For my trip to Glacier National Park, I decided to forgo the traditional 65L pack for a smaller, lighter, hydration day pack. I’ve always been a more traditional type of guy, using a 65/75L pack for all my backpacking trips, but I’ve been reading too many ultralight backpacking blogs. I decided to pass up the bulky bag for a smaller, lighter day pack. I chose the Camelbak Fourteener 24L pack. I learned several things about this bag, one of which was the lack of weight displacement.
My pack contents were as follows: my sleeping bag (the REI Helio Sack 55), my shelter (an ENO ProFly Hammock Rain Tarp), the GSI Halulite Minimalist Cookset, an MSR Microrocket with a 110g fuel container, two Mountain House meals, six Clif Bars, a 3L hydration bladder, a Katadyn Hiker PRO water filter, a pair of socks, and a first aid kit. Plus or minus some small pieces of gear. Weighing it out, with a full bladder, I was pushing about 20-30 lbs. A little more than I wanted to be carrying. I’m not a complete ultralight backpacker, but I can definitely upgrade some of my gear.
After packing everything into the 24L pack and slipping it on, I realized very quickly that the hip belt they have on the pack wasn’t doing its job. Don’t get me wrong, I love the pack. But, the clips kept on loosening up. Every time I’d tighten them up, the weight displacement would feel amazing, but ten minutes later, it was all on my shoulders again. It might be because of the small hip pads that don’t really wrap around at all, or maybe the clips need to have closer gaps, or maybe I’m just too fat! I can definitely say it wasn’t the best choice for the 27 miles we did.
The breathability was amazing, my back was always sweating, but I was still getting airflow coming up from underneath through the support. I have no complaints about the durability of the pack. I’ve had it for a little over three months now, and it hasn’t been sitting in the closet. When I read reviews for the pack before checking it out and ultimately buying it, one or two of them mentioned that the mesh on the back support wore off quickly. I have not found this to be the case. Mine is covered in dirt right now, but other than that, no problems with the construction of the pack. There are a few other things that I love about this pack, mainly small aesthetic features, so I won’t mention them here.
After taking this trip with the pack, I realized a few things. A small pack will never replace the comfort of a larger, more supportive pack. I’ll continue to use it as my day pack, but I doubt I’ll be taking this pack on another backpacking adventure. I also could have used more space. The lack of space versus the amount of gear I was packing made my pack very odd-shaped, no matter how many times I repacked. Made my trek pretty uncomfortable. In conclusion, the Camelbak Fourteener 24L is an amazing day pack, maybe even good for a short overnighter, but not for a backpacking trip.