The Waymark Gear Lite 50L backpack (~38 oz / 1077 g, MSRP $280) is a 50-liter pack featuring ECOPAK EPX200 fabric, an internal frame with removable stays, and articulating shoulder straps. It is best utilized by distance hikers with big water hauls or weekend adventurers with dialed kits who also like to carry luxury items such as chairs on occasion. Its fit-related features might make it a comfortable choice for larger backpackers.
About this review
I based this Limited Review on my initial testing of this pack over seven days on a February packrafting trip in southern Utah and an excursion through a remote Wilderness area in northwestern Arizona in March. I also interviewed Waymark’s founder and owner, Mark Benson, and general manager Devin Ashby about the intention behind the Waymark Gear Lite 50L backpack. Be sure to stick around after the review for that interview (or jump straight to it here).
In our archives – read more articles about backpacks:
Features and Specifications
- claimed weight:36 to 39 oz (1.02 to 1.11 kg) depending on customizable options
- measured weight: L/XL with shoulder strap pocket, one hip belt pocket, and upper side pocket: 42 oz (1.19 kg)
- internal framed with removable pre-bent 6061 aluminum stays and 1/8 inch foam
- lumbar pad
- removable hip belt pocket
- multiple daisy chains on shoulder straps
- adjustable Y-style over-the-top compression strap
- customization options: upper side pocket (add $10)
torso sizing and volume:
- S/M 15-17 inches (38-43 cm) torso (48 Liter) 32 in (81 cm) fully unrolled
- M/L 18-20 inches (45-51 cm) torso (50 Liter) 34 in (86 cm) fully unrolled
- L/XL 21-23 inches (53-59 cm) torso (53 Liter) 36 in (91 cm) fully unrolled
- all are packs 11 inches (28 cm) wide and 7 in (18 cm) deep regardless of torso size
- XS 27-29 inches (68-74 cm)
- S 30-32 inches (76-82 cm)
- M 32-34 inches (82-87 cm)
- L 36-38 inches (87-92 cm)
- XL 36-38 inches (92-97 cm)
- XXL – 40 – 44 inches (101-112)
- ECOPAK EPX200
I used the Waymark Gear Lite 50L backpack on a three-day packrafting trip through Labyrinth Canyon in eastern Utah. I loaded it beyond capacity, lowered it down sandstone slabs, and bushwhacked through willows and phragmites for many miles. My testing conditions stressed the pack’s durability and load-carrying capacity.
I also used the Lite 50L on a two-day backpacking trip through a desert wilderness area in northern Arizona, where I carried five liters of water and a small guitar.
I also day-hiked hiked frequently with the Lite 50L through the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains of northern Utah.
In the forums – read what the Backpacking Light community has been saying about packs lately:
Since this is a Limited Review, we won’t present a detailed performance analysis based on long-term use. Instead, we note our initial performance observations and issues below. Read more about our types of reviews here.
I based my initial observations on the following metrics:
- load-carrying capacity (shoulder straps and frame)
- hip belt
- compression straps
- frame height
- external pockets
- quality of construction and materials
Load-carrying capacity (shoulder straps and frame)
I found the Waymark Gear Lite 50L backpack’s shoulder straps to be more comfortable than those on most other packs I’ve used at similar weights. This comfort was due to two factors:
- First, the pack fit me well, with the shoulder straps attached right at the top of my shoulders when the pack was loaded with around 30 pounds (14 kg) of gear. With more weight inside – around 40 pounds (18 kg) – the top of the shoulder straps began to dip slightly below the tops of my shoulders and the shoulder straps remained comfortable. Unfortunately, the hip belt saw some collapse at this weight, which I’ll get into below.
- Second, the 1.5-inch (4 cm) webbing connecting the shoulder straps to the pack allows them to adjust to my shoulders’ slope and width.
I also found that the 2.75-inch (7 cm) shoulder strap width is a happy medium for most users – not too wide and not too narrow.
The frame is not unique for a pack of this volume. It’s just two pre-bent and removable 6061 aluminum stays connected to the lumbar area, a design often seen in packs like this.
The Waymark Gear Lite 50L backpack’s hip belt is a standard sewn-in design, which I have found to transfer weight effectively on most packs I’ve tested. The Lite 50L is no exception if you have wide enough hips. In my opinion, however, the hip belt wings on the Lite 50L are set too far apart for narrow-hipped folks and should be sewn closer together for more wrap. I also found that the 4.5-inch (11 cm) wide hip-belt wings were almost too wide for me, approaching my lowest rib when bending over. Four-inch (10 cm) wide wings would be sufficient and save a little weight. I believe that the wide-set wings were the culprit for the belt collapse I experienced with heavier weights.
The Waymark Gear Lite 50L backpack features one compression strap above the tall pocket, one above the short side pocket, and one Y-strap over the top. The simplicity of these straps is ideal for the weekend adventurer. But the straps don’t accommodate activities such as packrafting very well, where bulky and oddly-shaped items need to fasten to the outside of the pack. In my opinion, longer removable straps would be better for versatility.
It’s noteworthy that the Waymark Gear Lite 50L backpack has a 26-inch (66 cm) frame in size L/XL. Such a large frame is pretty uncommon in the ultralight backpacking world and – in my experience – quite necessary for most people with a 20-inch (50.8 cm) torso who plan to haul big loads. This means the shoulder straps can attach right at the top of my shoulders, giving me four inches above them for effective load-lifter adjustment.
The Waymark Gear Lite 50L backpack comes with one tall side pocket, one short side pocket, one optional upper side pocket, one large pleated mesh rear pocket, an optional Lycra shoulder strap pocket, and one removable hip belt pocket.
The tall pocket is unique and large enough to swallow a 2-liter Platypus. This pocket’s height is also great for bushwhacking because it protects items such as water bladders.
The optional upper side pocket only adds $10 to the overall cost of the pack and is ideal for those who want to organize items such as stoves and rain jackets into easily-accessible places. A part of my brain takes issue with the asymmetry of the pocket situation, but if you value function over symmetry, you’ll be able to ignore this.
I found the capacity of the Waymark Gear Lite 50L backpack to be a little less than other packs I’ve used in the 50-liter load-hauling backpack category. Not a huge problem unless you’re looking hard at the volume-to-weight ratio, at which point the Lite 50L doesn’t look very compelling at half a pound heavier than other similar packs. I’ll also note that this pack’s tall and slender profile makes it great for bushwhacking. The side pockets did not get hung up on brush as I made my way up a particularly dense canyon this winter.
Quality of construction and materials
The seams on the Waymark Gear Lite 50L look virtually perfect, and the overall aesthetic resulting from what appears to be careful construction and thoughtful design is appealing to my non-scientist’s eye. The one place where I do have concern is the frame stay material. Waymark is using 6061 aluminum which is known to creep and deform under heavy stress, so if you overload this pack, you could get deformed, underperforming stays relative to 7000-series aluminum.
Per Ryan Jordan, “It’s generally considered that 6000-series in 1/2 x 1/8 is okay for 25-30 pounds but not much more. For 40 pounds, 7000-series aluminum in 3/4 x 1/8 is a more appropriate choice.”
I haven’t had the Waymark Gear Lite 50L backpack in the field enough for a long-term durability test, but I did lower it down a slickrock slab where the EPX200 body fabric resisted obvious abrasion. I also bushwhacked eight miles through willows and phragmites, and the material seems unaffected. Testing this pack was my first experience with this new material from Challenge Sailcloth, and I can say I’m impressed so far. The X-Pac VX21 that Waymark and many other companies formerly used had a raised x-ply that was often subject to wear from abrasion. EPX200 has a much smoother surface, prompting me to believe it will abrade more evenly than VX21 and therefore be more durable overall.
The Waymark Gear Lite 50L backpack is an unassuming pack. It’s not the lightest pack. It looks good aesthetically but doesn’t stand out visually among other medium-to-large-volume internal frame packs on the market. But don’t be misled by this simplicity. The Lite 50L accomplishes what it sets out to do – carry loads comfortably. When you read the interview below, you will see that Waymark designed this pack primarily with comfort in mind.