I suspect that most people have heard of Mountain Warehouse as they have been around for a few years now after their launch in 1997 and they have their own branded equipment (Mountainlife) ranging from socks through to ski clothing. I have tested the Mountainlife 50L backpack that only comes in one colour (dark olive green) and a stated capacity of 50 litres.
My first view of the backpack is that it is well made and has most of the usual gubbins that you would expect of a backpack of this size, including air mesh padding to the back of the bag, shoulder straps and on the hip belts all of which weighs in at 1 kg. That said however, this backpack is one of those that falls into the category of a single bag backpack, so unlike other backpacks, it is scant on pockets or dividers so is more aimed at those who like the big space and is happy to go rummaging through the bag looking for items rather than placing them into set pockets.
That is not to say that there arent any pockets on this backpack, as there are six in total, one small one on both of the hip straps, one water bottle pocket on both sides of the bag, one quite generous zip closed pocket in the lid and also a small pocket on the inside of the main bag. I have to say that the small pocket on the inside of the bag reminds me of a pouch for a water bladder, but without the connections to stop the bladder just falling to the bottom of the pouch. I will cover these in more detail, further in the review, however other than the pocket in the lid, none of these are of a particularly large size, so admin may be a problem.
Starting from the outside of the bag, the shoulder straps are padded and easily adjusted using the conventional slide buckle arrangement. There is a chest strap included on the backpack, that is either completely removable or height adjustable by removing it and re-attaching it though the retaining loops. There are only two pairs of retaining loops, so this isnt exactly infinitely adjustable, however at 58 I was more than happy with the position of these and if you cant adjust it to be truly comfortable, then there is the option to remove it altogether. The hip belt is fixed in place and again is padded, with each side sporting a small pocket that has a zip closure that is roughly 4 by 3 (10cm x 8cm), either of which is a good size to store the chest strap if you are not using it. The back of the bag is well padded with a soft airmesh that pads your back nicely against anything that you put into the main compartment.
On the top of the bag is a bungee zig zag which is useful for stashing some loose items of clothing etc, which is adjustable via a drawstring affair. Directly underneath this is the lid pocket that is accessed via a zip, which is quite a generous size at 8 by 10 (20 cm by 26cm). Both this zip and the two zips on the hips pockets have a short length of a paracord type of string attached to them, to them to make it easier to open them, even if you are wearing gloves, which is always a useful point. Working down the outside of the bag, there are two compression straps (the top one of each has a quick release clip buckle on it), either side of the bag, a water bottle pocket either side and then two ice pick loops.
The inside of the main bag which is 21 (53cm) tall by 32 (82 cm) has the usual drawstring compression system of most backpacks, however this supplemented by a conventional compression strap across the top of the bag. Inside of the bag there is the main bag itself and then a separate pocket across the back of the bag with a Velcro lid across the top. As mentioned, this pocket reminds me of a water bladder pocket but without the connections but at 9 ½ across by 18 in depth (24 cm x 46cm) its a good size for your paperwork or smaller items of kit.
At this point, I have to say that I'm not fully convinced about the 50 litres capacity. Although I've not been able to conduct a full scientific test, based on my measurements and the stuff I've been able to get into it I'd say it was nearer 40 litres.
In summary, taking the question of its size out of the equation, this is a well constructed and solid backpack and judging from the nylon material that is constructed from, I would say hard wearing too. The shortage of pockets arent going to be to everyones taste, but the compression strap across the top of the bag means that you should still get plenty of gear in this backpack.
Mountainlife 50L Backpack kindly supplied by Mountain Warehouse