Though I prefer backpacking as the overall favorite outdoor activity, it is not always possible to get out for an overnight period. But sometimes I just need to get out.
A day hike (or ski and the very occasional climb) can often fill this void.
A chance to get out, experience nature and to reset the mental level to where it needs to be.
If I don’t get outside at least once during the week, even if only for a day, I admittedly become what someone calls “The Grumpster“. Not pretty.
And, of course, when the Mrs and I do extended car camping trips, day hikes are very much part of what we do.
Since I’ve moved to Colorado, I’ve had two days packs that been used extensively.
- Generic heavy nylon, thickly padded pack from the Sportsman Guide.
I bought this daypack shortly before I moved to Colorado. At the time, it cost me the princely sum of $25..or about $35 in today’s money. It was bomber. I took it through slot canyons in Utah, on my first clumsy forays into skiing, all over Rocky Mountain National Park and on trail work. By the end of the life, it was faded in color, had a lovely patina of dirt, sweat and salt stains and a tiny bit of dental floss stitching. After many years of faithful service, but otherwise structurally intact, someone hinted rather strongly it was time to retire the pack. someone was embarrassed enough that she would not even let me give it to Goodwill. 🙂 Truth be told, it was rather heavy and a bit awkward in shape.
Time for a new pack in 2011…
- Patagonia Lightweight Travel Pack
This pack was a freebie from an acquaintance who wanted me to give it a test drive. The Patagonia Travel Pack was lightweight, stuffed fine and made out of much thinner silnylon-like material. It served well, but was limited for day hikes only and did not really have versatility beyond that. I’d be afraid to shove anything too heavy in it or go through any type of abrasive bushwhacking (though I did it anyway! 😉 ) I liked the pack, but it did not hold up well comparatively speaking. It is now starting to fail someone “I can be seen in public with you” test. 🙂
So, it is 2015 and time for another day pack…
- Gossamer Gear Type 2 Utility Pack
The Gossamer Gear Type 2 Utility Pack is a newer pack from Gossamer Gear. Weighing slightly under a pound at 15.65 oz total, this pack may be a nice compromise between the lightness of the Patagonia pack and the amazing durability and flexibility of my old generic nylon pack (Pause for a moment nostalgia. Thank you.)
The Type 2 is made out of the newer robic fabric which is both light and strong. I appreciate the water bottle pockets, the external hip belt pockets and a couple of zippered pockets on the pack itself. The generous 1500 CI capacity makes it great for longer day jaunts, too. The internal foam pad and hip belt can be taken off so the pack be stripped to a scant 11.5 oz.
Overall, it seems both durable and bit more versatile than the Patagonia pack I’ve been using for the past few years.
But, enough boring gear specs..how does the pack perform?
I took it for a test drive this past weekend while on a warmish ski tour. My wax kit, thermos, light down jacket and other normal ski touring gear was packed for an outing. The pack was comfortable, rode well and had everything easily accessible. And if I scraped by any low hanging brush due to snow, I would not cringe and worry about a pack tear. Overall, I was very pleased with it.
I probably will not use this pack for colder weather skiing or more technical pursuits (climbing for example) due to the volume, but I can picture this being my three-season+ day pack of choice.
Time to retire the Patagonia pack.
I hope to do a more thorough review in Fall of 2015 after really putting the pack through the paces.
In the mean time, I would not be surprised if it would be many years before the pack starts failing the someone “you are NOT going out with me with that gear…are you?” test. 😉
UPDATE MARCH 2016: I have used this pack now for well over a year and it has become a go-to piece of gear for me. Be it day hikes, light ski tours , when base camping, etc. It is always in my car for after work hikes. The pack has has held up well for anything I throw at it. With only one simple buckle for closure, and a draw string opening in the pack body, it is a simple and rugged design that works. I suspect I’ll use this pack for many more years to come. Overall, the Type II has become my day use, workhorse pack.
Update 2017: Here is over two years later, and this pack has served well. It has that nice patina of sweat, salt, and dirt. Has been with me on many different trips. And it is a piece of gear that is a go to item for me. The Type II daypack has been revamped a bit since 2015, but at its core has not changed much. Looks like there is no longer a hip belt on the newer version. For off-trail scrambling, I like a hipbelt personally. YMMV.
UPDATE JANUARY 2020
And here it is 2020, and the pack’s still going strong. I’ve used it for day hikes, day guiding, trail work, and call kinds of use. The mesh bottle holders gave out, but Joan “Utah-ized” the pack and it is now good as new!
Update January 2022 – Alas, even the best gear comes to an end. After many repairs where the pack is starting to resemble the Ship of Theseus, it’s time to retire this faithful warhorse.
Disclosure: Gossamer Gear provided the pack for my review. None of my funds were used to purchase it.