Gear Reviews

Vango Sherpa 60:70s Rucksack Review

Vango Sherpa 60:70s rucksack review: is it worth the money?

Hi, I am currently a student studying for my ‘A’ levels whilst completing the Gold DofE Award. Before we get into this Vango Sherpa 60:70s review, I’d like to give the backstory as to why I chose it.

Having completed the bronze and silver award I had learnt the hard way of buying a rucksack quickly and cheaper from a “high street” brand, and then stubbornly making do as it fell apart on the long hikes I had to cover.

This time, with a four-day trek looming and many miles ahead of me, I couldn’t afford anything that would make the trip uncomfortable (need help? We’ve written a post helps you to choosing a rucksack). Additionally, the terms of the DofE stat you need to carry all your equipment for camping the 3 nights and 4 days trekking. This includes food, stove, clean clothes, dirty clothes, tent, sleeping mat, hydration bladder, plus any additional items needed for the hikes.

The aim is to be totally self-sufficient for the trip with everything packed neatly and carried. This last point is one many of my fellow Award candidates seemed to struggle with as it’s not easy keeping your gear in good order when you’re out on hills and footpaths.

The Trek

We set off up to The Lake District. The weather had been insanely wet beforehand, and we anticipated a very mixed bag weather wise. So, bearing this in mind I needed to be able to access my kit quickly. The most important items I needed access to were food, extra layers of clothing and waterproofs.

As you can imagine, keeping the wet weather out from my gear was important and the changeable, and often extreme, weather conditions of the Lake District will soon find a way into a poorly sealed rucksack.  But what then happened was an unexpected heat wave!

Instead of being prepared for torrential downpours and howling winds, we had to re-plan on the fly. Now we we had to carry extra water and walk at a lower altitdue, and slower pace, in very high temperatures.  

I now needed a rucksack that would not be uncomfortable in what was pretty extreme heat. My new concern was the rucksack would be a heat absorbing black colour.

For the expedition I needed a rucksack that was comfortable and had plenty easy access storage. I am of small stature – a mere 5ft – and often find backpacks sit up precariously high on my hips towering above my head. Making it painful on my lower back and sore hips.

As a student money is always a factor.  I needed something student friendly cost wise, but also being up to the job.

After looking at different brands I came across Vango.  As a family we’ve used Vango products before (my mum has a Vango Contour 60:10 so I’m familiar with the name.

The main attraction was it claimed to be ‘height friendly’! It is also recommended by the Duke Of Edinburgh Award, and I’d seen many other students carrying this brand.

I purchased the Sherpa 60:70s from Go outdoors a little under £80, which was I thought a reasonable price.

Useful Features

I found following features in this particular Vango useful:

Shoulder fit guide

This is a webbing grab handle between shoulder straps. Instead of having to haul the rucksack over my shoulder when loading it on and off our transport, I could easily pick it up with one hand.

Shaped adjustable harness

Due to my small build and height I needed a rucksack that would adjust to my frame and provide comfortable fit. The Vango Sherpa 60:70s has a near-infintely adjustable harness that caters for just about every body size you can imainge. Although it took a little to get right, the adjustments gave me exactly the fit I needed.

Vango Sherpa 60:70s adjustable harness
The Vango Sherpa adjustable harness took a little working out before I got the fit right.

Airmesh straps

First question: what is airmesh? Well, the best way comparison I can make is with a string vest, the kind that used to popular in the 1950s, or so I’ve heard. It basically looks like a net wrapped around the straps. This allowed air to get through avoiding nasty sore chaffing which was especially in the heat we experienced.

Wide hip belt

Again, another very comfortable feature, the hip belt sat comfortably for load transport. Additionaly, the width helps distribute the load over a larger area which prevents the strap from digging in to my skin. But there was a problem though with adjusting, I’ll address that later.

Sternum strap

I know most modern rucksacks have a sternum strap as standard, but this is a new feature for me. On previous hikes I always ended the day with the uncomfortable feeling with having had my shoulders and chest pulled back. When secured, the sternum strap reduced the strain on my upper body, leaving me less fatigued at the end of each day’s walking.

Specifications

Size

The base carrying capacity of the Vango 60:70s is 60Litres. The Rucksack has 60:70 on the side. The extra 10L sits at the bottom of the sack, which is here the sleeping bag should be carried.

Weight

Weighing 2.4kg, it’s not a heavy rucksack. But with the metal frame back support for the shoulder straps it’s not light either. When it’s fully loaded you can feel the difference between the Vango and other rucksacks such as Osprey Atmos 65.

Waterproofing

The main compartment is water resistant zip compartment and comes with an integrated rain cover. So, no danger of it blowing away. I’ve used this rucksack on a few shorter hikes since the D of E trek, in rain, and, whilst it’s not 100% waterproof, it does a good job of keeping rain and moisture out.

Packing your gear into dry bags will give you that extra layer of confidence and further reduce the risk of your clothing getting wet.

rain cover
The rain cover is bright, making it easy to spot, and stitched in place to prevent it from being blow away in high winds.

Reflective material

From a safety standpoint, this is a useful design feature. The highly reflective colour and material make the rucksack easy to spot in both daytime and low light conditions.

Safety features

Located on the sternum strap with emergency whistle, which was easy to reach if required.

There are also a number of reflective points located on the rear, perfect for helping people spot you in low light conditions.

Storage

The two side pockets are deep and sit nicely flush to the pack. These are perfect to carry the high calorie snacks, and extra water. I would have preferred a smaller pocket sitting at the top of the bag, rather than the two long pockets as you have to really ‘delve deep’!

A brilliant feature though was the small pocket placed on the hip belt. This pocket is great for storing items you want quick access to like lip balm, tissues, dextrose tablets.

I was able to lay my water bladder in the top zipped storage compartment away from the rest of the bag and feed the long straw out through a gap by not fully zipping closed. But, a small hole to feed the drinking tube through would have been a perfect addition. (Such as you get on walking bladder rucksacks).

The Vango has all sorts of extra features. Walking pole loops. I didn’t need these, but in hindsight wish I had used walking poles!

I found the Vango great for organising my items with lots of pockets and compartments where I could distribute my gear for easy access.

Inside the main compartment there is a drawcord compartment which allows to further separate items based on your individual needs. For me, this is great for keeping stuff organised.

Issues with the Vango 60:70s

The big problem I found was my sleeping bag was too big to fit into this bottom ‘well’

Duke of Edinburgh have many guides of how to pack a rucksack. Sadly, the Vango struggled to accommodate my sleeping bag. Was the sleeping bag the wrong size? I perhaps wrongly assumed it would fit.

Not a huge problem. More of an inconvenience.  Like not being able to shut a full suitcase for a holiday.

I did struggle with figuring out adjusting the height to my shoulders. There was a gap from the top of my shoulders from the straps of the pack. It took some figuring out how to get the pack to sit neatly on my shoulder and flush to my back, but I did some research and found a great guide to fitting the rucksack to different body shapes, and heights:

It’s a great addition having the height dimensions. But you need to spend time figuring and adjusting before setting off.

My roll mat was then secured outside the bag at the very underneath. It would be useful if Vango could add a waterproof sleeve or compartment to store that mat as drying it out before laying your sleeping bag on top is something you don’t want to have to think about.

But, Vango do supply extra bungee cords for strapping external items and I recommend you use this storage area for gear that you don’t mind getting wet.

Final thoughts

I thought the fabric was tough and sturdy. We did not encounter any bad weather in The Lake District so I’d like to try it in mixed weather.

This is a great pack for a few days hiking and camping. It’s student friendly cost wise and did the job.

A great rucksack for music festivals, short trips. A few tweaks would have made it a great ‘all rounder’, but I wouldn’t rank it amongst the best all-round rucksacks available.

Don’t buy this item if you are doing more serious ventures. I think it’s priced accordingly.

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