I am looking for a good backpack for longer trips and could use some experience and/or opinions. Right now, I have a Kelty Redwing 44 (I think its 44), and an Ascend MS5400 from Bass Pro. I use the Kelty for weekend trips and is great. The Ascend claims to be 5400 cubic inches and I use it for longer trips or for basecamping trips with more gear. However, it seems smaller than it claims, I feel that it is a bit on the heavy side, and even though I am a beginner, I feel that it doesn't carry a heavy load (40lbs) all that great.
So I guess what I am looking for is a large-capacity backpack that is lightweight and can carry a heavy load comfortably. I looked at Gregory, the Kelty Coyote and some REI-brand packs, but like the Osprey features a little better (like the external hydration bladder). I have narrowed down my options to an Osprey Aether 70 or 85; however, I am still considering the Atmos 65 even though it is smaller in size (primarily because of weight), and now I just saw the Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor (60L - 2lbs 11oz)!
Do hikers really use a 60-65L for week-long hikes? ...seems small, but maybe I am packing too much. Is an 85 too big??
I'll be purchasing the pack for the Teton Crest Trail, but obviously will use for other future hikes. Thanks for the responses.
I can do a 5 day winter trip with a Osprey Atmos 50. They are good weight carriers. This past April I carried 16 lbs. of water to dry camps for my wife and I in the Grand Canyon , besides my normal load. If they fit your frame (have someone who knows how in a shop fit you), they are GREAT packs. I use to have an 85 for winter trips, but that was when I used a synthetic sleeping bag that was fairly huge. I use the Atmos 50 now, and it is big enough to strap snowshoes to and carry my winter tent. I would consider downsizing some of your gear if you can and then reconsider your pack needs. You might consider showing us a list of your gear and we can make some suggestions on how to cut back some. Not all downsizing requires large investment. A bear can will fit inside the sleeping bag compartment of the Atmos. My Garcia carries well there when I need it to.
Ditto what Bluefish said about the Atmos 50 on a weeklong trip. My weight for such a trip would be about 30 pounds; no more than 35. I also use a down sleeping bag, and carry down clothing for insulation. If your preferences run to synthetic bags and pile jackets, you may need that 70 liter pack.
Take your gear to the store (including the food for the length of trip, and a couple of quarts of water. (If you're going to have to carry extra, take that filled container, too - try the pack with and without it, since you won't be carrying it all day.) Do NOT let them fit the pack using sandbags - you need to know how YOUR gear fits the pack. (For example, will your water bottles fit the water bottle pockets? I've rejected packs when they won't.) Also, the weight distribution will be different between your gear and a sandbag, and you want to know how the pack will ride with your gear in it (unless you plan to backpack with sandbags instead of gear.)
You might call the store ahead of time, and ask them when they aren't as busy - that way, you can take your time, and you won't have a bunch of other customers tripping over you. The store will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Also - have you looked at Deuter packs? The Osprey packs - especially the Atmos - don't fit everyone; Deuter is a top-notch pack with a great suspension that often works for people who can't use the Atmos. (I have the opposite problem: I can make a Deuter pack work, but it doesn't fit me as well as an Osprey.) Your pack, like your shoes, must fit YOU, not me.
Thank you for the input. The Deuter packs look good, I'll give them another closer look. As far as my gear goes, the other big items I have are the Tensegrity 2FL tent, the Backcountry Bed 800 2-season bag with an Evolite pad, Alite Mayfly, GSI Soloist, and a Katadyn Gravity 6L. The other stuff fits in pockets. I guess where I struggle at is the clothing and food section of packing. I use a 10L drybag for clothes and pack it between 50-80% full depending on the trip. For food, I use the REI Flash 18 bag. Those are the two things that I noticed that weigh the most, but I didn't think it was too bulky (until it took up most of the space in the Ascend bag). I understand thats a lot of food, but I'm a big guy and don't know my needs just yet.
You're gear isn't heavy, so the clothes and food, as you said, must be the culprit. I can fit 5 days of food (I weigh 200) in a 10l bag. I carry extra gear, so my wife carries less, and still make it with a 50l pack. Do you bring lots of extra warmth layers , as your bag is only rated for 38 degrees? They look like great bags, I'd be interested to hear your take on the bag and the tent if you'd be so kind as to share your thoughts on them.
I have a hiking buddy who loves his Backcountry Bed (not sure which model he has.)
As far as food, if you're not sure what you really need, try this. Find a park with a day's worth of trail (say, 10-15 miles) and a public campground. Load your pack with the minimum amount of food you think you need for a full day (breakfast, lunch, supper, snacks), and then put the rest of the food you now take in the car.
Drive to the public campground, rent a site, park the car, put your pack on and go take a day's hike. Eat lunch on the trail, have some snacks, and finish the day back at your campsite. Fix dinner from your pack, and enjoy the evening. Next morning, fix breakfast from your pack. If you're absolutely starving, you can get into your extra food in the car - and know how much more you need to carry. If you don't need to get into the extra, you know you don't need to pack it.
I find that I need about a pound of food a day - but that's me and my metabolism. Yours may very well be different.
I do bring extra layers. Long johns, three pairs of socks (two hiking so I can switch off and one pair for sleeping), fleece hat, northface fleece zip-up (super light), hurricane jacket, two T-shirts (in ddition to the one I'm wearing), super-light crocks for camp (attached to outside of bag).
Is that too much food? I'm 6'1" 230...Is breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day too much? I also bring snacks (Cliff bars, nature valley bars, etc.).
No, three meals a day is not too much - I hope I didn't unintentionally imply that you should skip meals. However, in leading groups of beginners, I often see them bring far more than they can eat (or bring heavier food than necessary.)
The only way to know how much you need is to take what you think you need, then go out and see if you have any food left at the end of the hike - or if you didn't take enough. The suggestion about starting with a public campground is simply to avoid hiking out hungry if you guess wrong.
I'm 5'10" and about 185 - and 66 years old, which is also a factor: I manage about 8 - 10 miles a day, and probably don't burn as many calories as you (I'm guessing you might hike farther in a day?) So, I don't need as much food as you might.
There aren't many reviews on the tent but the biggest complaints are 1)its not a freestanding and when I was on the Ozark Trail in Missouri, you realized what a pain that could be, but honestly, it worked out fine and was no big deal; and 2) condensation could be an issue because its a single-wall tent. I bought the two person to have a little elbow room as a one person tent and don't have a problem, but when two people are buttoned up in there condensation did build up. Overall, the tent and its features are AWESOME and I would definitely purchase it again and would totally recommend the tent for the right location/area.
I purchased the Backcountry Bed because I was sick of lugging around an old, heavy bag that took up too much space. When I was in BWCA, my old bag was so big that I had to lash it to the exterior of my pack...not ideal. The only downside to the Backcountry Bed is that the thigh area gets a bit toasty because the "blanket/quilt" portion stops at the waist. But it doesn't bother me one bit. It also packs down super small, so I love it!
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