We chose the Inov8 Race Elite 24 Rucksack for the Rab Mountain Marathon, as a team you must carry a set kit list between two people and I was sceptical as to whether we would be able to fit all of our kit in to two 24 litre packs without having an uncomfortable weekend. I was pleasantly surprised when we managed it - and quite easily at that.
I immediately noticed how light the Race Elite 24 is, weighing in at just 282g. However, for such a lightweight pack obviously durability is an issue; we used this pack for 3 days, over and under a range of terrain and one of the rucksacks ended up with a small hole in the fabric.
For such a lightweight, minimalist pack, it is not short on features - the 2 side pockets are of an adequate size, although they cannot fit a large wide-mouth nalgene bottle, which meant this had to be stored in the pack. The additional chest pocket is recommended for some extra space but more importantly for ease of access for those small items you may need a few times on your trip.
The central full length zip on the Race Elite packs means that you can access kit at the top or bottom of the pack easily. However, for this to be effective, you need to pack smart, with the things you're likely to need least often against the back of the rucksack, but at the same time these need to be items that will not make it uncomfortable against your back as this pack has no padding on the back.
There are two improvements that could be made to the Race Elite 24; the first being that the straps could have some padding and/or be slightly wider, as they have compromised comfort in order to save weight, which meant our shoulders did start to ache after 5 hours of running each day. The second is that there is no ventilation against the back, which did cause us to get a sweaty back, especially in the heat on the first day of the event. However, any additional features would add considerable weight and being lightweight is the whole point of this pack.
The one issue I do have with this pack is the zips on the side pockets, as they zip towards the back of the pack, which meant when I had a long sleeved top on, it was catching on the zips when closed. If the zips were to close in the opposite direction then this would not be an issue and it would not necessarily affect the ease of access to the side pockets.
Overall, the Race Elite 24 served its purpose well and it has a lot of space for such a light rucksack. I would definitely recommend this pack as a lightweight overnighter or spacious but light day pack.
Alex N & Joel B