It was the Easter holidays and I was getting ready to take on the Brecon Beacons in Wales. The national park would be hosting me for three days while I, along with a group of colleagues, set out to climb Pen Y Fan (2,907 ft.), walk across the mountain ridges and take in the mesmerizing scenery.
The trip was part of our preparation for The Isle of Wight Challenge. It was a perfect opportunity to build some miles and test our equipment.
I had originally planned on taking a trusty old rucksack for the trip but I was unable to pass up the opportunity to try the Hikelite daypack from Osprey instead.
The Hikelite lives up to its name. Whilst my old pack had reassuringly thick foam padding, the Hikelite was alarmingly lightweight with a trampoline suspended mesh panel, branded by Osprey as AirSpeed. How could something so flimsy be comfortable in any way?
I was given the Bacca Blue version, a colour I obviously gravitate towards since it clashed with the rest of my outfit (or so I was told). Anyway, I didn't let that discourage me from putting the Hikelite to the test in Wales.
Hiking through the snow
With all the gear and food in abundance packed in the spacious Hikelite, we set out to test our legs on Pen Y Fan. A heavy snow storm set in right from the start and I was thankful that the bag had an integrated rain cover. Unlike our trek through the blizzard, retrieving another warm layer and deploying the rain cover was quick and painless.
Right from the start we experienced a heavy snowstorm that not only tested the accessibility of the bag as I was grabbing another layer but also gave me an excuse to deploy the rain cover. The process was, unlike walking through the blistering snow, both quick and painless.
Powering through the snow wearing pretty much every item of clothing I brought, understandably I got pretty hot and sweaty. This is where the suspended AirSpeed system started to make sense. The breathable mesh managed moisture perfectly so I never had to suffer from a clammy back.
Even though I wasn't planning on taking the Hikelite on The Isle of Wight Challenge, I still wondered what it felt like running with it. That also gave me an excuse to test the straps and support of the bag. Adjusting the straps was straightforward and immediately gave me a tight fit that I was comfortable running with at a modest speed without having to worry too much about sway or balance issues.
Two days of walking around mountain ridges and jumping across small creeks was all it took for the Hikelite26 to win me over, proving that minimalistic design can still provide a lot of comfort.
I loved the mesh panel on the back and the airy foam in the harness delivered all-day comfort. Once I'd correctly adjusted the fit, I found that the load of the bag was distributed more towards my shoulders and chest as well as the hips. For me, this bag seems perfect for lightweight hiking.
Hikelite26 is a moderate daypack without any fuss. It does all the basic stuff you want; offers plenty of adjustability for a personal fit, gives the right amount of support on the go and comes with both a rain cover and a hydration sleeve.
The only improvement I would like to see is the addition of a front pocket in the harness/hip belt, which would provide easy access to a mobile phone, snacks or a map for guidance. This is only a minor issue, however, and should not detract from the overall impression of this lightweight hiking companion.