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Patrick Craddock
(pcraddock) - F
PCT pack choice on 01/15/2008 14:10:54 MST Print View

I'm looking for a good pack choice for hiking the PCT. I'm new to light hiking, but I think I'll get down to a pretty small pack size. I'm using an alcohol stove, tarptent, and minimal gear.

I'm looking at packs such as the Golite packs, versus a minimalist internal frame such as the Vapor Trail by granite gear. Any thoughts?

thanks in advance

Jeffrey Loso
(Vagabon) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
ULA packs on 01/15/2008 14:33:11 MST Print View

If you are looking to get a light weight pack check out www.ula-equipment.com . Brian makes wonderful packs that have a comfortable load transfer system yet are still quite light.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
pct packs on 01/15/2008 15:35:30 MST Print View

i was happy with my aether 60 (2003 model) when i hiked the pct, but if i did it now, that pack would be WAY too large, given my gear these days (i was lightweight then, not UL or SUL or XUL!). i know a LOT more about lightweight backpacking now than i did in 2004 (including lots learned on the PCT!), and my stuff is smaller and there's less of it. i'd use something more like my gg vapor trail or even gg virga with a gossamer gear nightlite pad frame. i've never used a ula pack, but they sure look nice too. on such a long trip, i'd lean towards something a bit more on the durable side vs. a silnylon pack. i'm happy to add a few more ounches for a more real suspension/hip belt and a bit more durability.

and remember that there are times when you might be carrying 6+ days of food (e.g. tuolumne meadows to tahoe) and a liter or two of water, or not much food but 6 or even more liters of water (e.g. san felipe hills, hat creek rim). and if you are going to be legal, perhaps even a bear canister (ugh!) for the sierra (if you can decipher the canister regs). so you might end up carrying 25+ pounds occasionally, even with a low base weight.

Edited by DaveT on 01/15/2008 18:01:10 MST.

Kathleen Whalen-Burns
(rosierabbit) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
ULA-Equipment on 01/15/2008 15:58:59 MST Print View

Ditto Jeff's recommendation. I use a Relay for day trips and a Circuit for multi-day trips. They are excellent packs.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: PCT pack choice on 01/15/2008 16:00:16 MST Print View

There are people who thru hike the PCT with a frameless pack. Personally I won't do it because there are section that you are likely going to need to be carrying at least 20-25lbs and that's more weight that many people can comfortably carrying in a frameless pack. If you haven't carried that sort of weight in a frameless pack for at least 15 miles... give it a shot before deciding in you are going to use a frameless pack on the PCT.

My recommendation is to carry the extra 6-20oz and go with a pack that has some sort of frame. I would recommend the Vapor Trail, but there are a lot of nice choices from Six Moon Designs, Gossamer Gear, ULA, etc. I have a list of my experiences with light packs

Do said you were doing a light load, so why did I say you could be carrying at least 20 or 25lbs? In the south, you often can count on reliable water (e.g. carry most of a days water) in conditions that are warm. There will be stretches were you will need to carry between 5-9 days of food depending on how fast you hike, willingness to hitchhike or go out of your way to resupply such as between Whitney and VVR.

Edited by verber on 01/15/2008 16:02:34 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Buy the Gear First Before Buying a Pack on 01/15/2008 16:14:21 MST Print View

Patrick:

You mentioned that you are new to backpacking. Spend a lot of time reading, analyzing and choosing your gear pieces first. Once you've got everything down, you will be in a much better position to buy a pack that's got the right comfort, capacity and features.

Read Dave T's post up above again -- about buying a pack and afterwards realizing that it's unnecessarily big. That has happened to far too many of us. So again, defer your pack choice until you have truly finalized everything else.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Re: PCT pack choice on 01/15/2008 16:21:58 MST Print View

The one pack I will always recomend is the Golite Jam. I love almost everything about it.

I have used it for many long distance trips without resupply, with weights up to 40lbs (loaded with food/water/sierra gear for 10 days without resupply)

the side fins handle the load well, and with my ridgerest rolled up inside, it creastes a virtual frame...

I will never go back to a framed pack for anything but the highest weights, which I usually dont encounter unless I was planning a 7 summit type mountain climb.

I am planing a 10 day/270 mile CDT segment for this summer, again without resupply, so I am looking at a 35lb starting weight (not including water) and of course I am taking my jam pack.
my dad is looking to replace his GG mariposia pack(used for all the same trips my Jam has endured) with the ULA conduit. This pack is comprable to the jam in material, weight, and size. so I beleive it will perform similarly.

my recomendations for 3 season... Golite jam, ULA-conduit.
4 season... Golite gust, Pinnacle.
SUL trips, MLD zip/prophet, GG wisper

FRAMED PACK... take a look at six moon designs

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
pct thru: lightweight, durable and frameless on 01/15/2008 17:01:39 MST Print View

I went frameless on the PCT and not particularly UL. Base weight was 10.6 lbs., max was 43 lbs. out of Kennedy Meadows with 12 days and lots of snow ahead. I used a Granite Gear Virga which became my perfect pack when I added a real hipbelt. Tightly packed, with the sleeping pad rolled inside, it was a solid block and with the hipbelt I could really transfer weight to my hips. I was actually carrying most of the weight on my hips when the pack was fully loaded. You can see a review of the whole thing here, scroll down to find the pack comments.

I agree with previous comments that it's worth the extra weight of a reasonably durable fabric if you want your pack to go the distance without worries. But people use silnylon or even spinnaker packs on the PCT and they make it too. Bottom line, this is a very personal thing. I can tell you what worked for me and why, what I liked and what I didn't like but you have to try and see for yourself. Nothing beats your own experience.
The PCT is a long trip and I think it's a good idea to avoid trying major new things (gear or techniques) if you want it to run smoothly. Try to figure out your gear (all of it) and the way everything works together as much in advance as you can and do so by doing actual trips. At the end, motivation is everything and that's what'll take you there but being confident on your gear helps with motivation.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
backpack last. on 01/15/2008 17:59:45 MST Print View

i agree with folks that the backpack should be the last purchase. work on getting all the rest of your gear together, whittling away, and making sure you have what you need. and then start thinking about how much it weighs and how much volume it is, including those times when you are carrying lots of water, or lots of food, or (ugh) lots of both. and then check out the pack advice on this web page and get something.

and DEFINITELY try to do some shakedown hikes with all your kit. i found that doing the Tahoe Rim Trail (175 miles) was a great way to see if things really worked out. don't just show up at the border with gear you've never tried out and shoes you've never worn and all that.

and have a great time! it's a long, fun, challenging adventure. about 20% physical and 80% mental (at least to finish).

Frank Perkins
(fperkins)

Locale: North East
re: PCT pack choice on 01/15/2008 18:33:39 MST Print View

You want to consider

sixmoondesigns.com
gossamergear.com
ula-equipment.com
golite.com
mountainlaureldesigns.com

I have been wrestling with a new pack and almost change daily between GG Mariposa Plus, ULA AMP or Conduit, Golite Jam2 and MLD Zip.

The good news, as long as you pick a bag that can comfortably handle your gear size and weight, you really can't go wrong with any of these companies. They're all A+ and what you're left with is making decisions on durability, features, etc

[BTW, as of right now, GG Mariposa Plus is in the lead]

Edited by fperkins on 01/15/2008 18:34:13 MST.