This is a small start-up ‘cottage industry’ company. They supplied one pack, almost custom made, as they were not yet into full production mode. They sought comment on this pack and also sought our assessment on a second frameless pack not listed here. The owner of the company was willing to listen and act on preliminary feedback, which is always encouraging.
Elemental Horizons Northern Lite Pack
|Northern Lite||Average||Light, but still in development|
The sample pack received was made using the optional silicone coated 1.9-oz fabric; stock packs are normally made with urethane-coated 1.9-oz fabric. (The 1.9-oz silnylon is heavier than the common 1.1-oz silnylon used on tarps and tents.) The design as reviewed features a roll-top rather than a lid, but a lid may become an option later. The hip belt features small pockets. The frame consists of a narrow U-shaped aluminium rod sewn to a fairly stiff but thin layer of closed cell foam. The slightly startling feature is the back mesh pocket: unlike on most packs this one is huge! The photos here suggest this fairly well, and a more graphic photo of it was shown under Pack Volume measurements in Part 1. The side pockets are also pretty big and have bungee cord across the top.
The Northern Lite, 1.23 kg (2.72 lb), 52 L (3100 cuin), Small, Medium, Large.
The pack is quoted as holding 58 L and was measured at 52 L for the main bag, but the main bag swallowed up the Test Gear without any trouble at all. In fact, the roll-top was left a bit below the top of the frame, as can be seen from the photos here. As mentioned in Part 1A, it may well be that I could have squeezed the full 58 L in if I had tried, so a fair bit of uncompressed gear could go in this one. In fact, it is possible to fill this pack so the top of the roll-top towers above your head. I suggest this might be unwise if you are on tricky ground, but it should be OK on easy trails. However, if you choose to do this, be aware that the fabric is quite light: you don’t want to shred the pack from overload.
The bottom of the pack is sensibly square, so that if it is packed reasonably it can stand upright. There are some criss-crossed compressions straps which can be used to cinch the whole main bag in if the load is small (or to help the silnylon cope?). I suggest it may be best to lie the pack down on the harness face when tightening the compression straps. The prototype unit tested had a single strap and buckle covering both the back pocket and roll top. I think there should be two straps here – or at least two buckles – and told the owner of the company this. This change may happen on the production version.
The shoulder straps worked fine, but I did have some trouble with the tips of the straps. They are rather solid on the unit sent to me and poked me in the ribs, but on reporting this to the manufacturer was assured he would correct the problem. The haulage loop at the top was sewn in place with the ends very close: this was quite uncomfortable when picking up a full load. The owner assured me he would fix this as well. Clearly, some details of the design were still evolving when the sample pack was sent to me, and you should check on the status of these changes before buying. It may be that in the early stages of production, you could specify some of these details.
The hip belt was wide enough and long enough to suit me, but not too big. It fitted around my hips quite well. Note that in addition to having three torso sizes for the pack, there are three hip belt sizes available. Yes, you can mix and match. There are big zipped mesh hip belt pockets, but being mesh, they are not waterproof of course. I am not sure what I could safely put in them. There was some mismatch in the webbing: the hip belt webbing was generous; the shoulder strap webbing was very long, but the sternum strap was almost too short for little me. (The short sternum strap was a recurrent theme with many packs.) Check this with the owner of the company too.
The target market for this pack has to be the more experienced lightweight long-distance walker. The fabric is unlikely to cope with a novice or school kid.
This is a mini-review in the 2010 Lightweight Internal Frame Pack State of the Market Report. The articles in this series are as follows (mini-reviews can be found in Part 2), and a subscription to our site is needed to read them.
- Part 1A covers the very basics and lists all the packs in the survey.
- Part 1B covers the frame and harness which carry the pack itself.
- Part 1C covers the main bag and all the other pockets, plus the all-important question of comfort.
- Part 2 in this series covers the individual packs tested.