for anything you want held flat.
The main area for improvement here, I think, is that the main compartment is so deep that it’s difficult to access anything near the bottom. A side access zip would help here.
Weather protection and durability
One of the most appealing features of this backpack is that it has an integrated rain cover, which is brilliant in Scotland. I was being pelted by hail rather than rain, but I did pull it on to check it out and it’s super simple and has your gear protected in seconds.
The ripstop fabric is tough and I wouldn’t be afraid to knock this around a bit, while the metal and plastic buckles all seem sturdy enough.
Weight and bulk
Cheaper gear (did I mention this is uber affordable?) is usually heavier so I was surprised by how light this is. It’s exactly the same weight as my other, much more expensive backpack of the same volume. It’s also surprisingly unbulky when it’s empty, even with the foam back, so you could transport it easily
One feature that I’ve never seen before and think is brilliant, especially for newer hikers, is a little graphic on the inside of the lid demonstrating how to pack this bag and including some emergency numbers and survival items to pack. For me, it really added to the impression that this bag is really well-suited for people who are just starting out with backpacking, or don’t do it often.
It claims it’s hydration compatible and it does have that three-part pocket I mentioned, but each section is so deep my hydration bladder would disappear and there’s no hook to hang it on, that I can see, so I didn’t use it.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.