Some time back I was looking into reducing the weight for my camping trips and one area of investigation was a lighter rucksack as I was using a Dutch Army surplus Sting bag. These are fantastic rucksacks that are indestructible due to being made from used tank barrels, this has a weight penalty as there are no lightweight tank barrels.
Recently I was bought an Exped Lightning 60l rucksack as a present and today was the first day out with it so I thought to give some details in case anyone else might be interested in such a thing:
Lightning 60 | Exped USA
Firstly one day out isn't enough to give a "review" of the bag in use but rather allows me to give a general overview of the features and first impressions. So far I'm impressed. Despite being very lightweight (approx 1.2kg) the rucksack is relatively robust and is actually much more sturdy than I expected. The material used in the construction doesn't leave you thinking that you need to handle it with care or that it will not stand up to more than a few days of use. The Exped feels like a bag that, with sensible use, should last a very long time indeed. Some of the plastic buckles feel a little more lightweight than what I'm used to with the Sting but, in part, that is the whole point of a lightweight bag and in truth they all feel fit for purpose.
The bag has one large compartment which is supposed to be around 60l. As is the trend this tends to be a little longer and more narrow than would be the case with a more old style bag such as my Sting. This isn't an issue for me and the dimensions of the Exped seem similar to most of the other commercial bags I've looked at but I guess this might bear some consideration if you wanted to place a very large sleeping bag at the bottom of the bag, for example. There are also two side pockets and two little zipped pockets on the hip belt. The side pockets are open to the world and so sod all use for anything that might be important, and when you travel light everything you carry is going to be important. However, there are straps up the side of the bag and so the side pockets will work very well indeed for carrying longer items like a fishing rod in a rod tube up the side of the rucksack. The little zipped pockets are big enough for something like a GPS or similar.
Initially the shoulder straps look a bit lightly padded but the suspension system on the bag works really well, and has a relatively wide range of adjustment, and so it transfers the weight onto the hip belt very effectively indeed. There are load lifters at the top of the shoulder straps just to pull the pack in closer to your back but the shoulder straps actually carry every little weight and so are actually comfortable and adequate for the job. The hip belt is a very sturdy and very well padded affair and the adjustment for the back system lies under a thick lumbar pad, just like on the Sting, which makes the whole hip belt setup very comfy indeed. I didn't have a lot of weight in it today as I need to get the legs going again after a winter of sitting about but even so I can see that the Exped is going to be comfortable to carry even on long days and there appear to be no comfort compromises in going this lightweight, though this assumes that you keep the weight in the bag within reasonable limits and Exped suggest a load limit of 52lb which should be enough for most people.
The bag is festooned with straps and attachment points for securing gear to the outside and these can also be used to reduce the volume when less stuff is being carried. To be honest I can't work out what half of this webbing stuff is for and most of it will probably not get used but the straps up the sides are going to be nice for fixing fishing rods and I can see that there should be a way to attach my big gye net to the front of the bag using the attachment options there. Also the various bits of webbing can be removed or reconfigured in various ways so if you don't like it you can take it off, or rearrange it until it suits your needs.
All told I'm very impressed with the Exped and it is going to take my total camping weight down to around the 1.5 stone area which represents a significant improvement on last season. The bag is very comfortable to wear and despite being lightweight it is also robust enough to give me confidence that it will last. In terms of cost then it is available in the UK for around the £120 price point so it is not inexpensive but in terms of quality commercial rucksacks then it would be towards the bottom end of the price range. If you are looking a bag to throw in the car for your stalking gear then this probably isn't it but for a bag that you are going to carrying for many hours once you've put it on your back then I'd say the Exped is well worth a look. If I remember then I will try and do a real review at the end of its first season as that will give a much better idea of how it performs in the longer term.