Why did I jump at the chance of reviewing the Wisport Caracal rucksack? Well, I’ve written before about being raised in a forces household and (maybe because of that?) consequently liking military wear. Khaki outdoors trousers, military grade boots (I love my Altberg Tetheras) etc. And I’m typing this wearing a gun-metal blue shirt with patch pockets. My old man (RAF) would be proud.
Then again, faux military clothing can be a bit de rigueur in the marketing / creative communications world that I’m in.
I don’t have a military backpack though but that has now changed thanks to the guys at Military 1st. They sent me the Wisport Caracal 25L Rucksack.
Having been out a few times with it now – on local rainy moors days and further afield to Snowdon – I like it.
It weighs more than another 25L sack I have (a Mountainsmith one). But it has more pockets, padded waist and shoulder straps, a lot more ‘expansion potential’ courtesy of the MOLLE system and it feels a lot more robust. It was developed alongside the polish forces, so no doubt it has been through some rigorous quality control in the field.
An obvious disclaimer: I’m a hobbyist hiker, so it hasn’t been battle-tested by me as it were. But I do go to some grim places weather-wise (those can be close to home even: the moorlands around me, in driving rain and a howling wind, are grim).
You could argue that a MOLLE system backpack is a bit OTT for a ‘civvy’ hiker. I think though that it would suit some folks really well. Especially those who like to configure a pack with extra pouches etc.
I actually bought an extra pouch to attach on to the rucksack for quick access to snacks and / or my spare DSLR lens. And it fitted really quickly and securely.
Dimensions-wise, it is 48x30x18cm and weighs 1280g. It’s made from tough 500D Cordura Nylon fabric.
Some summary info about the Wisport Caracal that I particularly like:
• It has a hydrobag compatible inner sleeve in the main compartment. (I prefer using my hydrobag than carrying bottles).
• The Adjustable shoulder straps are padded.
• There’s an adjustable ‘AIR BACK’ suspension system with fibreglass rods – so keeping it lightweight but allowing for air flow.
• There’s a waterproof cover that’s stowed in the underside zipped pocket. And from a field test by me in truly horrible conditions on the top of Snowdon: it stays on in high winds and does keep the pack dry.
• Plenty of side and top compression straps.
• I like the fact that the main compartment opens fully with the chunky zip.
So if you had lots to get in or out you can lie the pack flat and it fully open up.
Here are a couple of photos of the rucksack laid flat, to show how it really does open fully do you don’t have stuff-stow things away vertically. The interior has two elasticated, large pockets as well as a smaller mesh pocket that can be zipped closed. One of those larger pockets can carry a hydro bag / camelbak if you have one, with the tube going out a hole at the top of the sack as you’d expect. The hole has a rain/drip proof cover to keep the interior of the sack dry.
It’s military by design as mentioned but I carry different types of blades: secateurs and pruning saw. I’m chair of the local ‘Walkers Are Welcome‘ group in Marsden. On this occasion I was heading out to tidy up one of the hillside footpaths near me, cutting back branches and brambles before they blocked the path too much.
There are any number of backpack / rucksack designs out there and the more military style may not suit everyone but it works for me.
The Wisport Caracal is a great bit of kit.