I’m quite a fan of Golite backpacking gear and own a fair few shelters and backpacks of thiers. Originally, Golite based their products on designs of kit devised by Ray Jardine but their paths diverged, Golite Gear became more mainstream (and heavier) and eventually went bust.
Ray Jardine is, as far as I know, hale, hearty and pursuing his outdoor pursuits while still offering kits via the Internet for buyers to make their own versions of his designs. These include a quilt and the Ray Way Tarp. I own a Golite Cave 1 which is the commercial version of his tarp and it’s an excellent piece of kit in every respect. You can read my views on it in a different post on this site.
The Ray Way is essentially about hiking efficiently with low weights and well-thought out and reliable MYOG gear. Ray applied his aerospace engineering background and training to produce just such kit; all of which is backed by thousands upon thousands of miles of hiking experience in all sorts of terrain and climates. In short, if you want to know about backpacking techniques and equipment then Ray Jardine is a very good source to start with.
I’ve been intrigued by the Breeze for a while now but, as the last ones were made around 2005, finding one has about the same probability as finding rocking horse droppings. I was resigned to buying a kit from Ray and making one myself. Glory of glories, up popped one on EBay that had never been used so is new to all intents and purposes. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and got the pack. So, what is a Golite Breeze and why would I want one?
The Breeze is about the most simple backpack design there can be. It consists of a large main bag that is fastened shut by a drawcord and strap from the rear of the pack over the top to the front. There are two mesh pockets on the sides that are large enough to take water bottles, snacks, tents or whatever plus a very large external mesh pocket. There are two ice axe loops and two pieces of fabric above the water bottle pockets that help support the seams and could be used to trap tent poles if stored in the side pockets. Two shoulder straps are used to carry the pack although Ray Jardine recommends just using one at a time and alternating the shoulder doing the carrying. There is no sternum strap, no hip belt, lashing or compression system or anything else. Structure of the pack is made by using your sleeping pad and other gear.
The vital statistics of the Golite Breeze are:
- Weight 400g or 14 ounces
- Main pockets 47.52 litres or 2900 ci
- Mesh pockets 13.93 litres or 840 ci
- Total capacity 61.45 litres or 3740 ci
- Carrying weight 9 kg ideal, 11.4 kg max or 20lbs ideal, 25lbs max
Clearly, this is a pack for backpackers who follow ultralight principles and are good at packing loads in a backpack. Those were the reasons I wanted the Breeze along with its low weight. In addition, it has sufficient volume to carry spare insulation in colder weather. Living in the UK I find a lot of UL packs too small to do this and, sadly, the UK climate often requires a microfleece or similar to be carried. It’s not the weight but the volume that’s the problem.
My Breeze only arrived today so I haven’t had chance to even begin to test it properly although I did throw random gear in up to the recommended carry weight and walked around with it. My first impressions were a) packing is crucial for comfort, b) I didn’t miss the hipbelt at all, and c) I wasn’t aware of any discomfort on my shoulders. However, it’s early days yet and I need to get some trail miles in before I’ll know for sure but I think the Ray Way is might be the way to go! To end this blog here are some pics of the Breeze.