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M Exped Lightning 60 Review

by Luke Schmidt

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Article Summary:

There is clearly niche for internal frame packs on some trips such as desert hiking or packrafting. But what about more "normal" trips where your baseweight is low and you aren't hauling a ton of water? I would argue that a good frame is often worth the weight even here.

For a long time I used frameless packs almost exclusively. I went on SUL trips, I made a number of my own packs and I tried several commercially made frameless packs.

However when it came time to hike the Colorado Trail the only pack on hand with the room for a fall gear list and the food I would need was a BPL Absaroka pack (in case you're wondering this is a discontinued internal frame pack).

Using that pack was a new experience. I hiked longer days then I'd ever done before day after day and barely had any back soreness. The pack was more comfortable than any frameless pack I'd ever used. I tried to replace it the next year with a new frameless pack. After two miles of hiking with it I went back to my car and grabbed the old Absaroka pack. It may have been a bit heavier but it was way more comfortable.

I decided after that the ideal all around pack would be a medium sized internal frame pack weighing about 2 pounds and capable of carrying 40 pounds (like the Absaroka). Such a pack would be capable of handling virtually any trip I could imagine doing short of a technical mountaineering expedition.


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