Compared to a few other 20l packs I’ve used, the Gourdon is cavernous. There’s just no way that this pack and the 20l sea to summit sil pack for instance are the same internal volume. It is also very basic in design, which means that Alpkit have eschewed all the unnecessary toggles, cordage and what-nots that nobody usually knows what to do with and just hang about on the pack, making it look untidy and never get used. They’ve stuck to what’s needed, and just that in order to keep the weight down and, most importantly in a budget pack – the price.
There are bungees on the pack to stow your waterproofs, an essential feature for a pack at any weight, especially a waterproof pack where you wouldn’t necessarily carry dry bags as well and so have to have a way to segregate wet ‘proofs from your kit.
Further capacity is provided on the sides in the form of mesh pockets, which are deep enough at first glance but I found a large litre lucozade bottle would slowly ride up and so you need to use a smaller bottle, or bladders. Walking and tent poles can be stowed safely in here.
One issue I had with the previous Gourdon 25, other than the lack of any external attachments, was that the shoulder straps kept working themselves loose. The newer model appears to have solved that by using sturdier webbing. The chest straps are tightly attached and once you get it right the chest straps aren’t going anywhere. There are also a load of attachment points on the shoulder straps if you like attaching stuff such as GPS to make it easily available on the move.
The pack is hydration compatible, once you figure it out. As the main body of the pack is waterproof, the bladder has to sit with the back pad in a Vecroed off area on the back of the pack.
The only point I will be picky about is the waist strap. This is just a strap with a buckle, and would ideally have some padding on the side along with a pocket or two. But that would make the pack more expensive, though I’d have been happy to pay a few quid for the feature.
You may just about get away with using this pack for an overnight trip, though we were unable to test that out at this time of year, we did manage to squeeze in a Laser tent, Pipedream 400 bag and the rest of our wild camping kit comfortably into the pack, but obviously at 25litres you’re going to have to pack more carefully than usual.
The Alpkit Gourdon 20 is without a doubt the best pack out there that that we’ve seen at under £25, and you’ll probably need to spend a fair bit more in order to find a better pack. It’s sufficiently light for most purposes, and has enough pockets and accessory cords in order to attach most items (except an ice axe). Being fully waterproof is just the icing on the cake, and this looks to have found a niche as my low hassle day pack – when you just can’t be bothered to stuff everything into a drybag. The waist belt is about the only downside to this pack, but one that meant the pack was lucky to score a 4 star rating. I’ve grown used to pockets in my waist straps where I can keep my camera and mobile (for GPS use) along with a few snacks. As running shorts tend to be the chosen leg wear for summer, I depend on the pockets in the pack for odds and ends.