No matter what you’re doing outdoors, a rucksack or backpack is an essential piece of kit for storing all sorts of different gear and depending on the type of activity you’re going to need a different pack depending on what you’re going to be using it for!
I popped into the Exeter Store recently and got talking with Senior Sales Assistant Stuart. He’s a long serving member of the Taunton Leisure team and has good hiking experience. He is an expert on all sorts of gear and has a reputation as somewhat of an encyclopaedia on the technical features of outdoor kit. (Don’t get too big a head from that, Stu!) We got chatting and he wanted me to talk about a rucksack he feels hasn’t been given the attention it deserves of late…
The Osprey Variant 37 Rucksack is a ski touring backpack designed around alpinism and extreme conditions walking, climbing and mountaineering. It was designed using feedback from mountain guides, professional alpinists and rock climbers with the discipline of climbing in mind.
Like all Osprey bags, it’s incredibly versatile. It’s a pretty impressive piece of kit with a long list of features. The Variant uses Matrix 420D Nylon for most of the bag and 315D Cordura High Tenacity Nylon fabric to reinforce the abrasion zones and front pocket – these are the darker red sections. The front pocket is designed as a crampon pocket, so you can securely store your crampons, protecting both them and the bag itself.
A Three-Point Haul System is utilised to enable the bag (and your gear) to be hauled up a cliff safe in the knowledge that you’re not going to lose it! There is also a rope lock for ropes to be stored securely.
The bag also features a floating lid. The lid can be adjusted higher or lower depending on how much gear you’re taking and is useful if you need that extra little bit of storage space. If you’re looking to save a bit of weight, the lid is also removable. You can also find an under-lid pocket so maps, and any other items can be securely stored.
If you’re climbing up a snow gully and the wind is blowing, there is a chance that snow can get inside the bag. The spindrift collar is there to prevent that snow getting in and getting your gear wet. It can also be removed if needs be. The collar is also removable.
Ice Tool & Ski Storage:
On the front side of the bag you will find proper storage for your ice tools. Using a three position tie off and y-clip system, ice tools can be easily stored in a safe position. Also present are side loops for the storage of skis and pockets on the side to keep wands and pickets within easy reach.
Removable ErgoPull Hip Belt:
The Variant 37 features a hip belt that is both removable and replaceable, enabling the best possible fit. The belt is made of a Thermoform foam which is comfortable, but not too thick or overbearing. It can also be tucked out of the way during climbing by threading the webbing and buckles through the “tool holster slot”.
Removable HDPE framesheet with 6061 Aluminum stay:
The removable framsheet helps with weight distribution to make the bag more comfortable, reducing the chance of injury as well as making your kit easier to carry. This can be removed in order to save weight, for example on the summit day.
Hydration Reservoir Compatability:
The Variant 37 has a sewn in compartment on the backpanel, where a hydration reservoir can be placed. There is an h20 opening for the hose as well as routers that the hose can be routed through, giving you on the go hydration whenever it is required!
A few other things to look out for – the bag also features upper and lower compression/retention straps that enable the load to be compressed as well as extra large ‘glove friendly’ buckles.
The Variant 37 has a capacity of 2250 cubic inches, that’s (you guessed it) 37 litres. The small version is 34 litres, while the large has a capacity of 40 litres. The bag weighs in at 1.5 kg, but when fully stripped down you can shed a third of that weight, leaving the bag at just 0.95kg, underpinning the versatility that the Variant brings.
Stuart is very enthusiastic about this bag. So much so, that he wanted to pose with it for a picture.
“It’s all very streamline. The width of the pack, although it’s quite tall; is very slim so its narrower than you are. Wherever you go, the bag will go as well. You’re not going to get anything caught up in it.
“Its a great bag, massive. Carries really comfortably. So you could use this for anything. A great day bag, a do anything bag. Take it climbing, walking, scrambling.”
We’ve got a comprehensive buying guide to rucksacks on our website which gives advice on a variety of things to consider when you’re buying a rucksack, such as what size bag you’ll need for a particular discipline, the differences between different bag types and the features you need to look out for right here.
If you’re looking for a bag with good capacity to take with you on a winter expedition, or even just walking and camping in less extreme conditions, the Osprey Variant 37 is an ample capacity, feature rich, lightweight, versatile option. You could do a lot worse than this!
Special thanks to Stuart in our Exeter store for making this blog post possible! For more information on the Variant 37 take a look here.
Stuart is a long serving member of the Taunton Leisure team and has enjoyed hiking on Snowdon in the past. He is an expert on all sorts of gear and has a reputation as somewhat of an encyclopaedia on the technical features of outdoor kit.