I've never used a groundsheet and although I have probably only camped for 50 nights or so in my life it has been on very varied terrain (nearly always wid camping) on heather, gravel, sand etc. I cant comment on the specific durability of your tents groundsheet but you probably dont need a protector unless you are camping on really rugged terrain regularly and you're a bit careless!
As for the backpack, its been said lots of times on this forum that you should get the one that is most comfortable. I found this out the hard way!
I just got the Kestrel 58, haven't yet used it fully loaded but I like it, and the fact that you can compress it to fit your kit in a few different ways.
Little touches help are good- pockets on hip belt are a good size, the walking pole quick store are just examples of a well thought out bag. It is also lighter than counterparts but still not the lightest.
My only critiscism is the the "bladder" store on the outside if the pack - in theory a really good idea especially when you need to top up, but I have a Source Wide Pac and where the pipe goes into the bladder can stick into your back a little. So give thought to what bladder you have or looking to get if you opt for the Kestrel
To be honest I dont see the sense in opting for a nice light tent to then buy/make a grounsheet protector to lug about. I know its prolongs the life of the groundsheet but its just another flippin think to pack and lug around...and I am getting fed up of too many odds and ends to worry about. Im currently using and abusing a little ME Dragonfly...its been thrown down on all sorts for the past 5 years and I actually just checked it last night as was pitched on sodden ground...its still watertight so I assume the coatings lasting well...and little holes etc are really easy fixed...I actually just stick a drop of aquasure on any holes rips etc...the repair is lifelong, bombproof and very neat.
Oh, the Osprey Kestrel is a very comfortable rucksack...a few too many bells and whistles for me (sold mine on) but it along with the Talon, were the most comfortable packs Ive ever owned. And they take quite a beating...I knocked my Talon down a 40 foot drop onto rocky ground and it was undamaged.
Yeah they are great...they are very very adjustable so you have more chance of getting a great fit...and I found the back system kept my back really dry almost all of the time.
Oh and just to say...my opinions on footprints are just that...my opinions so not to be taken as gospel.
Simon, meant to say about the footprint/groundsheet
I have one, but use when very damp or stoney.
One option to give some protection (and only some) is to go to your local pound shop and get a survival blanket. (why are they a pound there but £4 in outdoors shops ??) They are light and can be cut to size if too big - folding the beggers up can be a pain tho
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