Field test #1:
By Barry Kauler
Page created: January 25, 2016,
updated: Jan. 27
This is one page of a series that I am writing on "traveling
light", whether it be hiking in the wilderness or wandering
the world by boat, bus, train or air.
In early 2016 I have experimented with ultra-light hiking
with only a waist-pack, introduced in my Waist Packs
Of most interest is the largest waist-pack, the
Mountainsmith Daylight pack, and this page is a report on a
field-test, a short hike on the Bibbulmun Track, staying
overnight in a shelter.
The big question to be answered in this field test is how
does the Daylight pack "carry" when fully loaded? Does it
remain comfortable after many hours of trekking? Does it
bounce or sag too much? Do I continue to feel freer and
lighter without a backpack dragging on my shoulders? Read
As the aim is ultra-light hiking, I have knocked off grams
wherever possible, including clothing worn on the day. Here
is my outfit:
All of the items in my pack and on my person are described
in more detail in my Base
The pant and shirt are Columbia Silver Ridge, the
underclothes are el-cheapos, and I decided on a 100% cotton
T-shirt as I don't like the feel of synthetic T-shirts.
Canvas belt, cheap cushioned socks, cheap casual shoes. Oh
yeah, almost forgot my wide-brim hat, 77gm. Total weight was
There is also a fleece pullover and beany in my waist-pack,
in case it gets cool in the evening.
I packed the waist pack with an incredible amount of stuff,
with the exception of the food, which was in the belt-pouch
attached to my belt at the front of my person. Here is the
The total weight that I carried in the waist pack, including
750ml of water in the flask, was 3.30kg.
The belt pouch, at front of my person, was a total of 675gm.
Extra items that I carried, in various pockets, are keys,
wallet and smartphone. Keys, wallet and smartphone came to
So, the grand total, of absolutely everything on my person,
I am a thin guy, light frame, height 5 foot 10 inches,
weight 65kg, age 66. A "bad back", was the main factor that
set me off evaluating ultra-light hiking and waist-packs.
The point is, if I report success on this trip, then anyone
else, stronger and fitter than me, will have an even better
My trek took place on January 23, 2016, commencing near the
northern terminus of the Bibbulmun Track, Perth, Western
It is mid-summer, cloudy in the morning, even a bit of
thunder, then clearing to a cloudless sky, temperature
peaking at 34 degrees Celcius, 28% humidity, cooling breeze.
On the 24th, the temperature peaked at 36ºC early-afternoon.
Here I am about to embark:
In my Waist Packs
Review page, I showed the pullover strapped on
top, however, this time, as I left out the towel and a
couple of other small items, I was able to fit the pullover
inside the pack.
On the trail:
Australia is a continent, with a wide variety of bushland
types. This is a snaphot as I walked on the Bibbulmun Track
and you can see, the vegetation looks a bit arid and
scraggly. This is due to the limited rainfall and hot
summers. Periodic burning, although essential, does take its
toll on the general appearance.
The shelters are open on one side, with wood bunks inside.
There are rainwater tanks and toilet. There is no charge for
usage of these facilities.
I only walked to the first shelter from where I got dropped
off, and back, about 12km, plus some meandering around at
each end, perhaps another couple of km's, so it wasn't an
arduous journey. But enough to evaluate the pack and my
choice of clothing.
But then I walked an extra 8km on another trail, on the
afternoon of the 24th.
It is a great feeling having the top half of the body
unencumbered. That is the best thing about a waist pack.
The pack itself was no trouble. I did find myself hitching
it up a few times, but that wasn't really necessary and
generally it stayed in place, didn't "bounce" nor sink down.
I contemplated that perhaps people with big bums would find
that the pack stays even more securely in-place. But with my
slim profile, no problem.
My cheap casual shoes and single pair of cheap Bonds
cushioned socks were very comfortable. I had no trouble
whatsoever with my feet, though it would probably need a
longer trek for soreness and blisters to develop.
The load of 3.3kg in the pack is, I feel, close to the limit
for a waist pack. A heavier load is going to tend more to
leverage out from the back, as there is no frame going up
the back to keep it vertically aligned, as with a backpack.
I have hit the limit of what I can carry, unless I resort to
using the daypack as well. But then, I think might as well
start thinking of one of the ultra-light backpacks, that
weigh as little as 600gm, not much more than the Daylight
Regarding clothing, no issues, but the higher temperature on
the 24th was a challenge. My T-shirt became damp, so I took
it off and just wore my shirt. I thought, ideally I would
like to be topless and carry an umbrella to keep off the
In summary, it was a very pleasant walk. If I can stay
within the weight of no more than say 3.5kg, this is a great
way to trek and really enjoy it.