It’s been a year since I was lucky enough to get sponsored with a 65-litre backpack – the model aptly named ‘Nomad’ – by the South African company, Northridge. I’ve given it a year until this review so that I could experience the gear in every possible climate (aside snow and ice) and terrain.
I’ve hitch hiked with it, throwing it in the back of trucks and pick-ups, placing it on tarred and dirt roads whilst hitching, climbed mountains with it, hiked down endless, empty highways in extreme heat and finger-freezing cold.
I have no idea how much my pack weighs. It’s anywhere between a bit heavy to fuckin’ heavy, depending on how much sleep I’ve had the previous night or the heat of the day. But before I get into the technicalities of my home-on-the-road, allow me to reveal what I pack in my pack:
– 2 T-shirts
– 1 Long-sleeved shirt
– 1 African shirt
– 2 button-up shirts (gotta look good when giggin’)
– 1 vest (see above)
– 2 Shorts (one being me bathers)
– 1 Bell-bottom jeans (yeah, I rock the bell-bottoms)
– 1 cargo pants that zip off at the knees to create my third pair of shorts
– 1 Waterproof jacket
– 1 Neck-warmer
– 1 Chuyo beanie
– 1 pair of gloves
– Thermal underwear (top and longjohns)
– 1 Maasai blanket
– 1 Kikoi (African sarong)
– Technical bits ‘n’ bobs (adapters, charging cables, batteries, deck of cards)
– 1 First Aid pack
– 1 Ticket To The Moon travel hammock
– 1 Ticket To The Moon mosquito net for said travel hammock
– Ropes for tying up annoying drivers. Or a travel hammock
– 1 Sleeping bag
– 1 headlamp
– 3 Notepads (2 of which are full)
– 1 travel pillow (yet to find the hole where air is escaping from)
– 3-litre Source camel pack
– Snorkel mask, pipe and fins (yup, I carry my own fins)
– 1 pair of hiking boots
– 1 tent and blow-up travel mattress (strapped to the outside)
But like with any product, there’s the good and the could-be-better:
|THE GOOD||THE COULD-BE-BETTER|
|Lightweight with a sturdy steel frame to support the weight when it’s fully loaded||An air vent between back and pack will save you from dehydration due to the amount of sweat you’ll drain out in intense heat or strenuous climbing|
|Thick and comfortable hip padding on the hip strap||The side pockets stick out a little too far limiting access to the side net-pockets|
|Easily adjustable straps for the hip, shoulders and back||There are only up-down straps. Side straps would be a great advantage|
|Zipper divider between main compartment and bottom compartment (but for squeezability needs, it’s always unzipped to create one main compartment)||The splash guard rips too easily and wears out quite quickly. It’s still waterproof but I fear it won’t last for much longer|
|Separate zipper access to bottom compartment|
|Outter straps that lengthen to almost double the pack’s height|
|Stitching is made to last. Not a single stitch has come undone or is even showing signs of coming undone in the near future – and I’m not gentle with it.|
|The straps are tough, durable with large plastic connecters and, most importantly, comfortable without causing any chafing.|
|The overhead has two compartments: one on the inside and one on the outside.|
|The zippers are large and withstand the pressure of being fully packed without fear of destroying the zipline.|
In general, it’s a great pack for either long term travel or an overnight camping trip. I’ve hiked two mountains with it (Mt Mulanji, Malawi and Mt Meru, Tanzania) and so far have travelled over 17,000 kilometers with it, only cursing it on extremely hot days when I’ve had to hike a few K’s to get a ride.
Most of the time – and maybe it’s because I’m used to it – I don’t really feel it on my back when I hike the distance as most of the support is placed on my hips with the comfort of the padding.
Bottomline, this pack was made to last, made to endure lengthy, rugged, non-conventional travel and at a very affordable price.
And it makes a great leaning-post for my guitar.
For more information and pricing, check out Northridge’s website at www.north-ridge.co.za