So I am not sure how the rest of you are when you started hiking but for me, armed with my experience watching survival shows on Outdoor Network and Discovery channel, was pretty sure every trip to the trail would be my last.
I would pack the essentials like water, a knife, some string, a 6 foot sub, a second pair of shoes and socks, a survival kit, a fire starter, a compass, an 18 inch pizza, snow cleats, binoculars, hiking poles, back up hiking poles, a microwave, and a generator to power the microwave in a day pack and be ready to go.
Once those essentials were covered I would throw that backpack on and head to the trail for the 2 mile hike where I never actually lost site of my car and saw about 500 people. Obviously, I was over packing just a little bit. I think it takes awhile to find that sweet spot on what to bring but if you have to cut the hike short before the mayonnaise spoils, you might be bringing too much.
Disclaimer: I do currently have an affiliate agreement with Camelbak and any purchase made through a link or ad on this website results in compensation for me.
A month or two ago I decided I needed a smaller pack for some of the smaller hikes. I came upon the Octane Dart by Camelbak and it has been my go to pack for most hikes under 9 miles ever since.
The dart is geared for runners, with a 50 oz bladder, two small zippered pockets in the pack itself and stretchy pocket on the strap for gels, or snacks, or anything else you need quick access to. It also comes in red, blue, or black. I picked the black one.
While it is designed for runners the lightweight and small profile makes it pretty nice for hikers who don’t need to carry too much as well. After all, hiking is just running at a turtles pace!
Specs (from Camelbak.com)
- Weight (empty) 7oz
- Hydration capacity 1.5L/50oz
- Gear Capacity 0.5L/30 cu in.
- Dimensions 12.4 x 8.7 x 4.9 in.
What I like
There is so much to like about this pack. Obviously the size is one of the most important parts for me for a couple of reasons. First, the pack is super light weight, even when full of water, and it really makes for an easy hike. Second, the smaller capacity really limits what I can bring with me on the hike. Honestly, if I could carry a trailer full of stuff I didn’t need but thought looked cool I probably would so it is nice to be limited in this regard.
The limits aren’t really that limiting either. For me each time I go on a hike I put my car keys in one of the pockets and my wallet in the other pocket. My wallet is filled with receipts and old notes from hikes so that is really a feat. The pocket also had enough room for me to put a 5.5 oz bottle of spray sunscreen on occasion with the keys and wallet sharing the other pocket.
Here are some pictures of the pockets and the pack on one of my recent hikes. For size reference that is a regular picnic table and not one built for those who live above giant beanstalks.
Water delivery is obviously important in a hydration pack and I think the Dart has a really nice system in place. The tube is firmly held in place on the right shoulder strap with a plastic hook that is built into the chest strap anchor.
The actual water spout is controlled two ways. There is a small plastic locking nozzle that controls the water flow. Once that is opened a gentle squeeze will release the water. What I really like about this system is that as the pack is used more and more you don’t get the leaking that I have had from some others.
I also really like the fit of the pack. It rests high on the back and the weight of the water is distributed really well for me. There is also a chest strap to help with weight distribution which makes it comfortable on a hike.
What I Don’t Love
My only complaint with the pack is filling it up. The opening to fill it up is really large. It is about a third of the length of the bladder itself. While the large opening makes filling really easy, I have found that it can lead to some large air bubbles. With the very small dimensions of the pack and the tight fit of the bladder in its compartment this can make it a challenge to get the bladder back into the pack after filling.
The bubbles have absolutely no effect on the water delivery that I have found. Just a few moments of embarrassment for me each time I fill it up and am trying to get it back into into the pack.
We all want to make sure that we are as safe as possible on a hike and if you are going on a longer hike or in area where you are going to be alone this might not be the pack for you. If you are going on a shorter hike where you will not need to bring a lot of gear than this might be a perfect pack to try.
The small size reduces the weight that you have to carry and the small dimensions make you decide what you need to bring with you. With 1.5 liters of water capacity I have found it works for short and medium length hikes really well for me. It really has become my go to pack for most of my hikes. This lighter weight pack, along with hiking socks, have been some of the best investments I have made since I began hiking!
If you have any comments or suggestions for hikes, feel free to email me at email@example.com or you can follow me on one of the below social media channels. Happy Hiking!