I've been using my Daylight Backpack(s) (I have one in Black Dyneema and one in Olive) on hikes for the past several months. It's awesome for shorter hikes, of course, but what continually impresses me is how comfortable it is on medium-level hikes (trips in the 7-12 mile, 2500-3200 elevation gain range) even fully loaded with much (not all) of the gear I pack in my Synapse 19.
The Hike: Snow Lake then on to Gem Lake (11 miles roundtrip; 2,451 elevation gain)
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
The hike to Snow Lake is one of the most popular hikes in Washington with good reason: it offers relatively easy access to backcountry-level alpine beauty. Many folks turn around at Snow Lake, but another four miles and 800 ft elevation get you to the beautiful (and somewhat less visited) Gem Lake. Still, if waiting in line at creek crossings isn't your thing, you may choose to wait until a weekday after Labor Day to experience this trail.
I continually refine my packing list, never feeling like it's 100% perfect, though you'll see many of the same items that were in my "Synapse 19 packing list for summer dayhikes" packing list.
Ultralight Hammock (total unnecessary Happiness Item here, but come on, if you find a good spot, what's better than setting up a hammock in the alpine and taking a good nap?)
Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter in a Size 3 Travel Stuff Sack (you could squeeze the water filter into a Size 2 Travel Stuff Sack, but personally I'd rather have the extra room that a Size 3 gives so that I can shove the filter back in the stuff sack if I'm in a hurry, like if there's mosquitoes)
Map + Compass (my hiking partner had GAIA GPS for the iPhone and a backup battery)
First Aid Kit stuff in an Iberian 3D Fabric Cube
Canine First Aid Kit stuff in a Skookum Dog Mesh Organizer Bag (Benedryl for wasp stings, Tick Key, EMT gel, Guardian Dog Safety Light, arthritis meds, treats, Pawflex bandages)
Extra first aid stuff: band-aids, blister things, ibuprofen
Second Aid Kit (Justin's Nut Butter Packets, Petzl e+Lite, ibuprofen packets, band-aids, tri-power safety whistle -- basically, extra stuff so that, if we run into a hiker that isn't as well prepared, we can share some stuff that can turn a scary sad hike into a pretty ok one. This is something really important to us; we've always been well prepared to take care of ourselves in an emergency, but what about others? You'll be hearing more about it in the coming months -- we even plan to make a special Second Aid Organizer Pouch.)
Emergency firestarter kit
Daylight Backpack in Olive
Skeletool (useful for so many things, but needle-nose pliers = what you need to remove porcupine quills from dogs)
Snowpeak MOLA headlamp
Best warm headband ever (knitted by gochicken)
Not pictured: my Canon 5D (yes, I actually lug that fine thing around sometimes), iPhone, sandwich, and wallet.
The first big view: Snow Lake
The Skookum Dog Bungee Leash, as usual, proved itself quite handy on the hike, especially when Lily heard pika calling to her. Still, when we came upon a small snow patch, we couldn't help but let her off to have some fun...
Hiking with dogs, I almost always choose hikes on which there's going to be a water source. And if there's a water source, I bring my water filter, unless it's a very short (under four mile) trip. Yeah, it's a bit of extra weight, and some might say it's silly to bring a filter on day hikes, but I love stopping for fresh, cold water. Lots of it. The Katadyn Hiker Pro fits nicely and securely into the mouth of the Lifefactory glass water bottles.
Ichiro on the way up to Gem Lake.
Our first look at Gem Lake!
Hot day hikes (it was in the upper 80's) call for shady rests in the heather.
The shingled back compartments of the Daylight -- in which you pack your extra clothing to create a padded back panel -- work great. (We knew this from testing the pack way back when, but still, it's worth pointing out.) Even when I unpack my down jacket to put it on (ahh, summer hike descents in the evening wearing shorts and a down jacket) and have, remaining, in one compartment my rain/wind shell and in the other wool tights/gloves/hat thing, it remains padded and comfortable.
The keys to packing the Daylight Backpack comfortably are these: balance and load control. Really, these are the keys to packing any backpack*. Packs like the Daylight, however, school those of us who didn't know this packing tip (or didn't yet believe it).
Back to my packing list: clothes go into the back shingled compartments. My water bottle goes horizontally in the bottom of the pack and above that, my water filter on the left, my first aid kit on the right. Above those on the left are my canine first aid kit on the left and my ultralight hammock on the right. If I'm crazy enough to bring my DSLR w/a 50mm lens, it nestles lens-down in the top middle of the pack. This, for me, is a well balanced and controlled load. Now, if I were to take all of this stuff, and throw whatever in first -- camera on the bottom next to the water filter, water bottle on the left, hammock on the right, everything else on top -- it'll likely feel unbalanced and significantly heavier once I put the pack on. Try this yourself with your packing list and note the difference. Note that packing this way won't save the day in every situation -- carrying everything I listed plus my DSLR is probably a little much for the Daylight. Most folks will find it more comfortable to leave the DSLR at home and shoot with their iPhone; or, if you're going to take your DSLR, maybe carry the Synapse 19, Synapse 25, or Smart Alec instead.
*This is one, IMHO, of the reasons some think frame sheets and über-padded heavy straps should be a part of every pack design: with those, you don't have to worry about packing technique as much because you can have hard stuff against your back or an unbalanced load and you won't feel it as much. A frame sheet, in my experience, doesn't really have much to do with offsetting a load as much as it does just preventing hard stuff from poking through the back of a bag, or an improperly packed bag from barreling out on the back side. Heavier (as in, heavy in and of themselves) padded straps can also be the answer to a symptom rather than addressing the root cause: they can aide in helping you carry a load that's perhaps a bit too heavy, unbalanced and ungainly. Both have a time and a place (hello incredibly smart frame sheet with aluminum stay of the Guide's Pack: you make overnights possible) but packs like the Daylight are designed to be more like that supple leather boot, made just for you, that conforms to you.