At less than half the weight of most of its rivals here, the Hornet is made for hikers who have no intention of carrying heavy loads—and want a pack to match. Designers shaved weight by dialing back the padding (the hipbelt is mesh) and ditching the framesheet for a removable foam backpad and twin Delrin (a strong, light plastic) side rods. This nod to support makes the Hornet a great compromise between standard packs and extreme ultralight models, which are usually totally frameless (and lack load transfer to the hips).
“It’s not under- or overbuilt—just all you really need for loads under 35 pounds,” says one Colorado tester, who once logged 5,500 vertical feet in two hours with 33 pounds aboard. The minimalist frame also improves stability, which testers praised after scrambly Cascade summit pushes. The packbag has plenty of stretchy pockets. And the hydration pouch doesn’t suck up cargo space—a good thing, since capacity is smallish.
As with many UL packs, we fretted about the durability of the light, 70-denier nylon packbag and mesh pockets, but 300 miles later, we’re not worried anymore. Ding: Working the thin, gram-shaving compression straps is a finicky, two-handed affair.
Capacity 45 liters
Sizes 2 unisex (17-21 in.)
Weight 1 lb. 8 oz.