The Phantom 65L rucksack is part of Gelert’s Beyond range and is one of their high specification entry level backpacking sacks which also features the new Hybrid Flex back system. It has been designed with comfort and practicality in mind, and the Phantom certainly boasts plenty of features. So how did it get on when we took it wild camping in the Dartmoor and the Alps?
The design of the Phantom rucksack is based around the the two aluminium support staves or sliders that go up the length of the rucksack. The shoulder straps are actually attached to these two aluminium rails and can move up and down with ease. You can secure them some what by tightening the other straps but essentially it’s designed to take some of the jolting from heavy loads off your back and knees. It’s a clever design and you instantly feel a little more freer when you move and jolt up and down. The rucksack also seems to have been designed with durability in mind as it feels tough and sturdy!
When I first used this rucksack it was fully loaded with all my wild camping gear, including around five litres of water, so the pack was fairly heavy. Comfort for me is the weight being spread across the straps without any part digging in, and this rucksack delivered. The shoulder straps are well padded, your back is comforted by two more padded areas and the hip belt and surrounding area is also very well padded. The overall fit feels good and because of the way the shoulder straps move on the aluminium frame, they don’t tighten up when you are bending over or moving about in other strange positions, so really aids the comfort.
Given this size of rucksack, it can be used for more than just a days walk and this was the case during testing, and heavy rucksacs need to be stable. Whilst fully loaded I did a few tests with this rucksack by bending over and twisting from side to side to see what would happen, and to be honest it only sent me off balance if I really went for it. In fact because of the padded straps and secure fit, it felt as secure as you would hope a rucksack would be I suppose!
Over the years one thing has stuck out for me as a common problem with rucksacs that take heavy loads, and that is the stitching between the top of the shoulder strap and the rucksack. I have had a few go on me in the past so is the first thing I look for when it comes to durability. This rucksack has none! Instead the straps are again attached to the aluminium rails of the rucksack which allows movement, there is also an adjustable strap on each shoulder which is attached to the rucksac which also feels very well stitched and secure. Both these features take away that horrible moment where you question ‘will the one strap take the weight as I put it on’? This rucksack is made from P300D Baby Ripstop and Trim fabric P600D Polyester, which when combined makes it feel strong and ready for the outdoors. The stitching looks well done and the buckles are fairly chunky which all points to good manufacturing, only time will tell on that point though.
There is a silver rain cover in the outside left hand pocket for protection from the rain, however I was caught in a light shower and the water didn’t get in anywhere, so I would say the material is somewhat waterproof.
The back area of this rucksack, as already mentioned, is on aluminium rails, and the two padded areas which rest against your upper back and shoulders have a vent between them to allow air to circulate. There is also another gap between the upper and lower back for more air to circulate, although the waist straps are padded well and once done up don’t allow as much ventilation. Then again even on the hottest day of spring I was fairly well ventilated and wouldn’t take the padding away as the comfort level would be compromised. The padding is also perforated to allow water to disperse quicker and air to circulate.
Starting at the top of the rucksack, there is a large pocket directly on the top which I found myself putting all sorts of things in to, and i was surprised what I could actually get in there, certainly big enough to get your waterproofs in. The opposite side to this pocket is a small zipped pocket on the inside which is big enough to get things like a map and compass in to. There are two pockets on the side of the rucksack which are about two thirds of the length of the rucksack and often called bellow pockets. Basically these are adjustable pockets with seams that fold up somewhat as you tighten. This allows you to tighten down your rucksack once filled up to make it smaller and more secure, but allows room for extra storage if needed. Two small elasticated pockets are also situated on the side, one of which contains the waterproof cover, but both a pretty big with plenty of room. Finally the bottom compartment of the rucksack is accessed by a zip and is like a huge pocket. I think this is designed for keeping any wet stuff (tents, waterproof layers) separate from the rest of your gear. Lots of room in there!
This rucksack has lots of places on it for stowing gear of all sizes. On the back of the pack you have the small elasticated straps, or webbing, through the loops which have a draw-toggle, with two loops further down in line with these. These are very handy for strapping walking poles or ice axe onto the back of your pack, and I also found a way of strapping my climbing helmet on too. The top of the rucksack is criss-crossed by an elastic cord, which you can extend and store things like waterproofs or a helmet under. There is also a toggle on this cord to tighten it down. To top things off there are two elasticated pockets on the side of the rucksack which are great for storing water bottles and hats etc. I found these very useful in the changing conditions whist walking in the alpine valleys, easy to stow away stuff.
This rucksack has a small hole between the top and main part of the bag marked as H2O. Inside is an elasticated pocket where you can slide a hydration pack in, and on the shoulder straps there are straps you can tuck the hydration tube under. I used a 3-litre bladder in this rucksack while testing it out, with no problems.
This Gelert Phantom 65L rucksack has a RRP of £89.99
This rucksack feels well made and durable, which is exactly what you want from a 65L rucksack as you will often be carrying heavy loads. The adjustable hybrid flex panel and aluminium rails worked very well and are a brilliant design feature to this rucksack. The two part compartment system inside is fine for separating equipment, but one thing I did notice as a slight drawback was that if you needed to pack anything long into the rucksack, the separate compartments wouldn’t allow you to just slide it in, and I ended up straping my tent to the outside. There is plenty of extra storage on this rucksack by way of clever pockets, plenty of ways to compress the rucksack to stop everything flapping around, and with a RRP of £89.99 I think its a great value 65L rucksack.
For more information click on the following link:
Gelert Phantom 65L Rucksack
Buy this rucksack here:
Beyond By Gelert Phantom Rucksack – Black/Cinder, 65 lt