I happened to have a Load Bearing Vest from when I used to play paintball many m00ns ago. I decided to go for a hike with my usual hiking buddy Deciduous Rockwell and see how it went.
The LBV is loaded with pockets! In the various pockets of the vest I put in my 3L hydration pack, matches, MSR sweetwater water filter, power bars, TP & hand sanitiser, as well as a small first aid kit. Generally speaking the LBV was about ¾ full, and weighed in at the usual 7kilo loaded, which is a bit lighter than my normal internal frame CadPat day pack.
We started just before noon and headed into the most challenging terrain that we could find to give both the pack (and myself) a good workout. We went down the wooden stairs of the Niagara Gorge in Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada. The terrain was somewhat muddy and I didn’t bring my hiking poles so I could get a feel of the balance of the pack. As always my bare feet were no match for the muddy, slimy rocks and I was steadfast through even the most challenging portions of the trail.
The first thing I noticed was how the pack didnt feel like it had any weight to it. Everything seemed to be properly distributed and no pulling. I also enjoyed the fact that I did not have to remove the LBV to access any of the pockets. Everything from matches, and camera to TP was right at my fingertips.
We climbed over some harsh terrain, rocks, boulders, and great hills on the Canadian side of the Niagara Gorge and both Decidous and I worked up quite a sweat as it was about 30C out with 60% humidity near the Niagara River. The LBV allowed me to scramble over the rocks and crevices without giving a second thought to the load shifting as the vest kept all the weight tight and close to my body.
When we stopped for some powerbars and to relax, Deciduous had to remove his pack to access it, but I kept mine on the entire time in comfort as we relaxed near the old helicopter rescue pad of the gorge. The LBV was light and airy and didnt’ cause excess sweating for the relatively high temperature around us.
The only downside that I experienced was the large side pockets interfered a little bit with my hand movement during normal walking, You can’t put your hands directly at your side with full pockets on the LBV. If I’d have had my hiking poles I wouldnt have noticed as my arms would have been bent at 90 degrees during the hike.
We arrived back to the car around 4hrs after we departed and the LBV held up well, didnt cause any excess back strain or discomfort and felt like I had no pack on at all.
I will be using the LBV more frequently for 4-8hr dayhikes and would recommend anyone giving one a try as they are compact, body hugging and lightweight for what you get. Price on average ranges from $40.00 to $100.00CAD and are available at most military surplus stores or of course eBay.