Backpack Battle: Waymark EVLV vs. THRU – Which Is Best For Your Next Thru-Hike?

Comparing Waymark's ultralight EVLV and THRU backpacks to help you decide which is the best fit for your next thru-hike adventure. We break down the key pros and cons of each.

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Josh Koop

I live with my wife and daughter in Katy, Texas and my local trail is the Lone Star Hiking Trail which is an amazing way to experience the Sam Houston National Park!

Waymark THRU vs EVLV which is best for a thru-hike
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If you’re looking for a new backpack for your next thru-hike , you’re in luck! Waymark has created two packs that are perfect for long-distance hikes. The THRU and the EVLV are both ultralight backpacks that have been designed with thru-hikers in mind.

The main difference between the THRU and the EVLV is in the internal liters and in the dimensions of the pack with the THRU offering more space to store backpacking items and a framed option whereas the EVLV is one size frameless only.

So, which one should you choose? Today, we’ll take a look at the differences between these two packs and help you decide which is the right one for you on your next long trek.

Getting to Know Waymark Gear

Waymark Gear is a US company based out of West Valley City, Utah that is committed to creating the best backpacking gear for thru-hikers. Their products are all made in the USA and they have a no questions asked lifetime warranty on all of their products.

I first started to look at their packs when I was trying to find a daypack that was better quality than Walmart specials, I found it with them and the MILE. This shopping though led me to dig into the EVLV and THRU to see if I could make use of either for an actual full thru-hike pack.

At first, I thought the 35L backpack was WAY too small and more aimed at just simple day hiking to overnights but I found a video by Darwin on how he helped get the EVLV built for his thru-hikes so it changed my opinion on this greatly.

The Benefits of Choosing Waymark

If you are looking for truly American-made, sewn, stitched, and care then Waymark Gear is the way to go. With their no questions asked warranty, you can feel good about your purchase and know that they will take care of any issues that come up on the trail.

Their customer service has been amazing to work with as I’ve had a few questions during my search for the perfect backpack and they have responded quickly every time.

I also love that they are an ultralight company as I am always looking to save weight where possible on my hikes without sacrificing comfort or safety.

So, now that we’ve looked at the company let’s get into the differences between these two packs!

Waymark EVLV 35

The EVLV backpack was a work of love and a collaboration between the Outdoor Evolution and Waymark Gear, and it may be one of the fullest-featured 35L backpacks available online.

Looking to resolve the issues he had with many other lightweight packs Darwin was able to help craft one of the most loved minimalist packs on the market, which has now been enhanced with 2 choices of fabrics: ECOPAK and ULTRA.

Benefits to the EVLV

Making a full-featured backpack in a super small package required working hard to maximize the shape and size of every design issue and less on filling it with bells and whistles.

Roll-Top Design

As is becoming the near-standard in thru-hiking the ubiquitous roll-top is beloved and as expected makes an appearance here with straps that are long enough to hold a bear canister on top as required.

Load Lifters

Many small-volume packs lack load lifters as they expect your gear to be light enough to not need them, but when you are looking to support full weight loads and items like a bear canister getting the load just right is vital to comfort.

Trekking Pole and Ice Axe Loops

New for 2022 is the addition of loops for trekking poles with top anchors to hold them in place on the pack along with a loop for an ice ax if you should be on trails like the PCT, CDT, or other ice-filled trails making for easy carries.

Drawbacks to the EVLV

Issues with a pack like this will frequently come down to either someone wanting the bells and whistles of more fancy packs or weight and storage space itself.

Small Interior

You need to have a very well dialed-in pack and not carry many extras to make this work as a thru-hiking pack as the internal storage is a tight 25.9 Liters and even then, you will need to use the external 9.1 Liters of storage features more frequently.

No Hip Belt

This is an issue for some but the pack is light enough to not always need one in many cases, though you can add a 1″ belt onto your order for a small fee, I would suggest instead looking to add a fanny pack like the Zipp which can function as a belt along with being another good place for snacks and phone.

Limited External Storage

There are way fewer pockets than many larger and more expensive backpacks and if you are someone who loves to use pockets you may find this harder to adjust to.

If you are willing to put in the time to get used to a new way of packing it can actually make you a better and more efficient hiker.

Waymark THRU 40 UL or Framed

The THRU is a more traditionally sized backpack for someone who has a dialed-in kit but wants to have a little wiggle room to adapt as the situations need or not all their gear falls into the UL space.

The THRU is a nice middle-ground for backpackers also as it has the option for a framed and a UL frameless depending on your needs. The frame can help if you are still on the heavier side or the frameless will work if you need that little more pack space.

Benefits to the THRU 40

Similar to the EVLV above, making a full-featured backpack in a super small package required working hard to maximize the shape and size of every design issue and less on filling it with bells and whistles.

Color Selection

I love being able to change color out to make the gear, not one big color blob, Waymark controls this through a few specific regions of the pack but they offer many colors that will fit more people’s needs to express themselves.

Multiple Torso Sizes

Unlike the EVLV there is a torso sizing allowing it to be a perfect fit for a wider range of people. This pack offers a Small/Medium, Medium/Large, and Large/Extra Large to make sure there is the right size for everyone!

Pack Weight

The pack weighs in under two pounds with a full pack in M/L sizing with a padded hip-belt coming in at ONLY 25.8 oz. on the UL and with frame comes in at around 36 oz. which is exceptional for the benefits it provides and if smaller it only gets lighter from there!

Frame and Frameless Option

The biggest benefit for this pack is that it has the option for you to purchase a framed version or what they term the UL, or ultralight, that comes without a frame.

As I’ve talked about above the frame is a personal thing with many deciding that they prefer it if they run heavier loads to help push some of the weight off the shoulders to their hips, this will be highly personal.

Drawbacks to the THRU 40

Issues with a pack like this will frequently come down to either someone wanting the bells and whistles of more fancy packs or weight and storage space itself.

Limited External Storage

Similar to the EVLV the outside pockets are kept to a minimum overall with only the two water bottle pockets and the main Lycra pocket on the front.

If you are someone who likes to have lots of little pockets and organization this may not be the best pick for you as it really pushes you to use your pack more like one big compartment.

Nickel and Dime Accessories

Both a drawback and a benefit you aren’t paying for extras you will not need on a pack unless you decide you will need them, this can help you cut the costs down upfront but if you find you like multiple pockets, chest water bottles, or similar you can find the price going up fast!

Choosing Between the EVLV and THRU for Your Thru-Hike

Both backpacks are good for a thru-hiker, but the space will dictate more which you should look to purchase depending on which direction you are heading, if you are looking to minimalize your gear kit then the EVLV is the best bet.

If you are looking for a good mixture of gear and aren’t shooting for the essentials only then it may be more beneficial to you to look into the THRU which is only 5L larger but this can be a huge difference in gear storage space!

I always love to hear from people in the comments, did I fail, or did I nail it? Regardless I would love to hear which you would choose and why. To note, the MILE is wonderful and just too small for me so I bought myself the EVLV!

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