Hiking, backpacking, and camping throughout Southern California and beyond

Mountainsmith Ultra Lumbar Pack - Gear Review

[amazon-product align="left" small="0"]B001PEIXNG[/amazon-product]Caveat: I only review gear that I really like and have used, so there will be a positive slant. However, I will be honest about any flaws of the products. When I am hiking up to the top of mountains, I tend to travel pretty light. I have worn a day pack with a bladder pouch on some of the longer hikes, but most summit hikes in San Diego tend to be 5-6 miles or shorter. However, I don't like my back completely sweaty, especially on the hotter days. [tweet]

One of my most-used equipment on my hikes has been the [amazon-product text="Mountainsmith Ultra Lumbar Pack" type="text"]B001PEIXNG[/amazon-product]. It doesn't have a lot of storage for more than two water bottles and some maps and snacks, but it has everything I need for most of my hikes. There is an elastic belt pocket for a GPS or cell phone, which I use for my iPhone (as a GPS), and a smaller velcro belt pocket for my car keys. There is even a padded interior pocket in the large pocket for items that you want protected. I have been able to easily access the water bottles while hiking due to the angle which the bottle pockets are placed, as well as the main pocket in the rear due to the large loop on the zipper. It even has a little strap on the top of the pack for carrying with one hand to and from the car while fully loaded. I've used this feature far more than I ever thought I would.

Many times when I am on the trail, I will take my time going up, taking pictures, video and notes. However, I often like to run on the trail, especially on the way down. This pack, when properly adjusted, is pretty rock-solid when trail running. There are also straps on the water bottle sheaths so that they are tight enough to prevent them falling out under heavy (and bouncy) running conditions.

The inside rear of the back has netting for ventilation, which cools down the hottest point of contact, the small of my back. The main pocket chamber is large enough for plenty of snacks for a 5-6 mile hike, and probably longer. The only issue with longer hikes is the possibility of running out of water, which I did on one occasion.

This leads to the only aspect of the pack that I did not like; the included water bottles. The plastic water bottles that came with the pack tended to leak and give the water a horrible taste. I replaced them immediately with Sigg Water Bottles and have been nothing but happy with the pack ever since.

When I hike, I have my [amazon-product text="Canon Digital Rebel" type="text"]B001XURPQS[/amazon-product] looped into the belt of this pack. This allows for quick access to my camera, as well as my [amazon-product text="Flip MinoHD Camcorder" type="text"]B001HSOFI2[/amazon-product]. The pack is more than tight and strong enough to carry the weight of the cameras.

I am really happy with this pack and will be using this for years to come. The model I have is an older model and is likely discontinued, but if you can find one, you won't be sorry. The new model that is most similar is the [amazon-product text="Buzz II" type="text"]B0028Y4Q5Q[/amazon-product].


Mesh back for ventilation Room for gadgets Solid while running Keeps bottles tight Plenty of room for 5-6 mile hikes


Smelly plastic bottles that are included (Replace them with your own)

Stonewall Peak - Peak #25 - A Milestone in the Snow

Stonewall Peak - Peak #25 - A Milestone in the Snow

Shelton Johnson booksigning in the San Francisco Bay Area