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ZPacks Blast 18 Backpack Review
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(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Joe's Gone Hiking on 05/21/2009 16:40:20 MDT Print View

Well Kathleen, you can probably borrow ours if it comes down to it. We will likely only get out for 2 or 3 more trips this year with the kids, since I'm not done building our house yet.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: ZPacks Blast 18 Backpack Review on 05/24/2009 18:57:51 MDT Print View

I'm not a photographer...and even I noticed how nice the photos were. It really makes a difference in the overall look. Nice to see Ryan doing more reviews, and to hear his perspective.

THe one poster mentioned that his pack was still going after "100 miles." Did he mean "1000," because 100 isn't long enough to say anything.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: ZPacks Blast 18 Backpack Review on 05/24/2009 19:02:57 MDT Print View

So Ryan... the camera used was? (I'm curious to know whether it is a 4/3rds, or a plain old canikon).

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
zpacks blast on 05/24/2009 21:45:52 MDT Print View

"THe one poster mentioned that his pack was still going after "100 miles." Did he mean "1000," because 100 isn't long enough to say anything."

you better think again.. 100 miles of Superstition Wilderness bushwhacking would kick your ass, i promise you that.
100 miles there is plenty to make an assertion of the pack's durability.

Edited by mikeinfhaz on 05/24/2009 21:47:11 MDT.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: zpacks blast on 05/25/2009 05:31:33 MDT Print View

OK, thanks for the clarification.

Richard DeLong
(Legkohod) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Europe / Caucasus
Experience with the Blasts on 05/25/2009 19:57:33 MDT Print View

I have used the Blast 18 and 32 extensively (50 days total use) and with varying loads and have a few comments:

"Drawcord closure string is extremely thin and may cut fabric of extension collar over the long term."

Surprisingly, it actually doesn't.

I also have a MLD Zip (2008) and would say the Zip has roughly 250 days of trail life in it, whereas the Blasts have about 150. Structural weak spots on the Blasts over the long term seem to be:

- seam loosening over time on the insides of the shoulder strap attachment seam (where it's sewn onto the back)

- tearing over time on the bottom of the pack from setting it on the ground (some abrasion is unavoidable no matter how careful you are)

Maybe a double layer of fabric on the bottom (or an even thicker version of the cuben) could solve the second issue, and some kind of additional reinforcement of the shoulder strap attachment pieces could remove these issues, perhaps increasing the life expectancy of the Blast to about that of the Zip and other nylon-based packs.

I would recommend the Blasts as a way to jump to an SUL pack while still retaining a reasonable amount of durability.

And nice article, Ryan!

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
Photos too nice?? on 05/26/2009 14:49:51 MDT Print View

I know a couple of you have mentioned the photos, but they look so good I sort of feel like I'm being shown a catalog. And I rarely trust a photo from a catalog. Maybe its just me.

In short, the photos look so nice I sort of feel like the author is trying to sell me something rather than provide a review. I'd even say a couple of the photos are almost creepy.

Eric Fredricksen
(efredricksen) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley
GG Murmur is larger than stated on 05/26/2009 20:12:44 MDT Print View

The Gossamer Gear website lists the Murmur's capacity as 2200 ci, not the 1700 given in the table, making it the largest of the three. ...Unless GG is the one that has it wrong.

I have one so I hope the Blast doesn't blast it out of the water on *all* counts. :)

donald buckner

Locale: Southeast U.S.
z packs on 05/26/2009 20:26:20 MDT Print View

Red Rock Canyon, NVI just wanted to say that I love my Zpacks 18 in sil nylon. I have the waist belt and shoulder pouch options and I felt the price was very reasonable. Joe is one great guy to deal with and the pack is a great 1-3 day hauler. I brag about my 4oz pack to everyone.

Edited by toomanyarrows on 05/26/2009 20:31:20 MDT.

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
blasted photos on 05/26/2009 20:54:27 MDT Print View

this was when the pack was bran'new. its so shiny!
it doesnt look so pretty anymore, but its holding up. no loose threads. this was my first sub-5 trip, thanks Joe for helping me reach that milestone!


John Brochu
(JohnnyBgood4) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
re: "ZPacks Blast 18 Backpack Review" on 05/29/2009 11:46:18 MDT Print View

I've got the Blast 18 in cuben with the winged hipbelt and pockets, extra padding in the shoulders, and the shock-cord lashing. It weighs 6.1 ounces.

I haven't used it enough yet to give it a full review, but so far I love it and I don't think my opinion is likely to change.

Joe also made me a cuben cat tarp that weighs 3.3 ounces and a cuben rain skirt that weighs 0.8 ounces.

Great products at fair prices with excellent customer service imo.

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: ZPacks Blast 18 Backpack Review on 05/30/2009 09:39:02 MDT Print View

"The Blast 18 has everything I want in an SUL weekend pack: durable fabrics, light weight, plenty of capacity extended with outside pockets, and a simple design."

I don't get this SUL weekend kit idea. I fully agree of course that a lighter pack makes your outdoor experience much more enjoyable. Currently my 5 day/4 night pack weighs about 16# loaded with all my gear, food and water. Sure I have done the SUL weekend trip, sleeping on some bubble wrap and sleeping under some toilet paper :D, it is doable, but it does not make my outdoor experience much more enjoyable.

Lately I find that when I go out for a weekend bash of the Belgian hills I prefer to take more rather than less stuff. As long as my pack stays under 20# I find that I am a happy hiker and I find that I'm a less happy hiker if my pack is under 5#. Apparently there's a parabola shaped curve in my hiking happiness plotted against my pack weight. As pack weight goes down (x-axis), my happiness goes up (y-axis), but it seems that after a certain pack weight my happiness goes down again. Am I alone in this or am I just not skilled enough for SUL hiking?

Lately when I go on these weekend trips with my friend I find myself putting some more comfort items in my pack. I mean depending on the season my base weight lingers around eight#, so I find that adding some powdered coffee for in the eve or morning, adding a small bottle of good whisky and eating some fresh(er) food rather than these freeze dried meals (although there's a particular brand of these dried meals that I find taste very good) adds to having a nice weekend. Additionally on longer trips I like to cook on esbit tabs since these have a considerable weight advantage over a gas canister stove, but on these weekend trips I quite like the ease of a canister stove over the hassle of esbit tabs.

So to summarize, I only understand that on longer trips one wants to analyze every gram that has to come along on the trip, but once your weekend kit list drops below 15# or even 10#, do those last few ounces really count? Or do they start to become a disadvantage, taking away from you hiking joy? I do like the idea that the pack on my back weighs a ridiculously scant 5#, but when I wake up in the morning I really wish I had taken a few # more.

SO am I alone in this matter or are there more people that find this strange curve of declining pack weight vs hiking happiness?


Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"ZPacks Blast 18 Backpack Review" on 05/30/2009 09:51:55 MDT Print View

I dont know a huge amount about cloth but I wonder if they would make one in A Dyneema grid stop pattern. My pack gets used 365 days per year reguardless of where I am. I live out of my pack and this appears to be my dream design and size but I doubt Cuben or whatever it is would last. I would definately throw down the cash for a prototype. Ali

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: ZPacks Blast 18 Backpack Review on 05/30/2009 12:09:42 MDT Print View


You've got it right!!!
Maybe that's why they call you "Einstein." :-)

mark henley
(flash582) - F
packweight should vary depending on the goals of the trip on 05/30/2009 12:35:05 MDT Print View

It all depends on the trip.

Are you doing more camping or more hiking?

For me, if I'm going to spend a lot of time in camp I like to take my creature comforts. If I'm going to spend more time hiking, I'll leave the extras at home.

Good example .... one of the places I love to hike is a 26 mile loop around a lake just north of Austin, Texas. If I go out on my own I like to do the whole 26 miles over two days, and I pack SUL.

If I go out with friends we tend to hike in 5 miles and camp for the weekend, I like to go UL instead, and carry more comforts and even a paperback for the weekend, perhaps even a fishing setup and a nice scotch.

Pack weight should vary based on the goals of your trip. It should not be a one size fits all thing.

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: packweight should vary depending on the goals of the trip on 05/31/2009 09:25:16 MDT Print View

My typical weekend will look like this: Saturday early in the morning (between 7 and 8) my friend will pick me up at home. Than we'll drive 3 to 4 hours depending on where we plan to hike, arrive in a nice Belgian village, park the car, enter pub/restaurant/cafe, have something to eat.

Than the rest of the day until dark we hike, depending on the season we can stop as early as 17h or hike until 20h, whenever the sun is setting and there are still a few minutes of light left to pitch the tarp.

The next day we try to wake up before dark (but we don't always succeed) and start hiking at the first light of day. Than we hike back to the car, where we try to arrive around lunch time (13h) and have lunch in the pub/restaurant/cafe again and drive back because we both enjoy our Sunday evenings at home, to unpack, kiss the girl friend and relax a bit before work starts again the next day.

This is anything but a wilderness trip of course, but there is none of that close to where I live, but it doesn't really matter because the Ardennes hills are still a great place for a hike and I really don't mind passing through a village after two or three hours on the trail and have myself some coffee and apple pie. :D

So I agree Mark, pack weight should vary based on the goals of your trip and indeed my pack weight certainly does. Still I see little point in carrying a sub 3 # pack on a high mileage weekend trip, but sleeping uncomfortably. I'd rather add half a pound and sleep more comfortable.

However I have no doubt that any sub 5 pounders here on this forum sleeps perfectly well on such a trip. Maybe I still have to figure out how. But typically my weekend pack weighs less than 10 # (and this is no base weight, this includes water, the fresh(er) food, canister stove and the trekking poles that spend most of their time strapped on my pack, tho it does not include the whisky cuz that's my friends job). And I find it perfectly comfortable at that weight and find no need for it to weigh even less other than the kick of knowing your pack is ridiculously light.

Last Easter I did a lake loop as well (in Luxembourg). This trip we did in three days and is about 44 miles and about 11,300 feet elevation gain, which I did with my UL kit and at the end of these tough days i was really happy with my 'luxurious' TAR Z-Rest cut off. I think that with a lighter mat I would have not gotten the needed rest at night, but as I said before, maybe I still have to learn.


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: packweight should vary depending on the goals of the trip on 06/02/2009 02:47:17 MDT Print View

X -

Some excellent comments. I guess each hike is different. If you need to carry a lot of water, lets say 4 liters, then you are already > 9lbs of water only. If you are hiking steep rough trails, then weight becomes more critical.

If you are hiking rather flat trails with lots of availabe water, then a different situation.

Sleeping pads - you can get conditioned to a very light and thin pad, especially if you can find soft places to sleep. People tend to sleep in areas that are packed down hard, where everyone has camped prior to them. If allowed, camp away from these spots. When I was younger, I could sleep all night without waking on a 3/8" Ensolite pad. Now that is difficult, unless I am on a longer trip, takes a couple nights to get conditioned. If I do several trips close together, my body gets used to the thin pads. Plus, I am a heavy sleeper. If I am really tired, I sleep well... again it is different for everyone. I have several pads for different trips and for my current state of "sleeping conditioning." Most of my trips are done with a base weight above 5lbs, but some require a lower weight or the hike itself is too demanding. So back to the OP, the Blast looks to be a great pack for some hikes. But equipment needs always vary according to the hike. I guess that is what keeps these companies in business, a lot of us have several packs, bags/quilts, pads, etc.

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Re: Re: packweight should vary depending on the goals of the trip on 06/02/2009 03:38:11 MDT Print View

"Sleeping pads - you can get conditioned to a very light and thin pad, especially if you can find soft places to sleep."

That might also be an issue. I always camp wild and I like to camp late, since where I camp it is illegal to camp wild. You should use campsites. So I don't always have the luxury to find the perfect spot, either in time, or either cuz the hidden spot isn't the most comfy. I did however found a few sweet spots that were great indeed.


btw am I hijacking this thread too much?

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Re: packweight should vary depending on the goals of the trip on 06/02/2009 15:03:00 MDT Print View

I agree with X. Most of my weekend trips are 'social' trips, and my base weight is low enough that the extra luxuries are worth it for me to carry. I really enjoy these trips and am not at all encumbered by the extra weight. My pack is still below 10kg, water included. Maybe I could get it down to 8kg by scrimping, but then how much fun would it be to watch everyone else wolf down appetizers, wine and cheese, fresh dinner and dessert? On longer trips where food and fuel weight go up, that's when I really start to scrutinise every gram. 1800 cu in would only just qualify as a day pack for me!

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: packweight should vary depending on the goals of the trip on 06/02/2009 19:57:40 MDT Print View

That was my point exactly Lynn. I'm glad I'm not alone in this matter cuz I was already affraid I'd lose my BPL ranking after my posts that I don't (yet) like going SUL :D