Wisport Sparrow is a backpack renowned for its solid performance, practical design and overall utility. These features also contribute to its versatility, to the fact that it works equally well in the field and in the “concrete jungle”. Nevertheless, over the years of use users noticed some lacks of the construction. Some things that could be upgraded. It all led to the creation of Wisport Sparrow II backpack, the younger brother of the popular pack. Is it a worthy successor of the original?
(At the beginning, it should be mentioned that described backpack comes from the first production batch, so it might have some minor difference from the final version)
Sparrow II is made of Cordura 500D® nylon, a durable and fairly light material which made it possible to keep the final weight of pack around 1 kg.
Backpack is available in two versions, with only difference being available colours – regular (black, graphite, olive and RAL 7013) and more expensive – Sparrow Special (Coyote and camouflages Woodland PL Wz. 93, Pencott, A-Tacs and Multicam)
All zippers were produced by the Wisport – it isn’t YKK, but they work well enough.
The new Wisport Sparrow 30 has a cuboid shape with dimensions of 48x35x22 cm; the front, the sides and the bottom are covered with MOLLE compatible webbing which allows attachment of pouches or other inventory. In addition, the backpack has a system of compression straps (sides, front, back) for carrying another portion of equipment.
At the top the manufacturer placed a carrying handle – bigger and located closer to the center than in the first Sparrow. A little lower there is an exit for the hydration tubes.
The front side of the backpack features a Velcro panel for attaching morale patches. Typically for the Sparrow line the manufacturer included a patch with words “Proudly made in Poland”, which is a nice detail showing the origin of the pack.
Load Bearing System
Wisport Sparrow II uses the SAS (Semi Adjustment System) Plus load bearing system. Back ventilation is based on two panels covered in a dense mesh. This solution provides comfort (absorbs sweat) and, at the same time, it is more pleasant to the skin than the previously used mesh with looser weave. What is important is that thanks to the dense structure, the new material is also more resistant to penetration by dirt, sand or pine needles. The endings of SAS are covered with a layer of Cordura®, which protects them from contact with rocks or other surfaces that could damage the material.
Between the pads there is a special pocket for a removable aluminium flat bar (has to be bought for ~15 PLN [4USD]) which acts as a simplified frame. This solution prevents the Sparrow’s back from bending if the backpack is packed to the limit (this was a big problem in the first Sparrow).
Shoulder straps have a classic shape of the letter S, and on the inside they are lined with the same dense mesh. They both include a typical military quick-release system, some webbing and a hydration tube holder. In fact, they included, as one of them accidentally broke.
Braces can be connected to each other using a simple sternum strap with a small buckle. I wonder whether it might be a better idea to apply a solution known from the more casual, tourist, backpacks and to use a buckle with a small whistle. This isn’t a major issue, but it would be nice to have some possibility for emergency signaling at hand.
Sparrow II includes a removable waist belt made of 50 mm tape. Thanks to the stitches on both sides of the tape a risk of losing it was significantly reduced. The belt is attached to two plastic frames, and can be removed if it is not necessary (for example, in the city). In addition, a more complex waist belt can be additionally ordered at Wisport, but as we were told by the manufacturer this upgrade comes in a price of additional 50PLN (~12USD).
Main compartment of Wisport’s Sparrow will easily fit the equipment necessary for a weekend trip (or longer, depending on the user). Thanks to the zipper which reaches almost to the very bottom of backpack, Sparrow can be opened similarly to a suitcase enabling comfortable access to the whole content.
The flap contains two zipper-closed mesh pockets, which are perfect for organizing miscellaneous stuff (eg. basic hygiene products). The use of two smaller compartments makes the content much more accessible than it was in the earlier version of Sparrow, which had only one, large, pocket. Removing the items which had slipped to the bottom could be a hassle, especially when the backpack was fully packed.
The rear wall of main compartment includes a pocket for documents or a hydration bladder.
Moreover, there is also a set of plastic frames which are compatible with special straps for stabilizing the equipment.
At the front of the backpack there is a second compartment with a system of organizers for carrying a variety of gear. Its capacity doesn’t decrease with the amount of gear inside the main compartment, so the organizer can be used whenever needed. It is made of two partitions (one for almost full height, another for half), a mesh pocket with zipper, two pockets, some elastic webbing and two straps – one with carabiner and another with D-ring. Inside there is also a bit of free space, where you can hide a sweatshirt or something of similar size. In this compartment I store a few pens, a multitool, a flashlight, a charger and some other items. The ultimate configuration of gear depends, obviously, on user’s preference. Anyway, the structure is thought through and should fit the needs of the majority of users.
The outer side of the Sparrow contains a deep, flat, pocket with a zipper protected by a double flap. It is suitable for carrying larger items (minor would be inaccessible) and things that need to be easily available, such as a first-aid kit. The capacity of the pocket depends on the amount of gear in the organizer – if it’s full the access to the pocket will be quite difficult.
Wisport Sparrow II vs Wisport Sparrow I (differences)
In comparison to the original backpack, Sparrow II has undergone a number of changes:
• Covering back and shoulder straps with a denser mesh
• Back can be stiffened with a flat bar
• Mesh pocket in the flap was divided into two smaller pockets
• Plastic elements were added inside the main chamber
• Stiffness of the handle was increased by appropriate stitching, it was laso moved from the backpack’s side
• The possibility of opening the front chamber to the very end, covering its zipper with a flap, redesigning the organizer
• Adding a flap to the zipper of the outer pocket
• Sewing both ends of the hip belt in a way that prevents its spontaneous release
Impressions (our opinion)
Wisport Sparrow II 30l is still the same good Sparrow, a capacious and well made backpack. Thanks to listening to the users’ comments, the proven design has been additionally enriched with a number of new solutions that have made it even more practical and convenient to use.
Certain restrictions on the usability of Sparrow II may result from the specifics of its design – for example, a zipper on the entire length of three sides of the backpack will work in the city worse than a shorter zip (like the one used in Raider or Raccoon backpacks). However, this isn’t really a flaw, but an element of pack’s character that is worth being aware of.
There are a few things I’d change – adding a small whistle to the buckle of the sternum strap or a pocket for a raincover. However, even without such additions Sparrow II remains a good backpack.
At the moment the only problem of the Sparrow II is its price. At the moment, the 30l pack can be bought for ~110$. That’s quite a lot – especially when compared to the competition, such as the new backpacks from the Helikon-Tex (for example the Raider and Raccoon packs mentioned earlier), which are made as well as the Sparrow, and in some ways are also more comfortable and interesting. The high price of the Wisport Sparrow II can be explained by a fact that it was made in Poland, what increases the production costs, but it still remains unproportional to the Sparrow’s properties. Another, much cheaper (but not as complex) alternative, comes in a form of PP25 backpack form the Polish Janysport.
Wisport Sparrow II combines the best features of the first version (versatility, quality of craft and usability) and enriches them with a number of upgrades that respond to the users’ comments. All the zippers were covered, the organizer expanded, the mesh changed. A solution to the problem of the back bending into an arch was found in a form of an additional frame. All this makes the new Sparrow a worthy successor to its predecessor. Unfortunately, the good impresion is disrupted by a rather high and uncompetitive price.
Many thanks to the manufacturer – Wisport – for giving us a chance to test the Sparrow II backpack!