Gear Review: Waymark Gear Company THRU 38L Pack
- Brand: Waymark Gear Co.
- Material: Xpac four-layer laminate construction fabric
- Weight: 21.75 ounces
- MSRP: $195 to $280 (depending on customization)
Circumstances of Review
My summer’s been an overwhelming blur of constant movement. In the midst of planning for a wedding, a thru-hike, teaching yoga, and working full time as a director of a day camp, I’ve hardly found time to enjoy myself since the weather warmed up last spring. When I finally got the chance to do a short overnight along the Superior Hiking Trail last month, I was elated.
My fiancé and his father did a four-day stint along the SHT and I was tasked with picking them up at the end. I decided to hike out and meet them at their last campsite of the trip (of course bringing some trail magic along the way) and then hike with them in the morning back to the cars. I packed my backpack full with every piece of gear I plan to use during my coming thru-hike of the SHT, along with some unnecessary gadgets to make up for the lack of water and food weight, and hit the trail.
Over-the-top Y-compression strap
All 50L thru-series Waymark Gear Co. packs come with an over the top Y-compression strap to cinch down the roll top-style pack. When customizing my pack, I requested the Y-compression strap with the hopes that it would be easier to use for strapping extra gear to the top of the pack and keeping everything compressed. It’s easy to use and keeps the shoulder straps from needing to be readjusted anytime you open and close the pack. It also serves its purpose perfectly; it holds gear down really well without risk of it slipping out and compresses the pack down when overloaded with gear.
Standard padded hip belt with hip pocket
There are three options for hip belts: no hip belt, a removable hip belt, or a standard padded hip belt. If going with the hip belt option, you can also add a hip pocket for an additional price. The hip belt and pocket are probably my favorite features of the pack. Being an avid fanny-pack hiker, the hip pocket is the perfect size to forgo the need for extra storage. At 7” wide x 6” tall x 2” deep, the pocket can hold an insane amount. The hip belt itself was something I cared about a lot. My PCT pack had a terrible hip belt that loosened every quarter mile by the end of my trek. I was constantly pulling at it and readjusting my pack as I hiked. The hip belt on this pack is incredibly comfortable, and with the double-backed strap system, it stays in place no matter how far you hike. It also passes the chafe test, comfortably resting across the width of the hip bones without rubbing them raw.
Removable bottom straps (customization)
I added removal straps to hold extra gear on the bottom of my pack. Having them be removal was an effort to cut weight when desired. The straps are extremely easy to remove, and adjust and hold gear down well without risk of it slipping out and becoming lost forever. Since ordering my pack, Waymark developed a bottom pocket that functions much the same as bottom straps. The mesh is made from a durable material that doesn’t rip or tear easily, and the pocket is perfect for easy access to commonly used items like water bottles or rain gear without having to remove the pack.
Hydration loop without a sleeve (customization)
I also added a hydration loop to the inside of the pack and a port for a drinking hose. I don’t use water bladders often, and with a frameless pack I’m less inclined to use one on a thru-hike, but for shorter stints I wanted the opportunity to use one without the added weight of a sleeve. I could have included a removal sleeve instead of just the loop to protect my gear from getting wet, but I stuck with just the loop. The loop holds the Camelbak in place really well and is easy to use and adjust. The hose comes out right from the center of the pack above the shoulder straps and can be held in place by elastic bands attached to the chest straps. The hydration system serves its purpose well and allows for ease when refilling water without having to shift too much gear around to place the bladder back in.
The 38L thru pack is great for ultralight backpackers on a thru-hike or for anyone on shorter trips. With a lower liter capacity, it can only hold so much gear, but still manages to contain everything I’ll need for a three week, 310-mile trip. The 38L pack is built specifically for people with shorter torsos and is great for shorter women like myself.
There’s so much I love about this pack. I’ve never experienced so much comfort with a backpack as I have with my Waymark pack. The padded shoulder straps and hip belt hold up against chafing and hug my body in such a perfect way that I hardly notice the weight I’m carrying. The ability to customize anything I wanted was also a huge plus. The brand owner, Mark, is extremely easy to work with and seemed willing to try anything I asked for. With so many options to build the pack exactly the way I wanted it, I felt confident that I would love it. All of the little details also make this pack incredibly reliable for long treks. From the Y-compression straps to the length of the side pockets, the double-backed hip belt straps, to the material used in the front mesh pockets, this pack is built to be heavy-duty and ultralight. It’s the perfect balance of light weight without sacrificing durability. The price is extremely reasonable, too, considering the amount of customizing you can do. In total, my pack came to about $280. It was also ready within three weeks of my order, exceeding my expectations on turnaround time.
When I ordered my pack, Waymark Gear Co. was still in its first year of business. Inevitably, Mark has continued to learn and expand on what he’s able to provide for in each pack. There is a small part of me that wishes I had waited to order my pack in order to benefit from some of the new things he’s doing to his packs. The bottom sleeve, for example, is one addition I would have liked. A lot of that boils down to my comfort in customization, though. Having never customized a pack and having only completed one thru-hike, I didn’t think of every little thing I would have liked to add to the pack. With more experience, I’m sure my customization requests will continue to grow and change. The only other con is that unless you live in the Salt Lake City area, you are taking a risk by ordering a pack online without wearing it first. I do appreciate being able to try on a pack and get a feel for it in the store before biting the bullet and making the purchase, so it felt like taking a leap of faith ordering a pack online. That said, I don’t regret my decision. This is an excellent pack and one that I’m sure will only continue to exceed my expectations as I venture further with it.
The growth Waymark Gear Co. has seen over the last year in terms of products makes this brand a solid choice for your next pack. There are many options, and with the laundry list of customizations, it’s hard to walk away feeling buyer’s remorse. Price point compared to weight, these packs just can’t be beat. If you’re looking to transition to ultralight or if you just want to try out a fun new pack, consider giving these a try.
Disclosure: Alexa is an ambassador for Waymark Gear Co. and received this pack at reduced cost.
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