Reviewed by Louise Totton
When you’re out hiking, you need to be comfortable. Serious walking is an energetic pursuit, and it’s important that you have the right kit – this means the right shoes, so your feet are comfortable, cool and supported, the right jacket so you stay both dry and cool, and the right backpack. The right backpack is important because when you are concentrating on your walk, the last thing that you want is a sore back, aching shoulders or to find that the you can’t change your socks because you just didn’t have the space in your backpack for that extra pair.
My eldest daughter and I love climbing – normally in our local climbing centre. But we also go climbing in Derbyshire on occasion, and this normally means a good hour or two’s hike to beginning of our climb, carrying bulky climbing kit as well as energy drinks, some lunch and waterproofs. Up until now, we have been using standard backpacks to take with us along with a holdall, but we have been trying to up the difficulty of our routes, which means we are also having to do some more involved walks to get there, and carrying extra bags has been getting very cumbersome. What we needed was a proper, outdoors, backpack and that is exactly what we got when we tried out the Salomon Out Night 28+5W backpack.
The Salomon 28+5W is a large backpack designed especially for a woman’s shape, meaning that you can get a perfect and comfortable fit. It is available in two colours – grey and minty green, and each colour is also available in two different sizes too, so no matter your height, the backpack will be the right length for you. As you would expect from a proper sporting backpack, the 28+5w boasts an array of features designed to make your hike more comfortable and to help you get the best from your day.
The first thing to mention is the frame on the bag. I have used backpacks before with quite a firm, rigid frame and have often found them to be a bit uncomfortable, especially if I’m on a more difficult or technical walk. When you need to move your body freely, having a very rigid backpack is never going to be comfortable, but I do think that some kind of frame or structure is necessary to support the load and your back. The frame on this one is very lightweight and incredibly flexible – you almost wouldn’t know that it had one. This means that your back and the load are supported, but not at the expense of freedom of movement or agility.
The frame also sits behind a couple of foam panels that run down the outside of your back. This provides a lot of comfort, especially if like us, you are carrying climbing belts, belay devices, carabiners and more with you. If these end up towards your back, they can dig in and be uncomfortable, and these padded strips really help with that. The fact that they only run down outside edges means that they create am airflow channel down the middle of your back, which is great for helping to keep your back cool and stop it getting sweaty!
The combination of the flexible frame, the foam pads and the fact that you can buy this bag to fit different heights mean that it is really comfortable to wear, even if you are carrying a particularly heavy load, it is really comfortable to wear. I particularly liked how wide the shoulder straps were, and then there is a load adjuster too, meaning that you can hoist the weight a little higher up or lower down on your back, depending on what you find the most comfortable. This combined with the waist and chest straps mean that the bag always feels like it is moving with your body, rather than against it – it is securely anchored to you and doesn’t move or get loose, but equally, you can comfortably move and even do so basic climbing and scrambling without it feeling like a hindrance. It honestly makes the hike so much easier!
There is plenty of room in the bag too – the 28+5 means that the main body of the bag has a 28 litre capacity, and then there is an additional 5-litre section that can clip on and off the top, depending on whether you need it. It is called an Out Night because thee bag is designed to be able to cope with all of the essentials for two days and a night out – I haven’t tested this as we haven’t been out overnight, but it kept stored the climbing equipment and shoes for two people, as well as lunch, plenty of drink, a waterproof each and a change of clothes and socks, and still had room to spare! I have absolutely no doubt that it would cope with two days’ worth of gear, and would remain comfortable to wear and carry.
The sheer number of compartments and sections mean that it’s really easy to always make sure that you have a drink, something to eat or even a camera close by and grabbable without needing to take the backpack off your shoulders. The waist straps have zippable pockets on each side, there are stretchy elastic pockets on the sides and there is even space for a soft flask or pouch of soft drink in the shoulder straps. The bag is also compatible with a hydration flask, but we don’t have one of those to try it out with.
As I said before, the top section of the bag actually clips off, in case you don’t need the full 33 litre capacity and want to carry a slightly more compact load. It is a doddle to remove, with a couple of clips and a toggle, and just as easy to pop back into place. When this section is removed, the backpack is secured shut with a drawstring toggle and an additional flap to folds over the top then is pulled tight with more straps. It is so easy to use, and it does make the load a lot more compact, which I did prefer.
All of the easily accessible pockets are absolutely perfect for making sure that you can keep hydrated and energised – it is so much better having your drinks and snacks reachable without having to remove the backpack, and makes you more likely to keep drinking!
The backpack is comfortable, practical, and helps to keep you cool and your shoulders and back moving and pain-free. I can honestly say that I wasn’t achy at all after a day of walking with it, and it did make it so much easier being able to hold everything that I needed in one bag rather than having to spread it across multiple bags.
I was really impressed with the 28+5 Out Night W. It is really comfortable to wear, and I do feel like it is designed for the female shape – it just fits perfectly. I would say that it is ideal for a range of outdoor pursuits – I loved it for carrying our climbing equipment and for making the walk with lots of heavy equipment a lot easier and more pleasant.
For more information or to buy visit www.salomon.com.