Normally Mike Gormley would get first refusal on a pack like the Osprey Hikelite 18 but as he was on his travels when it popped up on the radar I got lucky, writes Bob Morrison.
Most of my daysacks and small rucksacks are, through necessity, both heavier and more militaristic in design to allow me to carry a shedload of kit on assignments but from time to time when only away from the office for the day (for example when attending a meeting in London or Bristol) I actually only need something lighter and smaller yet still big enough to carry a DSLR camera with zoom lens, a netbook with peripherals, a paperback novel and a drinks bottle.
The Osprey Hikelite 18, which is a single compartment ultra-lightweight daysack tipping the scales at under 700 grammes, has turned out to be just what I need for such business trips and I have also used it a few times for strolls along sections of the Jurassic Coast at weekends and as carry-on luggage on a Dash 8 turboprop flight. In a shade called Elderberry Purple, one of six colours, it does not look out of place when I am wearing grey or black ‘office’ dress on a rail commute up to the big cities but equally it is casual enough to carry when wearing jeans and 5.11 shirt. The Aloe Green, Bacca Blue or Tomato Red colours would be a bit too Rambler-esque for me, and although the Shiitake Grey version is not too flash for me unfortunately it’s dayglo yellow straps would not really fit in with my ‘grey man’ modus operandi, but the Black variant is sufficiently low key for me to consider buying one of these as well.
At 18 litre capacity this is the smallest of a family of three, its bigger siblings being the Hikelite 26 and Hikelite 32, but for an ultra-lightweight casual daysack I reckon it is just about right in size. In addition to the main compartment, accessed by a double action zip which opens more than halfway down each side, there are also full width stretchy mesh 160mm deep cargo pockets on each side for stowing kit you might require rapid access to; e.g. waterproofs, gloves or drinks bottle/s. Outside at the top there is also a 150mm deep pouch pocket (made from a scratch-free fabric) for small valuables, with full width single action zipper, and inside this you will find a small envelope pocket on the back wall and also a keyring clip. The hydration bladder pouch inside the main compartment has an elasticated top, with a hanging tape and clip to suspend the bladder above it, and there is an overlapping fabric drinking tube port through the top face of the daysack.
The compression straps on each side are cleverly designed to act as upper supports for walking poles, which if carried can be supported at the bottom by simple tape loops, and the quick release clips are good quality YKK brand. The shoulder straps are padded, with small tensioner straps at the top, and there is a height-adjustable sternum strap with another quick release buckle. An easily removable waistbelt is provided for those who need such things – e.g. wearers indulging in climbing, cycling or other possibly strenuous pursuits – but I ditched mine as I don’t need it for gentle strolling. There is also a reasonably sized grab handle at the top and a zipped pocket in the base for the included rain cover.
One feature which I really like about this daysack, and especially so during the recent high temperatures experienced in southern England in late July and early August, is the AirSpeed ventilated trampoline suspended mesh panel which keeps the bulk of the pack well away from the back. A shaped lightweight alloy peripheral wire frame ensures that not only does the pack, which is made primarily from 100 Denier Mini Diamond Shadow Nylon fabric, retain its shape but the trampoline suspended mesh panel also remains under tension. A very clever solution that means the whole pack weighs less than three-quarters of a kilo.
Overall dimensions are 460mm long by 240mm wide by 280mm deep when crammed full, so the Hikelite 18 from Osprey should fit most airline carry-on luggage gauges (but check with your carrier as these can vary quite a bit). I have also had no problem fitting it into busy train overhead luggage racks. After a month of use, this one definitely gets my seal of approval.
[ images © Bob Morrison ]