Thanks for the links. I had read both of them a while back, but it is always good to refresh one's brain.
Nice quote from Roger too :)
"There is a group of fanatics in America who strive to get their base pack weight (not counting food, water or worn clothing) down to 5 lb (2.272 kg) from 6 lb (2.726 kg)."
There is a certain weight for most people where a frame is a non-issue, perhaps a total weight of 15lbs for me. However, when going above 20lbs, a frame is necessary. Here is the crux of the matter, IMO. Many would say to lighten up and make your trips convenient to re-supply points. And Dan does point that out.
Now I am not ready to give up my frameless packs, as they have their utility and I am now using them often for 'short' trips. On the other hand, I am not ready to give up my big heavy ones either; an old Kelty Serac with a full-length bag or my Gregory Whitney 95. They are mass-merchandise equipment and work well. I am sure that a McHale would work even better.
Generally I hike off trail or on old low-use trails, and sometimes need to carry a lot of food and water; especially in the desert. Other than these two packs, my gear has really been lightweight for many years. However, over the past year I have really parred down some items. But no matter what your style, if you need food for a couple weeks or more, you cannot get away from a stout pack and be anywhere near comfortable. I usually avoid people and have only hiked with a partner less than probably a dozen times in more than 40 years of wandering around Mother Earth. I live at the base of Mt San Jacinto, and have pretty much avoided the state wilderness for years, other than ocassional Cactus to Clouds trip during the week when it is empty. Which means that where I am interested in going, there are not going to be convenient re-supply points.
Thru hiking does not interest me. Sometimes I like to stop for a few days and explore from a base camp. Like Dan, during the 60's and early 70's, I spent a lot of time in the southern Sierras. A favorite trip was to hike from Kernville to Horshoe Meadows and back. My only re-supply was a hike into Lone Pine. And these trips usually included some fishing everyday and exploring. So a big pack with plenty of food was a requirement for me.
I am mechanically inclined and have spent many years in the automotive industry, so it is easy for me to explain complex automotive systems to others. Dan did a great job explaining the mechanics of frames in layman terms. To be honest, I have not been that interested in exploring the details of how and why a frame works... because I know from experience that with heavier loads, a good frame and hip belt take the sting out of weight. And he explained it in a few well thougt out sentences.
So the bottom line is that I will be mostly hiking with lightweigt packs without frames or simple stays... but sometimes I will be pulling out the old standbys for trips I want to take and enjoy.
I hope this doesn't start a debate of lightweight philosphy versus "Old school." I get the ultralight school of thought, and for the most part it is how I now hike. But sometimes other options work better. Try carrying 4 or 5 gallons of water, and you will wish you had an external frame... and you aren't going to cut down the required water in the desert significantly by using an ultralight pack and hiking faster. Plus I don't want to hike fast through a desert, I want to look at it and explore any side canyon that might strike my fancy.
Good thread, lets keep it on track.
Dan McHale, thank you for the insight.