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#169686 - 09/23/12 02:08 AM what's a little bigger than UL, but not much?
mobikemike Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/23/12
Posts: 3
Basic question: Where should I look (e.g., what brands) for the best packs for backpacking when I can't quite fit into UL gear volume or weight, but still want a light pack?

Details: I'm coming back to backpacking after many years absence (I was obsessed with climbing and bc skiing and left backpacking behind in favor of adrenaline-fueled backcountry adventures). Now I've got a couple kids, and am emerging from the dark days of toddler-hood and stoked to expose them to backpacking, and finding new joy in it myself.

Totally sold on the UL thing, but our packs remains the piece of the puzzle I'm not sure how to navigate.

Splashed out on a pretty good looking (to me) UL kit - not extreme gram counting yet, but slashing my pack weight *dramatically*, even WITH the kids stuff. Stoked, feels like a new lease on life! But putting it in a 10 lb. north face pack that never fit right to being with is just a crime smile

Picked up a Gossamer Gear Gorilla on the advice of a friend, but found that its volume is just not sufficient for me to carry the bulk of our family gear (two little kids, getting rapidly bigger!) and where bear cannisters are required forget about it!

The best I find at REI seem to be Osprey packs that seem well made but still overbuilt to me after lofting the Gossamer stuff. So, that's a jump from ~1.5 pounds to ~4+ pounds. Is there a middle ground between these two? Something with gossamer-level materials and refinement, but that is designed for comfort with more bulk and weight?

Or if there is only a step change, happy to have this info as well.

Is this clear what I'm asking, or am I totally out of line? smile

Many thanks for any pointers, including to other threads.

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#169687 - 09/23/12 02:35 AM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: mobikemike]
Franco Offline
member

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 998
Loc: Australia
Not out of line at all and not far from a possible solution either.
Scroll up at the top of this page and you will see a banner for ULA.
Click on that one and have a look at the Circuit and the Catalyst

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#169688 - 09/23/12 06:50 AM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: mobikemike]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 656
Loc: Upstate NY
The Gorilla is one of GG's smaller packs. Perhaps check out the Mariposa?

The Mariposa is in my stable of packs. I picked one up used for $70. It was a previous years model and could barely tell it was used. Watch classified sections of outdoor forums like here, be patient and you can get good deals.

As was mentioned, the ULA line of packs are also good.
_________________________
http://ducttapeadk.blogspot.com

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#169689 - 09/23/12 07:41 AM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: mobikemike]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1386
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Take a look at Granite Gear. (Osprey packs are good, however.)

Six Moon Designs (part of the "cottage industry" segment) makes good packs; don't know if there are any with enough capacity, though.

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#169696 - 09/23/12 11:01 AM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: Glenn Roberts]
ETSU Pride Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 931
Loc: Knoxville, TN
http://www.golite.com/packs-and-luggage/backcountry-ultralite

I've never used Go Lite but a 70 liter pack for 1.15 pounds, you'll be hard pressed to find another pack of its size and weight and current price on the website.

I use Granite Gear and they're proud of their gears (it expensive), but they are comfortable and light.
_________________________
It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.-- Horace Kephart

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#169698 - 09/23/12 11:26 AM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: ETSU Pride]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 656
Loc: Upstate NY
The golite jam 70 is 1-lb 15-oz. Still a sub 2 lb pack. I have the version back when they called it the pinnacle. I also got that used for less than $100. It packs and carries differently than the mariposa. Both have their purpose and I use them both depending on the trip. The maripoas has a beefier hipbelt and the shoulder straps are wider which is more comfortable for me.
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http://ducttapeadk.blogspot.com

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#169700 - 09/23/12 02:55 PM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: mobikemike]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
You could look at a GoLite Quest pack. It runs about 3 lbs. 5 oz. fully equipped, but you can remove the top pocket, the stays, or the whole framesheet & stays. This lets you drop it closer to 2 1/2 lbs if you wish. The capacity (if I recall correctly) is in the range of 4000 cu.in.

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#169701 - 09/23/12 03:47 PM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: mobikemike]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Once you have the rest of your kit sorted, only then can you decide your maximum load and settle on pack capacity.

If you're there, then there's a dividing line between frame and frameless separate from volume. Over some unknowable weight (based on the individual, not some all-knowing table) a frame is very helpful. Frameless packs can work with a surprising amount of weight if they fit perfectly.

Finally, a big pack, especially a frameless, needs load control to reduce volume as food is consumed in order to maintain structural integrity. Ironically, a lighter load in a saggy pack can be less comfortable than the same pack stuffed to the gills.

I'll suggest trying every pack you can get your hands on, loaded, and evaluate fit and flexibility and fit.

Happy shopping,
_________________________
--Rick

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#169704 - 09/23/12 06:21 PM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: Rick_D]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
First, Rick is correct--get the rest of your gear first. The pack has to fit you, fit your gear and be comfortable for you with the gear in it.

Several of the "cottage" companies are making gear for extra big and tall folks, who obviously can't use the "one size fits all" used by a number of mainstream companies and REI's house brands. Being short and stout myself, I'm at the other end of the spectrum--many packs aren't made in a short enough torso length. So I can sympathize!

There is a blog by a well known ultralight hiker, "Jolly Green Giant," who does keep a close eye the big and tall market--he's 6'5" and 280 lbs. Here is his recent entry about the 2012 Gossamer Gear Mariposa now being made in extra-large for tall folks.

A number of the "cottage" companies will also customize packs to fit. Extra charge, of course.

EDIT, LATER: Do check the manufacturers' websites for the maximum recommended load. From my own experience with both children and grandchildren, "UL" and sherpa-ing for young kids don't go together 100%. For one thing, each kid needs a complete change of clothes--if there's any water around, they'll get wet! You'll need a large capacity pack and even with lightweight gear will probably be carrying 35-40 pounds. At 4-5 years old, the kids won't be able to carry more than a pint water bottle, a jacket, rain gear and snacks.


Edited by OregonMouse (09/23/12 07:46 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#169706 - 09/23/12 07:33 PM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: ETSU Pride]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By ETSU Pride
http://www.golite.com/packs-and-luggage/backcountry-ultralite

I've never used Go Lite but a 70 liter pack for 1.15 pounds, you'll be hard pressed to find another pack of its size and weight and current price on the website.


Warning - just because it is a 70 liter pack does not mean it will carry weight. A friend of mine had about 35 lbs in hers, it was a miserable trip for her. Make sure that 70 liters is bulky and *light* if you try it.
_________________________
"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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#169709 - 09/23/12 08:14 PM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: lori]
Franco Offline
member

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 998
Loc: Australia
Good point...
There are a few largish packs that are not designed for weight but volume.
I could be wrong but I don't think that Golite has a frame and in my personal opinion past 25 lbs or so you need a frame .
I have a ULA AMP (frameless) that holds my fruit and veggies from the market, that is often up to 30lbs and it is OK for the 2 miles or so back home but I would not think of anything like that sort of weight in there for the trail.
Conversely my ULA Circuit does rather well up to 35 lbs , as it is rated on the ULA web site (from memory...)
Note that the max weight recommended for that Golite is 30 lbs.

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#169737 - 09/24/12 12:23 PM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: mobikemike]
verber Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/04
Posts: 269
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
there was a market survey done at backpackinglight.com about ultralight gear haulers... but it's only available to people with a subscription over there. Several of the packs I have listed on my light weight packs would be worth a look. I would second people suggesting checking out ULA. When I was playing "sherpa" for the family, I found the Six Moon Designs StarLite / Traveler with stays works pretty well. If they Gorilla is working well for you and is just too small the Mariposa would be worth a look. I have no experience with it, but I have heard good things about the Elemental Horizons Aquilo and Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus.

As others have mentioned, there are real limits to how much weight you can carry in a frameless pack. Depending on the person, frameless is comfortable to 20lb +/- 5lb (I am in the no more than 15lb camp), minimalist "frame" - form or plastic frame sheets / very basic stays, etc 30lb +/- 5lb. Above that, you really want a pack with a well design frame and suspension system which in the best of cases is going to weight 3-4lb.

--Mark

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#169758 - 09/25/12 02:17 AM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: mobikemike]
mobikemike Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/23/12
Posts: 3
All,
many thanks for the great thoughts.
Lots to think about here.
This could get expensive trying the many available options! smile
Sounds like I need to make a spreadsheet and do some thinking about loads, but that flexibilty to grow with the kids and carry bear cannisters at times means I might want to get a standard framed pack.
I guess my inclination is not to geek out on it too much and just get the osprey if it fits. But now that I've been infected with the UL ideal, it's harder to do that somehow...

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#169767 - 09/25/12 10:44 AM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: mobikemike]
dkramalc Offline
member

Registered: 09/19/03
Posts: 1070
Loc: California
I second the recommendation for Granite Gear packs - lighter than the Osprey and very comfortable, even for heavier loads.
_________________________
dk

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#169800 - 09/25/12 11:15 PM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: dkramalc]
verber Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/04
Posts: 269
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
I used to love Granite Gear's light packs and regularly recommended them, but I am not so thrilled with the current generation. Their packs got more features (which is nice), bit in the process they saved weight skimping in the suspension. The replacement for the Vapor Trail (Crown VC) and the Nimbus (Blaze AC) can't carrying the same amount of weight as their predecessors.

--Mark

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#169844 - 09/26/12 07:31 PM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: verber]
dkramalc Offline
member

Registered: 09/19/03
Posts: 1070
Loc: California
That's good to know, Mark - thanks, I had no idea. I was speaking from the standpoint of my old Nimbus Ozone (guess I will hang on to that pack!).
_________________________
dk

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#169858 - 09/27/12 02:47 AM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: mobikemike]
marry Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/25/12
Posts: 4
Hello guys, what’s up here?
To have a look at the Circuit and the Catalyst,Scroll up at the top of this page and you will see a banner for ULA.
Click on that......
................................ SRORTSEQUIPMENT


Edited by packlite (09/27/12 10:46 AM)

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#169880 - 09/27/12 04:22 PM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: mobikemike]
JPete Offline
member

Registered: 05/28/09
Posts: 304
Loc: Eastern Ontario
mobikemike,

I use a customized version of the Mountain Laurel Designs Burn. It's rated, I believe, to 18, maybe 20 lbs, but I used it once for 26 and had no trouble at all (just one day, but a fairly long one). This suggests the suspension is very good.

Ron (Bell) is very good about meeting customer needs, so if you give him the volume you need, I believe he can build a pack to carry it at a very reasonable weight. My slightly oversized Burn weighs just a whisker under a pound (I removed a couple of things, original weight was just over a pound).

best, jcp


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#170001 - 09/30/12 11:27 PM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: JPete]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
mobilmike...
Some really good advice already, but you've left out some important details. Just how old and big are your young children. Can they carry 4lbs. each all day? 2? I'm assuming if they are 4 to 5 years old, you're only talking a couple of miles, tops? Depending on how focused they can stay? You mentioned going into country where bear cannisters are mandatory, so I'm assuming (maybe wrongly) if bears are a possible threat, little kids will be sleeping in the tent with you. Bigger tent - more weight. Will a spouse/partner/other adult be hiking with you?
O.K., it's already been stated that you should take a hard look at what gear you'll actually need. Look at that gear, and see if you can lighten it up some.
Are you going to camp at a base camp, possibly a state or national park camp, and take day hikes? In that case you can take anything you want, put it in a tote and throw it in the trunk, SUV, truck, whatever.
So, now that people have suggested taking a sincere look at your necessary gear, also think about (realistically) what kind of trip you're taking, your children's physical abilities, any special needs, that might mandate they stay close to a base camp (medical maybe). Maybe it's a bit to soon to be thinking UL while the youngsters are small, even though you can still cut every corner possible. Maybe you can buy them appropriate sized day bags, and stuff the very light but bulky items in them.
I kind of doubt you're going to be able to cook, heat water, etc with a 3 or 4 ounce stove plus fuel, for an adult and two children. Are your kids prepared to eat rehydrated meals? Oatmeal in the morning, yes, but those high energy little folks can get pretty hungry at night...you'd know this about your kids better than anyone.
I'm just not seeing UL and the type of camping/hiking you'll be doing with small children fitting together. If you're only going to be a few hundred yards or less from the vehicle, then you have no worries. I'm a little sleepy and loopy, but do you see where I'm going here. If you plan to backpack in, camp then pack out, I'd say just use your large pack, because I think you're going to be humping the bulk of the gear anyway, unless the spouse/partner/friend can split the load with you.

Invest in the UL stuff a little later, or now, for trips when the kids are at Grandma's.

Actually, I still haven't hit UL status myself, although I've been learning to cut weight over the last 15 years, more as I age, which is why I joined this Forum. But I stil need a comfy bag, and pad, and sometimes If I want to go for a week or so, a pack large enough to stuff everything in, regardless of how light I get it.

Good luck, and have a great time introducing your children to the outdoors. If they love it now, then they'll probably love it for life.

J.

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#177249 - 05/22/13 01:21 AM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: mobikemike]
mobikemike Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/23/12
Posts: 3
All:
I'm dusting this thread off.
Last season I ended up suffering another couple trips with my ancient North Face Snow Leopard. It's time for that to end.

I ordered one of each pack REI carries in the 55-75 L capacity range. Selections from ArcTerryx, Osprey, and Gregory.

They all seem so overbuilt! I am convinced by this forum that more suspension is worth carrying weight for, but damn these things all have so many frickin' zippers and dividers and pockets. Just give me a plain sack of light-ish material and a few lash points or mesh pockets like the Gossamer designs, mated with the more robust suspension.

Does this make any sense? Is there really a reason to have such complicated pouch designs? Are there any Euro brands that might have such a sensibility of robust waist and shoulder straps plus simple, high-volume other parts? Am I smoking crack?

And thanks again for all the thoughts so far! smile


Edited by mobikemike (05/22/13 01:21 AM)

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#177250 - 05/22/13 01:23 AM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: mobikemike]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By mobikemike


They all seem so overbuilt! I am convinced by this forum that more suspension is worth carrying weight for, but damn these things all have so many frickin' zippers and dividers and pockets. Just give me a plain sack of light-ish material and a few lash points or mesh pockets like the Gossamer designs, mated with the more robust suspension.


Sounds like ULA to me!
_________________________
"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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#177256 - 05/22/13 07:50 AM Re: what's a little bigger than UL, but not much? [Re: mobikemike]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1386
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Deuter. Particularly the ACT Light and ACT Zero series. (I just made the switch from an Osprey Kestrel 48 to a Deuter ACT Zero 50+15, for exactly the reasons you discussed: more suspension, fewer zippers and gadgets.)

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