So, I've used those review pages extensively and went looking for a great backpacking backpack to use with our tent and stuff.
Since the Osprey Atmos 65 AG wins them all (best backpacking backpack), I ordered one.
At home, I loaded my stuff - simulating a trip like our Manasulu circuit trek from a few weeks ago, minus the porter and adding a tent and cooker - just to try the capacity for backpacking.
Since the climate changed a lot, we had short and long trousers and sleeveless, short sleeved and long sleeved merino shirts, as well as a fleece pullover and a pair of socks and three pairs of merino boxers. All of these go tightly packed into ultra-sil stuffsacks.
A down jacket, plus a hardshell for wind and rain go on top.
Then comes the rather fat sleeping bag (1°C comfort temp, Mountain Equipment Helium 600) in the bottom compartment along with the silk liner (for the first few nights).
The tent (MSR Freelite 3 with the additional footprint) goes in the bootom of the pack and the Jetboil MiniMo cooking system goes on top of the tent.
Adding all the stuffsacks with clothing on top and then the hardshell plus the down jacket and the bag is full to the brim.
Toiletries, water sterilisation system, and shower towel go in the lid pocket.
A pair of flip flops can go on the outside, along with the poles and two drinking bottles, but I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to bring my DSLR, nor my ultralight La Sportiva Helios 2 shoes (for the evening, after getting out of the boots). Also, almost no space left for food.
If we were doing a short 2-night trek in the region, where the climate is always the same (no need for different clothing) and we don't need spare clothes, I could probably do with the 65 litres of this pack, provided that my girlfriend carries both sleeping mats in her pack.
Also, if you go on a 5-day trip somewhere where it's very warm and you only wear shorts and t-shirts, sleep in a silk liner with a bug net and don't need a down jacket, yeah, the pack would suffice.
But they don't mention that anywhere.. They always talk about "finding the right size of pack for your needs" but nowhere do they offer any indications as to how much you would need for different sets of gear.
Why do they claim it's the best backpacking backpack there is, if it is clearly NOT suited for backpacking with a tent in less than hot climates?!
Sure, a 1 person tarp tent would be much smaller and you could use a very simple sleeping mat and an even tinier stove to save more space, but these review sites are not aimed at the super ultralight backpacker.
I now ordered the Xenith 75 and Xenith 88 just because I didn't want to go "too small" again.
What I definitely don't want, is to have 10 backpacks for all kinds of scenarios.
I know that an 88 liter pack is tempting to be filled, but - except for 3kgs of camera gear, if I can fit it - I don't bring stuff that couldn't be useful.
On the other hand, they recommend the Xenith backpacks for "very heavy loads, 20kg and up" for "very long trips and arctic excursions with tons of gear". Am I going the wrong way? Did I not pack my pack right? (I googled "how to pack a backpack" and followed those instructions
Yet, If I look at the gear people ACTUALLY bring to arctic excursions, they usually pull a sled filled with gear and carry a big pack on their back too. Not sure, a 75 litre backpack will do there...
Lastly, once I had stuffed the Atmos 65AG, I didn't put it on the balance, but I'm pretty sure it was nowhere near 20kg. So, my gear isn't all that heavy, it just takes up too much space for a 65L pack.
Any ideas or care to share your own experiences?