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Need help narrowing down my selection on 2-3lb packs
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(pinggolf91) - F
Need help narrowing down my selection on 2-3lb packs on 01/14/2009 17:00:08 MST Print View

I am new to hiking and have only done some day hiking so I don't have much gear. I am basically starting from scratch so I decided to start with a pack and go up from there. I want to be light but not to light to where it sacrafices comfort. I want an internal frame mainly because of support. I will mostly be doing 2-4 day hikes on the east coast during spring, summer, and fall.

I have it narrowed down to 5 packs. Here are the packs and the attributes that I have found from reading on here.

Granite Gear
Meridian Vapor (seems to be light with heavier bag features)
Latitude Vapor (has a very very good review on here)
Trail Vapor (seems to be very popular)
Talon 44 (not durable but light)
Atmos 50 (pretty heavy, hard to pack, but very comfortable)

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Need help narrowing down my selection on 2-3lb packs on 01/14/2009 17:09:47 MST Print View

"I am basically starting from scratch so I decided to start with a pack and go up from there."

You're about to get about 50 people suggesting that you buy your pack *last*! Get your other gear first. The reason being you often misjudge how much your gear will shrink when you start buying UL gear... so you end up with a pack that is too big.

The other things is, in 6 months time you may well be horrified at the thought of a 3 pound pack.

I'm a classic example. Bought my pack first and now consider it too big and too heavy for what I need, will shortly be selling it.

Edited by ashleyb on 01/14/2009 17:11:38 MST.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: Need help narrowing down my selection on 2-3lb packs on 01/14/2009 17:21:15 MST Print View

Buy used if you can. That way you don't have much invested and can decide which features you want based on your own real world experience.


Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Packs on 01/14/2009 18:00:23 MST Print View

Sent you a PM

(pinggolf91) - F
Re: Need help narrowing down my selection on 2-3lb packs on 01/14/2009 18:49:43 MST Print View

I know everyone says to get gear first, but I think I am just going to go ahead and get a pack because I have basic gear that I can use to get away with an overnighter, but none of it is UL by any means. I want to get a pack so I can go ahead and get out there to see what other gear I would prefer so that I can experience it. I have done a little more researching and have narrowed it down to the talon 44, atmos 50, and the vapor trail.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Packs on 01/14/2009 18:56:47 MST Print View

You'll end up owning 10-12 packs before you're done, so you might as well get started.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Good Set of Packs on 01/14/2009 20:15:39 MST Print View

I think you've got a pretty good list. Packs are unusual, in that it's not just dead weight. In other words, if you change your sleeping bag, and get one that is 8 ounces lighter, your load will feel 8 ounces more comfortable. However, the same isn't true of a pack. You could get something 8 ounces lighter, but it might feel less comfortable (for your load on your back). Also, if most of the weight is in the frame, then there is almost no torque involved, which means it is less taxing than weight that is further away from your body.

I think the packs you mentioned are good compromise packs -- they provide a decent amount of support for light weight (and more than enough for ultralight) backpacking while being fairly light. I think you won't go too wrong with any of those choices. If possible, I would try them on and compare the comfort with your set of gear. Since you are just starting out, try borrowing some stuff from people. Other than that, consider the various features. Personally, I like a minimum of bells and whistles. That way, most of the weight is in things like the frame and hip belt. I use the Vapor Trail, which I believe fits that description (although I would like to change some of the fabric choices to shave a few ounces). As I see it:

Granite Gear Vapor Trail -- Good solid pack.
Granite Gear Meridian -- Same size and frame as Vapor Trail but adds the removable fanny pack (your choice as to whether it is worth the weight).
Granite Gear Latitude -- Same frame as Vapor Trail but has a different loading system (your choice as to whether it is worth the weight).

Personally, of the Granite Gear choices, I would go with the Vapor Trail. The removable fanny pack isn't worth it to me (just use the VP when base camping) and frankly, I prefer the simplicity (not to mention weight savings) of the roll top. Of course, I might be missing something about the comparisons.

I'm not sure about the Osprey packs. It seems like they have too many zippers and extra straps (which add weight). They do seem to have put a lot of effort into their suspension system though, so if it has paid off, then that's great. Within the range of light or ultralight packs, I think the key is which is more comfortable for you.

Edited by rossbleakney on 01/14/2009 20:17:46 MST.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
2-3 lb pack on 01/14/2009 20:29:37 MST Print View

A great pack that meets your description would be ULA's Circuit with either the carbon hoop or single stay. This pack is a great value offering quality workmanship and materials in a durable and proven design.

Edited by thomdarrah on 01/14/2009 21:02:00 MST.

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Granite Gear Packs on 01/14/2009 20:44:14 MST Print View

I have a Latitude Vapor. It's surprisingly bigger than the Vapor Trail. The VT is 3600ci with the extension collar fully extended. The Latitude Vapor is 3800ci and has no extension collar. It's quite large. It has internal and external compression straps that can eat up a bunch of the empty space as you consume food and what not. As the pack gets more empty, the top can flop around a little, but it's not bad, so whatever.

I love the panel loading on it. I do think you compromise reliability (zippers can fail). I've never had a zipper fail, but if the zipper failed, it'd be hard to keep your gear in. That said, the zippers feel pretty sturdy, and I've never been that worried about it.

As my gear has shrunk, everything fits inside the pack with plenty of room to spare for food, even for longer hikes. I'm thinking of getting a Vapor Trail for shorter trips. Not so much to save weight, but just to handle smaller volume. I find Granite Gear's Vapor suspension to be very comfortable, albeit a little hot on hot days.

(pinggolf91) - F
Granite Gear packs on 01/14/2009 21:12:34 MST Print View

Thanks for the responses. Ross, I agree with your opinion on the osprey packs. They do have to many features that wont be used and just tag on extra weight. That being said, I rather add an extra pound on and have a very comfortable pack. Is the vapor trail comfortable compared to a 3lb pack that is padded well? Also, what is the difference between the meridian vapor and the vapor trail? Because I can get the meridian for like 150 while the vapor trail is like 170.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Need help narrowing down my selection on 2-3lb packs on 01/14/2009 21:15:58 MST Print View

"Atmos 50 (pretty heavy, hard to pack, but very comfortable)"

Given your description, then I would skip that one -- given there are any number of packs that are not heavy, not hard to pack, and very comfortable.

Granite Gear packs are famously comfy too -- but their "compression straps over the side pockets" design is downright idiotic. If you use water bottles, then seriously, look elsewhere. OTOH, if you use hydration system and don't ever need to access anything from the side pockets while hiking -- then probably not an issue.

I strongly second ULA. Never heard of it? Still worth a good look for two reasons:

1. Legions of fans for ULA packs - and for good reasons.
2. Your only risk is "postage".

No matter how great the specs and reviews, you have to give a backpack an actual try out to know for sure. Don't shy away from buying online, sight unseen -- so long as the online stores have a "no hassle" return policy -- which ULA has.

Best of luck.

Edited by ben2world on 01/14/2009 21:29:11 MST.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: Need help narrowing down my selection on 2-3lb packs on 01/14/2009 21:22:14 MST Print View

Hey Ben, any idea how comfy the hipbelts are on the ULA packs (eg. circuit)? I have a granite gear pack at the moment and the hipbelt is plenty cushy.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Need help narrowing down my selection on 2-3lb packs on 01/14/2009 21:27:15 MST Print View


I don't own an ULA pack but have played around with it. I rank all three -- my beloved Mountainsmith Ghost, GG Vapor Trail and ULA P2 (an earlier model) -- all very, very comfy. It's been a few years now, but if I recall correctly, the GG VT has a slight (and I mean slight) edge in the comfort department. However, given just the slight edge in comfort -- I chose the Ghost over the VT for its convenience and features.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: Re: Need help narrowing down my selection on 2-3lb packs on 01/14/2009 21:34:14 MST Print View

Cheers Ben. The circuit is still on my 'to-buy' list. I'm not keen on the massive extension collar of the VT, but mainly I'd like a more durable fabric for when I'm travelling overseas. I can just imagine a granite gear pack getting ripped to shreds when it gets tossed on the top of a bus somewhere in Asia. ULA seems like a good option: comfy (I hear!) and a pretty sturdy fabric (dyneema x).

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Need help narrowing down my selection on 2-3lb packs on 01/14/2009 22:09:32 MST Print View


I have gone light as I can on everything but the pack, like you I love an internal frame pack. I have the Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone (3 lbs) which is only 11 oz more than the Vapor Trail (the new Vapor Trails are no longer 2 lbs, but rather 2 lbs 5 oz). My gear weight with the pack is 16 pounds and I find it hard to get it down much lighter than that. But I love that pack. I see no reason to have another 6 oz on the pack for horizontal loading, the Nimbus Ozone is top loading. The other advantage of the Nimbus Ozone is that it fits a Bearikade Weekender in horizontally at the bottom far nicer than the Vapor Trail which is a super tight fit to get it in horizontally.

In the spring I am going to consider an Osprey Exos 58 which is supposed to be similar to the Nimbus Ozone but about 1/2 pound lighter but I am holding off my opinion until I try it -- I love that Nimbus Ozone pack.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Need help narrowing down my selection on 2-3lb packs on 01/14/2009 22:13:25 MST Print View


I think you should buy the ULA Circuit so I can play around with it too -- er, I mean help ship it to you. :)

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Packs on 01/14/2009 22:20:45 MST Print View

My Exos 58 should ship tomorrow. Not to rub it in or anything.

Nick Chen
(fleetparadox) - F

Locale: Socal
ULA Circuit on 01/14/2009 22:24:31 MST Print View

I was able to play with a ULA Circuit recently, the hipbelt is Very comfortable. It reminds me of my 5lb REI pack which has a really cushy belt. I'd say it's easily comparable to the Granite Gear Vapor Trail and its cushy panels.

I'm trying to decide between an EXOS or Circuit for my next pack... you might get your wish after all.

(pinggolf91) - F
Floating lid on 01/14/2009 22:29:19 MST Print View

What are the pros and cons of having a floating lid like on the meridian vapor as opposed to no lid like the vapor trail?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: ULA Circuit on 01/14/2009 22:30:27 MST Print View


EXOS? No experience whatsoever, but weren't you 'bitching' about your hard-to-pack Atmos?