Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Columbia's Treadlite & Endura Backpacks: Attitude and Innovation

"Creativity, as has been said, consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know. Hence, to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted." — George Kneller

As Columbia will readily admit, there was a time not that long ago when the company had settled into a comfortable niche of merely cramming apparel and gear into big department stores. Thankfully for outdoor enthusiasts that is no longer the case as Columbia is once again on a creative quest re-examining what they once did with fresh eyes. The result is a wave of product and technology launches resulting in gear that will satisfy the unbridled hunger for adventure that rests within each of us.

As mentioned in our
First Look review, Columbia’s new series of backpacks including - the Treadlite 22, and the Endura 50 are ample demonstrations of the Company's new direction: Attitude and Innovation.  After spending eight weeks testing every aspect of these packs, Columbia not only further solidified our initial impressions, they exceeded our expectations.

The personality of every pack begins with the fit and feel of the straps. If the straps aren’t comfortable then little else matters. Towards those ends Columbia has outfitted their new backpacks with their innovative Techlite shoulder harness system. 
Light, breathable, and yet wide enough to disperse pressure Columbia’s design team didn’t just nail this feature, they crushed it.  In fact, we’re willing to bet these prove to be the most comfortable, durable and technologically advanced straps you’ve ever slipped onto your shoulders.

The design wizards at Columbia create Techlite by co-molding 2 pieces of Techlite foam around a lightweight breathable scrim mesh. The scrim mesh runs through the strap serving as a frame which provides strength without adding weight. And since we all believe in keeping our outdoors clean and pure you can feel good knowing that the Techlite manufacturing process reduces waste by 25–30%, keeping material out of the landfill.

Treadlite 22

Following up on the athletic fit of the straps, both the Treadlite and Endura packs feature a narrow profile design providing significant freedom of motion so you can revel in your adventure whether out hiking, biking, or slashing through fresh fallen powder. And because you don’t want to slow down while out breaking trail, Columbia included easy grab zipper pulls on these packs ensuring quick and easy access to all the necessities.

And while you’re in the process of conducting your intensive search for those necessities, know you’ll be aided by Columbia’s “Silverback reflective interior” which helps illuminate the interior of your pack meaning you won’t need to find that flashlight before you find that granola bar.

Whether criss-crossing downtown Aspen or the surrounding countryside, Columbia’s Backdraft Aerating Suspension System keeps the pack elevated from your back while helping circulate air to keep you cool, dry, and comfortable. So when you’ve been out crushing the trail and you break for lunch the only wet spots on your back will be from the nearby waterfall. For those moments your trail mates fall too far behind fear not for the Endura and Treadlite packs feature a built in emergency whistle on the sternum strap.

From top to bottom Columbia has crafted a pack that is as tough as your adventure.  Should you get caught in a drizzle or a blustery blizzard while out conquering the wilderness, the packs also feature Columbia’s Omni-Shield water-repellent treatment to protect your gear.  
Rugged Tarmaq bottom protects your pack for those moments you’ve got to sling it down on some granite to take a picture of that brown bear stalking the opposite treeline.

Room for Improvement...

No one likes to suffer from dry mouth out on the trail.  As such we appreciate the fact that each of these packs is 3L hydration compatible.  That being said, the combination of a topped off hydration reservoir and Columbia’s AirMesh suspension system does result in a leaving less gear capacity in the main body of the pack which may prove to be frustrating to those out for longer adventures. Secondly, while we are thankful for the incredible adjustability of the Treadlite and Endura packs, both a little too strap happy for our liking. While each strap serves a vital purpose in helping to provide a proper fit, our field team still found the straps to be excessively long proving to be a bit cumbersome in tucking up and out of the way while out on the trail.

Bottom Line...

From color scheme and logo integration all the way down to the important details of trekking pole attachments and built in emergency whistlesColumbia has crafted a series of thoughtful packs that will tackle any adventure.  Whether day hiking or a pushing to the summit, Columbia’s Endura and Treadlite’s clean functional design will get you to your destination in comfort.  Available in January 2012, prepare to grab these packs that are as serious as you are about the outdoors.


  1. I too am so excited to see Columbia Sportswear move away from the big-box store agenda and back to their roots as an outdoor company. Can't wait to see their new line!

  2. Very nice post and your review Columbia's Treadlite & Endura Backpacks: Attitude and Innovation. I like your blog and your writing skills.

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  3. You know your projects stand out of the herd. There is something special about them. It seems to me all of them are really brilliant! Backpacks