My girlfriend and I are planning on going for weekend treks with the possibility of a 3-5 adventure once in a while. The REI Galaxy seems like a good deal for newbies in this range. It's only about a pound more than the UL 60 but with a lot more space and pockets and more durable material. Also, it's cheaper and more spacious than the North Face Terra 60, which is the other pack I was looking at.
Any thoughts on this choice? or recommendations in general?
My advice, Your pack should be the last thing you buy. find your other gear first, pare down your clothing to what you need, find your cooking and sleeping and shelter style, get your gear together, then buy a pack.
Better, yet, do all that and *rent* a stock REI one for a few trips. Then see how much what you really like to carry and use weighs, then you can pick a pack that's right for the load you are carrying, while adding minimal load to yourself.
Personally, I find pockets mostly useless. I use little light stuffsacks or ziplocs inside one big compartment.
I just exchanged my flimsier UL 60 pack (size L) which had a seeam rip, for the newer, more robust Cruise UL 60 which is bigger (taller). I had REI side pockets which I bought & attatched to my old UL 60 for more room. You can do that with the new Cruise version...IF you need to.
Be very careful about adding even 1/2 lb. when you can easily get by with less weight. The new Cruise UL 60 in size large is just right for 3 season backpacking, esp. W/ the added REI pockets for spring & fall, when you tend to carry more. (Get REIs short Fastex buckle 3/8" straps to attatch the pockets top and bottom.)
"There are no comfortable backpacks. Some are just less uncomfortable than others."
Loc: California (southern)
Second the idea of renting a pack before you buy. I bought a Mountainsmith after renting and trying it out on a multi day hike. It has served satisfactorily for fifteen years - mostly for very heavy loads. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
Excellent advice everyone! I didn't even realize one could rent bags. That will definitely be my plan then. Get the top essentials and then start renting some bags I like.
Funny you should mention MountainSmith. I just tried on a couple of their bags yesterday and they were amazingly light for the sturdy design and fabric. But I'm definitely going to do some hands-on testing before purchase.