Rating: 5 / 5
I wanted a 2-3 day pack which was significantly lighter than mainstream packs, yet could carry heavier loads when necessary. UL "stuffsacks with shoulder straps" didn't appeal.
The Versalite 50 fulfils these criteria well by weighing only 1100g, but with a harness that can handle 18kg for short distances (see below).
Construction is silnylon, with more durable fabric strategically placed in wear prone areas. You get the impression they started with a normal pack, then lightened it in all areas that wouldn't compromise load handling or comfort. The result is a pack with a cushy padded harness, good supportive hipbelt, yet weighs 40 - 60% less than most. It even has a double layer base.
Apart from the top rope strap, compression straps are absent & replaced by a thoughtfully designed compression cord arrangement which shrinks the pack down to a 20l summit pack very effectively.
Volume control is excellent & the pack easily handles 10-12kg loads.
On a recent hike in the Japanese alps it carried 18kg for 3 hours when one party member had an injury which required us to share his packload. The Versalite was overpacked to around 60 litres & 18kg with 2 tents, 3 litres of water, 2 stoves & fuel, 4 huge nashi pears & 2 litres of canned beer! Apart from slight butt sag on the hipbelt, stability was still excellent & comfort was good. When studying the pack empty, it's hard to imagine it could carry such a load so well.
There's the usual hydration pocket attachments, a smallish top pocket with internal pocket & lightweight hiking pole/ice axe loops. Base pockets are massive & bottles are easily accessed whilst wearing. They also work when the pack's stuffed full. Quality of construction is excellent.
The only slight concern is some care needs to be taken with the silnylon fabric, but that applies to all packs made from that material. Apart from that, there's little to pick that hasn't been well designed & executed. An excellent pack for those wanting to significantly lighten their pack base weight without compromising comfort.