This is old-school luggage at its basic best. No bells, no whistles, none of that namby-pamby padding, just a massive main storage compartment to hold all your gear and a couple of other pockets.
The ESP bag is a focused bit of luggage. But it’s tough as well. Created from 900D nylon material, backed on the inside of the bag with PVC to make it relatively waterproof, at the heart of the rucksack is a large central compartment that will swallow pretty much everything your need it to.
If it doesn’t, there’s also a generous rear pocket, plus two more either side. The bottom of the back is covered in a reinforced, waterproof ‘foot’, so when you put it down the nylon material doesn’t suck up the moisture. Elsewhere there are also two straps across the rear pocket that clip up and are adjustable to carry an unhooking mat or suchlike.
Rugged and simple, focused and more than up to the task of lugging kit where you need it to be, the ESP rucksack is really a thing of simplistic beauty. But… then you have to carry it. The back of the bag has a very small amount of padding in it, and the same goes for the main straps – although they are nice and wide to spread the pressure. The inclusion of a sternum strap helps keep things tight and in place, but you do have to watch what you pack at the back of the bag or get niggles with knobbly items digging in when you’re on the move.
THE NUMBERS Capacity: 40 litres Dimensions: 46 x 42 x 24cm
Pros Good, honest, solid bag that will hold loads at a very good price.
Cons Not the comfiest when on the move. Test Result As we’d loaded the bag up with disc weights they didn’t feel too good through the back of the bag, but the actual weight distribution on the shoulders was very good.
Although storage and capacity are huge things when it comes to the right rucksack, for most of us in a live fishing situation, it’s the comfort factor of a bag that really makes a difference. A 20kg load can feel twice that when your rucksack’s slopping all over your back and your spine feels like a herd of buffalo are playing a game of bulldogs on it.
A good rucksack makes lugging loads on your back and shoulders as easy as possible and that’s what we’re looking for in the ones we’re getting to grips with.
To be fair, there are no specific, calculable measurements of comfort that you can record, so this bit is less scientific than usual. The test was to load the rucksack with 20kg of weight, strap it on and walk for half a mile – a bit more than many anglers would travel by foot to a swim, but we’re all about putting the leg work in here at ACF.
The comfort ratings we gave each bag are then based on how we felt after the walk.