Gear Review : Dakine Campus 33L. First Impressions

After a lifetime of buying rucksacks and bags for walking, hiking and camping, my needs are changing slightly, and my 'go to' bag is needed to get all the more diverse in terms of uses.

I'm at University as a mature student and need a bag to last me through a few years. It needs to hold folders, a laptop, stationary and such like, but I also had half a mind in taking it out on day hikes and perhaps geocaching.

I've been through a few bags lately. I have a couple of Opsrey packs, namely the Escapist and the Flare, which I preview elsewhere on this blog. I like both of these, but neither are perfect for what I need. The escapist is really over engineered for a 'school bag', and the Flare is a bit too small for the stuff I will need to carry. (It's a history degree, so loads of heavy books).

After a lot of research, I decided to go for the Dakine Campus. Reviews claimed these were strong, versatile and generally, just quite cool, so I took the plunge. I'm glad I did...with a couple of small, non deal breaking caveats.

Let's just dive in and see what's what here.

The bag looked a thousand times better in real life to what I was expecting when I ordered it. I took a punt on a less popular design, that costs less money and I'm glad I did. i particularly like the straps, and the front of the bag, without being the important bit, looks really great. There is a sternum strap, which is very adjustable. No emergency whistle, and this is probably the first bag I've had in years that doesn't have one. It's such an easy inclusion, I'm always a big disappointed not to see one, but I recognise that this is a trifle and will mean nothing to most people.

The laptop section is more than safe for your pride and joy. That, by the way will feel as safe as houses when using the double stitched, heavy duty carry handle. I great addition that all bags should consider, rather than the thin nylon hand shredder that many have.

There is a small velvety pouch suitable for a mobile phone or other small electrical items at the top of the bag, on the front. Pretty handy, which I use for earphones and a charger.

Finally, on the front is an insulated pouch. At first glance it seems small, but in use has a fair bit of room. I can fit a sandwich, can of coke and chocolate bar in here easily, and the insulation really does work. A very nice touch and something I would miss a lot if I were to change bags.

In use the bag has been great. It has plenty of room, though I am using it inefficiently due to not using the laptop section as intended. I now keep my pencil case and notebooks in this section, and a binder and laptop in the main section.
I've been using it for a year now and although its a cliche, it looks almost brand new still, and even still has some of that new 'stiffness', even with some very heavy uses. Those books are back breakers at times!

The next main section on the front is an organiser. The organiser is the weak spot of the bag. I has a fairly good size, but the depth of this section is not deep enough even for a full size pencil/pen. Considering this is where the pen holders are, it seems like a glaring error. Not a big deal I guess, but just irritating. Behind this is a 'secret' zipped section in which I keep a first aid kit, swiss army knife and various other bits and bobs.

I haven't used it for 'outdoors' purposes yet, but I wouldn't hesitate to. This does not have a waist strap, which was intentional, as I try and avoid these nowadays with 'smaller' loads. I can imagine for geocaching and cycling it would be great. I just have some kind of thing where I like a bag to be for a specific purpose. If nothing else, it gives me an excuse to buy more bags! (Don't tell the wife).

 There are loads and loads of designs available, so this is great in terms of individualism. The price seems to be around £40, which is fair for the durability..this will be a bag you can use all the way through school and will end up being an old friend. Find one for £20 like I did, and I would snap their hand off!


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