I’ve recently been in the market for a new alpine 35 – 40 litre rucksack after some of my gear got destroyed in a van fire in Marseille last year. I have bought, tried and subsequently returned a number of ‘big brand’ sacks including a Mammut Trion Alpinist (40L), and a Haglofs Roc (35L) sack.
I would admit I’m a bit particular/pedantic about gear, but I want stuff to work and I don’t want it to be gimmicky. The designs of the two previously mentioned sacks did have some appeal but in my opinion the materials left something to be desired. After one days scrambling, and the briefest glimpse with a rock and the Haglofs Roc had a hole in it! At this point I decided to try a local company called Aiguille.
Founded by Adrian Moore and based in the Cumbrian village of Staveley, this small company have been making excellent rucksacks and outdoor equipment since 1987. After looking on their website I decided to take a visit to Staveley and had a look at a few different designs. The sack that caught my eye was the Geant, which is one of Aiguille’s classic range of vintage style sacks from years ago that Adrian has tweaked slightly. He has however retained much of its original character, and it will be featured on their website (www.aiguillealpine.co.uk) in the near future.
With this as a starting point, the sack was made for me with a standard back length +1″ to suit my back length (this has increased the capacity a little from the standard 35L). I also asked Adrian if I could have a single buckle closure instead of the original two buckles. The lid features two pockets (one internal and one external). The top of the sack has two compression/rope carrying straps, and the main drawcord is woven through eyelets (rather than through a sleeve which often wear quickly). Like most climbing sacks it has an expanding top section for when carrying loads close to maximum capacity.
I also asked for the two standard ice axe loops to be omitted as I always tend to stow ice axes/tools on the side of my rucksack using the compression straps. The rucksack is made from bombproof 1000D texturised Nylon and weighs in at approximately 1kg (slightly more than the standard back length). The waist belt is unpadded 50mm nylon, however it can be made with a padded waist belt if you require (although not really necessary on a sack of this volume). The shoulder straps are well padded and quite wide (3″ around shoulders) meaning they are comfortable and don’t dig in. The back is padded with 10mm closed cell foam which is light, warm and flexible making it a pleasure to use on a daily basis.
In my opinion, the service offered at Aiguille is exceptional. The rucksacks they make surpass any of the mass-produced equivalents I’ve seen in most climbing shops in terms of design, materials, and construction. It’s fantastic to have a really well-made rucksack to your size and specification, by a local company and all made here in Cumbria. I’m quite sure this sack will last me for years.. fingers crossed it isn’t cremated in another van fire.