Lightwave Ultrahike 60

Regular readers will know that my ideal rucksack has been elusive. Recent experiences with the ULA Ohm and the Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus have brought me to consider a slightly more traditional design: the Lightwave Ultrahike. While not as light as the Ohm and Mariposa, it is still not heavyweight. On my scales it weighs 1150g (compared with a claimed 1250g by the manufacturer). This makes it virtually the same as the Osprey Exos 58.

The extra 400g or so of weight over the Mariposa/Ohm brings some significant advantages:

  1. It is virtually waterproof, so there is no need for a pack cover. The Ultrahike has sealed seams except for the back panel. Apparently it is not possible to seal these seams. There are no exposed seams here and the back panel is largely protected by the wearers back anyway. The lack of water resistance of all my packs has been a constant irritant to me. Hopefully, the manufacturer’s claims will be borne out.
  2. The Ultrahike has a proper hip belt. The hip belt is much more substantial than on lighter packs. The unusual feature is that it has a gap in the middle to fit over the crest of the hip bone. It is secured by beefy but flexible fingers of plastic. Further minor adjustment to the tilt of the belt can be achieved by two webbing straps and buckles on either side of the belt.
  3. There is a substantial hollow aluminium frame rod. This is an “n” shape, but the base of the frame is narrower than the top. It follows the outline of the foam back panel. Although the frame is accessible though the top of the rucksack, it doesn’t appear to be removable.
  4. The volume is claimed to be 60l, although in a test suggested the volume is 55l. Hence, the Ultrahike should easily be able to swallow gear for multi-day hikes and extra gear for winter. In the past I’ve had to squeeze gear into my smaller sacks. Now I can be more relaxed. It means that I won’t have to compress my sleeping bag so much. It also means that I can be more flexible with the food that I carry.
  5. The Ultrahike can carry up to 18kg comfortably (according to Lightwave). Both the Mariposa and the Ohm have an upper limit of around 13kg, in my experience, before they start to feel a bit unstable. This is generally what my pack weighs with consumables. The Ultrahike gives me a bit more flexibility to carry more food to give me a longer time without re-supply. I reckon 4 days is about the limit for the Mariposa/Ohm. Given the extra volume and carrying ability, I expect the Ultrahike to be able to carry 6-7 days food if I want.

When I was looking for information on the Ultrahike, I was surprised how little there was available. There was a preview on OM, limited information on the Lightwave web site and some pictures on some German backpacking forums. Very few retailers seem to stock it either. I bought mine from Ultralight Outdoors Equipment.

Until I take it out for a few days, I won’t be able to give a full appraisal, but here are some first impressions. The level of finish and workmanship seem good. All the seams are well finished and there are no obvious faults. Given my obsession with hip belts, the hip belt feels very comfortable. I like the split configuration, which sits nicely either side of the crest of my hip, with comfortable but firm padding. It seems to support the sack well. Despite a fairly solid plastic stay arrangement, it does have some flexibility. Overall the pack retains some flexibility in the harness compared with the Osprey Exos, which feels more constricting. Obviously it is not quite as flexible as the Mariposa.

The shoulder straps are nicely contoured with similar foam and finishing to the hip belt. There is a sternum strap with vertical and horizontal adjustments. On the top of the shoulder straps there are load lifter straps. Above those there is a very substantial haul loop. Bizarrely this is in red. The foam back is relatively thin with a knitted surface, rather like that on the Osprey day sacks I own.  The frame has quite a pronounced “S” shape. I’ve gently reduced this shape slightly. My overall impression of the “carry” is that it is quite comfortable. However, I only loaded it with a few sleeping bags to bulk it out, so I don’t know how it feels with a heavier load.

Turning to the main body of the sack, the main compartment has a closure in a lighter material (silnylon?) with a draw string. The base is a fairly heavy weight material. The main body is a combination of medium grade nylon fabrics. Overall it feels fairly robust.

There is an internal hydration pocket. The exit for the hydration tube is through a rubber dome located between the shoulder straps. There is a conventional top pocket with water-resistant zips. Strangely one zip puller has a red and black puller, the other grey and black. There are two stretch mesh pockets at the base of the pack on either side. These are substantial enough to hold a Scarp 1 tent (phew!). On each side there is a laced compression cord. On the top of the lid there is some shock cord.

There are attachments for two ice axes. Oddly the shock cord for securing the shafts is directly below the webbing to secure the pack lid. There are also four small loops on the front of the pack that could take some further shock cord (perhaps to secure a crampon bag?). And that’s about it. The overall impression is a clean, unfussy, robust pack.

As you might expect I’ve already added some extras. On one side I’ve added some shock cord with a cord grip to secure the top of a tent. I’ve also added some shock cord on one shoulder strap to hold a water bottle. Unfortunately, this carries the bottle a bit high so I may have to try to adjust this. There aren’t many options for attaching shock cord to the shoulder straps, though.

Time will tell whether this is the right pack, but it does feel good. Here’s some more pictures.


31 thoughts on “Lightwave Ultrahike 60”

  1. Looks nice. Some good features there, but not too many. Hope you like it. If not, have you seen the soon-to-be-released Osprey Hornet? As long as they don’t change it like they did the Exos, 42 litres is 680g. Being Osprey, it should be a good carry…

      1. I think for me it would be. I did the TMB with the Gorilla and I was carrying a tent and there was room to spare. Depends a lot of what food you take I guess but I am sure it would be depending on what you would pack. It’s a personal thing.

  2. Robin – I will be really interested to hear your experience out in field with this. This is on my wish list for a winter backpack or the Pinnacle. I like the idea of it being waterproof. Good post as always.
    P.S. Doctor said I have started to wear away the cartilage in my knees – need to strengthen up the quardracep muscles. Doesn’t think it is too serious – I am just aging !!

    1. I’ve had two GoLite packs and neither have worked for me.

      You might want to get “Keeping your joints young” by Sarah Key which explains how joints work and what exercises help.

      1. I have used the Trek and the Quest. With both I found the shoulder straps hard and the hip belt was poor. I can’t speak for the Pinnacle as I’ve not tried it. GoLite seems to have changed the design of their hip belts. If you can try one. There are a lot more stockists for GoLite than Lightwave.

      2. Which generation or year GoLite Quest did you use? After see the volume vs. weight graph in the Backpackinglight article, I became interested in the Lightwave Ultrahike and the GoLite Quest, but I can’t find the Lightwave from any US internet shops, and shipping seems really expensive.

      3. Darn you, blogpackinglight, you are going to make me poor. 🙂 Actually I went ahead and ordered a GoLite Quest last night because I found it on sale for a good price. It was 113 USD = 72 GBP with free shipping. The current generation of Quest probably has better padding than the one you had, and it may just work for me because everyone’s body is different. The Quest is made of waterproof fabric, but not seam-sealed like the Ultrahike.

      4. p.s. I’m very drawn to the Ultrahike; I just thought I’d try the Quest because it’s easier to obtain and the price is kinder to the wallet.

      5. If the Quest fits, be happy. Like boots, fit is the most important consideration. I thought it was quite a good pack apart from the harness/hip belt. Maybe that’s like saying it’s a good car apart from the engine!

    2. I received my GoLite Quest. I’m not sure if it’s as comfortable as my North Face El Lobo, but it seems quite close. Each pack has some features which I like better. Overall, after about 3 hours carrying about 35 pounds, I really like the pack.

      Actual weight for my medium GoLite Quest is 1406 g.

  3. Despite the claims of the manufacturer my Lightwave Wildtrek 55 (Womens) is definitely not waterproof. Found quite a bit of water inside the base of mine after a day of rain. Would advise the use of a waterproof liner with it. I find the hip belt very comfy though and it carries well.

    1. Thanks. I will definitely use a liner for critical gear. I may go back to my old packing system (two waterproof liners).

  4. I’ve had a Lightwave S52 for a few years – a precursor to yours, with the same phenomenally strong back frame. Mine’s just under a kilo – (it doesn’t quite have as many features as yours) – and will take a huge amount of weight. You’ll find because it has a proper internal frame you will be able to set it up so there’s no pressure on your shoulders whatsoever – just use the load lifter straps once the waist belt is cinched tight – and you can get the belt where it should be. I’ve spoken to Carol the designer a few times on the phone – he’s a good guy – I’d like to think the improvement to the mesh pockets is my idea! Nothing stopping you sticking your tent inside btw, to keep it balanced laterally, and so leaving the mesh pockets for things that are nice to get at on the move.

    1. The mesh pockets are just right, not too big, not too small. It certainly feels “right” but I won’t know until I’ve used it for a few days. The hip belt seem to be just right.

      The reason for storing the tent outside the pack is that the Scarp is an awkward shape to pack. The pitchlok rods are not removable so it is a long rigid cylinder. This would be awkward to pack inside the pack, hence using an outside pocket.

  5. Is the back panel just thin foam? Is there a framesheet of hard plastic? Is the fabric between the frame rails stretched tight?

    Thanks for the good photos.

    1. The back panel is foam with a knitted exterior (like Osprey). There is no frame sheet. The material between the rods of the frame is resonably tight, but some care needs to be taken in packing to ensure objects do not press through the back padding.

  6. Which size did you order, M2 or M3? And if you don’t mind, what are you height and weight? Sorry for all the questions.

    Right now my main pack is a The North Face El Lobo 65. Claimed weight is 4.25 pounds. Actual weight is 5.39 pounds! (Shame on The North Face). I really like the fit and the frame of the El Lobo, but the pack is unnecessarily heavy.

    1. I ordered M2. I’m about 5’9″ with a 34″ waist and average build. It seems to fit me well. I think the hip belt would be too large for anyone with a waist below 32″.

      Glad to help.

  7. At the moment I am using a Talon33 for 3-4 day trips. But this looks interesting for longer/winter trips. Currently I use the old version of the Atmos50. How would you reckon this would compare?

    1. I don’t have the Atmos 50, but I do have the Atmos 35. I think the two big differences are the different back systems (mesh vs. foam) and ease of packing. The Ultahike is a very simple pack with a larger volume than the Atmos 50. It doesn’t have a curved frame to intrude into the main pack, so packing should be easier. I’ll have a more imformed view after I’ve used it in October.

  8. I really like the look of this pack – quite no-nonsense. I’m a bit tired of all the faffing straps and buckles on my Granite Gear Nimbus Meridian. I reckon this will be about the same size too.

    When you decide you don’t like this pack either we can talk 🙂

  9. as a child of the 60`s….
    and getting a chance to visit serria designs store in bezerkeley…many a time….
    i played with many frame packs, interior and exterior frames….also ruck sacks….
    like them all…blew a lot of money….
    even went through all of the different styles of sleeping bags…
    favorite pack….
    made by red oxx out of montana…their ruck sack…..bomb proof…..period…..
    favorite sleeping bag….
    a full zipper goose down bag rated at 20f….
    why i like the ability of the bag opening up like a quilt…since i use the hennesey 4 season hammock…
    just sharing….
    this is not written in stone….
    but this is what i like after 40 yrs of bike camping…
    thank you

  10. Thanks for the great review on the Lightwave Ultrahike 60.

    I used mine for the first time a few weeks ago snowshoeing with 12kg, it was by far the most comfortable pack that I have used.

    A couple of weeks ago on a very wet day I decided to test out the Ultrahike 60 water resistance, I stuffed it full of paper and put it outside in the rain for most of the day, when I checked inside there were a few drops of water and the pack weighed a few hundred grams more.

    I will be posting a review on BPL soon.


  11. I got mine a while ago and unfortunately haven’t been able to really test the pack. I’ve done some dayhikes/walks with it (stuffed full with extra gear) but the real test is still yet to take place. It feels good so far.

    I added some shock cord to the front of the pack to vertically hold my foam mat.

    Weight, frame, volume and waterproofness were the selling points for me. I really hope this can keep the water outside as advertised. I do like to distribute my gear in stuff sacks so it’s not a huge issue. It’s just often pretty wet where I hike…

  12. I am looking forward to your test report.

    The shoulder straps and back system look very similar to a Crux AK57 (pre 2007 model) which I own. I think these packs are related and designed by the same person. The Lightwave hip belt looks more structural though and the side pockets are far better.

    I found the Crux to be a decent pack but after more than a couple of days backpacking with about say 14 kgs carry weight I thought the straps could do with a bit more padding as there was undue pressure on my shoulder blades.

    Since this, I have always been unsure whether I should have gone for the size 2 back length rather than the size 3 I chose. I tried both on in a shop and took advice from the sales person but you can never 100% tell with these things until after an extended test.

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