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#135881 - 07/06/10 10:06 AM Maximum pack weight
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Packs normally include capacity by volume (cubic inches) and maximum carrying weight. Volume is pretty hard to fudge (though it can be done.) But it seems to me, having tried a number of packs this year in the search for a new one, that the maximum carrying weight rating is about as helpful as the temperature ratings on sleeping bags - they can tell you a lot about the packs within a given maker's line, but they rapidly lose usefulness when comparing packs from different makers.

What makes me think this is that my two finalists (both weighing 3 pounds and holding about 3600 cubic inches) claim carrying weights of 40 and 45 pounds, though I'll never carry more than 25. But, when I try the packs that are rated for 20 or 30 pounds, I can't find one that's comfortable.

Anybody have any thoughts on the reliability of these ratings?

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#135883 - 07/06/10 10:32 AM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: Glenn]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I agree, the ratings are pretty subjective. If you look at a lot of the Gregory packs there is a volume difference between the different sizes of the same model pack, too. And what's more curious - my stuff expands and contracts to fit in whatever pack I have. A 60L gets full, then I put it in a 45L and it all fits with room to spare. I had a 50L pack that was a bit of a struggle to fit the bear can, but otherwise it was the same thing.

The packs I have found to be comfortable with 25-30 lbs are a Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone, a Gregory Jade, and a Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus. Talk about a different fit between the stiff frames and the Gossamer Gear - the semi-frameless packs are neat but the packing strategy is somewhat different. But I often take the Mariposa Plus when not taking a bear canister. It drops the pack weight by two whole pounds.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#135884 - 07/06/10 11:44 AM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: Glenn]
DJ2 Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 1347
Loc: Seattle, WA
I don't pay much attention to that number. It would be more useful if the manufacturer would tell me why they chose the number. For example "above x pounds our pack may start to rip apart" or "above x pounds the waist belt may not provide adequate cushioning" etc.

Hiking boots used to be rated for pack loads. I was always skeptical of those numbers too. Twenty years of backpacking in lightweight running shoes pretty well proved to me that those numbers didn't apply to me in any meaningful way.

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#135886 - 07/06/10 12:47 PM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: Glenn]
Roocketman Offline
member

Registered: 03/10/07
Posts: 203
Maybe we need a "comfortometer" which measures comfort.

Ideally, it would be a machine into which you insert the pack (loaded or unloaded) and out comes a "Comfort Index".

It could also be a machine into which is inserted a Pack, Gear and a Human Carrier.

Finally, I am offering for sale an "Official Grain of Salt" - a tiny salt container which you keep with you. Anytime you encounter a product rating, you open the package and take your "official grain of salt".

:-)

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#135888 - 07/06/10 02:06 PM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: Roocketman]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I'll take a dozen packets of Grain of Salt. Can I pay you with 6 envelopes of freeze-dried water? wink

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#135908 - 07/06/10 06:42 PM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: Glenn]
Franco Offline
member

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 998
Loc: Australia
If nothing else with sleeping bags there is an EN rating that allows cross brand comparison, bag fit notwithstanding...
However I cannot see how a backpack comfort rating could be determined mechanically, so you need to know
each bran's take on that.
For me my two ULA packs are accurately rated, however a couple of Osprey were a bit optimistic.
At the other end a certain frameless pack was far overrated. What was meant to be the its normal carrying capability
felt like torture for me.
I believe that it is a bit like with wine or beer, what one thinks is "good" can only be based on what one is used too.
Franco

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#135937 - 07/07/10 01:03 PM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: Franco]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
Franco- how correct. There is a continueum from comfort to pain. Each person has a different point where comfort progresses to discomfort which progresses to pain. And each person has a different tolerance for discomfort and expectations of what level of pain they are willing to tolerate when backpacking. A pack can feel comfortable when put on, uncomfortable by early afternoon and downright painful by evening. I swear gremlins put rocks in my pack as the day goes on! In my opinion, no pack is totally comfortable at the end of a long day.

In general, for me, frameless packs (simple rucksacks) are OK to about 20 pounds. Light internal frame packs with some support (stays, backframes, etc) Ok to 30 pounds. Beefy suspension system on internal frame up to 40 pounds. Above 40 pounds I prefer external frame packs. All the above assumes the pack fits well. And there are issues of how the pack handles a bear cannister.

I think someone with bigger and sronger shoulders than myself would be able to carry more weight in frameless packs.

And you have to consider how many hours you plan on having the pack on your back each day. If doing a large through-hike where you plan on a pack on your back for 12 hours a day, for weeks at a time, you need to look at greater comfort for the weight (because those little gremlins DO put rocks in your pack!)

And you also have to consider how the pack is packed. To get the maximum comfort out of any pack, you have to be very careful how to pack it. The lighter packs require much more attention to this detail.

I take all weight capacity statements with a grain of salt.

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#136005 - 07/09/10 04:49 PM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: Franco]
FarFigNugen11 Offline
member

Registered: 06/27/10
Posts: 19
Originally Posted By Franco
If nothing else with sleeping bags there is an EN rating that allows cross brand comparison, bag fit notwithstanding...
However I cannot see how a backpack comfort rating could be determined mechanically, so you need to know
each bran's take on that.
For me my two ULA packs are accurately rated, however a couple of Osprey were a bit optimistic.
At the other end a certain frameless pack was far overrated. What was meant to be the its normal carrying capability
felt like torture for me.
I believe that it is a bit like with wine or beer, what one thinks is "good" can only be based on what one is used too.
Franco


I also noticed that frameless packs are VERY over-rated. I had a hard time finding one comfortable. After I read about ultra-light frameless seemed like a good option, but not for me I guess. I kind of liked the go-lite jam, but I couldn't get it to fit comfortably. I tell you what, if your anything like me maybe you could give EMS a try? I've been going nuts looking for a good pack thats nice and comfy but not huge and it works great. Its a EMS Trail 30. Its not a big pack, and you have to pack right depending on what your looking to do but it is in the 25-30lb range and weighs just over 3 lbs. I loaded it up with 23 lbs and it rides like a dream. I walked around the store for at least 45 min to make sure I liked it. It felt perfect, and when I got home I walked around my development 4 times, which is about a 2 mile walk and I had not ONE thing I could come up with that I disliked. Never even heard of EMS until that day, but glad I did.

I had a hard time finding a pack I liked, and was beginning to think there was no pack out there for me. Then I found EMS and now I'm a happy camper! Check it out, 120 bucks plus 25 off, can't beat it GL!!


Edited by FarFigNugen11 (07/09/10 04:51 PM)

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#136008 - 07/09/10 06:47 PM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: FarFigNugen11]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 656
Loc: Upstate NY
Frameless packs are not for everyone. They require very low weights and considerable attention to how one packs it. On a recent 4-day 50 mile trip I used my frameless pack but the total weight never exceeded 20lbs. Even during the trip I had to be very conscious about how I packed the gear in it. If I didn't pack it correctly, it didn't ride well. When done properly, it rides like a dream and I barely even notice it is there. Packing the pack correctly is paramount for all packs to maximize comfort. The more hefty the suspension in the pack, the more forgiving it may be for less than optimal packing.

The more trips you do with your pack and gear, you will eventually find the sweet spot for how to pack your gear in whatever pack you choose. You will know when you find it, as the pack ceases to be a load on your back, but instead just part of you.

_________________________
http://ducttapeadk.blogspot.com

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#136009 - 07/09/10 08:03 PM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: FarFigNugen11]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Actually, I'm past the point where I'm trying to find that great-fitting pack. I've narrowed it down to two: the Deuter ACT Zero 60+10, and the Granite Gear Escape AC 60. There's not a huge difference between them, and both fit me very well. Both are comfortable, and I just need to use each a few times to see which becomes my "go-to" pack. Right now, the Granite Gear holds a slight edge, but the Deuter is a quarter pound lighter and, with an extra inch of torso adjustability, perhaps a better fit.

The thing that prompted this post was the fact that both are rated to 40+ pounds, and you may be able to use them with a load that heavy, but I'm not sure either one would be very comfortable. Thus the question about the accuracy, or lack thereof, for the rating.

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#136010 - 07/09/10 09:38 PM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: DTape]
ChrisFol Offline
member

Registered: 07/23/09
Posts: 387
Loc: Denver, Colordo
I agree DTape-- I have a number of frameless packs (G4, Jam, Pinnacle and MLD's Burn) and it really does come down to how one packs them.

I use the Golite's Pinnacle as a winter pack and regularly load it up to 30Lb-32lbs and it handles like a dream-- I wouldn't be surprised if it handled its stated 40lb load.

The Jam on the otherhand is an interesting pack, and it is one that you really need to take care in how to pack it. I very rarely carry more than 20lbs with this pack, however I have been known to strap my hip-waders and attach my wading boots to the pack for some long weekend trips bringing the load to around 26lbs and it carried just fine.

Just to show that these figures are subjective; my wife also has a Jam and finds it uncomfortable at anything over 22lbs. FWIW Glenn-- my wife loves her ACT Lite 60+10 SL for longer trips. She says that it is the most well fitted pack that she has owned and even though it is heavier than the Jam, she still finds herself taking the Deuter 9 times out of 10 for most applications.

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#136016 - 07/10/10 07:30 AM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: ChrisFol]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Chris - thanks for the tip on the Deuter pack.

DTape and Chris are both correct - I've tried several times to use the Granite Gear Virga with a 20 pound load, and it does all come down to packing. I've never quite been able to get the load exactly right, or quite light enough. Phat, on the other hand, does have a great deal of success iwth the pack.

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#139562 - 09/29/10 10:14 PM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: DJ2]
Redfacery Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 82
Loc: NY
Quote:
It would be more useful if the manufacturer would tell me why they chose the number. For example "above x pounds our pack may start to rip apart" or "above x pounds the waist belt may not provide adequate cushioning" etc.


For most sewn gear I own, that would definitely come in handy. Obviously it would be hard for a company to tell you what part of their product breaks down, because they would see it as bad marketing - but it would sure be useful to know before you're committed to using a piece of equipment and it under-performs in the middle of a trip!

That's one reason why I still use my heavy external-frame kelty - it's tough as nails, and I've carried loads as unmanageable as 95lb in it (yeah, maybe 3-4mi a day for the record crazy ). Even at that weight (for me), the kelty was still comfortable, even if it did leave me sweating and winded just lifting it up.

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#139572 - 09/30/10 12:50 AM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: Redfacery]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Glenn said
Quote:
Packs normally include capacity by volume (cubic inches) and maximum carrying weight. Volume is pretty hard to fudge


The first of the current series of "state of the market" articles on lightweight backpacks on Backpackinglight (subscription required, unfortunately) stated that when they tested the selected packs for volume, they varied considerably from what was stated by the manufacturers. It was quite an eye-opener!

Backpack fit is almost as individual as shoe fit, so what's comfortable for one person is not necessarily comfortable for others. That certainly includes the amount of weight the pack can comfortably carry. Even "comfortably" needs to be defined: when I tried carrying 37 lbs. in my Six Moon Designs Starlight pack (since discontinued), my shoulders, back and hips felt fine--the pack was doing its job even with several pounds over the recommended maximum weight. My knees and feet, though, were screaming!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#139596 - 09/30/10 10:08 AM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: OregonMouse]
sbonder Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/25/10
Posts: 13
BPL just finished its series. good info in the reviews and threads that follow. i am convinced to give the osprey exos 56 a try.

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#139609 - 09/30/10 12:36 PM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: Glenn]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I doubt very much that the weigth ratings have any value whatever. Occasionally I have to throw in items that are quite heavy, items that are not normal backpacker gear. All I have learned is that lighter packs are more comfortable than heavier packs.... how's that for an insight?

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#139656 - 09/30/10 10:27 PM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: oldranger]
sbonder Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/25/10
Posts: 13
you mean packed packs, right? or do you mean that light packs end up being more comfortable when fully packed? that would sure debunk all of the suspension system marketing.

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#139659 - 09/30/10 10:53 PM Re: Maximum pack weight [Re: Glenn]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Well I've been saying for a while that if all you want is an ultralite sack, use a poly grocery bag or two and tie them the end of a stick over your shoulder.
If you want to carry anything over 30 pounds, it needs some suspension to put the weight on your hips, and it needs enough rigidity to keep its shape and enough strength to not rip out. Its not nice trying to carry your gear in your hands when a pack rips. Finally at 40 plus pounds, some of the weighty objects may have hard edges that do not conform to a human body and something is needed to pad/transfer this weight to your body. Every piece of gear is a trade off, and very very few reasonably priced packs actually have ul weight and great load carrying capacty. Because of this, one needs a couple of packs, like a summer pack and a winter pack.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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