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#158045 - 11/29/11 09:54 PM What is a good Backpacking Brand and why?
Lifeoutside4all Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/29/11
Posts: 1
Hey everyone. I am very new to this and I would love to get a top of the line pack that will last me a very long time. I already do long hikes with out a pack but I plan on expanding and wanted proper gear. What should I get!?

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#158047 - 11/29/11 10:23 PM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Lifeoutside4all]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
There are two criteria for packs: it has to fit you, and it has to hold everything you plan to take. You can change the second part, by only taking the minimal amount of stuff you need, but you can't change the first part. The pack must fit, period.

Some good brands to look at include REI, Kelty, Jansport, Gregory, Granite Gear, Osprey, Deuter, and ArcTeryx (I've probably missed some, but others will correct the list.) If you're into bleeding-edge ultralight, ULA and Six Moon Designs spring to mind.

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#158050 - 11/30/11 12:39 AM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Lifeoutside4all]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
That's a tough question.

I would build upon what Glenn said and add the option of Internal vs. External pack types.

The pack must surely fit you. The best thing to do to find a pack that fits you is to go to your local REI and have them size you up. The benefit of this is not only that you are getting expert advice, but also REI has a machine that can heat the hip belt on some packs so that it molds exactly to your hip. This is an option on Osprey packs, which I will discuss later.

As far as size goes, that is very dependent on your interpretation of "long hikes". For some, a long hike is to the front of their neighborhood and back and for others it is a thru-hike of one of the Triple Crown trail(Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, Continetial Divide Trail if you are unfamiliar). The blessing and curse of packs is that there are sizes, ranging from a small hip belt pack(100 cubic inches or cu in.) to expedition size packs (5000+ cu in.), for each of these interpretations. If you could describe your hikes a bit more forum members can give you a more personalized recommendation.

As far as the debate between internal and external, almost all hikers now go with internal frame but the decision is still yours. I would recommend you read the guide on the front page of the website as it gives a great comparison between the two types of packs. (Click here for the page)).

As far as brands go, I only have experience with Osprey, and I would be hard pressed to switch my allegiance to any other brand. They offer a manufacturers lifetime warranty with all of their packs that states if ANYTHING goes wrong with your pack they will repair it for you free of charge. I have a Osprey Argon 70 liter 4300-47000 cu in(Click here) and a Osprey Kestral 38 liter 2200-2300 cu in. I use my Argon for most of my back country trips longer than a week and the Kestral for traveling and backpacking (in the non-american sense of traveling through a country only with a backpack). I swear by both of these packs and they have always provided me with exactly what I needed both is convenient, effective accessories as well as durability. I can go into greater detail if you are interested.

Hope this was a help. I'm sure more will chime in with their 2 cents.

All the best.
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#158054 - 11/30/11 03:04 AM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Lifeoutside4all]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
There's tension between your request for a pack that "will last a very long time", and the "long-distance hiking" forum that your question is in. In general, long distance hikers look to keep pack weight down; certainly not all are gonzo ultra-lighters, but you don't tend to see many of the several-pound packs that are both more durable and feature-rich.

For me the right balance for really long-distance hiking is a ULA pack. My current pack has somewhere between 3000 and 4000 miles on it now, and it's still holding up pretty well. It's not as light as what some long-distance hikers use, but beyond durability it also has --- for me at least --- just the right limited set of 'features'.

So have a look at ULA packs. The sweet spot for me personally is their Circuit model; one hiking partner of mine did a lot of miles with their Catalyst (and liked it) but then switched to a Circuit. Hmm, the Ohm models look pretty good now that I look at the more recent options ... :-)
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#158056 - 11/30/11 07:42 AM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: BrianLe]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
To borrow from Collin Fletcher, a pack is a lot like a house and which one you buy depends on how you will use it. It's also likely that during your backpacking life you will change as your style changes.

My style mostly drives me to an external frame pack. I prefer to cook at least once during the day while on the trail, so it's nice to have the stove and food available without digging in the pack. The bottom section is my kitchen. It fits the stove, fuel bottle, 7 days of food and water filter. It's real easy to get into without disturbing other things.

My bedroom is on the bottom. The sleeping bag is tied on the bottom protected from rain by a plastic bag inside the stuff sack.

The tent goes under the flap on top for easy access if it's raining when I set up camp.

The top is my clothes closet.

Water bottles fit in the pockets on the outside.

Unfortnately, the technology has regressed in external frame packs so they tend to be heavier than needed. I have 3 real good ones from the past that someone gave me.

But I'm still undecided. My son and I like to run a lot during the day and the internal frame packs don't bounce around as much.

For an analogy, an internal frame pack is like stuffing everything in a pillow case. An external frame pack is like having things arranged in a dresser. The pillow case will have room for odd big things like tent poles. The dresser will be easier to organize.

One thing that will really drive the size of the pack is your sleeping bag. A cheap one will be big. An expensive down bag will stuff easily into a smaller bag.

Whichever pack you buy, you will likely find you buy a different one as you style changes. A small one for shorter trips and a little bigger for longer trips.

Osprey makes good internal frame backpacks and they aren't too expensive.
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#158062 - 11/30/11 12:39 PM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Lifeoutside4all]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Where and when are you going?

Are you doing winter expeditions, jungle expeditions, or just general spring - fall in the lower 48 states?

Are you planning to do off trail or stick to the trail systems established in parks and wilderness areas?
_________________________
"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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#158064 - 11/30/11 01:58 PM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Lifeoutside4all]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
Welcome to the forum!

You say you already do long hikes without a pack (although I presume you must take some kind of pack to carry your ten essentials). That is a good start, because when you get down to it, backpacking is just a combination of walking and camping.

Since you seem not ever to have backpacked, and it is somewhat unclear what you mean by your plans to expand, I intend to move this topic from the Long Distance Hiking section into the Backpacking Beginners section of the forum.

Just fyi: around here a "long distance hike" would probably begin at around 100 trail miles and could cover up to 2650 miles (or more!). But even if you intended a hike this long in the near future, I think your status as a beginner would still make that section the best place to continue this discussion.

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#158069 - 11/30/11 04:48 PM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Gershon]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I love Fletcher's approach.

Just thought of a question, though: what pack would qualify as a "starter castle"? smile

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#158070 - 11/30/11 04:52 PM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Gershon]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Just to stir the pot: External frame packs are making a comeback, in the form of the Osprey Atmos/Aura and Exos packs. They are very high-tech e-frames, but e-frames none the less.

(Talk about painting a target on my back.) smile

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#158071 - 11/30/11 05:09 PM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Glenn]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Guess no one is going to do the usual list of advice:

Buy the gear first and the pack last - so it fits without leaving so much room in the pack that the load shifts around and puts you off balance, or, without inviting you to stuff... more gear in.

Internal frames without a ton of external doodads are the choice if you are bushwacking. External frames are great to haul loads, don't require as much fitting, and are contraindicated for off trail travel through forested or brushy environs, unless you like grid searching for the gear that's been scraped off your pack.

25+ lbs of load and you are probably better with a framed pack; the semi-framed and frameless packs out there are for folks who have their gear down to the lightest weights.

You do not need "top of the line" in the sense that it's the most expensive or best built pack in the world. You need something that fits, and carries the gear you want to take with you, comfortably, without chafing, soreness or endless shifting of the load - the more years old you are, the more critical it is to get that pack to fit well. Your size and weight do not matter in fit. The distance between your iliac crest and the 5th cervical vertebrae is the key factor in pack sizing. See this page to understand this better.

McHale, by the way, does custom made backpacks and are highly regarded, so would be a closer match to "top of the line" than the mass manufactured stuff at REI. BUT, you do not necessarily need a custom pack to find a comfortable and serviceable pack - I have three packs that I paid 100-150 for (apiece) that work well for the various kinds of trips I take.

Which brings me to the next tip: sometimes the best backpack is two or three backpacks. If you go out in winter, for example, you'll probably want something larger than a three season pack, to accommodate the different gear list you need for cold and snowy trips.

There is not going to be a "best brand" - that depends on where and what you are doing, and what style fits you best. Totally personalized. There are no shortcuts for finding a pack that works for you. Take the Osprey packs Glenn mentioned - for me they are a hideous torture device that dig into my hips and leave me feeling like tenderized steak at the end of a hike. Yet there are lots of people who wear those Osprey packs comfortably for miles.
_________________________
"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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#158072 - 11/30/11 05:46 PM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Lifeoutside4all]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Lots of info for the beginning backpacker about backpack selection, gear and other aspects of backpacking is on the home page of this site, left-hand column.

One thing not mentioned (unless I missed it) in the excellent advice already given here is that the pack needs to support the weight you expect to carry. That's of course one big reason (other than volume) for getting your pack last. Manufacturers' websites will state the maximum weight the pack can carry. Sometimes this number is a bit optimistic, which is why it's important to try on the pack with all your gear inside, including water and the equivalent of a week's food. There's a lot of difference in the feel of a pack with weights inside and one properly loaded with real gear. Don't just try the pack on, but hike around the store (or your house if you order through the internet) for several hours fully loaded.

One thing to realize--pack fit is almost as individual as shoe fit. What is comfortable for someone else may be painful for you. That's why many of us won't recommend a certain brand over another. I can't recommend the one I use and love because it has been discontinued. Its closest equivalent is the Six Moon Designs Starlite, with the "optional" (mandatory, IMHO) stays added. This is not a pack for loads much over 30 lbs., though.

Unless you plan to drag your pack around on the ground or toss it off a cliff, there's no reason to get one of those "bomber" packs. All a really heavy pack will do is weigh you down. You do want a good quality pack, though, so you probably want to avoid the cheap packs sold in big-box discount stores. You really should find a local outfitter with experience in fitting packs, even if you have to drive a long way to do it.

_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#158075 - 11/30/11 06:49 PM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: OregonMouse]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
One strategy is to rent or borrow the model of interest to you and give it a tryout of a weekend or so. Almost any pack you will find at a specialty hiking shop (not your generic sporting goods/big box store) will be constructed well enough to last for many years. As others have said, fit is very much an individual matter.

You are likely to wind up with several packs, covering your spectrum of uses - typically a smallish day pack, something bigger for longer backpacks, and possibly something even bigger for extended expeditions. I have one pack, ruggedly built of heavier materials,that I employ for fieldwork, where it is often used rather roughly in ways that my recreational packs do not experience.

When you find a good one, it will easily last for ten or more years. Even relatively cheap packs today are surprisingly well built.

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#158078 - 11/30/11 07:17 PM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: lori]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
But, Lori, why would the rest of us do the usual when you do it so well? (And that's genuinely meant as a compliment.)

One minor quibble: your body weight can have an effect on fit, in cases where you're abundantly overweight. The extra girth around your waist will affect the hipbelt size and the ability to use it properly to put weight on your hips; it usually means there's additional thickness in your chest and shoulders that will force the shoulder straps into awkward fits in your armpits, etc. I hiked with such a person a couple of weeks ago; he was stuck with such a fit, and was a new backpacker. He didn't have an incredibly comfortable day, but I'll give him credit for trying - and he said he's working at getting the weight off, and will be motivated because he had such a good time that he wants to continue.

I couldn't agree more about fit being idiosyncratic, even within brands. Not only are Gregory packs generally a torture device for me, but within the Osprey line, the Talon, Exos, and Atmos series are total misses - while the Aether and Kestrel series are home runs. (Edit 12/2/11: Minor correction - the Talon and Exos series are total misses; I have an Atmos 50, and can make it work, but the lack of an adjustable suspension is a real negative.)


Edited by Glenn (12/02/11 07:14 AM)

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#158080 - 11/30/11 07:28 PM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Glenn]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
What I should have said weight has nothing to do with frame size. It obviously has a lot to do with hip belt and strap size... which is why we should all be grateful to brands like Granite Gear and Osprey for having swappable harnesses on many of their packs.

Some Gregory packs work for me, some don't. I tried Deuter packs and the fit was good but the deal breaker was the shoulder straps - they were too close together at the top of the pack, resulting in chafing along my neck. Over the miles that would drive me nuts.
_________________________
"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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#158087 - 11/30/11 09:22 PM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: lori]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I almost settled on a Deuter ACT Zero 60+10; the fit was great, it wasn't overly heavy, and had a perfect feature set for my needs. However, it was too large for my gear - I couldn't (wouldn't) fill it up. (I think you made that point earlier.)

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#158112 - 12/01/11 08:43 AM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Glenn]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By Glenn
Just to stir the pot: External frame packs are making a comeback, in the form of the Osprey Atmos/Aura and Exos packs. They are very high-tech e-frames, but e-frames none the less.

(Talk about painting a target on my back.) smile


This could be another thread. It might get quite lively. But I seem to be the only external frame fan. I also like internal frame, so I get two targets.

I prefer modern combat boots, too.

Maybe we just prefer what we grew up with.


Edited by Gershon (12/01/11 08:48 AM)
_________________________
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#158113 - 12/01/11 09:07 AM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Gershon]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I'm with you. I am AC-DC with respect to packs. What I like is the rig that is suitable for the task at hand. Externals are great, especially for heavy irregular loads, but they do not work as well when off trail, especially in rocky situations. I only tried to use an external once on a trail in Canyon de Chelly. Some of the trails there range up to 5.9s in climbing difficulty, and you definitely don't want to contact the rock with a rigid external frame when you are trying for the next handhold.

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#158115 - 12/01/11 09:52 AM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Gershon]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Before I have to take too many shots, let me say that the Atmos series is extremely well-done, and is much more tailored than the old Camp Trails e-frames I used to use. The Atmos 50 still has that annoying habit of moving in the opposite direction when you turn quickly, but it is not nearly as noticeable as the old-tech packs. It does carry a load well, and is fairly comfortable. However, it is not as easy to store inside the tent as my Kestrel, and I find that the Atmos does bounce a bit when I walk, as opposed to the Kestrel which snuggles up against me. But those are minor quibbles, and do not affect the overall usability of the pack.

The one thing I don't like is that the Atmos does not have an adjustable harness. My torso length is fairly compatible with the pack, but I still prefer the more precise fit I get with the Kestrel.

The Exos series has the same design features as the Atmos, with one additional shortcoming: the suspension has been pared down to save weight, and my loads typically overwhelm it, resulting in slippage and the hipbelt folding over.

I can use the Atmos, but prefer the Kestrel; however, I have a friend who loves his Atmos.

But the trampoline back and the visible frame with its distinct corners and two curved crossbars make it an external frame pack, even though the packbag is more like an internal frame.


Edited by Glenn (12/02/11 07:16 AM)

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#158116 - 12/01/11 10:08 AM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Glenn]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
I have one of these and two other similar ones from the same company. I really like them.

My style is to stay on trails, so that probably makes a difference.


Edited by Gershon (12/01/11 10:10 AM)
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#158117 - 12/01/11 10:45 AM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Gershon]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
The Classics never go out of stye - reminds me of the Adjustable II and McKinleys I used to have.

I never had any real trouble with the Adjustable II when going off-trail. The u-shaped bar that connected the two sides, at the top, was removable (and was actually an add-on you purchased separately from the pack), which meant that the great limb-grabbing feature of the pack was de-activated.

The only time off-trail ever cause a problem was when my Thermarest (rolled long, not folded in half, and placed under the top flap because there was no bar to lash it to) got snatched through the stuff sack cord loop. Had to backtrack half a mile to find it, dangling neatly from the tree limb. The lesson I learned from that was not to leave stuff sack cords tied in a loop - untie them, and tie a knot in the end of each string, eliminating the loop that would snag stuff.

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#158118 - 12/01/11 11:13 AM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: oldranger]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
Originally Posted By oldranger
I'm with you. I am AC-DC with respect to packs. What I like is the rig that is suitable for the task at hand. Externals are great, especially for heavy irregular loads, but they do not work as well when off trail, especially in rocky situations. I only tried to use an external once on a trail in Canyon de Chelly. Some of the trails there range up to 5.9s in climbing difficulty, and you definitely don't want to contact the rock with a rigid external frame when you are trying for the next handhold.


If you are climbing 5.9; aren't you climbing without the pack, and hoisting it up after you later? Were you really climbing 5.9 with an external frame pack on your back? Yow!
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balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#158121 - 12/01/11 11:26 AM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: balzaccom]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
Hey balzaccom,

What is the rating of the Papago Wall in the Grand Canyon?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-nakir2XIM

I have climbed it with full pack.
_________________________
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."
Yogi Berra

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#158122 - 12/01/11 11:55 AM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Glenn]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
I seem to be moving more to externals. Maybe I just have never had a good internal.
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#158126 - 12/01/11 12:48 PM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: balzaccom]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Absolutely not! My only time with an external in Canyon de Chelly was descending a much more tranquil trail, which did however have some overhanging rock faces. The abrupt contact of the frame of my venerable Kelty just once convinced me that a softer internal pack was the only way to go.

Most of the currently used toe and hand hold trails in de Chelly are class four at their most difficult. Things get interesting when you look at the older prehistoric trails which have not been updated by the Navajo; these get up into 5.8 and 5.9. I looked at one which I never attempted. It ran up the lip of a large rock shelter at a fairly steep angle - tiny hand and foot holds, no cracks for protection and the opportunity to crater into the canyon below if you slipped. The only sane way to do it would be with some sort of bolt ladder, which is out of the question - this is a National Monument, after all. Not to say that I never fixed a bolt in de Chelly, but only very discreetly.

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#158130 - 12/01/11 01:20 PM Re: What is a good Backpacking Brand and why? [Re: Gershon]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Gershon wrote:
Quote:
"But I seem to be the only external frame fan. I also like internal frame, so I get two targets.
I prefer modern combat boots, too.
Maybe we just prefer what we grew up with.
"

Perhaps it's simple ignorance. It's been a lot of years since I've carried an external frame pack, and I've never owned one (well, apart from the level of 'ownage' that occurs between a soldier and his military pack). So maybe there's something wonderful out there that I'm just unaware of.

I just can't think of what would make me even want to try one, however; I'm quite happy with an internal frame pack, and on almost any trip I like to have the option to walk at least short distances off trail, or do a bit of modest scrambling where that makes sense --- and have the weight of the pack less likely to put me off balance. Perhaps it's a misunderstanding on my part, but my sense is that external frame packs only make sense for folks that carry heavier loads that I'll ever again be inclined to suffer under.

In terms of prefering what we grew up with: I certainly don't miss combat boots either!! Dunno about 'modern' ones --- surprisingly, we thought we lived in the 'modern' world back in the 70's and 80's, but it turns out that we were wrong. ;-)
I walked (and ran) quite a bit back in the day in standard combat boots, jungle boots, and I still have a pair of German Army luftlaender stiefeln (paratroop boots) that I liked better than the U.S. options. I can't imagine wearing any of that crap now (!).

Each to their own, however. And I certainly acknowledge that in certain situations, there might well be a modern external frame pack that would be the ideal piece of gear.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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avalibility of thin ti rod
by the-gr8t-waldo
01/26/17 04:45 PM
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