Thanks for the interesting comments on the new Essence Pack. I’ll try to wrap all my responses in this note.
Like the Mariposa (a fine pack), the Essence does have a pad pocket or pad restraints. However, I’ve chosen to place the pad inside of the pack. While this does make it more difficult to get to the pad, the pad can be held more rigid. This allows for a better load transfer and eliminates the need for stays.
Outside pad pockets do allow for easy access to the pad. However, unless the pad is fully enclosed, as with the Starlite Pack, the effectiveness of the load distribution diminishes as more weight is applied. This allows the weight to fall back on the shoulders. Boxing in the pad reinforces the pad’s rigidity and enhances the load carry.
As to how much weight will be comfortable to carry will depend upon a number of factors. The effectiveness of virtual frames to do weight transfer depends significantly on the type of pad. The best is a solid closed cell foam pad that’s cut into sections then rejoined to form a larger flat z-rest. This type of pad offers significant load carrying capacity with the least weight.
The most popular virtual frame is the egg shell Z-Rest or similar pad. This is followed by any number of inflatable pads. With a solid pad, such as described above, the Essence should be able to manage a 30 pound load.
As to Ben’s comments about differentiation in load weight limits, this is something I’ve done for a reason. Though I do realize that anything new can be confusing. When ultralight packs first appeared on the scene their inherent designs limited the weight carrying capacity. As such the weight capacity and construction materials were more closely aligned.
In the past few years, we’ve pushed the weight carry capacities of ultralight packs using the same or lighter materials. While you can carry more weight comfortably, the added weight does place and added stress on the pack and can reduce its service life.
This is why I refer to max or peak weights in my packs. It is the maximum weight you should be able to carry comfortably. The Base Weight is the target weight your gear should be if you wish to consider carrying this pack. This weight will provide you the best carry and durability mix.
As to an Extension Collar, the Essence pack does have one and it will allow for additional storage. However, since the load orientation has switched 90 degrees, it’ll change how you use the extension. On longer journeys with heavier food carries, you’ll need to position the food lower in your pack (close to the back). Light gear such as rain gear, jackets, etc can be stored in the extension collar without affecting the overall balance of the pack.
There also appears to be some confusion as to the compression system and its potential effectiveness’. The Essence Pack employs a two tiered system. The Weather flap is tethered to the body by 5 clips (only three needed to be unclipped to get into the pack). The flap may expand or compress as needed depending upon pack contents.
The second tier is comprised of two horizontal compression straps (the cord compression on the photo has been changed) that run across the top of the weather flap and tie into the flap clips. These allow bulky items to be secured outside of the pack or to compress the overall pack.
The last thing is the Essence pack is designed to be both ultralight and durable. I want it to survive a 4 to 6 month thru-hike without being overly babied. I hope the Essence provides a unique mixture of weight, durability, comfort and usability.