Who said decent gear had to be expensive? This nifty Mountain Warehouse Merlin 23 litre backpack costs a pocket-friendly £16.99 and will see you proud on your travel and sporting adventures.
Product Description: “A highly practical everyday rucksack with a wide range of compartments and features to hold all your essentials. The padded Air Mesh panels ensure maximum comfort all day long. It also includes a padded 13” laptop compartment for safely carrying your laptop.”
Climbing trip: Small but perfectly formed, the Merlin has a decent amount of pockets, with two main padded compartments that will store all the essentials you need for a day trip. I took mine on my recent climbing weekend and it happily held my shoes, harness, lunch and a change of clothes with room to spare. The padded shoulders are really comfortable when you’re hiking and there’s an MP3 player pocket for your earphones on longer treks. The vertical zip on the front is especially great for stashing important valuables (like lipbalm and Mars Bars) in a hurry.
Cycling: I always test new rucksacks on my city commute and the Merlin stood up well to the daily grind. The outer fabric is water-resistant and easy to wipe clean, and it looks great even when battered and mudstained – I love the foxy brown colour of mine but the daypack also comes in lime or turquoise. The mesh bottle pockets hold drinks steady even when carted about upside down, and inside there’s a padded laptop pocket that keeps a Macbook nice and snug. I also like the reflective piping on the front, which adds an extra level of safety to your cycling get-up on night rides. The only downside I found was the mesh panel on the back, which isn’t quite as breathable as other backpacks I’ve tested – if you’re wearing it all day you might end up a tad sweaty.
Verdict: A versatile and well designed daypack for a crazy cheap price. Well done Mountain Warehouse! The 23l is ideal for hikes, cycles or even as carry on. If you need something a bit bigger for weekend trips then never fear, the Merlin 35l is only £24.99. Bargain.