November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Light Packs for Heavy Loads: State of the Market Report
Display Avatars Sort By:
Richard Young
(RichardYoung) - F

Locale: South West of England
Pack sizing on 09/19/2008 10:06:28 MDT Print View

Chris, many thanks for covering this subject. As a fellow fan of the Cairngorms in winter a large pack is a must.

I currently have a Karrimor SA7000 that can carry almost any load in great comfort but is rather heavy! I am very taken with the Catalyst and just wanted some more thoughts on sizing. You say you have a medium - could I ask what your torso length is? According to the ULA website I also fall in the medium category (I have a 18.5" torso), but would like as much information as possible before starting the lengthy process of ordering from ULA and then finding I've got it wrong.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Packs Size on 09/19/2008 10:17:03 MDT Print View

Richard, my back length is 19.5 inches. The medium Catalyst fits me well.

Last winter I used the GoLite Odyssey for overnight trips in the Cairngorms. It would have been tight getting everything in the Catalyst. The SA7000, if I remember rightly, is a huge pack.

Richard Young
(RichardYoung) - F

Locale: South West of England
RE Pack sizing on 09/19/2008 10:39:06 MDT Print View

Chris, many thanks for that.

My Karrimor is indeed huge at 100 litres all told. I was looking at the Catalyst as an all year round pack as my other day/climbing/summer backpacking pack is a 50 litre Lowe Alpine Contour Crossbow that weighs 1.7kg and doesn't have hip belt and wand pockets I can reach. I had thought the Catalyst might do for all my backpacking as it did appear just about large enough and defintely tough and light enough. Can the Odyssey be used all year round do you think i.e. does the Compaktor system etc. actually work? I was also slight worried by your comment on the hip belt padding as I'm rather bony!

Edited by RichardYoung on 09/19/2008 10:44:34 MDT.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Pack size on 09/19/2008 12:18:54 MDT Print View

The Compaktor system does work - it closes off the lower compartment. My hips are quite bony too and I haven't had problems with the hip belt. The padded section does cover my hip bones.

Whether the Catalyst will do depends on how bulky your gear is. If you come close to filling the SA7000 I doubt you'll get it all in the Catalyst.

Richard Young
(RichardYoung) - F

Locale: South West of England
Pack size on 09/19/2008 13:59:06 MDT Print View

I used to fill the SA7000, but after several years of TGO reading my gear has gone on a diet.

I suppose the other avenue open to me is a Golite Pinnacle or similar for most trips and keeping the SA7000 for the depths of winter. Are you still getting on well with the Pinnacle? Could I ask about the sizing of this - a lot of people comment on the fact that Golite sizing is on the small side - do you agree? Have you tried the new 'improved' version detailed by your colleague Will elsewhere on the site.

I was also wondering whether you had any experience of the GG Alpine Vapor? You seem to rate the Vapor Trail as quite good bar the fabric. The Alpine Vapor would seem to deal with this issue and was rated earlier in the thread.

One final thing, have you tried the Osprey Exos yet - I read you were getting one to test and Will seemed to like it.

Sorry for all the questions, but your opinion is valued.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Pack Size on 09/19/2008 14:32:58 MDT Print View

I've used the Pinnacle on the last two TGO Challenges and I really like it. 30lbs really is the upper limit for comfort though. I have a medium Pinnacle and a medium Odyssey and they fit me fine. I measured the back length of various packs when I reviewed them in TGO last year and the Pinnacle measured 61cms. The medium Catalyst was 60cms, the medium Odyssey 65cms, the Medium/Large Osprey Talus 44 58cms and the medium Gregory Z55 55cms.

I haven't tried the new version of the Pinnacle yet. I don't think any are actually available. I did see it at Friedrichshafen. The changes might make it handle heavier loads a little better but probably not by much.

I haven't tried the Alpine Vapor either. The Vapor Trail certainly has a much more supportive hipbelt than the Pinnacle.

I'm still waiting to try the Osprey Exos too. Again, I saw it at Friedrichshafen and it looks excellent.

Richard Young
(RichardYoung) - F

Locale: South West of England
Pack size on 09/20/2008 03:41:46 MDT Print View

Thanks very much Chris - I'll have to put together a comparison table and go from there.

Can I ask if anyone else has any insights into how much a GG Nimbus Ozone/Meridian can actually carry? I like the idea of the adjustability and compression system (if not the lighter fabric), but really need to know if it can cope with a larger load.

Peter Macfarlane
(ptc) - F

Locale: The Scottish Highlands
OMM on 09/20/2008 13:30:32 MDT Print View

Just a thought, there is a longer back length version of the OMM Mountain Mover available. It was made as an exclusive for the Tiso chain of stores in the UK. It's also 10 liters bigger in capacity though.

Richard Young
(RichardYoung) - F

Locale: South West of England
OMM on 09/21/2008 02:49:46 MDT Print View

Cheers for the heads up PTC* - you've caught me asking questions without using my More-On code name!

Anyway, Chris reckons c. 16kg for the Mountain Mover - what do you thing?

Peter Macfarlane
(ptc) - F

Locale: The Scottish Highlands
Mountain Mover on 09/21/2008 03:04:26 MDT Print View

Chris is right, the hipbelt is geat load carrier. I haven't managed to fill it with enough stuff to make it uncomfortable yet.
It's a great winter camping pack becasue of its mountaineering flavour.

Worth a shufty.

Edited by ptc on 09/21/2008 03:05:07 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
re External frame packs on 09/21/2008 05:00:15 MDT Print View

> External frame packs do this well, but are heavy, bulky and unstable (though some would argue otherwise
Sure would!
My MYOG H-frame pack weighs 800 grams, made of Easton arrow shafts and Dim Poly X-Pac fabrics (waterproof). It has carried up to 25 kg over reasonable distances in the winter - you get to those weights when portering skis, snowshoes, food etc in to a base.
Pity no manufacturer wants to produce them. Sigh.


Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Larger packs on 09/21/2008 16:52:29 MDT Print View

As I recently discovered, my ULA Circuit was not large enough for a 7-1/2 day trip. Lucky, I had just purchased a Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone.
I was carrying 40-42lbs which was just about max. for this pack. Whats nice with the Ozone series is the ability to adjust the torso length from 18"-22"(reg.size pack) and the availability of 3 different hip-belt sizes and the choice of 4 shoulder straps, trim and wide, sized regular and large.
You also have the option of the light hip-belt over the ultralight hip-belt, which has a plastic stiffener in the hip-belt, for even greater load bearing support.
The optional hip-belt pockets are very nice as are the pack pockets and shoulder strap pockets too.
I added both RH & LH hip-belt pockets, a small pack pocket and (1) shoulder strap pocket for my camera.
I had been considering the Lowe Alpine pack for week-long trips as well, but don't like the fact that they don't have or offer hip-belt pockets, which, once you've had or tried, they are hard to do without.
Of course the Contour has the top pocket, which is handy for your small incidentals, but you still need to remove the pack to get at them.

Edited by mfog1 on 09/21/2008 17:02:02 MDT.

Andy Dixon
(sideshowandy) - F
OMM pack sizings on 09/22/2008 04:58:28 MDT Print View

as mentioned by Chris in the review, a word of caution over OMMs stated volumes is required.

I have a OMM Villain which is listed as 45 litres (plus an additional 10 on extension)

However, this pack is probably around the 40 litre mark (certainly no more than that) and would not cope well with an additional 10 on extension. (However OMM packs are light, well featured and pretty bombproof so I do quite like the Villain).

So beware if buying a pack via mail order as has often been highlighted on BPL volumes vary tremendously between manufacturer's (I can think of at least one 40 litre pack from a different manufacturer which is SIGNIFICANTLY bigger than the 45 litre Villain!)

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Nice! on 09/27/2008 09:49:55 MDT Print View

Chris, thanks-

I go pretty light when I can, but many people I speak with these days think that 50-60 pound loads are completely unreasonable... even after I explain that the load includes two weeks worth of food (30-35 pounds for me)and gear for temps around 20-40 degrees F and rain, not to mention photo gear. Quite a relief to find your article here. On longer trips, we're still packing light and using all the principles espoused in the forums--just have all that durned food!

Jack Thompson
(jackt) - F
McHale Packs on 10/19/2008 22:16:18 MDT Print View

Dan McHale makes the best pack, period. I have two. The fit is perfect, the material is custom, and he knows how to customize options to make as light or as heavy as you like. It's all about an analysis of the feature/benefits/weight. How much do you want to carry and how much flexibility do you want to adjust size on a trip? By the way, his frames are just outstanding....and that's the basis for everything else on a pack. I can't count the number of thru-hikers I met on the AT who had broken the fame on every manner of "high-end" pack.

He's also knows more than anyone else in the business.

Jack T