At just 1250g, the Lightwave Ultrahike 60 is the lightest pack we looked at by some way, and with welded and taped seams it offers a higher level of waterproofing than the others in the test. It sports a simple, stripped-down design to cut both weight and faff, and will appeal to anyone who values minimalism in their outdoor kit.
The overriding ethos of the Ultrahike is simplicity, cutting down on any superfluous features that add weight. So you only get one external zipped pocket in the lid, and two large mesh pockets on the side. There is a hydration pocket inside, but the usual compression straps are replaced by cord webbing on either side of the pack – they pull tight to fulfil the same function. You also get pole/axe attachment loops and a large haul loop. The back system is likewise simple and offers minimal adjustment, made from EVA foam and mouldable aluminium stays. The hipbelt is rather radical, though, with large holes that fit around your hip bones to reduce weight. Finally, you get a handy elasticated bungee cord on the lid, and many seams are welded or sealed, making the pack the most weather-resistant here.
On the hill
Although the Lightwave Ultrahike 60’s back system is simple, don’t let this fool you into thinking that it can’t carry a heavy load in comfort. I found it handled nearly 20kg with no problem at all, effectively transferring that weight to my hips for a very comfortable carry. It did however feel more restrictive than others here, and not as well vented. However, the greatest bonus of this pack remains its unbelievably low weight. It’s over half a kilo lighter than some here and yet is made from tough fabric and is built like a tank. The taped and welded seams led to a really high degree of water resistance so I got away without a rain cover, although since it’s not fully waterproof I did still need a rucksack liner as usual to ensure my kit stayed dry. The top lid pocket was large, easily accessible and didn’t leak much thanks to the water-resistant zip, and I found the bungee cord on top useful for the quick stash of small jackets (although I would have liked one on the front, where there are attachment points for it). The side compression cords worked well, but would have worked better for attaching things if they had either been made of bungee, or had been the more normal quick-release straps and buckles found on other packs here. Finally, those mesh pockets were great for my map.
Made in Far East
Capacity 60 litres
Backlengths available M2 & M3 (50cm & 55cm)
Materials 420d Dynatech fabric on back panel and structural areas; 300d micro-ripstop polyester on main front areas; 40d ripstop nylon internal fabrics
Stockist details (01286) 873520; www.lightwave.uk.com
Stockists in the UK 25
The Lightwave Ultrahike 60 is incredibly lightweight; a clean and simple design; large and easy to pack; comfortably carries weight for such a simple back system; highly water-resistant; useful bungee cord on lid; effective compression system. But it has limited pockets; back system not very adjustable; not the cheapest. It’s a great pack that offers a comfortable carry and will easily be the top choice in this test for the lightweight walker. However, others might want a more adjustable back system and more pockets.
Review by Ben Winston
First published in Trail magazine June 2011