Field Notes: With a sturdy aluminum frame and a stretched mesh back panel, the Trail Elite 22 day pack is best suited for hot climates and sweaty activities that benefit from airflow between the pack and the wearer. The off-the-back suspension system guarantees adequate airflow, a technology Columbia calls Backdraft. And it works – testers noticed an appreciable reduction in moisture buildup and increased comfort. To keep things light, Columbia designers cored out the shoulder straps and punched the foam in the hip fins. The result is weight savings without compromising the integrity of the straps and fins. While many ultralight packs go too far, sacrificing comfort and performance for marginal reductions in weight, this Columbia backpack found a perfect balance.
The pack is a pleasure to carry with its load adjusters on the shoulders that allow weight to be transferred from hips to shoulders with ease. Hiking pole attachment are placed on either side of the pack with loops at the bottom and shock cords locks at the top of the pack. A “Z”-shaped compression strap on either side of the day pack cinch bulky loads down easily with one pull on each side. Mesh side pockets and two hip fins pockets keep smaller items secure and easily accessible while on the move. A small compartment at the top of the pack is perfect sized for sunglasses, and will keep them secure and ensure they don’t get crushed in an interior pocket.
Pros: The most impressive aspect of this pack is the strength-to-weight ratio. The Columbia Trail Elite is a little pack that punches above its weight.
Cons: The vertically zippered accessory pocket on the back is not super secure because of its near full-length access.
Tester Comments: “I was pleasantly surprised at Columbia’s execution in this pack. At first glance the back system seemed like overkill for a pack this size. However, when we dropped a three-liter hydration reservoir, camera, lunch and layers for an extended day out this fall, the pack worked so well we we’re impressed with the amount of weight a small design could carry and do so comfortably.”
Key Attribute: Features
- Techlite™ shoulder straps
- Backdraft™ tensioned back panel
- YKK water resistant zipper
- 3L hydration compatible
- Compression straps
- Load-lifter straps
- Sternum strap with rescue whistle
Weight: 2 lb 0.8 oz
Size: 22 Liters