The Lightning 50 From High Peak

High Peak Lightning 50 backpack

High Peak makes a variety of high quality camping gear at family-friendly pricing. They’re partnered with TentPak, which provides all-in-one backpack/tent combinations. Last year, we had half-jokingly suggested TentPak create a “zombie apocalypse” set, which was more than just a fun marketing exercise, as it contained some serious survival gear. The ZOMBIE Apocalypse Pak™actually made it into production, and we shared an article about it on Halloween. It was also pretty popular at Outdoor Retailer last month. Of the two kits available, one is based on the High Peak Lightning 50 backpack, which seems just right for shorter outings, or your emergency preparedness kit. With that in mind, we figured it was time to review one ourselves, with an eye towards stowing some emergency essentials.

Empty, the Lightning 50’s weight of 3 pounds, four ounces is about average weight for capacity and price. There’s a split main compartment separated from the large lower compartment by a drawstring divider, a pocket on the lid, and more pockets on either side as well as on the hip belt, plus a sleeve and ports for your hydration bladder. We’ve come to prefer packs that don’t try to micromanage your gear with too many internal pockets – they seem to add weight, more fasteners, and a higher price, without really making it any easier to organize things how we want them. The Green compression straps contrast nicely with the black and grey (a color scheme that’s a natural for anything zombie-themed). Shoulder and hip straps are easy to adjust, as is the sternum strap with an orange whistle. Pretty basic stuff that works, but it works well. One of the biggest selling points as far as we are concerned is the Vario system, giving it the ability to adjust for different torso sizes. It quickly adapts to fit Ms. Outsider, Mrs. Outsider, or myself in a pinch, although the hip belt may not get small enough for the littlest among us. Still, that can make a huge difference whether camping or running from zombies.

High Peak Lightning 50 backpack

You’ll find plenty of reviews online for the Lightning 50 from the backpacker’s perspective, so we took High Peak at their suggestion for using this as a 72 hour kit. Taking into consideration our family and locale, we packed our version of the essentials:

Two different waterproof match containers, and one Swedish FireKnife, which contains a FireSteel.

One compact flashlight, one rechargeable headlamp*.

First aid kit, with strips of duct tape wrapped around the container.

Three pairs of wool socks, three wool beanies, and four emergency blankets. The dogs will have to share one blanket.

A compass. (At night, in the snow, we got lost driving around a very large unfinished housing tract. With zero point of reference, and no smart phone, we would not have been able to easily find our way out. Never overlook the basics.)

At every trade show, we get extra samples of sunscreen and lip balm. Some of them make their way into our pack.

Our CamelBak All Clear*, plus foil packs of long-life water. We are situated between mountains and a lake, so more water should be available.

Clif bars. Nutritional, calorically dense, and stable across a wide range of temperatures. I’ve lived on worse while traveling.

Basic Leatherman tool. Knife, file, pliers.

*We have a couple of solar chargers, and include one along with two USB cables. That maintains the headlamp and CamelBak first, plus a phone if necessary.

All this fit easily, and is comfortable enough that I could carry the Lightning 50 all day without any issues. Between the large zippered opening on the front, drawstring upper opening, and internal plus external storage pockets in the lid, access is not a problem. It really is sized just right for a short term emergency kit too (27″ x 14″ x 10″). Current retail price is around $100 depending on where you buy, and it pays to shop around. Based on our previous experience with High Peak products, that makes it a good value.

– Brian



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