For the past few weeks, both my wife and I have been using the Daybreak; I’m 6’ and she’s 5’ 3” for reference. From day hikes through Thai rainforests and rice fields to everyday carry around town, the bag has been a joy to use. And even though the frameless suspension system is unapologetically minimal, we’ve found the bag to be very comfortable as long as we were somewhat monastic in our approach to packing.
Unlike most frameless bags, the sewn-in foam in the Daybreak’s back panel is divided into three independent sections. This allows the top ⅓ of the bag to “flex” and conform to the shape of your back while the bottom ⅔ stays flat without barreling in the middle – which is fairly common with single sheet foam back panels.
Regardless of comfort, just be aware that “ventilation” isn’t the back panel’s strong suit – there’s no mesh or air channels. Just a slab of DCH that sits flush against your back with zero airflow. For us, ventilation is at the bottom of our Maslow’s hierarchy of pack needs and wasn’t an issue. But if you’re a die-hard fan of trampoline suspension systems, you might have a hard time adjusting.
As for the Daybreak’s shoulder straps, they’re the exact same as the ones on HMG’s larger expedition rucksacks. They’re slightly contoured with a J-shape, are adequately padded with a dense foam, and lined with moisture-wicking spacer mesh. While they’re not particularly beefy or wide, they’re definitely comfortable enough to support loads up to 20 lbs without any hotspots forming.
For lashing gear, the shoulder straps feature a bartacked daisy chain webbing that makes it easy to attach a Garmin inReach Mini or a PD Capture Clip. Lastly, they feature my favorite sternum strap which is partially elasticized and expands with your chest during high output movement. In my humble opinion, self-tensioning sternum straps should be a mandatory feature on all performance-focused bags as it prevents the webbing from digging into your chest.
To round out the suspension system, there’s also a stowable hip belt with (super) minimal padding. To be honest, it doesn’t do a good job transferring weight to your lumbar region as it’s not designed to. Fundamentally, the Daybreak’s hip belt is only meant to keep the pack tight on your back when scrambling or when moving fast and light on trail – that’s all.
When not in use, the hip belt can be conveniently tucked away into a “peekaboo pocket” behind the bottom portion of the back panel. While I would’ve preferred the hip belt to just be removable (it’s not necessary on a small daypack), the execution of the peekaboo pocket is a decent middle-ground solution for most people.