C-Ruck Performs in New Zealand Hiking Experiment

Sun, Rain, Snow and Three Impressed Guides Later.

While the C-Ruck Rucksack was designed as a multi-purpose pack, we don’t generally condone its use as a heavy duty mountaineering pack. Yet time and again our customers seem to find a surprising niche for the trusty Airborne. Here David Killick tested out his C-Ruck in the New Zealand mountains.

Is the C-Ruck any good for serious hiking? Or would I need a so-called "technical" pack with a waist strap and all the extras? That was the question I was pondering when I signed up for the Routeburn Track walk in Fiordland, New Zealand in November 2009 – a three-day, two-night hike through stunning alpine scenery in our largest national park.

My C-Ruck had proven itself on a trip to Europe a couple of years previously. I loved the red color.

Some "experts" insisted a waist strap would be vital. My wife opted for a Macpac with a waist strap. Macpac is a New Zealand manufacturer of high quality outdoor gear, although it is now made in China, like so much else. She found it worked well, because she could carry the weight of the pack on her hips.

But I thought I would give the C-Ruck a go and tested it out on our nearby Port Hills. I was delighted. Because I’ve got broad shoulder and a long back, the C-Ruck felt very comfy. The C-Ruck is broad and wide, so I could carry it high on my back. If I got hot and sweaty, I’d simply nudge the rucksack slightly to cool down. And it was very easy to put on and take off.

So, on to the Routeburn. The first day was beautifully sunny, and we climbed up through native forest to be rewarded with alpine vistas and clear mountain tarns. The next day, as we sidled around the mountains, the weather closed in and it started raining and then snowing. A helicopter was called in to transport us over the saddle to avoid avalanche danger. On the third day, it snowed and rained, but we enjoyed walking down the mountain through lush green forest.

Our three guides admired the C-Ruck and were taken with its ultra rugged construction, its big chunky zips and stainless steel strap loops. It’s simple with no unnecessary pockets. The big side pockets were ideal for water bottles and lunch.

I loaded all our gear into a waterproof plastic bag that fitted into the C-Ruck, which was just as well. It stayed dry, but another time I’d try and find a waterproof pack cover for the pack.

My conclusion is I’d recommend the C-Ruck as prefect for hiking – with two provisos: Practice first by going for walks to get fitter before your big hike; and don’t load it with more than about 7kg (15lbs). We were lucky, as we didn’t have to carry our own food and bedding.

In the wilderness you need gear that won’t let you down. Above all, Red Oxx is rugged and reliable.

One other item I found excellent was my New Zealand Merino clothing. It regulates body temperature so you don’t freeze or overheat, and it’s also anti-microbial, so it doesn’t get stinky.

Although the C-Ruck works well for travel and hiking, I am now thinking of purchasing the CPA Briefcase for short business trips. The hardest decision is what color to choose!

Yes, we definitely want to emphasize our bags are not waterproof. Red Oxx Bags are considered water resistant. But like the bloke said, using a plastic bag will keep your stuff dry and once you’re home, simply hang the bag up to dry overnight. For sharing his Adventure Journal, David gets his choice of Rigger Wallet or Market Tote. When will we hear about about YOUR adventure?

By the way, those are some awesome pictures of Lake Mackenzie.

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