The Jansport Catalyst and Columbia Mobex are two lightweight backpacks that are designed for trail runners, and fast-paced day hikers
Trail runners and fast pace hikers are finding out they can cover more distance in less time. Its a trend that’s catching on with fitness buffs and those who can’t stand walking behind those slowpokes on the trail.
But these fit outdoor enthusiasts also know that their fast pace will also require them to carry essential gear, food and water; probably a little more than what they’re used to. But standard day packs are bulky and get soaked from perspiration and typical water-bladder packs are too small to carry essential gear and extra food.
So pack designers have adapted what they’ve done for Adventure Racers, and created packs for those of us who need a lightweight pack that’s suitable for running, biking or paddling, and that can carry essential gear, food and water for longer distances that are covered in a fast pace.
The Jansport Catalyst is one of the new Cloud Ripper series of packs that are designed for fast pace hikers and backpackers. The Catalyst is the lightest of the bunch and was inspired by the company’s 8,000 Meter Challenge, which is a one-day hike that covers 40 miles and 11,000 feet of elevation.
The Catalyst weights only 1-lbs. 11-oz and has an internal hydration sleeve for your water bladder, as well as two side water bottle pockets. We liked the breathable EVA shoulder straps and hip belt that don’t get soaked from perspiration and the locking bungee compression cord is great to keep the gear inside the pack from moving around while you run or bike. The shoulder straps and hip belts also have small nylon compartments that can old energy bars, cell phones and other essential gear. And with 1249.8 cubic inches (20.48L) of space, there’s room for food, bivy sack a small first aid kit, packable jacket and more.Specifications: Fabric: 420 Denier Velocity Nylon / 210 Boxcar Dobby / 840 Denier Junior Ballistic (comes in Red, Black,Blue) Weight: 1-lbs. 11 oz Capacity: 1249.8 cu. in. (20.48L) Retail Price: $100
Columbia Mobex XL
Columbia’s Mobex XL offers a unique design to a lightweight day pack, that looks like you’re carrying a mini tent on your back. But the lightweight FlexFrame™ keeps its shape and maximizes the pack’s interior room to find and grab your gear quickly. The Mobex XL weighs only 2-lbs. and is made of 20D nylon Triple Rip™ fabric. The pack’s clam shell design allows you to easily access items that are stored behind a flexible mesh screen. The Mobex XL has a place for a hydration bladder and it also has a single hip-belt water bottle carrier. Both the hip belts and shoulder straps are lightweight and breathable. There’s also a handy pouch on the hip strap that’s easily accessible and can carry a phone, energy bars and some emergency supplies.
Columbia added its Omni Shield™ material to the Mobex’s back so that it wicks away moisture and dirt. Extra nylon mesh pockets on the outside of the pack can also carry extra gear or food that is easily accessible if you don’t want to stop for a break. While the pack’s appearance took some getting used to, it performed extremely well. The pack retains its shape and we liked the fact that you don’t have to compress everything to get it into the pack. The mesh divider works well to separate clothes from food, but if you don’t have the pack properly stuffed, some items can move around inside. We also liked that the hip belts were a bit wider and didn’t rub against your skin when you run with it. The top zippered pocket is also a nice feature to easily access your car keys or other items that you need to secure but access in a hurry.Specifications: Fabric: 20D nylon Triple Rip™ fabric (comes in Black, Solarize, Lymon, Capris) Weight: 2-lbs. Capacity: 2013 cu. in. (33 L) Retail Price: $120 By Dan Sanchez Photography By Dan Sanchez and Hanne Shimanouchi