If you’re taking part in a DofE or scouting expedition, or planning to backpack your way around the world, then the Vango Sherpa 65 may be just what you’re looking for. Robust, comfortable and packed with pockets and other nifty features, it ticks all of the right boxes. I’ve been testing out the rucsac, provided to me to review by Outdoorsupply.co.uk.
Comfort and convenience
Chances are, you’re looking for your first proper rucsac and so comfort and convenience are at the top of your list of ‘wants’. Here, the Vango Sherpa 65 scores highly.
For DofE, scouts or travelling you’ll be planning to carry a fair amount of kit and a 60/65 litre rucsac will be recommended. For most people a fully packed rucsac will likely weigh in at around 12 to 16kg; not an inconsiderable weight. In my experience as a DofE expedition supervisor, young people don’t have much experience of carrying this amount of weight on their backs and so comfort is vitally important.
I tested out the Sherpa on a recent DofE training walk I’m happy to report that it’s extremely comfortable. We use Sherpas for our DofE group and I know that others find it very comfortable too. It has a wide, mesh-padded waist strap that sits comfortably on the hips, and ample padding on the back and shoulder straps. All straps are easy to adjust too. The packed rucsac fitted snugly and was comfortable to wear all day long. While all that padding may become warm in hotter climates I think it’s well suited for the UK’s climate.
The only downside to all this padding, plus straps and pockets, is that this isn’t the lightest rucsac around, although it does compare favourably with other, similar rucsacs that are ‘DofE recommended’. As my mum always says, “what holds a lot holds a little”. But when the rucsac weighs 2.34kg empty you’ll need to resist the temptation to fill all of its 65 litres just because you can.
Besides comfort, what backpackers and travellers really value is handy pockets and easy access to their things. Again, the Sherpa ticks all the right boxes.
There are two large side pockets for those bits of kit you want to find quickly. This is the main difference between the Sherpa and the similarly-priced Contour and Sherpa 60+10; the latter don’t have external pockets which I think makes them less convenient to use. The top enclosure has both an outside pocket (for hat and gloves, maps and suchlike) and a concealed inside pocket for your valuables and paperwork. There are two outside mesh pockets at either side of the waistband for water bottles or sweets and a water-resistant zip pocket on the waistband itself for money or a phone. Finally, a large zipped pocket on the rear would easily hold a map or other things you need convenient access to.
A particularly convenient feature is that the Sherpa can be accessed from the top as well as the bottom. The wide neck at the top has two drawcords to ensure your kit is safe and fully enclosed. Besides providing some compression it also affords some protection from rain – although I would always advise you use a waterproof liner (a bin bag is ideal) to keep your gear completely dry. A large zipped bottom pocket opens up to give access to the lower part of the rucsac. This could be used as a separate compartment (by closing the internal divider with its drawcord) – ideal for a sleeping bag or wet clothes – or alternatively, could simply allow access to gear via the bottom of the bag.
Self-adjust back system
One of the neatest features of the Sherpa 65 is its easy-to-use self-adjust back system. We all come in different shapes and sizes and so the fit of a rucsac really makes the difference between an enjoyable and potentially agonising experience. The Sherpa’s shoulder straps can be adjusted up and down along its stiffened aluminium frame and the accompanying top and bottom straps tightened to fix in place. Take a look at this video to find out how to fit a Vango Sherpa rucsac.
I’m 5′ 7″ and learned that I need to adjust the back fitting to around 50-52cm. However, before I watched the video I had it adjusted to 56cm when testing it out – which actually felt good – and so it seems from my experience at least that there’s some flexibility in this sizing. But if you’re slightly shorter than me, my advice would be to try it out for size in a shop first.
While the Sherpa doesn’t seem to have a place to store a kitchen sink, it does seem to have a place for most other things. There are elasticated loops on either side for walking poles, ‘daisy chain’ straps to secure a rollmat with bungees and it’s also compatible with hydration packs. There’s a small emergency whistle on one of the front straps as well as a bright orange raincover in a zipped pocket underneath.
All in all, the Sherpa 65 is a well-designed, robust and comfortable rucsac which should last many years worth of expeditions and travels.
What I liked:
- Very comfortable to wear
- Lots of pockets and loops to store easy-to-get-at gear
- Adjustable back system
- Dual access from top or bottom
- Separate lower compartment to store a sleeping bag or wet gear
- Robust materials
What I wasn’t so keen on:
- Weight – 2.34kg
- Thick padding could become warm in hotter climates
Note: The Vango Sherpa 65 was provided to me to review for free by Outdoorsupply.co.uk. I have no connection with the company. I have provided an honest and impartial review based on my personal experience in using the rucsac.