Gear Review : Regatta Air Stream 45+10 Rucksack.
As promised, here is the first of my budget wild camping gear reviews.
This rucksack is available in Argos, at the time of writing, for a wonderful £39.99.
Regatta are a familiar brand to those cost conscience hikers and walkers. The quality of their stuff, I find ranges from 'Wow, that's cheap and great', to 'oh well, you get what you pay for'.
This rucksack sits somewhere in the middle. For the price I paid (and you can too if you pull your finger out), the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.
The weight of the bag is 1.46KG, which for a (up to) 55L sack at this price, is hard to beat. The capacity stated seems accurate to me.
The material of the pack seems very durable. I haven't had the pack long enough to tell definitively, but first impressions are that it is quite hardy. I've taken it on a wildcamp or two in the fairly thick forest a couple of times, ducking under trees and foliage, plonking it on wet ground etc. All the usual business that goes with a wild camp, and you really wouldn't tell it wasn't brand new still.
On packing, the removable frame sheet is very flexible. This required me to pack things horizontally rather than vertically to prevent a bow in the shape of the sack. This goes against the grain for me, and makes access to items that bit harder. It is my biggest criticism of the pack and would definitely be a deal breaker on a more expensive bag. For £40 though, I'm willing to let it go.
That said, the pack is quite comfortable on the move. There is an adjustable back system, that is versatile and easy to use (if a little basic), and the Air Stream system that the bag is named after, does a good job of keeping your back dry(ish) with it's back padding and channels for air to filter through. While not as effective as more expensive packs, the Regatta is still comfortable after several miles.
On a very hot day, I found the very heavily padded hip belt (with mesh pockets for extra storage no less) and shoulder straps a tad sweaty after a few miles, but no more than some other more expensive models I've used.
I think this pack might excell more in this regard in the winter, but that remains to be seen.
The pack has side pockets. These are a little too tight and not very deep. You would struggle to fit a Nalgene bottle in with much confidence. I ended up using these for head torches and hats in the end.
Conversely, the front pocket is excellent and roomy. It is elasticated in the vein of an Osprey and comfortably fitted my Windsheild, some over trousers and an OS map and compass with room to spare.
There is a bottom section, traditionally used for a sleeping bag. This is handy, and the compartment is actually much bigger than it looks on the outside. A dual opening is always good, especially when unpacking quickly in the rain.
An adjustable sternum strap, integral rain cover and hydration section/hose loops round of the package nicely.
This bag has many features of much more expensive rucksacks, and doesn't let go too much in the way of compromise, particularly at the price. Even the weight is respectable, which is rare at this price point.
I'd say it is more functional and hardy than advanced and refined. If you want refined, feel free to spend 2 or 3 times as much on something more like the forums find acceptable.
If you can put up with the necessity to pack carefully due to the flexible frame, this is undoubtedly a bargain rucksack.
Probably the Regatta name will put off a few of the old guard, but don't worry about that. If you're on a budget, this is a perfectly usable, comfortable rucksack that can fill your wild camping needs, as well as long day walks, and light weekenders, all year round.