Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack

20 February 2014

By Nina Gallo, Writer for Covering Ground

This is one of my favourite pieces of travelling and backpacking kit.  This tiny, lightweight backpack is just as useful on the streets of an undiscovered city as in the mountains.

At 20L capacity and weighing in at 68g (2.4oz), this is one of the lightest backpacks around.  It also packs down seriously small - smaller than a tennis ball.  Lightweight, compact gear is all the rage right now and it's great, but it has some drawbacks.  For example, how do you get it back in that miniature stuff sack?  The stuff sack is quite small, but I find that the slipperiness of the fabric makes it quite easy to get back inside.  (It helps if you get the shoulder straps and buckles in first).

Two of my ongoing concerns with lightweight gear are comfort and durability.  This pack has exceeded my expectations in both departments.

The shoulder straps aren't padded, which can mean painful chafing and cutting when the pack is loaded.  On this pack though, the width of the straps distributes the weight generously across my shoulders.  A hip belt or sternum strap could be nice, but for the savings in bulk and weight I think they are reasonable omissions.  The back panel doesn't have any padding either but I find that as long as I pack with a little care and keep softer items against my back, this is fine.

I have found this pack to be incredibly durable.  It is made of siliconized nylon, which is highly rip and tear resistant.  Initially developed for lightweight tents, this fabric stretches under pressure.  I have loaded this pack full of heavy groceries in the city and carried it on an alpine mission with a rope and climbing gear inside and it has held up really well.  I have even dragged it through rough bush and, though it has suffered small punctures, they have never developed into tears.  This year, after about three years of use, the stitching at one end of the zipper finally gave out.

This is my pack of choice for travelling and trekking.  I use it for carry-on baggage and as a day pack, or just keep it in my top pocket for those inevitable, unexpected travel purchases. It's not my go-to for everyday comfort and general use, but no pack can do everything!

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