We do tend to test a lot of rucksacks over at The Allrounder, and to be honest, a lot of them are fairly similar in terms of what they’re meant to do – rucksacks can tend to be fairly single focused in their modus operandi. Occasionally we do sometimes pick up something that’s a bit different though. But different is good, not least because it makes it a bit more interesting to review.
Pacsafe have long been one of our favourite brands when it comes to rucksacks, largely because we picked up a Venturesafe X30 backpack for a jaunt over to the Lake District last October and haven’t stopped wearing it since. Seriously, we use it for hiking, work and even weekends away. We love the damn things. Still looks as new as it was eight months ago as well.
We’ll be honest here though, when we opened up the delivery box for the Pacsafe Dry 15L, we were sceptical. As bags go, it’s not the most commonplace of designs. There’s a reason for that though. And it’s a pretty good one.
PacSafe, as the you may well be aware from some of our previous posts and reviews, are a company focused on security. Their range of various bags and luggage options are created for the primary goal of keeping the stuff inside them safe. Which is a pretty big deal these days, whether you’re commuting in central London or backpacking across South East Asia. The creators are big on their travel you see, and wanted to make something that would make people feel that they weren’t going to have their stuff nicked everywhere they went.
So, back to the Dry 15L. The first thing we noticed about the rucksack is that it’s very rigid, far more rigid than any rucksack we’ve had in the past. The reason for this is pretty simple. Not only is it made from a material called 360° eXomesh, a sort of metal structured hard fabric designed to stop people cutting it open with something like a knife, but the bag itself is waterproof. So as well as the hard external fabric, it also has an inner waterproof plastic layer. The result is a pretty stiff feeling rucksack.
The concept of the design is based on the premise that it pretty much acts as a travel safe. Something that took a while for us to get our heads around, but one that becomes extremely clear when you actually test it out. Take for example a recent trip to Marbella (see photos). You’re on your own heading down to the beach for a swim. You have your phone, your cards and a camera in your backpack. Your only options are to either leave your stuff on the beach and go swimming or ask someone to look after it for you. Neither is a particularly good option when you’ve got a grand and a half of stuff inside it.
Lucky you’ve got yourself one of these bags then. As you can see from the picture there’s a thick metal wire that loops through holes in the top of the bag. Once you’ve put your stuff inside and rolled up the plastic inner a few times (to make it waterproof), you pull the wire as hard as you can until the bag is closed, loop it around some immovable object, then lock the end against the bag with the handy supplied padlock. Voila, you’ve got your own portable, knife-proof safe. Once you’ve realise that it all suddenly clicks into place.
If you ignore the various security options (there’s also an RFIDsafe pocket which stops people accessing data on your electronic devices), the bag itself hold its own as a nice rucksack. Design wise it looks rather attractive and once you’ve got your head around the fact that you only need to lock it when you’re using it as a safe, it actually becomes fairly easy to use. There’s also an inside pocket for smaller items, so you don’t end up scrabbling around the bottom of the bag trying to find stuff all the time (we did for the first couple of days… probably should have read the instructions.
We used the bag solidly for a full week in Marbella, carrying it around from everything from beach trips, shopping to a 1,200 metre hike up a mountain. In each case it worked very nicely indeed. Even found out, rather happily, that the material keeps things pretty cool inside as well. The only downsides we’ve found are that the strap system is a bit fiddly to work out, you need to spend a while playing around to get it to fit right and the afore-mentioned learning curve (which shouldn’t be a problem now you’ve read this.
Price: £179.90 RRP – much cheaper if you search Google.
Best for: The solo traveller who doesn’t want to miss out because they can’t leave their bag unattended
For more information the Pacsafe Dry, head over to the website here.