The eternal argument on daysacks, should you go for something larger so that you can get as much in as possible, but which also runs the risk of being used to carry rubbish that you don't need, or go for something smaller, which is easier to transport or carry in a bergan, but runs the risk of not being big enough to carry everything you need.
Highlander have just brought out a new range of daysacks called summit, which come in two sizes of 25 Litre and 40 Litre and in a choice of colours of blue and grey or green and grey. I have tested the 40 Litre, but other than the size the two daysacks are very similar and have the same array of pockets etc.
The Summit daysack is constructed from XTP Superlite Nylon RS, which is woven from 100% nylon yarns and as well as being durable and water repellent, it also boasts being rip-stop as well. It also has a dual main compartment, attachments for 2 walking poles, 2 ice pick loops, a water bladder compartment and porthole, numerous pockets , adjustable chest strap and padded shoulder straps and hip belt with an air vented back system to cut down on perspiration, all weighing in at 1500 grams. The daysack also incorporates a rain cover in the bottom pocket which doesn't take long to pull out and cover the bag, however this is a very bright dayglo orange. I can see that this would have its advantages in an emergency situation where you want to be seen from a distance, however purely as a rain cover I thought that this was a little to eye catching.
I am going to start with the outside of the bag and the straps and the Air Vented Back system (AVB). The AVB is a webbing covered spring frame which tensions a polyester mesh back panel, which allows air to flow freely between you and the bag and encourages moisture evaporation. This helps to keep you cool and dry so is perfect for warmer weather. I was lucky enough to get some nice warm weather this week, so I wore the daysack for an hour and this system worked quite well as the only damp sweaty point on my back was where the padded hip strap was, and even this wasn't that wet compared to other daysacks that I have used in the past and got very wet with.
The shoulder straps are well padded and also have a mesh within them to reduce perspiration and are also easily adjusted using the conventional strap and buckle system. Attached to the shoulder straps is a chest strap that is adjustable on a six inch (15 cm) strap, but sadly not removable. There are quite a few times that a chest strap is superfluous to use, so I do like the ability to remove them, however the downside to this is that the kit gremlin often seems to eat them (or whatever it is that it does to kit) so that when you need to re-attach them, they have disappeared into the ether. There is also another advantage to keeping this particular chest strap attached, in that the buckle on this one also incorporates an emergency whistle, which is quite loud and useful to have in such a handy point, as you can use it without removing the daysack. The other good news is that it doesn't take much adjusting of the strap on the shoulder to create a small loop to tuck the chest strap away when you don't wish to use it, and as the female part of the buckle is attached straight to the strap, it is not going to be in your way. The waist straps again have the mesh within them to reduce perspiration, and are done up by a chunky and solid feeling buckle and again are adjusted with the conventional loop through system. Both of the hip straps also sport a small pocket that is stitched at the top of the hip belt but held in place by Velcro at the bottom. These aren't very big at all being 4 inches across by 3 inches deep (11 cm by 7cm), and can be done up by zip. One thing that I really did like about the summit daysack is that all of the external zips have an extra cord with a hard plastic loop on them, so it is easy to use these, even when wearing gloves, which is often a small point that is overlooked by manufacturers.
Turning the bag over, as previously mentioned, there are attachments for 2 walking poles, attachments and D rings for 2 ice picks, compression straps either side of the bag and also four pockets. There is also a fifth pocket just underneath the bag that is designed for the waterproof cover, however there is some extra space in there if you want to store something else that is small and light. As already mentioned this rain cover is a very bright orange so would be good for using as an emergency signal and is also attached to the bag itself by a Velcro strap so although you can remove it easy enough if you want, you shouldn't (unless very unlucky) lose it from the bag or have to chase it around a mountain top if the wind grabs it when you are trying to put it on. The first external pocket is the one in the lid and is a very good size indeed. The pocket is 7 inches in length by 10 inches in width with a depth of 3.5 inches (18 cm x 25 cm x 8cm). The second pocket is in the centre of the bag and has a zip that runs down the centre of it. This is a fairly generous size pocket that is around 8 inches across by 11 inches long (20 cm by 28 cm). The final two pockets run down the sides of the bag and again are a good size at 7.5 inches by 12.5 inches (9cm x 32cm). The only downside of these two side pockets is that you have to undo the compression straps to access these, and although Highlander have put a buckle on the top strap, they haven't on the bottom one, although to be fair, it is the top strap that would have caused the biggest obstruction to the pocket.
The lid of the daysack is held closed by the usual two male/female clip affair, but also is slightly elasticated so that you can either shove a little extra under it, or an emergency just stretch the lid over the bag, however this isn't going to be overly secure and is only really any good for a short term hold. There is also a mesh pocket across the inside of the lid that is closed by a zip and this is certainly large enough to hold a map or some other documents of this size.
The main compartment of the bag is accessible from both ends of the daysack, either using the lid, or the lower zip at the bottom of the bag. The bag itself is separated both top and bottom by a 'collar' and drawstring, so that you are able to separate items off if you want, or alternatively have easy access to items either end of the bag, without having to unpack it. There is a further drawstring around the top of the bag to assist in compressing the contents and getting what you want in there. The bag is a 'long' type of rucksack in that the 40 litres of rucksack is quite thin and long and sits down your back, rather than being the short and square type that sits up on your shoulders. As such the neck of the bag is 32 inches in diameter (81 cm) and 18 inches (46 cm) in length. There is also a water bladder sleeve within the main bag (with three quite decent Velcro straps to hold the bladder in place) and hydration port that can feed to either the left or right hand side, to give flexibility on how you want to configure this.
After walking around for a couple of days with this daysack in varying weathers and under various loads, I have to say that it is well designed and constructed and was comfortable, even under a weight. The numerous pockets are very handy, as is the ability to access the main bag from either the top or the bottom. The longer back with the smaller circumference is great for your point of balance as it keeps everything close to you and on longer walks is going to be less tiring, however this has to trade off against the fact that you are not necessarily going to be able to get larger, bulkier items into the bag. All in all a good daysack and well worth a look.
Summit 40 Litre Daysack kindly supplied by Highlander