Desert guys - pack choice?
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Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Desert guys - pack choice? on 05/13/2009 10:07:01 MDT Print View

So I have to ask, what kind of pack do you guys use for carrying lots of water? I've been trying to get lighter, and I've had the epiphany (I'm a little slow) that no matter how light I get, I'll still be carrying at least 10# of water. I went to Guadelupe Mountains National Park yesterday, and tested my Mariposa Plus and Exos 46. Both were under 10# before water, and 25# with. The Mariposa felt great, except for the feeling it needs load lifters to pull it back. I can probably fix that by loading it differently. I could not get the Exos to stay up on my hips, and I thought the super thin belt would cut me in two. Did I screw up by not going with a ULA?

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Desert guys - pack choice? on 05/13/2009 10:31:13 MDT Print View

I used a golite race (silnylon) in 2004 to carry 8 liters for the Guadalupe Ridge Trail. Now I would use a golite jam 2.

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Desert guys - pack choice? on 05/13/2009 17:24:54 MDT Print View

McHale ZERO-SARC. Not light or cheap, but carries the water very well.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Desert guys - pack choice on 05/13/2009 18:44:47 MDT Print View

Joe - what kind of volume do you need?

If you need 60-65L, the Granite Gear Ozone or Meridian does very well with heavier loads because of the excellent belt and frame sheet (has load lifters as well and is customizable to your shape - different belts, shoulder harnesses).

If you need something smaller in the 35L range, the Granite Gear Vapor Day would fit the bill. The suspension and belt combo does a very good job at carrying 25-30 pounds in real comfort.

Of course these two packs may be heavier than you normally use - but if they carry weight better then who cares.

You could also consider (as you mention) a ULA - the Circuit would be best because of the excellent belt. The Ohm's belt may be too minimal (and short). Not sure, however.

You could always bring dehydrated water....

Jeff Jeff
(TwoFortyJeff) - F
Re: Desert guys - pack choice? on 05/13/2009 18:49:58 MDT Print View

A ULA Catalyst would handle 35 lbs quite nicely.

I typically use my Gregory Shasta for winter desert trips in the southwest.

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Desert guys - pack choice on 05/13/2009 20:04:19 MDT Print View

I would second the ULA Circuit.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Desert guys - pack choice? on 05/13/2009 20:59:30 MDT Print View

Hey Joe, I definitely have to agree with the above posts, the ULA line of packs, specifically the Circuit, would make a great weekend/extended pack for heavy water toting in the desert. The Dyneema X pack fabric is tough as nails and near impervious to the typical ocotillo, yucca, creosote branches that nag on you and your gear all day in the desert SW. Much like your Jam in terms of durability, except with the much better support system necessary for the 15 lbs. of water you mentioned. My hiking partner is using the Circuit on his PCT thru as we speak and I just talked with him on the phone today, he was carrying 8 liters of water and 4 days of food to stretch to Big Bear, he had no complaints from his pack, but his legs were beat! That is his experience, to each his own, but I think it is a small testament to the packs ability to carry well.

Granite Gear packs too, not ultralight, but carry so well, the Nimbus series is such a great line of packs and I think these packs really shine when your load is around 25-40 lbs, which would consist of mostly water weight when carrying in the desert. Below 20 the Nimbus series framesheet, I think, becomes a little overkill. I own the Nimbus Meridian and used it for a 2 day/ 32 mile trip outside of Las Cruces in January, we carried a lot of water and picked some up at a cache, my pack was very comfortable at 30 lbs due to the water at one point.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Desert guys - pack choice? on 05/13/2009 21:35:50 MDT Print View

I'll probably end up with a Circuit, that's about the right size. My Mariposa is silnylon, so I'm afraid it wouldn't last. It would be great in other parts of the country. Called and talked to Grant, he gave me some great ideas on how to load it. Gotta love those cottage retailers. May need a Catalyst for Scout trips some day. Sure like the ventilated back on the Exos, I may try a few things before I bail on it completely. Like wearing a belt. Plus I'll have to decide on what I'm going to sell to finance a new pack....

Edited by skinewmexico on 05/13/2009 21:39:01 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Desert... complicated on 05/14/2009 00:21:22 MDT Print View

Joe,

Currently, this is how I generally handle it.

Total base + water < 12 lbs = GG Murmur

Total base + water < 20 lbs = ULA Conduit

Total base + water < 30 lbs = ULA Ohm

Total base + water > 30 lbs = Dueter 42 pro, Gregory Whitney 95 or Kelty Serac (external frame) - none of these are UL packs.

Actually, with these heavier loads of water, I am getting less thrilled with the ventilated Dueter. The mesh panel system moves the center of gravity backwards, which is probably similar to your vented pack. With a lot of water, lets say 2 gallons or more, the old Kelty still kicks butt.

With loads over 30lbs, I will always go for a "heavy" internal or external pack, because they handle the job.


Here is the difficulty... if I can get water during the hike, then a lighter pack gets me there faster. This is the tricky part, getting the right balance between weight and mileage.

Now if I am hiking for several days with no reliable water source, then I have no choice but to carry large amounts of water with a "heavy" pack.

But if I just need a lot of water for one or two days, and I will be consuming water as I go, then I may take a lighter pack, because it will get lighter by the hour.

The other factor is the time of year. For me, up to 100F is pretty easy hiking. I do hike in triple digits, unlike most people. Of course this requires more water.

So I guess the bottom line to all this rambling is that I have several packs for different trips. Oh, and this is not a problem, because my wife has many, many more pairs of shoes, than my total number of packs, stoves, and shoes!! :)

Daniel Cox
(stilldtc) - F

Locale: The desert
Golite on 05/14/2009 01:56:21 MDT Print View

Personally, I use a Golite Jam 2, but wish I could get my grubby mitts on an MLD Exodus.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: Desert... complicated on 05/14/2009 05:46:47 MDT Print View

"Here is the difficulty... if I can get water during the hike, then a lighter pack gets me there faster. This is the tricky part, getting the right balance between weight and mileage.

Now if I am hiking for several days with no reliable water source, then I have no choice but to carry large amounts of water with a "heavy" pack.

But if I just need a lot of water for one or two days, and I will be consuming water as I go, then I may take a lighter pack, because it will get lighter by the hour."

Nick is right about this, the water weight does go down quickly. This winter I did a long cross country trip in Big Bend and we had to carry 11 liters to start, total pack weight at 40 lbs. I used a SMD Starlight, with stays, and it did a fine job but was at its comfort limit for me at first but then quickly got better as the water was consumed. I also have an old Mountainsmith Auspex that can carry amazing amounts of weight at 3 lbs. The replacement appears to be the Eclipse 55. Both very durable in desert conditions.

Charles G.
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
Desert guys - pack choice? on 05/14/2009 13:57:59 MDT Print View

If I have to carry more than a gallon on a particular trip, I use my veteran Mountainsmith Phantom. It weighs just under 45 oz after trimming and rides quite comfortably with up to 40 lb.

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
desert water luggin' on 05/14/2009 14:17:23 MDT Print View

Hi Joe. I talked to Andy Skurka on the trail and he was carrying up to 8 liters of water at a time, in the Golite Jam2. Im not sure what he was using as a framesheet.

I have carried 9 liters before using a 7L platy inside pack with a sitlight pad as a frame (in the Jam)

it would be much better to have a rigid frame or support of some type, and im thinking the ULA Ohm might be just the ticket.. i only wish i could offer a real input on its carbon loop system. (the pack is just slightly too large for my 17" torso so i purchased the Conduit)

i am looking for the corregated plastic used in usps mail boxes or similar and i want to affix some 1/4 ccf to it w/ spray glue. i think that would make a fine framesheet and be a good compromise between rigidity and flexibility.

a rigid frame like this will solve 4 issues.. it will allow me to carry more water (up to 12lbs or 6 liters)
it will allow me to pack/unpack easier since the plastic side will face into pack (how many times have you stuffed your gear in with a ccf frame and then found it has shifted!)
and lastly will make a sit pad, and dinner plate/cutting board. This seems to me to be the most multi-purpose item in my pack second only to a bandanna, but i dont use a bandanna for multi use, even if it could serve many purposes.

Edited by mikeinfhaz on 05/14/2009 14:38:34 MDT.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Desert guys - pack choice on 05/14/2009 14:42:48 MDT Print View

I tried the same load this morning in my Jam2, and it carried better than the Exos. Go figure. The belt slipped some, but stopped, unlike the Exos. The Mariposa Plus was more comfortable than both. And that's how I spent my morning. Amazing what you find time to do when you're unemployed! I'll probably take a look at Granite Gear again too.