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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > Ultimate Direction Hornet & Honey > Test Report by Chuck Carnes

Logo1Logo 2Ultimate Direction
H O R N E T
Hydration Pack

Initial Report: December 8, 2008
Field Report: March 10, 2009
Long Term Report: April 22, 2009




                                      


                                                 
Biographical Information
Name: Chuck Carnes
Age: 38
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 175 lbs (79 kg)
E-mail Address: ctcarnes AT yahoo DOT com
City, State, Country: Greenville, South Carolina, USA
Backpacking Background
I love the outdoors – I’ve spent time camping in the outdoors since I was born, and have been actively hiking and backpacking since then. I consider myself a lightweight hiker, usually carrying 20 – 30 pounds (11-13 kg) for hikes up to a week in length. I hike at an easy pace, averaging 2 mph (3 kph). I am a one-man tent camper for now. I like to carry a single trekking pole when I hike to help relieve stress to my legs and knees. I like to get out on the trail as often as I can.

I N I T I A L    R E P O R T
December 8, 2008
FrontPRODUCT INFORMATION
Manufacturer: Ultimate Direction
Model: Hornet
Size: One Size
Pack Volume: 540 cu. in. (8.8 L)
Bladder Volume: 96.0 oz. (2.8 L)
Color: Red and Grey
Year of manufacture: 2008
URL: http://www.ultimatedirection.com

Listed Weight:  Not listed
Actual Weights: 1 lb. 4 oz. (.57 kg) 

MSRP: Not Listed

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION
The Ultimate Direction Hornet Hydration pack is a great little day pack for people that want fast and light out of a hydration pack. The pack is made of what seems to be of a durable nylon. With no information about it on the web, I don't know if it is water resistant or coated with any type of water resistant mixture. The pack has two compartments. One is a main compartment that is the full height of the pack. This compartment houses the bladder pocket that securely holds the bladder in place. This main compartment is big enough for rain gear, snacks, maybe some extra clothes if not too bulky and/or other personal items. The second compartment is a smaller pocket and on the front. It has a couple of organizational pockets and a key ring clip. It would be big enough for snacks and/or smaller personal items. On the front of this compartment is a reflective tab that can easily be seen if light is shone towards it. 

Main Compartment   Front Compartment

                                    Main Compartment                                         Front Compartment

Behind the second compartment and in front of the main compartment is an area that things can be stored. It's gusseted with mesh material on the side and can be held closed by a buckle just above the opening. Wet things can possibly be stored here or even shoes or a bike helmet. The Hornet also has two side mesh pockets with elastic at the top opening for water bottles and such. 

The back panel has two foam padded areas with a channel between them. This would allow any heat build up to escape instead of being trapped and causing the back to sweat more than it needs to. The shoulder straps are padded in the upper chest area and over the shoulders, indicated in red. The rest of the shoulder straps and the bottom grey area are not padded at all but do have the same mesh material. The Hornet also has a hip belt that would mostly be used to keep the pack from bouncing and moving around. It doesn't seem to have any other function other than that. There is also an adjustable sternum strap and elastic webbing across each shoulder strap to feed the drinking tube through to keep it in place. The drinking tube also has its own gator spring clip to be able to hold the tube and mouth piece at any position the user wants.

Back

Back Panel

The bladder is a 96.0 oz. (2.8 L), 14 mil. polyurethane, odorless, tasteless, water reservoir. The bladder has a top grab loop, a roll top closer and a wide mouth opening for easy cleaning and filling. The bladder also has cleaning and care instructions as well as the volume index printed on the outside. It has a central baffle that cuts down on sloshing while moving fast. The drinking tube is neoprene insulated that keeps water cold but also prevents water from freezing inside the tube. The Hyper Flow bite valve releases water super fast and is drip free.  

Bladder

Bladder

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS
I am really impressed with the Ultimate Direction Hornet. It is very light and seems to be sturdy even when the bladder is full. The straps fit great on my shoulders now that I have adjusted the length of them. At first the pack was riding way to high on my back, but after adjustment, it fits perfect. The storage compartments seem to have ample room to care the essentials when out on a day hike. I put a bottle in one of the side pockets and it was fairly easy to reach back and grab the bottle while the pack was still on my back. I did have a little bit of difficulty putting it back in though. 

The bladder is easy to take in and out of the bladder pocket. The tube fits easily through the opening at the top of the pack and down the shoulder straps. I like the gator clip as it allows me to clip it wherever I want it on my shoulder strap. The padded back panel feels really nice to my back and I hope that it controls some of the sweating with the channel between the two pads. 

Overall I am very pleased with the way the pack feels, looks and functions at this moment.

F I E L D    R E P O R T
March 10, 2009

I have taken the Hornet on a few day hikes and on many bike rides. Most of my day hiking has been in the Paris Mountain, Jones Gap and Caesars Head State Parks. All of these trips were hikes that ranged from 2 to 8 miles (3 to 12 km) in length with elevations from 1,100 ft to 6,600 ft (335 m to 2012 m). The temperatures ranged from 45 F to 85 F (7 C to 30 C) and mostly under clear to cloudy skies. Most of my bike rides have been on designated trails and some in a rural area of town but none the less, the Hornet has seen many days on the trail either by hiking or riding.  

For the sake of long boring trip reports of the days spent with the Hornet I will sum them up in general comments and findings about the pack. As I would go out day hiking, in the pack I would carry 2 or 3 energy bars, a light rain shell, emergency items and sometimes an MP3 player if I was alone which was most of the time. The keys, wallet and money would fit great in the lower pouch that is designated for such items. That is where I would normally put the energy bars and maybe some peanuts. When I needed the snacks, it was easy enough to take the pack off, grab the snacks and put the pack back on. I never really used the hip belt that is provided because I was never running or needed the pack to stay in place to keep it from flopping around; even when on my bike I never used it.

The pack rides very well on my back and shoulders. During each outing I would have either water or energy drink in the water bladder. I found it to be very comfortable even when it was full to capacity with liquid. No sloshing occurred even when the bladder was almost empty. I found the bladder a little bit hard to place in the pouch when it was full. I usually had to hold the bottom of the bladder and pull it into the pouch so it would not get crinkled up inside the pouch. Once the tube was fed through the opening at the top of the shoulder and down the shoulder strap, I would have to attach it to the opposite side of the shoulder strap that it comes down. This isn't a huge problem but previous drinking tubes that I have used would terminate right at the sternum strap or a little below and not cross over to the other side.

The flow rate of the liquid was great and the bite valve gave me the opportunity to drink as fast as I wanted without using a lot of energy sucking on the tube. This is one of the best bite valves that I have ever experienced. Cleaning the bladder was pretty easy.  I simply rinsed it out with warm water and placed it hanging upside down to drip dry. It would be nice if I could flip the bladder inside-out to make cleaning easier but it wasn't too hard.

Overall I am very pleased with the Hornet and its performance. I have enjoyed the light weight feel of the pack even if the bladder is full and all of the pockets are full. It is very easy to take on and off the shoulders to get to anything in the pockets. The bladder and drinking tube work great and holds just enough liquid to keep me hydrated and not feel like I am hauling around more than I need.


L O N G   T E R M    R E P O R T
April 22, 2009
Again, I have taken the Hornet on a couple of day hikes, bike rides. This is a great little pack to use for that spur of the moment trip when the weather is perfect and you just want to pack a few things up and get out in the outdoors. One trip that I took the Hornet on that is worth describing is a caving trip. I went to a cave where me and several others hiked about 2 miles (3 km) into the cave and scrambled around, slid around and crawled around for about 4 hours. The temperature inside the cave was a steady 54 F (12 C). I packed my usual things in it but this time I did not use the bladder, I carried a water bottle. We were told we would be crawling around on our stomachs and backs and I knew the mouth piece would get dirty if not damaged and I did not want to chance that.

The Hornet was the perfect size for this as I cinched it tight on the sides to keep it close to my back so I could squeeze through several small openings along the path. This is where the durability of the pack was tested. I slid on wet, muddy rocks on my back and on the front and this was not the time for this pack to fail in any way. After the first few crawls through some holes in a rock and butt slide down a muddy rock slide, the pack was not even noticeable by its color. Mud completely coved the pack and myself. When it was break time the zippers still performed even while they were full of mud. I brushed off the mud on occasion during the trip but I wasn't too worried about it affecting its performance.

After we got out of the cave, I was able to stuff all of my muddy clothes into the pack before getting into a car to come home. After I got home and took everything out of the pack I began to clean it up. I first just hung it up on a fence and blasted it with water from a hose to knock off all the big mud clumps. After getting it some what clean, I took a brush and cleaned all of the zipper teeth, the fabric and the inside of the pack and shoulder straps. Everything came pretty clean, not like new but good enough to know that this pack withstood some serious abuse in that cave.

With taking this pack on many hiking trips and bike rides I knew that it was a good pack. But taking it in the cave and the abuse that it endured, I know for a fact that this pack can take a lot of abuse and then some. This has certainly become my all time day hiking, biking and now caving pack.

This concludes this test series.
Thank you Ultimate Direction and BackpackGearTest.org for this opportunity.


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Read more gear reviews by Chuck Carnes

Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > Ultimate Direction Hornet & Honey > Test Report by Chuck Carnes



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