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Light Packs for Heavy Loads: State of the Market Report
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Light Packs for Heavy Loads: State of the Market Report on 09/16/2008 15:13:16 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Light Packs for Heavy Loads: State of the Market Report

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
[ignore] on 09/16/2008 18:28:23 MDT Print View


Edited by ashleyb on 09/16/2008 18:40:31 MDT.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: [ignore] on 09/16/2008 21:22:25 MDT Print View

Nice article. Last year I went through researching packs for my winter trips. The GG Alpine Vapor was the pack I used but I wanted more external pockets and hip belt pockets. With my matrix, the Arctic Drypack came out on ~42 ounces for a 65 liter pack bag, plus front pocket, and hip belt pockets, and the option of cramming tons of gear in the shove-it style flap - I thought it would make the list?
Either way, nice roundup.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Sold a pup! on 09/17/2008 05:14:58 MDT Print View

So Steve, are you telling me you sold me a pup?? ;>)

I've been playing around with the Alpine, and am planning on adding almost exactly those mods to it. A couple of 3D hip strap pockets plus trying to work out some kind of rear stash pocket, maybe in mesh. I'm trying to work out how this will work in relation to the crampon patch.


Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Sold a pup! on 09/17/2008 05:21:43 MDT Print View

"So Steve, are you telling me you sold me a pup?? ;>):

Hey, that's a nice pack!!! ;)

The Alpine is great, so was my Vapour Trail...but after I experienced hip belt pockets, I couldn't live without them. In the end, IMO, no pack is as comfortable as a GG with that suspension.

Rod, if you add hipbelt pockets, larger top lid and a front pocket, I'll buy it back from you. :)

Post some pics when you finish the mods...

Geoffrey Moore
(gpmboston) - F

Locale: Massachusetts
Qudos Osprey on 09/17/2008 05:58:33 MDT Print View

Good article. Thanks

I recently used an Osprey Aether 85 (tall at 5lbs) on an 11-day 10-night wilderness backpack from Bremner Mines to Tebay Lake in Alaska's Wrangell St Elias NP. Even with the lightest weight gear gleaned from these pages(e.g. Six Moons Luna Duo used for 2 people), with enough food for the hike and an extra two days worth for potential weather delays in flying out again, my pack weighed in at 50lbs.
The Osprey pack started out comfortable and remained so for the whole trip.
What really impressed me though was the pack stability crossing talus, glaciers and miles (and miles) of side hilling, thanks to its excellent body hugging suspension and cinch straps. It also took the abuse of bushwhacking through tall alder and scrub willow, and being dumped on sharp rocks without any damage.
Lightweight is important - but knowing the hike conditions and having the right pack to deal with them is also an important consideration.

Derek Goffin

Locale: North of England
Aarn Natural Balance on 09/17/2008 07:48:08 MDT Print View

I know you have experienced the Aarn Natural Balance. How would you rate it against the packs in your test?

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Heavy Loads/Cilogear on 09/17/2008 09:35:50 MDT Print View

Ahhh! I was really hoping to see Cilogear reviewed here as I need a durable ~60L pack for "expedition'ing".

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Ligh Packs for Heavy Loads on 09/17/2008 14:57:03 MDT Print View

Thanks for your comments folks.

Steve, the Arctic Drypack could indeed have been included. I felt it was perhaps a little too specialist compared with the Catalyst and the other packs.

Derek, I don't think Aarn has a pack that quite fits in this category. The Featherlite Freedom is light enough but is best with loads up to 30lbs. The Load Limo, which I haven't used, looks as though it should handle heavy loads well but the weight is too high. I like the Aarn system but for loads in the 40lb+ range I'd rather have one of the packs reviewed.

Christopher, I have only seen the CiloGear WorkSack on the web. It looks interesting but the volume to weight ratio is just outside the criteria for this review. I'd certainly consider it if toughness was a main concern.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Ligh Packs for Heavy Loads on 09/17/2008 15:22:21 MDT Print View

Considering how stripable a Cilogear pack is, and the dyneema option, I still think it's within spec of the article. Not to mention the 40 or 45L pack probably meets the size requirement.

John Reed
(johnwmreed) - F

Locale: Sierras
Lightweight heavy load packs: are they really "better?" on 09/17/2008 15:23:55 MDT Print View

I keep waiting for something to come along that is "better" than what I now use. I have a year 2000 version Kelty Cloud 60. I have removed all the extra clips and the frame sheet (I fold and use my Torsolite pad in its place). The pack weighs 3 lbs 4 oz., and I comfortably carry 35-40 lbs. It is made with Spectra and is tough. It has lots of room, fits like a glove and rides well.

I just don't see anything here in this review that looks significantly "better" - maybe next year.

Edited by johnwmreed on 09/17/2008 15:26:14 MDT.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Light Packs for Heavy Loads on 09/17/2008 16:06:06 MDT Print View

Christopher, the 60 litre WorkSack is certainly on the margins of my criteria and yes, it could have been included. As I was reviewing packs for heavy loads I looked at the total weight not stripped weights with modular packs. I did set 57L as the minimum size (and allowed one 55 litre pack through) so 40 and 45L packs weren't considered. It would have been a very different selection if they had been.

John, by the sound of it none of the new packs would be better for you than your Kelty Cloud. I did consider including it in the review but decided the weight of the current model was too high. A friend of mine has an old version and has no interest in replacing it.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Light Packs for Heavy Loads on 09/17/2008 16:50:09 MDT Print View

The 45L Cilo gear is 75L with the extension collar, the 60L is almost 90L! ;)

I'm just wanting to see as much review of these packs because I really think they're cool but I don't have enough money to buy them in every size. I'm going to pick up a 20L when he comes back as it's more useful than my Ion I think (lid, side pockets and strap system) and then I'm debating between the 45L and the 60L for my winter/exped pack.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Re: Light Packs for Heavy Loads on 09/17/2008 21:32:22 MDT Print View

If it makes you feel any better, the cilo 60 was a close second in my matrix for the ultimate winter pack. The only downside was that it had no hipbelt pockets and the front pocket looked a bit small. Graham confirmed that the HB pockets were not going to be an add on option in the future. Other then that, I was sooo close to purchasing one...was even looking the dyneema version $$$, but in the end went with the Arctic.
Nice to see you have OMM packs mentioned. I looked at one last year aswell. I believe it was called the Villain (can't remember for sure now). I had read that it wasn't recomended for the taller folks. Being 6'3", I cut it from the list.

Joshua Billings
(Joshua) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz,Ca
McHale packs? on 09/17/2008 22:24:41 MDT Print View

Are there any McHale packs that could have fit into this article? Everyone that has one says that they are awesome.I have had my eye on the Catalyst for a while and this article has pushed me over the edge. Great write up. Really hit home withe a trip I recently did with my SMD starlight and my cut up sleeping pad I had to stuff under the shoulder straps at 45 pounds to start with for 10 days. sleeping pad under shoulder straps

Edited by Joshua on 09/17/2008 22:58:39 MDT.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
typo on 09/17/2008 23:31:13 MDT Print View

"The hipbelt is 4.5 square inches (112 square centimeters) wide".

Presumably this is a typo, cause I'm not sure how something can be "square inches wide"? Also 4.5 inches = 11.4cm, not 112cm.

Great article BTW. I don't usually have a need for hauling such heavy loads around, but it's an interesting read nonetheless! When carrying heavy loads pack comfort is more important than pack weight IMO... an extra pound of weight makes very little difference when you are carrying 40-50 pounds, but lack of hipbelt comfort or pack suspension can make life a misery!

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
LightPacks for Heavy Loads on 09/18/2008 06:54:14 MDT Print View

Steve, the Villain is a nice pack but like all OMM packs only comes in one back length, which is fairly short. I wouldn't recommend any OMM packs for tall people. I'm 5' 8" with a long back and the packs are barely long enough for me.

Joshua, I guess McHale could have been included. However because McHale makes custom packs working out the details of one is difficult. There are so many options. I've never used a McHale pack and being new to Backpacking Light I didn't have a long period to try packs for this feature so it was based on packs I already knew. I will add McHale to the list for future features.

Ashley, thanks for spotting that typo! The word "square" shouldn't be there. I don't know how it sneaked in. And there should be a full stop after the 11.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Light Packs for Heavy Loads on 09/18/2008 09:19:14 MDT Print View

McHale makes great packs. Look into Dan's LBP series, I just received my full dyneema LBP35 and could not be happier. If any member has questions regarding these packs please feel free to PM.

James Schipper
(monospot) - MLife
Light pack for heavy loads on 09/18/2008 22:01:36 MDT Print View

I was a little confused by some of the figures in the table. First, they list the load capacity of the GG Vapor Trail and the Nimbus Ozone both at 40 lbs. I haven't used the vapor trail, but its suspension seems far less substantial than the Ozone's. Also GG Meridian's capacity is listed at 35 lbs even though it has same suspension as the Ozone. The load capacity of the ULA Catalyst was listed at 55lbs in the table and 50 lbs in the text, while ULA only rates it at 40 lbs. I realize these are just estimates but all this variability makes comparison difficult.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Light Packs for Heavy Loads on 09/19/2008 06:32:41 MDT Print View

James, sorry for the confusion. With packs I have tested, like the Vapor Trail, I have given the load capacity I have found fine. With packs I haven't tested, like the Nimbus Ozone, I have quoted the makers figures. I would guess that the Nimbus Ozone will probably handle 50lbs okay but I can't confirm that. The Catalyst 50lb figure is a typo and should read 55lbs.

Generally my load capacity figures are higher than pack makers. This isn't because I'm happy to suffer! I have can carry these weights in the packs without getting sore hips, shoulders or back. Once a pack starts to feel uncomfortable and there is too much pressure anywhere then I know I have loaded it beyond its comfort level.