Waymark was founded in 2017 in Salt Lake City by Mark Benson, a former cook who has been passionate about the outdoors and hiking since childhood. He found traditional backpacks heavy and rigid which limited his movements and his pleasure. So he decided to learn sewing to create his own backpacks. Waymark designs hiking backpacks in the frameless and ultralight movement. Frameless means that the bag does not have a foam or aluminum structure like most models found at Decathlon or Osprey. Without structure, a bag is flagada like a t-shirt. The art of packing then takes on its full meaning: it will be necessary to pay attention to the arrangement of objects in the main compartment to prevent it from becoming uncomfortable. Ultralight, often abbreviated UL, means that the bag is made of light, resistant but also expensive materials such as X-Pac or Dyneema. Mark Benson and his team manufacture all backpacks and accessories by hand in the USA in Utah. The bags are made to order, which offers the possibility of personalizing your model according to your needs and tastes. Be careful if you are in a hurry, it is a very small workshop which leads to quite long manufacturing times between 6 and 12 weeks. I personally had to wait around 8 weeks for mine to be made. Waymark donates part of its turnover (exact figure not communicated) to associations for the protection of nature and bears.
The Mile is Waymark's smallest backpack. It's a roll-top model with a generous 30L capacity, the main compartment is 23.5L and the outer pockets are 6.5L. As I said above the bag is ultralight, it weighs only 453g which is quite incredible. For comparison, a traditional backpack with equivalent capacity and resistance weighs between 800g and 2kg. Believe me, after a day of walking, every gram counts and your back will thank you. In terms of materials, the entire structure of the Mile is in X-Pac, the sides and the base are in VX21 and the rest in VX07. If you are unfamiliar with X-Pac, it is a fabric originally invented by Dimension-Polyant for boat covers. It's light, resistant to traction, abrasion and tearing, in short, it's damn tough! In addition, the X-Pac is completely waterproof, it is really an ideal material to face all types of adventures from the simple daily commute to the PCT.
The inside of the bag is simple, even minimalist, since it is a large pocket. But beware, the bag has no frame! You will have to be careful when filling it to prevent sharp objects from pressing on your back. Personally, I try to organize a minimum and use packing cubes and pockets to optimize space and comfort. It's quite disturbing at first, but once you get used to it, it's not a problem, and given the weight of the bag, it's worth the effort! Small tip: some hikers use a sit pad on the back, in the main compartment, to improve carrying comfort and not worry about packing. And the bonus is that you can sit anywhere without getting your ass wet!
Regarding the seams, they are clean and very resistant (very sturdy nylon thread), but they are not waterproof. On the other hand, the bag being in X-Pac it is really very resistant to water so do not panic, unless you pass under a tsunami your belongings should remain relatively dry. To make sure you sleep dry, I still recommend using a liner to protect your down.
The exterior of the Mile has two side pockets and a large front pocket. In addition, you can use various paracord compression straps and a loop for an ice ax or a hiking stick. The two side pockets are in X-Pac and are well elasticated. They are perfect for holding all types of water bottles, a photo tripod or a folding chair such as Helinox Zero. The front pocket is constructed from durable lycra. I use it to store accessories I need quickly like a buff or my essential Arc'teryx hardshell. This lycra is similar to the one used at Evergoods, it is very well made and should last well over time. Unfortunately lycra is still lycra and abrasion is its worst enemy; a hole can quickly be made if you hang the pocket in tree branches for example. Under the bag there is paracord to attach a yoga mat or a tent. It's easily removable if you don't need it. As an option, you can add a small pocket per strap for immediate access to a water bottle, a snack or a smartphone (my iPhone 12 Mini fits without problem). The design is good, on the other hand, it is also in lycra so watch out for abrasion.
Aesthetically, I find this Waymark Mile stunning! The design is simple and utilitarian while having a little badass side without falling into the caricature of the outdoor bag. I loved being able to choose the color of the bottom and the sides (I took the Teal color). I think it's pretty versatile, I've used it for the day when hiking, skiing and on my daily commute to the office.
Carrying level, I've used it with loads of less than 10kg and the comfort is there. The shoulder straps are ergonomic, quite wide and the foam is of good quality. To properly balance the bag, the sternum strap is effective. The waist belt is built with a simple strap without padding which is more than enough for small loads.
Important point concerning the back, it is not ventilated since frameless; you will therefore be in direct contact with the X-Pac, which can cause small sweating problems during long outings.
The Mile is big and small at the same time, which makes it very versatile. Already it is a roll-top which allows you to vary its height depending on what you have inside. In addition, it has really well thought out compression straps which allow its size to be reduced significantly when you are carrying little.
You will understand, this Waymark Mile is a real success! Its style, adaptability and robustness make it a faithful companion capable of accompanying you in all your adventures from the city to the mountains. I have a lot (too many) backpacks and this model goes straight into my top 10. Go for it!
• Top quality: materials and seams.
• Aesthetics: simple and utilitarian while having a little badass side.
• Capacity: go-anywhere volume, neither too big nor too small.
• Lycra front pocket: the most fragile part of the bag, I would have liked an option in X-Pac or Dyneema as offered by Hyperlite Mountain Gear.
• Warranty: only one year which is low for a bag made by hand in the USA.
• No zipped pocket: this is rarely present on this type of bag, but I would have liked a small zipped pocket to store my accessories in complete safety.
• Price: Value for money is good if you can buy it in US dollars. Importation into France is possible, but beware the bill climbs dangerously with VAT and customs clearance costs.