I hate zips on rucksacks, I really do. They fail. Every rucksack I’ve had with a zip closure has seen it fail within 12 months. All except one.

This is the Haglofs LIM Strive 50.

I received this pack a long time ago, as part of the Haglofs test pilot program. When I opened the box it arrived in, I visibly sagged. A zip closure, why did it have to be a zip? Buckles are more durable, and more easily replaced. Bah.  I most certainly should have written it up before now, but if ever a pack needed a long test cycle it’s this one.

Once the initial disappointment waned, I packed it full of stuff and took it out on the hill. The size is a very generous 50L, my standard issue overnighter loadout was absorbed with room to spare. With a quick adjustment of the floating lid, it happily took my winter camping stuff too.

I’ve talked at length about the principles behind the LIM (Less is More) range, so I won’t labour it here. Suffice to say that the concept has been applied admirably here.  At 1060g, the weight is low but the comfort is high. Long multi-day trips were handled with no pains or chafing. The comfort of the carry is excellent for the weight of the pack.

The backlength was good for me, which came as a surprise, normally Haglofs packs have been too short.  The waistbelt is broad and comfy and the adjustment is good, with no slippage.

There are two side panel mesh pockets which you can reach with the pack on, which I filled with a hat, gloves and snacks and it has been thus ever since, being able to grab that sort of thing without stopping to remove the pack is a big bonus. On the main body of the pack there are another two mesh pockets which are good for bottles, camera tripods and wet tent outers in my experience. There’s a big zip pocket in the lid which is voluminous and easy to access. There are a couple of tiny wee elastic loops for ice axes/walking poles which do the job but can be easily lost. I’ve lost one and the other is making a concerted effort to join the escape committee, twice I’ve had to rummage in the heather to relocate it.

Weatherproofing is good, I’ve not had any water ingress despite my very poor attention to gap closure and clumsy stuffing as you can see in the photos. Admittedly, all of my kit is in drybags inside anyway, but it’s always nice to not have to carry the weight of a puddle in the bottom of your pack.

All of which brings us the crux of the issue, that zip. It’s bloody marvelous. Many a time I’ve grinned at it’s convenience. I’ll stagger to a stop, stick the tent up and drag the pack in the door, unzip the whole length and I have instantly easy access to admin my kit. No more stuffing your hand down a nylon tube like a kid at the lucky dip. It’s made a joy of packing and unpacking at camp, which is a big deal. I can see the colour of my drybags easily and make the right selection. Anything that reduces faff is a massive win as far as I’m concerned. The key to the zips success is that’s it’s not used as the main lid access, so you’re not zipping it up and down frequently when you’re grabbing a shell out of the pack, or stuffing your insultation back in when you’re sweating on the uphills; the buckles on the lid work fine for that. The smart move is that you only use the zip when you need access to the full pack contents, which means it doesn’t get used that much, and that’ll lengthen the mean time between failures substantially. The best of both worlds, clips for convenience and longevity, and a zip when it’ll be handy.

After 18 months of solid usage, it’s still not a question of if the zip will fail, but when. Until it does this is my favourite rucksack for camping trips, bar none. If I’m heading out for more than the day, this is the first thing I reach for.

For me, it’s the ideal balance of weight, comfort, capacity and simplicity. Love it.

Highly recommended.

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