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#165964 - 05/18/12 05:22 PM new backpack shopping
orclwzrd Offline
member

Registered: 08/11/09
Posts: 82
Loc: Illinois(I just live here)
So my current backpack is a 3900 cubic inch Alps Mountaineering Orizaba. It's not bad, but weighs in around 4 lbs. I'm looking to lighten up this part of my load. I've lightened up the rest decently for now. I'm trying to compile a list of packs to explore. I'm thinking Granite Gear Crown VC 60, Go Lite Jam, Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus. At least that's the direction I'm thinking. I'm targeting 50-60L for this go round but lighter. I have a 30L pack that I can get all my gear in but then I need another pack for food and water. I'm looking for suggestions on vendors that you like. I know I need to try them and stuff my gear in the pack but I need names to try. This is a project, not something that needs to be done in the next week.

Thanks,
John

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#165965 - 05/18/12 06:11 PM Re: new backpack shopping [Re: orclwzrd]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6765
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Here are some to try:
ULA Equipment (link above)
Six Moon Designs
Hyperlite Mountain Gear
Gossamer Gear
Elemental Horizons
Mountain Laurel Designs

These all make lightweight packs with frames or with removeable stays. They also make frameless packs, but you probably don't want one of those unless your total pack weight is 20 lbs. or less. Some are comfortable with up to 25 lbs. in a frameless pack. I can't carry more than 8 or 9 lbs. without a frame. Fitting a pack is comparable to fitting shoes (everyone is different), with the additional factors that the pack has to fit your gear, fit your body, and ride comfortably on you with your gear/food/water inside. Note that the GoLite Jam is a frameless pack.

With a box with vertical sides, you can measure the approximate volume of your gear by packing in your gear plus the equivalent of food and water, then making the top surface as level as possible. You can then measure length x width x height and come out with volume. If it's in inches, 1 liter equals approximately 60 cubic inches. Approximate is good enough; many pack volumes are not all that accurate since there is no set standard.

Before ordering, be sure to check the manufacturers' websites for the recommended load you want to carry in the pack, and compare it to your total pack weight.

When ordering a pack, you need to expect to pay the shipping charges to send a few back. Have all your gear (including the weight/bulk equivalent of a week's food) ready, load up the pack as soon as it arrives and take a "hike" of an hour or two around the house.

You really should follow the same testing method when trying on a pack in the store.


Edited by OregonMouse (05/18/12 06:13 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#165969 - 05/18/12 10:13 PM Re: new backpack shopping [Re: OregonMouse]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I agree with OM: volume is only one criteria; weight is another. You didn't say how much your typical load weighs. I can't use a frameless pack with more than 18 pounds or so, which is a problem because 19 or 20 is as light as I seem to be able to comfortably do for a summer weekend, with a liter of water and 2 days' food. Winter clothes, a relatively dry trail, or a longer trip easily put me at 25 pounds.

I've found the Osprey Exos to be a good pack up to about 23 - 25 pounds, and the Osprey Kestrel and Atmos to be decent to around 30. However, over the last year, I've been switching between Osprey's Kestrel 48 and the Deuter ACT Lite 50+10; I've also used a Deuter ACT Zero 50+15 I borrowed from a buddy. All of these weigh between 3 and 3 and a half pounds, and easily handle a 30 pound load. I've pretty much decided that I prefer the fit of the Deuter packs.

Depending on how heavy your load is, you may find it hard to find a pack that fits well, has a suspension that will handle your load, and weighs less than 3 pounds.

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#165970 - 05/18/12 11:21 PM Re: new backpack shopping [Re: Glenn]
orclwzrd Offline
member

Registered: 08/11/09
Posts: 82
Loc: Illinois(I just live here)
you asked about weight, I believe that I'm down around 15lbs with a 2lb pack. with my current 4lb pack it's 17 or so. add food and water on top of that. I'm heading lighter as fast as makes sense.

john

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#165972 - 05/19/12 10:55 AM Re: new backpack shopping [Re: orclwzrd]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
I did a lot of miles with a Mariposa Plus pack; overall a fine choice, just be aware it's not the most durable option. With care, however, I figure a person can perhaps get 2000 miles or so out of one. In practice, I wasn't careful enough with one and got a bit less than that. For someone doing this in smaller increments over more years, I don't know how long it would last; too many variables.

I had used ULA packs in the past, so when my Mariposa was failing on the Appalachian Trail I called ULA and had them mail a Circuit model to a post office along the way, and I've been very happy with that since; it's listed at 39 oz, or about 2-1/2 pounds. I've got something on the order of 3000 miles on this now and it's still going strong.

I guess my point about durability is that you don't need the really heavy packs to get good durability, but it can be an issue at the really lighter end.

My ULA Circuit does a better job at load transfer than the Mariposa Plus, has a bit better waist belt, waist belt pockets that I really like (I had added aftermarket pouches to the Mariposa), and upper stabilizer straps.

Stabilizer straps are helpful (the Mariposa doesn't offer them, or at least the models I had didn't); I like to keep much of the weight on my waist belt and vary the tension in the shoulder straps. When the shoulder straps are loose on the Mariposa Plus and the weight is up towards the recommended limit, I found that I would get quite a gap between my back and the pack, with the pack leaning back a fair bit. Not a killer, but not preferred either.

For me, at least, ULA offers a really good balance between light weight, and just the features that I actually need or want.

FWIW, my baseweight is typically in the mid-teens, I can get lower in favorable summer trips, or into the upper teens in shoulder seasons or other more challenging conditions. For true ultralight trips, something like a Mariposa Plus is more of a clean win.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#165976 - 05/19/12 04:46 PM Re: new backpack shopping [Re: BrianLe]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
orclwzrd: Now that I know what your load's weight is, I'd probably say that Brian's advice is more relevant to your needs than mine. I've never used a ULA pack, nor have I ever been on a trip with anyone who has, but I've heard a lot of "I've got a friend who uses one..." good things about them.

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#165977 - 05/19/12 07:16 PM Re: new backpack shopping [Re: orclwzrd]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6765
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Your total pack weight for a week's trip could be close to 15 lbs. more than your base weight, which means you need a pack that will support 30 lbs. This definitely means no frameless packs, if you want to be comfortable. The ones with added stays should be fine, if they fit properly. I'd suggest getting a pack that the manufacturer says will carry 5 lbs. more than your maximum possible total pack weight, just to be on the safe side.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#165991 - 05/20/12 05:31 PM Re: new backpack shopping [Re: orclwzrd]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6765
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
One thing you might want to consider is lightening up your current pack (assuming it's comfortable). This will involve some creative butchery trimming. First, trim the various adjustable straps (but try the pack on over all your insulating clothing to be sure you don't trim them too short for cold weather backpacking!). Keep the trimmed-off straps from raveling by heating the ends to melt the nylon, but you will also need to hem the strap ends to keep from losing buckles (don't ask me how I know this! blush). You can also remove lids (yours appears to be removable), unnecessary gewgaws: hydration sleeve if you don't need it, ice axe loops if not needed (certainly you'll never need more than one), other external straps (except the compression straps, which you definitely want to leave on, especially since the ones on your pack are bungee cords). You might be able to lighten your current pack by as much as half a pound!

Anyway, it's something to think about!


Edited by OregonMouse (05/20/12 07:17 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#165996 - 05/20/12 06:02 PM Re: new backpack shopping [Re: orclwzrd]
JPete Offline
member

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

You are definitely getting the right dope here, especially (in my opinion) the right companies to look at.

The only thing I can add is a bit of my own experience. I've been dealing with Ron Bell at MLD for some time and several items of equipment. I've become rather partial to his gear.

Recently he made me a slightly enlarged "Burn" pack (made to fit me) and I've started using it regularly. It's frameless and weighs about a pound (less some bungee cord but with a couple of added belt pockets).

I got stuck recently with 26 pounds in it (I think it's rated for 18 and that's all I usually carry). But in spite of the extra weight, I hardly noticed I was carrying it, and I'm not even up to full strength yet, so I'm pretty impressed with the suspension.

One word of caution, Pack fitting is a lot like shoes. You don't really know until you've carried it a bit.

One other note: MLD does its own manufacturing, good sewing people are scarce and MLD has become popular. The waiting time can be a couple of months (or sometimes even more). I found it well worth the wait, and on the rare occasion that I've needed it, customer service was excellent.

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#166034 - 05/21/12 12:11 PM Re: new backpack shopping [Re: JPete]
orclwzrd Offline
member

Registered: 08/11/09
Posts: 82
Loc: Illinois(I just live here)
Thanks, to all, keep the advice coming, I'm just soaking it all up! Lots of good info here. Some I had thought of, some I knew and lots more besides!

John

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#168478 - 08/14/12 05:57 PM Re: new backpack shopping [Re: JPete]
wildthing Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/02
Posts: 984
Loc: Victoria, B.C.
Watch the fine folks on this site in the Buy and Sell Gear topic and maybe you can score something slightly used like it did for $100 or less. I ended up with a Six Moon Designs Swift. It is the older version at 18oz but it carries nicely and was pretty well priced. Got my base weight down to 12lbs with that purchase so it is always worth checking. I'm pretty happy with the Swift as I carried 24lbs all over the Sierra Madres last January and it performed very well even at that weight even though it is rated for 20lbs.
_________________________
Listen to the trees in the wind

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