If so, I'd love to hear about it. I'm quite tempted by the newer packs with ventilated back panels: the Osprey Atmos series, the Gregory Z series, the Deuter AirContact series, etc; however, I'm wondering how much the ventilation really helps keep your back cooler. Also, what are the trade-offs you've found in using a ventilated pack? And do you find the ventilation worth the trade-offs?
I used the Atmos 50 for a while. I would not pick a pack just to get the ventilation feature, but it's okay. The shape is a little harder to load and hydration is a little harder to accomodate. It was as comfortable as any other pack.
Loc: Eastern MA, USA
I think it depends on your sweat tolerance, where you pack, how you load your pack, and how you wear your pack.
Two packs that I have used had pretty good back ventilation: Gregory Z and Moonbow Gearskin.
I keep going back to my Gossamer Gear Mariposa, though, because it is so light. The backside on it is pretty flat. I've had pools of water from sweat accumulate on my sleeping pad, which was also the pack's back pad. If one is a menopausal female hiking in Georgia, NC, VA, etc., in July and August, she should expect to sweat. Period. One thing that makes it worse is stuffing a full water tank (lie a Platypus) into the center back water bladder pocket. Yes, that is what the pocket is made for, but it encourages the pack to round out into the hollow of the user's back. What helped was moving the water baldder to a side pocket and loosening the shoulder straps so the pack hung a bit away from my torso.
Using the pack in winter or in New England in fall and spring, my back did not get as sweaty. So, I'm thinking that in drier and cooler areas, another hiker might not be as concerned about how much ventilation a pack allows. As long as the pack carries its load comfortably, other concerns start to fade.
I use an REI UL cruise and don't have the problem with the back fitting so tight that I sweat. I was thinking of bending the stays for a better fit to the curve of my back but decided to leave them as they are. (didn't want to screw up a new pack) the pack rests against my back in only two places at the top and around the waist belt. I was good in 95 degree temps.
Have an Aura 50 (the atmos for women) and enjoy the ability to jam a bladder in the frame instead of the inside with the bear can mashing it.
However, the "ultralight" nature of the pack means barely any padding on the hips and I end up wearing a fleece shirt around my waist to protect my aging hipbones. Also if not packed very carefully it feels like the pack wants to pull me backward on hills, thanks to the curvature of the frame and the need for a bear can, which only sits in one spot in the pack, near the top with the edge of the lid jammed under the top bar of the frame.
Otherwise this would be a great pack. I sweat like a horse so the mesh ends up soaked, the ventilation doesn't seem to make much difference to me.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
I've had numerous packs with the ventilated back system (UK models, so the exact ones may not be available in the US). My current pack is a Deuter Futura 32.
The disadvantages are: - Weight - they're normally a little heavier - Centre of gravity. This is the main disadvantage if you're using it for something a little more technical such as scrambling or climbing. The back system moves the weight slightly further away from you. Not a problem for most people, though.
My view is that the advantages massively outweigh the disadvantages, although I DO sweat a lot <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> With non-ventilated packs I would always finish a walk with my back totally soaked. Now it's just at the bottom, where the pack makes direct contact. It's also cooler in warm conditions. It's a huge difference in comfort for someone like me, and I would never buy another type of pack again. I guess that it probably wouldn't be such a benefit for someone that runs cool, or sweats less than I do!
I used to have a well ventilated space between my back and pack. I used an MSR frame pack (frame like an external Jan Sport Frame). When my back would get wet from sweat (as it always does) I would get cool. I didn't like the air getting to my back.
I now use a pack (home made) without a ventilated back and I prefer it. The pack bag rests directly against my skin. It keeps me warm when I want it to. When I want a shot of cool air to cool me off I just let the pack tip back a little to let air in.
I think this venting issue is a personal one with no right or wrong answer. You'll have to experiment and see what works for you.
The Atmos 50 has become my default backpack. In the summer, the ventilation is worth every added ounce. The pack is about a .5 to 1 pound heavier than comparable packs, but it carries (on me at least) very comfortably, so I don't mind the extra weight that much. It's a little odd to load, but I figured out the best way on my first day out.
“I keep going back to my Gossamer Gear Mariposa, though, because it is so light. The backside on it is pretty flat. I've had pools of water from sweat accumulate on my sleeping pad,”
I love this pack. However, I have the sweatiest back so I used my Ghost the most (very good ventilation). Then, I ‘fixed’ the Mariposa and now my shirt stays dry <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />. And thus I find myself taking the Mariposa more often.
I use the sit pad as the frame with the bumps into my back. I take out the stays (it fits more comfortable that way). Tucked around the sit pad is a 2.0oz car-drying towel. I am surprised how well that towel keeps the sweat pulled off my shirt. At a rest stop, I feel my shirt and it is dry. The towel is soaked and I wring it out. I use this towel also for showering, and drying my tent.
I also have a golite pinnacle. This doesn’t have a back frame pocket to hold a pad (and thus my towel). So to cure my sweat problem with this pack, I put my pack on and then I ask someone to tuck my towel in between my back and pack. It stays put the whole time (until the next rest stop).
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