The more I walked with the Nine Trails backpack the more I grew to admire and like it – especially the harness and back system combination, and the convenience of the stretchy front pocket.
Large, stretchy side pockets
Breathable back system
No rain cover
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As a solo rucksack the Patagonia Nine Trails Pack 36L backpack would be ideal for a long walk in rugged terrain, and potentially an overnighter, depending on the fold-down size of tent and sleeping bag.
The straps, back and hip fins are firmly-padded; not soft, squidgy padding that feels instantly comfortable in a shop, but dense padding that moulds securely to your body during hours of up- and downhill walking.
The back system fits exceptionally close to the spine, with a thin, indented mesh covering perforated foam to facilitate breathability. It’s still warm slogging skywards, but brilliantly stable, especially when the pack is heavily loaded.
Access to the main compartment is via the lid or a full-length zip, and a series of compression straps pulls everything together snugly. Inside there’s a pocket for a hydration bladder and a small zipped pouch to complement the lid pocket and two useful zipped pockets on the waist belt.
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• RRP: $159 (US) / £160 (UK)
• Volume (men's): 36 litres
• Volume (women's): 26 litres
• Sizes (men's): S, M, L, XL
• Sizes (women's): S, M, L, XL
• Weight (men's): 1.357kg/3lb
• Weight (women's): 910g/2lb
• Colours (men's): Forge Grey/Andes Blue
• Colours (women's): Catalan Coral/Black/Gypsum green/Smokey violet
On the trails
So stretchy are the two side pockets and giant front pouch of this Patagonia Nine Trails backpack that the official 36-litre capacity seems a woeful underestimate. Acting as Sherpa Dad for a long weekend of walking in the English Lake District, the side pockets alone managed to swallow four 75cl water bottles between them, while the front pouch accommodated three substantial, rolled-up waterproof jackets, with space for more.
There is the possibility to cut weight by unclipping and removing the floating lid, although this would leave your kit more vulnerable to a soaking in a downpour. Personally, as a walker blessed with the British climate, I prefer the protection and simpler design of a stitched-on lid, but if my trekking adventures took me to Australia or California, this could be an attractive option.
The Nine Trails fabric itself is highly water resistant, although there’s no raincover to provide more substantial protection.
After spending a decade as editor of Country Walking, the UK’s biggest-selling walking magazine, Jonathan moved to edit Outdoor Fitness magazine, adding adrenaline to his adventures and expeditions. He has hiked stages or completed all of the UK's national trails, but was once overtaken by three Smurfs, a cross-dressing Little Bo Peep, and a pair of Teletubbies on an ascent of Snowdon. (Turns out they were soldiers on a fundraising mission.)