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#193551 - 02/08/16 10:22 PM 38-50L Pack Recommendation
Rosko Offline
newbie

Registered: 02/08/16
Posts: 5
Loc: VA
This is my first post, I'll try to be brief.

I have been hiking with a 65L Teton Sports pack, it was my first; I've had it for a few years. I have been on trips as long as seven days with it, but the weight and bulk of my cheap, thrown-together gear finally got frustrating. This past year, I have saved up a sizable fund to revamp all of my old gear, my previous base weight of 35-40 pounds has been drastically reduced with lighter weight equipment.

Long story short, I need a new pack to contain all of this gear, also all of the outfitters within a reasonable distance from my home do not carry packs in the capacity I am looking at. (they have 20-30L daypacks and 50-80L packs, but nothing in the medium range)... I have checked all 7 outfitters within an hour and a half of my city. My only option is to order online, and without being able to look at the pack in-person, I would like some extra feedback.

To give you an idea the capacity I need, here is my basic gear list, some new, some older:
Shelter: Big Agnes Seedhouse SL 1-- small stuff sack
Sleep Bag: North Face Furnace 35 (down bag)-- compression sack
Sleep Pad: cut 3/4 length Thermorest Z-Lite
Cook Kit: Crux Tera Solo Pot (stove, canister, lighter, knife and spoon fit in pot.)
Platypus 2L Hydration pack
Two Smart Water bottles
First Aid Kit, about the size of a bulky zip-lock sandwich bag
Sunglasses
Lightweight head light
Misc. stuff like: toilet paper, small container of matches, phone, compass, map, etc.

Clothes:
Marmot Precip rain shell
Marmot Ajax packable down jacket
Under Armor synthetic long base layers (leggings and long sleeve shirt.)
Light synthetic short sleeve shirt
Zip-off hiking pants
One pair of extra hiking socks
One pair of heavy wool socks
Knit beanie

While certainly not ultra-light, this gear rattles around in my 65L pack, on my last trip, I stuffed it with a lightweight tarp to fill the empty space and make it more tolerable.

I want a lightweight pack with the least amount of bulk possible. I want to be able to hold enough food for a max of 5 days (I have access to a dehydrator). My sleeping pad will go outside my pack, so its' bulk doesn't need to be taken into account, but I do need a way to strap it on. I also do not want to sacrifice a decent suspension system, it is worth an extra 8-10 ounces for more support on my back, that said, I don't want it to weigh much more than 3 pounds. Less is even better if the suspension system isn't compromised. I have a torso length of 16.5-17 inches, I am 5'6" 145 lbs with an athletic build.

I like my friends Osprey pack, but I am open minded to different brands. I have been looking at the Osprey Exos 48 and really like the look of the Osprey Talon 44,

I have also looked at the North Face Shadow 40+50, it seems well suited and would stay taught while food supplies are exhausted, it just doesn't have side pockets for my smart water bottles, which is how I treat my water (Iodine Tabs).

If anyone has had experience with these packs or something similar, or could point me in the right direction to something that would suit my needs, please help! Thank you for your time, your experience means everything!

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#193552 - 02/08/16 10:54 PM Re: 38-50L Pack Recommendation [Re: Rosko]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1726
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Take a look at the Elemental Horizons Aquilo and Kalais. I have used both of them and they are the most comfortable packs I have ever used. The two packs share the same suspension system and weigh 35 and 32 oz respectively in medium. The Aquilo is the larger pack and works best with a bear canister. The Kalais is more compact and is good with gear like that you have listed. I used the Kalais on the JMT in 2013 and didn't feel that it was up to carrying the BV-500 I used; too small! I had to pack it carefully and even then it was a squeeze with my gear. I used the Aquilo on my 2014 JMT through and felt it handled the bear can and my gear quite well with its greater volume. The customer service at EH is great and you can customize either pack. Worth a look at any rate.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#193563 - 02/09/16 11:18 AM Re: 38-50L Pack Recommendation [Re: Rosko]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1143
Loc: Washington State, King County
I'm a big fan of ULA packs. These are essentially sold only online, so the company is easy to work with, i.e., don't buy something custom and they have a good return policy if you just don't like it. Generally I find that if I send them an email query, Chris there answers it the same day, and I once ordered a pack from them while I was on a hike and they mailed it to a trail town. You can also call them and just talk things out. You measure your torso length and waist size and at least for folks I know the pack comes out the right size.

To be clear, I have no relationship with ULA, though I might sound like a shill ... :-) I've got a total of 3 of their packs, and am close to replacing one of those with the same model. This one (a "circuit") has about 7000 miles on it, and still works fine overall, just showing some minor wear here and there so that I'll be more confident on longer trips in future with a new pack.

So from that I can say that the durability is very good, yet these packs are pretty light and have IMO the right mix of features and ... lack of features (to keep weight down). You might or might not agree, but among long distance backpackers ULA is a pretty popular choice, FWIW.

http://www.ula-equipment.com/

Gads, maybe I should ask them for a commission ... seriously, I just like their products.

One caution on lighter weight packs: when you compare the size/volume of different packs, have a care about *where* the volume comes from. Some packs get all or virtually all of the volume from the main pack body, but for lighter packs the total volume listed often includes a lot of volume of things stored in external mesh, with the actual main pack body being a subset of that. Fine so long as you know what's going on. The better companies (ULA included) break these numbers out when listing the specs.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#193569 - 02/09/16 03:04 PM Re: 38-50L Pack Recommendation [Re: BrianLe]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6370
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
If I were replacing my current pack (I'm not, but the model was discontinued in 2006, so if it should fall apart I can't replace it), I'd look at both ULA and Elemental Horizons before trying any other packs. Both these firms have excellent customer service and will work with you to come up with the pack you want.

Before ordering, be sure to have all your gear on hand and ready to pack, including the equivalent in weight/bulk of a week's food and a day's water. When the pack arrives, load it up and take a "hike" around the house and, if the weather is good, a longer hike around the neighborhood while the pack is still returnable Be sure to leave the tags on and keep the pack clean. Do this before the return deadline (check the maker's website). Yes, you'll have to pay return shipping, but it's more important to get a pack that fits you and fits your gear!


Edited by OregonMouse (02/09/16 03:06 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#193574 - 02/09/16 06:05 PM Re: 38-50L Pack Recommendation [Re: Rosko]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1337
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I have both the Exos 48 and 58 (the 58 would be for cold weather or extended trips, where my load is bulkier.) I normally leave the trailhead with my 48 weighing about 18-20 pounds, total, for a weekend. I love the Exos. Supportive suspension, comfortable carry, nice features but (except for trekking pole storage gimmick) no unnecessary features or extra compartments.

Not so much the Talon - the suspension is a bit too light, and the hipbelt tends to fold over for me at loads of 25 pounds or more. I've used it, and passed it along to some poor unsuspecting Boy Scout. smile

Our loads look very similar (I use different brands, but the general outlines are similar - I'd guess about 14-16 pounds before food & water?) However, I'm not sure about bulk. I'd recommend that you take the gear in your list, filled water bottles, plus 5 days worth of food and any extra clothing (and maybe an insulated jacket) and go to an outfitter that carries the Exos packs, and load one up to see how you like it (both carry and organization) and which capacity you need.

As far as VA outfitters - REI carries the Exos. There's also an outfitter in Norfolk called Wild River Outfitters. One of my former Scouts, Mike, is an assistant manager there, and would be glad to let you do that; he's very knowledgeable about gear, and an all-around good guy. (He's also an AT thru-hiker, and ex-SEAL.) His store stocks a lot of good gear, including Osprey packs (at least they did the last time we talked, a few weeks back) and probably some others. If you want a brief intro to him, Google "watch mike hike" to link to his videos of some of his hikes.


Edited by Glenn Roberts (02/09/16 06:30 PM)

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#193575 - 02/09/16 07:55 PM Re: 38-50L Pack Recommendation [Re: Pika]
Rosko Offline
newbie

Registered: 02/08/16
Posts: 5
Loc: VA
Thank you for the recommendation, I checked it out. The Kalais looks like the bare minimum of what I'll need, which is definitely what I'm shooting for. They're just a touch out of my price range, I am certain that the quality makes it worth the money however. I'm going to make the 2 hour drive to my nearest REI sometime this week, if no conventional gear will fit my style, my next step will be small workshops like Elemental Horizons. I'll contact them first if it comes to that, the streamlined design would be perfect for what I do.

Thank you again!

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#193576 - 02/09/16 08:00 PM Re: 38-50L Pack Recommendation [Re: Glenn Roberts]
Rosko Offline
newbie

Registered: 02/08/16
Posts: 5
Loc: VA
This was extremely helpful! It's comforting to hear this from someone with similar gear. From my own research online, the Exos looked like a good fit, I'll make the two hour drive to REI sometime this week and check one out along with plenty of other packs. Thank you for the recommendation in Norfolk as well, he sounds like an awesome guy, it's a 5-6 hour drive for me however. If I am ever in that area, I will definitely pay his shop a visit though!

Thank you for the advice! I'm a little more confident now

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#193577 - 02/09/16 08:05 PM Re: 38-50L Pack Recommendation [Re: BrianLe]
Rosko Offline
newbie

Registered: 02/08/16
Posts: 5
Loc: VA
Thank you for the reply, I've never heard of ULA. The catalyst actually looks pretty sick, haha. It is a little out of my price range however, if I can't find any conventional pack to suit my needs, I will definitely put ULA and other cottage shops into consideration.

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#193578 - 02/09/16 08:09 PM Re: 38-50L Pack Recommendation [Re: OregonMouse]
Rosko Offline
newbie

Registered: 02/08/16
Posts: 5
Loc: VA
Thank you for the reply, that is great advice (loading the pack up after delivery.) If I have to order online, I will definately follow these instructions, I might even wrap my gear in saran wrap to keep the product clean! This makes me feel better about ordering packs online, I'll make sure to go over any store's return policy before purchasing.

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#193583 - 02/10/16 10:12 AM Re: 38-50L Pack Recommendation [Re: Rosko]
JPete Offline
member

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

Rosco,
If you come to consider the smaller workshops, seriously consider Mountain Laurel Designs in Roanoke. I have one of their packs that weighs just under a pound and carries beautifully. I usually have about 14 or 15 pounds at start, but I once had it up to 25 and it still carried well. If you are within reach of Roanoke, Ron Bell will even fit you as he did me. I find his gear (I have several items) very well designed, durable and quite reasonably priced. As with Brian Le, I have no involvement with MLD, just a very satisfied customer.
Best, jcp

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#193597 - 02/10/16 04:52 PM Re: 38-50L Pack Recommendation [Re: Rosko]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6370
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Forget the saran wrap--one big tangle--I hate the stuff (I never use it even in the kitchen) because it ends up as one big wad. Try lining the pack with a garbage bag, something a lot of us do anyway to keep the contents dry.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#193598 - 02/10/16 05:12 PM Re: 38-50L Pack Recommendation [Re: OregonMouse]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 627
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Or, a trash compactor bag works too. It's heavier but also tougher.

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#193599 - 02/10/16 06:40 PM Re: 38-50L Pack Recommendation [Re: 4evrplan]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6370
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
True, but I haven't been able to find any trash compactor bags that aren't perfumed! I don't know if the perfume attracts bears, but it sure repels me!

I just get the thickest garbage bags available (currently Hefty), inspect them daily and patch with duct tape when needed.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#193605 - 02/11/16 11:13 AM Re: 38-50L Pack Recommendation [Re: OregonMouse]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1143
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"True, but I haven't been able to find any trash compactor bags that aren't perfumed!"

When I want a durable liner bag, I use a 3-mil contractor bag. The ones I have currently are "Husky Contractor Clean-up bags" that I think I got from one of the big box hardware store chains. These are definitely not perfumed, and hold up very very well. Downside, of course, is that they're heavier.

So I use them sometimes. For me, it's a flexible thing depending on the trip type and length.

Sometimes no liner and no pack cover, sometimes (very light, cuben) pack cover only, sometimes a thin/light/cheap yard waste bag if the trip is relatively short (definitely not durable) and not expecting a deluge, etc.

For my recent Florida trip I used the heavier contractor bag because (1) I was sometimes wading in swamp, to include once about waist deep, plus there was the infrequent steady hard rain that will defeat any pack cover, and
(2) for long distance 1-way trips (fly into one airport, fly home from another) the contractor bag is part of my checked-bag solution to keep my pack from getting torn up. I.e., have pocket knife and trekking poles so have to check baggage; put the pack inside the contractor bag with just the top exposed (so they can inspect, and so I can attach a name tag), using cord and duct tape to keep the bag in place. This has worked fine for me.

The contractor bags will last for months as a liner. They're relatively huge (too tall), or so they seem on first inspection --- and of course depending on your overall pack volume and volume of gear carried. But I don't trim them; it's great to have enough to be able to fold over on the top. My water bladder sits on top of the folded-over portion to help keep it sealed up. Last year in Florida I actually had to swim for a bit, so I took some time first to really ratchet things down, and using the contractor bag nothing got wet inside. Somewhat overkill for most weekend trips, however!

Some pack manufacturers sell custom made pack liners. I have no interest; a pack liner gets a lot of wear, will eventually develop holes, so IMO makes more sense to buy something cheap and local, off-the-shelf.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#193624 - 02/12/16 01:30 AM Re: 38-50L Pack Recommendation [Re: 4evrplan]
jimmyb Offline
member

Registered: 09/16/13
Posts: 276
If you are getting down to the nitty gritty in lightening up Nylofume bags are half the weight of compactor bags, unscented and very durable. The size commonly used for pack liners fit well for example in pack similar to an Exos 48. They are used in the exterminating business for bagging items when fumigating. Here is a link for an example. Many BPing sights will occasionally have a member buying in bulk and selling them off at their cost to help others. Thats how I got my hands on a few.

http://quantumtermite.com/nylofume-bags-20

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