Highlander Ben Nevis 52 Backpack | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Highlander Ben Nevis 52 Backpack | Review

A good value backpack with handy pockets and useful details throughout

Highlander is a Scotland-based family-owned brand that’s been around since the 80s and that’s now run by the son of its original founder. Its original ethos was to offer kit at reasonable prices to open up the outdoors for all and it still holds that principle – and this pack, the Highlander Ben Nevis 52, is a case in point. 

At £125, the Ben Nevis (which is available in men’s and women’s versions) is pretty fairly priced compared to similar packs from rival, bigger hitting brands and, from what I’ve seen, there’s value for money here. 


There’s plenty of airflow across your back with the Highlander Ben Nevis 52, all thanks to the suspended mesh back system and 3D mesh across the harness. Heavy loads are dealt with well thanks to the internal lightweight frame, durable fabrics and the variety of adjustment straps.

OM editor Will using the Ben Nevis on a hike along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. Photos: Dave Macfarlane

The hook and loop (aka Velcro) length adjuster allows you to refine the fit quickly and easily to get a spot-on fit. Handily the sternum strap is sliding so you can make quick and easy adjustment there too. I found the shoulder straps particularly comfortable due to their wide width and good amount of padding and I also liked the padding at the lumbar which is slightly curved to provide support there,. 


The main material is a durable nylon with a 200D rating. There are certainly more durable hiking backpacks out there but it does feel tough enough to withstand the usual levels of abrasion a heavily loaded backpack will tend to face. Fortunately, if there happens to be a defect that causes the pack to break, you’re covered by a 282 year guarantee. That’s a year for every Munro in Scotland. 

The fabric is PU coated which adds a bit of wet weather resistance – enough to see off light rain. When the rain picks up, there’s a useful waterproof cover that’s stowed at the base which I’ve found to be easy to deploy and well fitting. 

On the sides and on the front, there’s stretchy mesh for extra storage. This, as is always the case with stretch mesh on packs, looks a little vulnerable to getting snagged or scuffed. The base of each of these pockets is reinforced with nylon, however, and that means you can stash trekking poles inside them (carefully) without having to worry about the tips piercing through.


A useful two way zip lets you access the base and middle of the pack, while the top has a drawcord covered by a fixed lid. It would’ve been nice if this lid was floating as that would give the potential to carry an extra few litres.

There are overlid and underlid zipped pockets, both of which are large – big enough for a lightweight waterproof jacket or a guidebook with space for extras too. The pockets on either side of the hipbelt are also quite large. They’re not big enough for an OS map but they’ll easily swallow a smartphone or a satellite transponder.

It also has an internal bladder compartment, a whistle on the chest strap, bottom straps where you can fasten a backpacking tent or rollmat and cord lashing points where you can secure extra items.

There are a lot of straps going on here but fortunately they all come with little Velcro tabs that allow you to roll up and secure the ends to prevent them flapping. Any excess webbing on the hipbelt straps can also be tucked away underneath the hipbelt pockets – a useful detail that you don’t always see.

All in all this is a pack that has all the right details for life on the trail and that seems built to last. For me, 52 litres will handle kit for just about any trip I’ll undertake. That said, it might be a little on the small side for a Duke of Edinburgh student that’s loaded up like a typical Duke of Edinburgh student, if you catch my drift.

It’s tough, it’s stacked with handy details, the back system is comfortable and ventilating and the price is very reasonable.

What I liked: Great value, nice little details, smart look
What I didn’t like: it would be good to see the use of recycled materials on future editions and the stretch mesh gets grubby quite easily. Some might find it a little on the heavy side

Highlander Ben Nevis 52

Selected for the Outdoor 100 Sping/Summer 2024 guide
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