When I was new to this game a long time ago, Karrimor were it when it came to rucksacks. A family company with lots of big names attached, heroes even. Haston, Bonnington, Habeler. Everyone wanted Karrimor kit. No-one could touch them. I still have my Jaguar GR80 in the garage, I loved that rucksack. It was so sturdy you could empty it out and sleep in it, sod the tent. They made KSBs which were the first hillwalking boots I ever owned. I wore them all year round and regardless of conditions. In a world of leather clumpers, they were a revelation. Don’t get me started on the Alpiniste, that’s some British mountaineering history right there.
Much water has passed under the bridge since then and Karrimor’s fortunes have waned more than waxed. The history is there for all to see, the departure of Mike Parsons, the bankruptcy and buy-outs. Latterly the brand has been used for pushing out mass-produced gear for casual walkers via Sports Direct. If you’re interested in the history, go get yourself a copy of Mike and Mary Rose’s book, Invisible on Everest.
I’ll be honest, I had written Karrimor off. Imagine my surprise then, when I start to see kit coming from the Karrimor house that’s interesting again.
This is the X-Lite 45+10.
There are a lot of features to look at, some of which are reminiscent of the old models; fFormat back system anyone?
The back is adjustable, which is great news for taller chaps like me. The harness straps are padded, likewise the hipbelt, with the addition of some decent sized pockets. The fit did remind me of the old Karrimor style, fully adjustable and very comfortable.
Storage-wise, there’s tons of room in the main section and a segmented lower section which takes a sleeping bag and mat very nicely. I haven’t had a segmented sack since the Jaguar. There is a zip if you want to open up into a single space. There’s also a nice double drawcord arrangement up top, which helps with weather sealing and bit of compression.
One thing that really caught my eye is a narrow longitudinal pocket which runs down the back. My tent fits in there perfectly. There are tensioning straps, axe/pole attachments, mesh bottle pockets and sturdy clips and zip pulls. Overall the material seems very sturdy and tear resistant.
So what price do you pay for these features? Weight is 1350g, which isn’t superlight, but it’s not bad for a pack of this capacity either and certainly isn’t a deal breaker for me.
In hill use, it’s been very comfy and capacious. I did 12 miles in the Ochils with a full luxury overnight load in it at the weekend and it was a great carry, with no chafing or rubbing or pokey bits. This strikes me as a decent backpacking sack.
So I’ve been surprised. Who knew that Karrimor could reclaim a place in my estimations? I’ll be keeping a close eye on what else comes from their house from now on.