Howies Broad Haven Rucksack Review

After gear testing over the summer months, Tryfan Williams brings us his Howies Broad Haven Rucksack review

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The Howies Broad Haven rucksack is a mid sized pack that boasts a multitude of features, it screams commute pack, but it seemed versatile enough for me to venture out with it on day walks to the coast, and to the mountains, so I did!

What they say

Medium sized rucksack with pack away reflective roadsign rain cover. Approx 18 litres capacity, so it’s big enough for a weekend’s worth of kit or for everyday commuter use.

Appearance

For the uninitiated, Howies are a small and environmentally conscientious company from Wales, and as with all their products this rucksack looks the business with a cool, subtle two tone black and grey nylon finish. So for those looking for a flashy orange pack to stand out from the crowd this is not for you.

But the subtle clean look works well for this particular rucksack as it will allow you to make use of the work commute features without fear of looking like a goof!

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Features

Tech Specs rate this packs capacity at 18 litres, though to be honest it felt much bigger. With the main compartment able to extend by opening the lower zipped section, it managed to accommodate all my gear while out on a summers mountain walk.

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On my cycle commute it managed to cope well, carrying my towel/wash bag/change of clothes/sandwiches and shoes. It was here that the dividable lower section came into it’s own, as it served as a handy space for shoes. Or while on weekend use I would employ it as a separate compartment for any dirty kit.

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Even with all the commute gear on board the Howies Broad Haven manages to satisfy the tech savvy among us with a tidily placed separate soft lined padded laptop pocket, large enough to hold up to a 15″ laptop, notebook or tablet.

Another smaller lined outer pocket sits at the top of the pack for an easy access protected space for your glasses, those expensive shades, or even your mobile phone. Small but well thought out features like this are found throughout the pack.

Though not marketed as a mountain hiking pack I took it out on day walks, and to be fair it held it’s own. We wouldn’t recommend it on anything other than a summers day walk though as it would be insufficient in capacity for your autumn/winter gear, and the lack of a hip strap would prove problematic in terms of pack stability in any kind of wind.

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Special mention has to go the safety features. It has the reflective piping and details as you would expect of any bag made for cyclists, plus a light hanging tab which is always handy. However Howies have taken user feedback given to them, and realised a feature that might well save your life.

A bold claim, but justified. The bag comes with a packable rain cover that features a “Keep Right” arrow, and for those that take your cycling overseas you can purchase an additional cover for right lane road users.

No hydration system to speak of, which let’s face it would be unnecessary for a commuter pack, unless you’re trekking in from a distance that is! Though I found the outer mesh pockets (one on each side) held my nalgene water bottle in place quite well while on foot.

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Comfort

With day long use on both foot and wheels the Broad Haven rucksack didn’t cause any discomfort on the back or shoulders thanks to it’s padding. In fact you could feel confident in filling up the spacious insides of the pack to the brim and let the shoulder pads take the burden.

The inclusion of a chest strap proved handy to keep the pack secure during leisurely day cycle rides. Though terrain that proves any more challenging might push this pack out of it’s comfort zone, so not one for the mountain bikers or runners among us we’d venture.

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The only issue I would report on the ergonomically placed back padding would be on breathability. Although there are clear airflow sections between pads, I felt on an unseasonably warm October day walking the Pembrokeshire coast path that the back of my technical tee was getting wet.

Verdict

As a medium sized pack the Howies Broad Haven is suitable for carrying your weekend kit, your everyday cycle-commute or your day walks / day rides.

Not quite boasting the features needed for the more adventurous of cyclists, but proving versatile and durable  it did well as a day pack, and at this reduced price it’s a steal!

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