Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Race Vest As A Day Pack

 Dale Matson

Fluid Race VestPack by Mountain Hardwear

Author with VestPack At Devil's Bathtub
Ansel Adams Wilderness

Mountain Hardwear has a couple of lightweight vests that it has introduced for trail running. I am always looking for clothing with lots of pockets…especially zippered pockets, which are more secure. Although I am a retired trail runner, I am an avid mountain day hiker and photographer. My biggest concern as someone who of necessity often hikes alone is personal safety. It is only too easy for day hikes to accidently become an overnight and that is why the list of ten essentials was constructed. As a volunteer member of our Fresno County search and rescue team, most of our searches involve lost day hikers.

Although the “VestPack” is marketed as a race item, I think it is also a useful as daypack with its large 6-liter zippered pouch on the back that could easily accommodate the essentials of a day hike. It is lightweight at 8.8 ounces (M/L). The heaviest item in a daypack is usually extra water but where I hike in the Sierras, there is plenty of water available that can be treated or filtered.

Perhaps the primary feature of this vest/pack is the versatility. There are plenty of pockets (I count 6 pockets on the front (3 zippered) and a large zippered pouch on the back. There is a zippered mesh pouch inside of the back pouch. You can load it with your particulars and most of the weight is in the items not the pack. It also does a better job of weight distribution than a fanny pack with less storage capacity. It also has a mini haul strap at the top on the back. Think, “Quick access”.

I have used this vest/pack on two; day hikes that lasted over 6 hours each with no problems with the shoulder straps or heat build up from the extra layer. For what it is worth, I carried a hooded rain jacket, Satellite Phone, headlamp, orange flagging tape, and a compass in the back pocket. In the right front area I had bug spray in the zippered pouch and energy bars and gels in the larger pouch. In the left front, I had a map and glasses in the zippered pouch and a pocket zoom camera in the bigger pouch. My keys were in the top right zippered pocket.

The large pouch was made to accommodate a bladder but I am not a fan of the leaky bladder concept. Bottles could be also accommodated in the back of the pack as I have described it but I have a different arrangement in addition. First, I use a utility belt that accommodates a larger camera, filter water bottle and GPS (Yes, I am a belt and suspender kind of person). My cargo shorts are also great for hikes since they also have 7 pockets. You simply can’t have too many pockets if you also have a good memory. You can read more about the vest/pack here:

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