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Reviews > Packs > Lumbar & Torso Packs > Mountainsmith Day Lumbar Pack > Test Report by Chuck Carnes

MOUNTAINSMITH
Side
Day - Recycled Series
Initial Report: September 25, 2007
Field Report: December 4, 2007
Long Term Report: February 5, 2008

 

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION
Name: Chuck Carnes

Age: 37
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft. 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 175 lb (79 kg)
E-mail address: ctcarnes1(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.



PRODUCT INFORMATION Front
Manufacturer:
Mountainsmith

Model: Day - Recycled Series
Year of manufacture: 2007
Volume: 854 cu in (14 l)
Color: Cobalt
URL:
http://www.mountainsmith.com
Listed Weight:  1 lb 7 oz (0.65 kg)
Listed Dimensions:  15 in (h) x 13 in (w) x 10 in (d) [38 cm (h) x 33 cm (w) x 25 cm(w)]
Actual Weight:  1 lb 15 oz (0.88 kg)
MSRP: Not listed on web site

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION
The Mountainsmith Day lumbar pack is now being offered in a 'Recycled Series'. This means that Mountainsmith is making some of their products from recycled material. The Day actually was made using between 13 and 16 plastic bottles. The inner rip-stop liner and the outer velocity nylon fabrics were made using the PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) process.

Features:
  • Removable shoulder strap with a sliding pad
  • Air mesh foam back panel
  • Back panel airline ticket pocket
  • Tuck-away waistbelt
  • Delta Compression System load adjustment
  • 2 water bottle pockets that accommodate 32 oz water bottles
  • Elastic rigging
  • 2 compression straps
  • Strapette compatible
  • Zippered main compartment
  • Interior zippered hanging pocket
  • Bright yellow lining promotes visibility
  • Zippered front panel pocket
  • Key clip
  • Reflective highlights




I N I T I A L    R E P O R T
September 25, 2007

The Mountainsmith Day lumbar pack is a nice sized pack to be worn in three different ways. One way is to wear it as a lumbar, or as some people call it; a fanny pack. It can also be worn or carried using the padded shoulder strap that is provided. Another way is to wear it as a sort of backpack. Mountainsmith sells an attachment called 'Strapettes' which connects to the back of the day pack and provides two shoulder straps so that it can be carried much like a backpack to relieve some of the weight from the hips or just one shoulder. As seen in the picture above, in the 'Product Information', the pack has very nice, big, bright yellow zipper pulls that are easy to see and are easy to grab and pull. There is also a bright yellow elastic cording on the very front that can be used to hold clothing or something that might be too bulky for the main compartment. The two web compression straps that run along the bottom are used to cinch the pack tighter after it is packed to keep the contents from moving around. It could also be used to carry a blanket or towel of some sort when going on a day hike. On both sides of the pack are mesh water bottle holders with elastic cord closures at the top. The pockets are very large and can hold a 32 oz. water bottle easily (see picture at the beginning of the report).

Back-Belt    Back-NoBelt

On the back of the pack is a very nice padded lumbar pad covered with soft air mesh material. Integrated behind the lumbar pad is an area that the hip belt can be slipped into and hidden (see pictures above). The hip belt is padded slightly and has a small piece of web strap on both sides. This appears to give a place for a piece of gear to be clipped to such as a GPS or phone or anything with a clip. There are also web straps and buckles at the connection of the belt and the pack to cinch the pack closer to the users back and hips. At the top portion of the lumbar pad is a pocket that Mountainsmith calls a 'Ticket Pocket'. I really like this feature because I typically carry a pack of this size when traveling on an airplane and this makes it very easy to slip my passport and plane tickets in this pocket. If the pack is worn in front, this puts the passport and tickets in an unnoticeable spot and is safe and secure up close to the body; quick and easy to get to.

Main Compartment

I was excited to see how big the pack is and how much room it has in the main compartment. In the picture above the bottom is not fully expanded but the depth is very easily seen. The main compartment also has a zippered pouch that is easy to get to. As you can see, the inside material is a bright yellow so that the contents inside can easily be seen. The compartment is closed by two way zippers and both have the big zipper pulls. On the front of the pack is another pocket that is a bit smaller but expands slightly and has the same yellow lining as the main compartment. This pocket has a clip to hold keys or something small with a loop.

I am very excited to get on the trail and use this pack. My first trail use of it will be in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee where I will use it as a front pack on my hips. I will be carrying a standard backpack on my back with the Mountainsmith Day pack in the front. I will be storing two water bottles in the holders and a lot of snacks, camera and GPS in the two compartments. I will also see how the hip belt works while the 'backpack' belt is in place. The good thing is that everything I need will be up front and easy to get to.



F I E L D    R E P O R T
December 4, 2007
Strapped on front

I have carried the Mountainsmith Day lumbar pack on several trips and have carried it in many fashions. One was to the
Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. On this trip I did a three day hike, 13 miles (20 km), that ranged in elevation from about 3,200 ft (1,000 m) to about 6,600 ft (2,000 m). The terrain was mostly uphill the first day, a few ups and downs the second day and a steep descent on the third day. The temperatures were about 48 F (9 C) in the mornings and night while the evenings warmed up to about 75 F (24 C) with clear skies.

My first thought was to carry the Day pack in front of me as shown in the picture above. The Day pack's weight was about 8 lb (3 kg) with it loaded. I wanted to try this because I usually carry a pouch in front of me to hold snacks, camera, two 32 oz (1 l) water bottles and other essentials. The tough part was trying to figure out how I was going to be able to have two hip belts around my waist while they criss-cross each other in opposite directions. My first attempt was to leave the Day pack's hip-belt tucked away behind the lumbar pad. I pre-cinched the hip-belt of the backpack to the desired tightness, slipped it behind the lumbar pad and buckled it. This left the Day pack a little top heavy and it wanted to lean forward. So I feed the shoulder strap that comes with the Day pack around and behind the shoulder straps of the backpack to keep it from leaning forward. The picture above shows this formation. After traveling awhile I decided that this was not very comfortable. It was nice however to be able to get to everything I needed right in front of me but my knees kept hitting the underside of the Day pack as I stepped up on the ascent to the shelter. It also felt too big to be in front of me and it caused my abdominal area to sweat a good bit. This is nothing bad towards the Day pack because it is essentially designed to be a lumbar pack which is carried on the lower back and waist.

The next day for a 3 hour trek to our next shelter I carried the Day pack in the same fashion but I decided to criss-cross the hip-belts and do something a little different at the top. I placed the Day pack around my waist first and connected the buckle behind me. I then put the backpack on and overlapped the backpack hip-belt over the Day pack hip-belt and buckled it under the Day pack. This time to keep it from leaning forward I ran the sternum strap of the backpack through the two handles that are sewn to the Day pack. I thought this fashion might keep the Day pack a little higher on my waist so the knees wouldn't hit the bottom of the pack. It worked better this way than the day before but it still seemed a little too bulky to be in front.

Strapped to the Pack

On the next day out I decided to strap it to the outside back of the pack as seen above. I tested it like I wanted to as a front pouch and it just didn't work as well as I had expected but again, this is not how it was intended to be used, it was just for my personal experience.

The next trip was a 3.5 mile (5.6 km) day hike with my kids. The terrain was relatively flat at an elevation of about 1,100 ft (28 m). The temperature for that day was about 80 F (26 C) with clear blue skies. I carried the Day pack as it should be carried, as a lumbar pack as seen below. Carrying it this way was very comfortable. It was easy to cinch the waistbelt tight and to tighten the load lifter straps. I first thought that it might be hard to get to the items in the pack since I would have to reach behind me and fish around for what I wanted by feel and not sight. To be honest it wasn't bad and unzipping the zippers and zipping them back was easy too. With the large zippers and pulls, they were easy to find and operate. Knowing what I packed before the trip made it easy to identify without seeing it before I pulled it from the pack. Both water bottles were easy to get to and put back after retrieving them from the mesh pockets. What is not seen in the picture is a water bottle that I was carrying inside the pack for one of my sons. The bottle was on its side for a while and leaked all inside the pack. It was grape juice so it was easy to see with the contrasting yellow liner. The liner actually worked well not to leak into other parts of the pack. I simply wiped it dry and low and behold, the juice did not stain the liner. At the end of the hike my lower back was a bit sweaty from the lumbar pad being close to my back. The pack itself is quite large and really covers a lot of area on the lower back so it is a bit difficult to get cool air to that area to keep my back from overheating.

Overall, so far all of the straps and stitches are still in great shape and the zippers still work nicely. The material is still dirt free and I have not had to clean it or do any kind of repairs. I will continue to use this pack as my day pack and will hopefully use it with the shoulder strap as well.

As a Lumbar Pack



L O N G   T E R M    R E P O R T
February 5, 2008

Since my Field Report I have taken the Day pack on two day hikes and I usually carry it to work with me as my everyday bag to carry snacks, paper work, mail and stuff like that.

The first day hike was to Paris Mountain State Park in South Carolina. The weather was very nice, no clouds and the temperatures ranged from 60 F to 70 F (15 C to 21 C) during the hike. The elevation started out at 1,100 ft (335 m), climbed to about 1,300 ft (396 m) and d back down to the start. This was a 5.4 mile (8.7 km) hike that was a little strenuous but fun as a solo hike. I carried water bottles in each of the mesh carriers, a few snacks in the main compartment along with a first aid kit, my keys, wallet and a Personal Tracker in the front compartment. The pack carried well and was really too large for the few items that I was carrying. I actually hardly felt the pack on my lower back and it stayed very stable and in place. I really like the big water bottle pockets as they will hold a big water bottle if needed. The elastic draw cord around the top of the pockets is a nice feature so the user can secure the bottle in the pocket. I have found it pretty easy to be able to reach back, unzip the front or top compartment and retrieve snacks or what ever I need, without having to take the pack off or turn it around; all while still walking.

The second day hike
was to Mount Callahan in South Carolina. The weather was cloudy and cold and the temperatures ranged from 45 F to 50 F (7 C to 10 C) during this hike. This time I started out at an elevation of 3,040 ft (927 m), descended down into a gorge at about 2,100 ft (640 m) and back out to the start. This was a 3.6 mile (5.8 km) hike that was pretty strenuous since we descended down into the gorge and came back out on the other side. I had my dog with me this time but for the most part, the Day pack performed the same. I carried a little bit more this time because of the dog. I haven't tried putting a dog pack on him yet to see if he would carry his own stuff. So, I carried some food, snacks and water for him and the pack ended up weighing about 5 lbs (2 kg).  I noticed after a few yards the pack was sagging behind me. I realized that I had not tightened up the load lifter straps from the previous hike when I didn't have much in it. A quick tug on the web straps pulled the weight right up against the small of my back and that made a huge difference. With the waist belt, I was able to feed the buckle through the handle loop on the dogs leash and buckle it back together. This kept me from having to hold on to the leash the whole time. He did pull some but after a couple of corrections, the pulling stopped and we had a nice hike.

Overall I have to say that the Mountainsmith Day pack has met and exceeded my expectations. It has been a great all around pack and very versatile for what I need it for at the given time. I have not tried the strapettes that can be purchased separately on the day pack. I plan on getting these to help carry the load on the days when I have the Day pack full of gear and it tends to be a little top heavy. The design and durability has been outstanding and I have had no problems or malfunctions with any part on the pack. I like it so much that I use it almost on a day to day basis when I go to work. I use it to carry my lunch, paperwork, mail and other things that I might need during the day. If I know I'm going to run or bike during lunch that day then I will also put a change of clothes in the pack. I can't say that anything needs to be changed on the pack except for its volume as a lumbar pack. And what I mean by that is, it seems like if the pack has a large volume then it's difficult not to want to fill it up, and this is where it gets bulky and heavy for a lumbar pack. But, with the tote handle, shoulder strap and possible addition of strapettes, it can be carried in many different ways other than as a lumbar pack. A feature that I would like to see is a hide-a-way rain cover. This would come in handy if it needed to be carried in the rain or if a storm came up suddenly. Other than that, it's a great all around pack.



This concludes my Test Series
Thank you Mountainsmith and BackpackGearTest.org for this opportunity.



Read more reviews of Mountainsmith gear
Read more gear reviews by Chuck Carnes

Reviews > Packs > Lumbar & Torso Packs > Mountainsmith Day Lumbar Pack > Test Report by Chuck Carnes



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