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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > Ultimate Direction Hornet & Honey > Test Report by David Heyting

Ultimate Direction Hornet Pack
Test Series
Initial Report November 24, 2008

Field Report February 9, 2009

Long-Term Report April 15, 2009



Tester Information:
Name: David Heyting
Age: 31
Gender: Male
Height: 6’ 0”, 1.83 m
Weight: 205 lb, 93 kg
Chest: 46", 117 cm
Waist: 38", 97 cm
Sleeve: 36", 91 cm
Email: deheyting@yahoo.com
City, State, Country: Snoqualmie, Washington, USA

Backpacking Background:
I have been hiking and backpacking for over 15 years. A great deal of the backpacking that I do is related to mountaineering and rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest. When not climbing, I’m a hiker that tries to go light in order to push more miles. My main areas of exploration are the Washington Central and North Cascades, but I have done lots of hiking in the British Columbia Coastal Range as well as the Oregon Cascades. I am also an avid adventure racer and compete in several races each year ranging from 2 hours up to several days in duration.



Product Information
Manufacturer: Ultimate Direction
Model: Hornet Pack
URL: www.ultimatedirection.com
Listed Weight: Not Listed
Measured Weight: 1.5 lbs / .62 kg
Listed Volume: 540 cu in / 8.85 L
Bladder Volume: 96 oz / 2.84 L
MSRP: Not Listed
Size: One Size
Color: Red and Grey

Product Description:
The Hornet pack is a hydration pack that was designed by Ultimate Direction with long days on the trail in mind. The pack features a main storage compartment that has a separate hydration pocket for storing a water bladder. The Hornet comes equipped with a 96 ounce (2.84 L) water bladder. The bladder features an insulated hose to keep the water flowing even in chilly conditions. The bladder also has a unique roll-down opening, which works just like a dry bag. This allows for a larger opening, which seems that it would allow for easier access into the bladder for cleaning. The top is secured by a hook and loop system. The pack has another hook and loop strap to hold the hose in place as it exits the inside of the pack via a hose hole. The main area also has the all important drain hole just in case I submerge the pack – or more likely I somehow experience leakage with my bladder.

pack.jpg
View from the back

The pack also features an external stow-it pocket that is flanked by the main pocket described above and a second smaller pocket that has built in holsters for smaller items. The smaller pocket also has a clip for storing keys or other like items. The outside of the pack has two reflective pieces on it. One is the and Ultimate Direction patch and the other is a loop in which could be used for attaching something to the pack. The sides of the pack feature two FastStash side pockets that seem ideal for putting a water bottle in.

The pack has shoulder straps that are padded at the top near the shoulders and then changes to a mesh fabric about a third of the way down the straps. There are water hose loops on either side so I have my choice of the side I want my water hose on. The pack has an adjustable chest strap that can more up and down as well as can expand and tighten. All of the buckles on the pack are hollow buckles, used to reduce weight. Each of straps that require a buckle on the pack also features an elastic loop that can be used to store the excess strap webbing. This is a great feature on a small pack so that nothing is flapping around during activities. Ultimate Direction is the only company that I have seen with such a design.

inside.jpg
Inside view of the main pocket, with bladder hole.


The back of the pack features two padded sections that are separated with a groove that appears to be designed to help promote air movement through the pack. The waist belt has padded sections that fit on the hips.


Initial Report
November 24, 2008

Initial Impressions:
The Hornet appears to be a very well constructed pack. I really like the water bladder, as the roll-down system seems like it will work well in terms of trying to keep the bladder clean. The insulated bladder hose is also great for this time of year. The shoulder straps also appear to be very comfortable. All in all I feel like the pack features just enough padding at some of the key spots – hips, shoulders, and back, but yet they are not so bulky and heavy that they become more of a nuisance than pleasure. I can’t say enough about the elastic loops that neatly collect all of the excess strap webbing. This is especially great for the shoulder straps and waist belt as the straps will not be flapping around during activities.


pad.jpg
Back and shoulder strap padding

In putting on the pack and wearing it around the house, I did notice that the pack seems to ride high on my back when I connect the waist belt. Thus I think I might prefer just not to strap the waist belt depending upon the activity. This is something that I intend to watch closely during the testing periods.

All in all this appears to be a very well designed pack.

Expected Testing
My main areas of exploration are the Central and North Cascades, where I should be at altitudes ranging from sea level up to 9,000 ft ( 2743 m). Currently my fall/winter schedule includes a trip to Mount Rainier National Park to explore the Tatoosh Range, a planned through hike of the Enchantments in the Central Cascades to enjoy the fall larches and hopefully a trip Oakridge, OR to further explore the area around Lake Waldo.

Initial Likes and Dislikes:

Likes: The perfectly placed padding.

Dislikes: The pack seems to ride up on my back.




Field Report
February 9, 2009

Field Conditions and Locations:
During the testing period I have been able to take one snowshoe trip in the Central Cascades region, I spent a week down near Mt. Bachelor in Central Oregon, took a long hike (10 miles 17km) in and around Fort Warden State Park, and did my usual assortment of local hiking on the “Issaquah Alps” peaks and Mt. Si near my house (5 separate trips). I also used the Hornet for 4 mountain bike rides on a trail system near my house. All of these were on gravel roads, in which I road about 20 miles (33km) in length. My trip to Mt. Bachelor featured snowshoe trips in the area just outside of Sunriver, OR. I also used the pack while taking the walks to in and around the local Sunriver community. My local trips consisted of Mt. Si (8 miles 12km, 3,000 ft – 900 m of gain) where I took two separate trips and Tiger Mountain where I took three trips (6 miles 10 km - 2,000 ft – 600 m of gain). These were all night hikes via headlamp, where I took very little weight and did some light jogging on the way down.

I also used the bladder for other excursions during the testing period, in which I did not use the Hornet, as I needed to carry more warm clothes. The bladder was great for these trips as it features an insulated hose and is large enough for a long day trip.

The totals for the testing period were eight hiking trips with the Hornet and 4 mountain biking outings.

Field Performance:
I have found the Hornet to be a bit small for my torso and height. When I use the waist strap and tighten it around my waist, plus if I am really tightening the shoulder straps for a snug fit, the waist belt seems ride up and move towards my belly. I find this situation not to be the most ideal experience while hiking as it make for an awkward feeling. Thus for lots of my travels I simply do not tighten the waist belt. I just use the shoulder straps and chest strap to keep the pack snug to my body. Usually I just buckle the waist belt, but keep it extremely loose. Even with this, in terms of comfort, I still feel like I can get the pack snug enough to provide a comfortable and smooth ride during activity. The shoulder straps are very soft and comfortable, which is extremely nice. I really like the mesh fabric they use. I also like having multiple pockets for storing my gear. Thus I can put some snacks, car keys, and sunglasses in the more accessible outer pocket, while keeping a light shell in the larger pocket. It makes for nice organization. Plus the pack has a place to storage larger items such as a bike helmet.

I really like the way the Hornet uses an elastic band to neatly wrap up and store the excess webbing on all pack straps. Basically I just fold up the extra material and then secure it with the elastic band. This keeps the excess material out of my way during use. The pack also features an Ultimate Direction logo that is very reflective. I received many a comment on just how reflective that piece was.

The water bladder fits nicely in the Hornet. I was a little bit uncertain about the design of the bladder, as it features a roll-down top (much like a dry bag). I thought the roll down design would allow for a high probability of spilling water. However I have found that the system creates a nice seal. I have cleaned the bladder two times to see how the large opening would impact the experience. I found it to be quite nice. On other bladders that I own, I am not able to get my hand inside the opening, however not a problem with the UD bladder. The tube has an insulated tube. During the testing period, I did not experience any frozen water in the drinking tube. I did find the metal clip on the tube to be somewhat annoying as it seemed to always get in the way of getting the bladder in and out of packs. The purpose is to keep the tube attached to the shoulder strap so that the tube does not move around. I just took it off. I do like bladders with an on/off value to avoid unwanted spillage, however that is something that I can add.


unroll.jpg
Bladder unrolled


roll.jpg
Bladder rolled


Field Summary:
All in all a nice choice for short outings in which not a lot of gear is required. The pack is very comfortable with its padded back and cushy shoulder straps. This is true even with a full water bladder.

Items for Continued Testing:
I hope to do some more intense trail running with the Hornet during this next testing period. This will help me to get a better feel for how the pack rides while moving at a faster pace. I did do some jogging with the Hornet; however I would like to further explore this type of use with the pack. Essentially do more trail running and less pure hiking with the pack.

Field Likes and Dislikes:

Likes: The bladder design so that I can get my hand inside the bladder to clean it.

Dislikes: The waist belt moving up off my waist and onto my belly during use.



Long-Term Report
April 15, 2009

Long-Term Conditions and Locations:
During the Long-Term reporting phase, I spent most of my time hitting the local trails by my house. I am lucky to have 20 some miles (31 km) right outside my doorstep. I used the pack during many of my morning runs. I also did my usual local trips which consisted of Mt. Si (8 miles – 12 km 3,000 ft – 1200m of gain) and Tiger Mountain (6 miles – 10 km 2,000 ft – 600 m of gain). Mt. Si. I made one trip up and I did four trips of varying distances in the Tiger Mountain trail system. I also used in on several mountain bike rides to carry bike tools, jacket and water.

Long-Term Performance:
Overall the Hornet seems to be well constructed and pretty durable. I still felt like the pack was a little bit short on my torso and thus would ride up a little bit during runs. Thus I continued to simply leave the waist belt loose and just tightened down the shoulder straps and sternum strap to create a nice fit. As I mentioned in my Field Report, I really like the feel and comfort of the shoulder straps. They have just the right amount of padding and I had no instances of rubbing or chaffing.

The pockets were great on the Hornet, as I was always able to sort out my gear nicely in the pack for easy access. I even was able to use the stow-it pack to stuff my bike helmet and found that it worked out great in that capacity.

The bladder system is still working great and I have experienced no issues with the roll-down system. Initially I was a little bit worried about possible spillage or other issues, but I found that to not be an issue at all.

Continued Use:
I plan on using the Hornet for short hikes and trail running. In makes for a great companion on the trail when doing a longer run and needing to carry some extra supplies. The pack rides so well that it is very enjoyable to wear during intense sections of my runs.

Summary:
The Hornet pack is a great light-weight option for trail running and short hikes. The pack is well-built and nicely constructed. The pack does not adjust in length, thus taller users might want to try something else. I am only 6 ft (1.83 m) and I found the pack to be a little bit too small. It features some great pockets to stow and organize your gear. The pack also comes with a great bladder that has a hose cover for use in cold weather. The bladder has a unique roll-down top system that makes it much easier to clean out the bladder when not in use.

Long-Term Likes and Dislikes:

Likes: The unique bladder design, coupled with the shoulder padding.

Dislikes: Again, the waist belt moving up off my waist and onto my belly during use.
This concludes my Test Report. Thank you to both BackpackGearTest and to Ultimate Direction for this fantastic opportunity to test the Hornet Pack.

Read more reviews of Ultimate Direction gear
Read more gear reviews by David Heyting

Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > Ultimate Direction Hornet & Honey > Test Report by David Heyting



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