Development of a new product only becomes successful when extensive field testing is done to ensure that the product is ready to bring to market. Field testing is where you truly learn the good, the bad and the ugly of a product and it allows refinement of a product during development. At Waymark Gear Co. we are spoiled with the ability to walk out our front door and have hundreds of miles of trail to hike and test gear just a short drive away. So that's what we did when developing the 2022 model LITE.
For one weekend of field testing we ran off to the Uinta Mountains to continue to abuse the new frame and pack design to ensure it was capable of handling the stress of the trail. The destination for this weekend was the Grandaddy Basin located on the south slope of the Uinta Mountains, where trails are rocky, high in elevation and weather can be unpredictable.
During the first few miles you're likely to learn what's working and not working on a pack, especially with how it fits and how it's carrying on your back. First impressions of the new frame system are positive at this point with the lumbar pad providing comfort to the lower back, and truly feeling a difference in how the pack is handling a load of gear, compared to the previous frameless version of the LITE. With just over 30 pounds of gear, food and water loaded up for about a 20 mile loop of hiking in the High Uinta Wilderness, the weekend was met with heavy rain, mud, and cold temperatures that were a true test of what the pack was capable of.
Stand out features on the pack include the heavy duty mesh front pocket that handles moving through brush and thorns really well, and makes it easy to see small gear items and snacks that you might need throughout the day. The tall side pocket on the left side of the LITE that comes standard makes it easy to secure taller items, and even tuck smaller shelters into for quick access when getting into camp after a long day on trail.
One noticeable change after a full day of hiking was the amount of fatigue felt on the back while carrying 30+ pounds of gear, food and water. The internal frame system did a great job of distributing the weight through the hip belt as a framed backpack is designed to do. Additionally, while walking, the pack moved well with the articulation of the hips and didn't create and stress points. Load lifters on the shoulder straps did their job to bring the pack weight closer to the body and create a more comfortable carry overall.
You might ask what was changed after all this field testing?
Despite the comfort and overall positive experience from this field test, we learned a few things post trip that allowed for further refinement of the frame system. This included analyzing stress points within the back panel and frame sleeves and creating better reinforcement. This also allowed us to create a better design that put more focus on adapting the hip belt to carry the weight more appropriately as a single system, rather than independent hip belt wings. We also made significant changes to the design of the lumbar pad that helped with overall comfort of the pack against your back.
Field testing is critical to developing a product worthy of thousands of trail miles, and after many miles and days of testing, we're excited to finally have the all new 2022 LITE Framed 50 liter pack available and ready for long distance hikes and weekend backpacking trips!