Sometimes, the Lite option is better

shoot-158If you live in Colorado, you will go hiking.

This is not some ominous threat, it’s just an observation. Every time I get out and hit the trail, it seems a good portion of the state is out there with me. Not in an overcrowding sort of way, but in a shared experience, getting out there and seeing everything that the state has to offer.

My first pack, many moons ago, was a huge, bulky thing with an outside metal frame bought in the early 1980s. It was heavy, it creaked, and it still left a bit to be desired in the capacity area. It seemed poorly organized, and  I could never get it to ride that well. Thankfully, that’s a thing of the past.

The majority of the hiking I do is day hikes. For a long while, I have been looking for the right pack to take with me. Camera backpacks, I have found, are useless outside of an urban environment. They all are designed to only carry cameras and lenses, or the space they have for other supplies is not sufficient. In addition, they are all very heavy.

Heavy is the problem. The solution is a company from Boulder CO. GoLite makes all sorts of lightweight outdoor gear at reasonable prices. I’d wandered through their stores a few times in the malls in Denver and been impressed with their offerings. Over time, I’ve bought quite a few of their products and been happy with them.

Action shot on Mount Evans wearing the DayLite. Taken by my fiancee and hiking partner.

After shopping around quite a bit, I bought one of their DayLite backpacks. The DayLite is a very simple design. It borrows heavily from the European Klettersack concept: a simple sack to put things in with minimal additions that rides easily on your back. This design was not popular in the US until fairly recently. Now, it’s all the rage. You can even buy stylish models from another Colorado company: Topo Design. But I don’t really need stylish. I need light, durable, comfortable, and water-resistant. The DayLite delivers these things.

I like the inclusion of both a hydration sleeve and pockets for water bottles. I’m on the fence on hydration bladders. I seem to spend time flailing about with the tube when I have one, so I wind up stopping to drink anyway. They also are prone to the funk like Nalgenes. But there are times you just need to carry more water, and they’re pretty convenient. When you’re not hiking in the woods, you can carry a laptop in the sleeve. Well, even if you are walking in the woods you can, it’s your option. Maybe you like taking your trusty MacBook with you everywhere you go.

The pack does include a waist belt to hold in it place when it’s got a bit of a load in it. It’s not load distributing, since you shouldn’t have that much in the pack anyway. Think lite, not kitchen sink. It is light. Just over a pound empty. It weighs basically nothing. On a recent hike, I had rain gear for both of us in it, a large quantity of energy bars, water, spare shirts, one of my XAs and spare film, and my lightweight first aid kit. That took up a little less than half of the capacity of the pack. You could weekend easily, or more likely go a week using it as a travel bag.

shoot-161So what would I change on it? The description on GoLite’s website indicates it has a mesh padded back for ventilation. It doesn’t, but it would be a nice touch. I’d trade a few more ounces of weight for that, since the double rip-stop nylon material does not breathe at all. I can use another rain fly I already have, but I do like having another layer of waterproofing between my cameras and the rain.

The DayLite is a simple, lightweight pack to use on day hikes and up to overnights. Priced at $50, it can’t be beat.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, GoLite has ceased to be. It went bankrupt abruptly, and the stores all closed soon after. It was a good company that made good products, but it did not survive.

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