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A New Shiny Thing: Mountainsmith DAY lumbar pack

Posted Nov 18 2009 10:01pm

For those that know me, they know I am seldom parted from my backpack full of wonderful shiny things. Today I discuss my newest shiny thing, the pack itself. Its a Mountainsmith Day lumbar pack

My first impression of the pack, in Red, is that it is made to take the worst sort of beatings and last for years. The reviews from customers said as much, but seeing is believing. The YYK zippers are quite sturdy on its three pockets. The first pocket modest sized for quickly needed items. The main pouch zipper is close to the top of the pack and holds the bulk of the storage space. A very small zippered internal pocket for keys, wallets and such is inside this larger area. Along the rear of the pack is a thick back pad. There is a hidden unzippered pocket behind this for paperwork or passports. On the bottom of the bag and along the hip belt are cinching straps to even out the weight being carried.

There are four ways to carry the Day. First is the classic fanny pack mode, using the hip belt When not in use, these can be tucked out of the way quite securely behind the back pad. Next, by using the two top bag loops much like a gym bag. The last way the bag can be carried out of the box is by the provided shoulder strap which attaches to the Day by use of two quick release buckles. Mountainsmith has an aftermarket product called Strappettes, which I did purchase. The Strappette is a harness that replaces the shoulder strap and allows the Day to be worn like a backpack.

My one concern was the external bottle holders. I saw a smaller version of the Day, called the Tour while at REI. A standard 1 liter Nalgene bottle sticks out from the top of the pocket an inch or more. This gave me pause to its ability to keep the bottles seated when doing those things that I do. I think these would be just securing tall bike bottles or 1 liter Gatorades that slope inward at the top. When the Day arrived the first thing I did was load two full Nalgene's and the fit is perfect.

I would have to wait a couple weeks before I could hit the trail with the Day, but I moved out of my backpack as soon as it arrived. Using the carry strap, I have had the bag with me daily for work and it holds everything I need, including lunch. On the weekends I have loaded up my DSLR camera, extra odds and ends for the kids and its done very well. I appreciate that the entire profile of the bag is smaller than a standard backpack. It fits under seats and strollers much easier.

When the shoulder strap is removed the Strapette harness attaches to the same quick release buckles on top of the pack but require some visual cues from the instructions to attach to the hip belt on the front. Based on just weight bearing, I don't think a set of quick release buckles on the hip belt would be out of line to make this process easier. However the harness is a great addition, dare I say required for trail use.

I used the Day pack with Strappettes for my Four Peaks summit hike. I carried my standard light hiking kit, added my medical kit, GPS, plus a down jacket. Add some food, two full Nalgene bottles and an extra liter in the pack and total pack weight was a tick under eleven pounds. Using the Strappettes and the pack being located along my hips, I barely noticed the pack on me at all. I felt much lighter than if I had the same gear in a backpack. Much of this hike was done in a steep scree chute and I dragged the pack along sharp rocks and rough ground. The pack was scuffed and dirty but not a tear or fray. The same can't be said for my trail buddies pants.

Ultimately I will test this pack on a multiday backpack trip, though not as the primary pack. Instead, using the Strappettes I will attach the Day so it sits in front so I can access food, water, maps, camera, rain gear and bug dope without having to take off my full pack. When a campsite is established, the Day will stay on me when I am outside my tent, holding immediate need items which will also include fishing tackle.

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