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Ray Dunham
(Raymond) - F

Locale: SE US
Winter Backpack Recommendations on 11/18/2009 12:10:48 MST Print View

I am looking for recommendations for a winter backpack in the 4,000 to 4,500 cubic inch range preferable with a light frame and hipbelt 3 lbs or less. My base winter weight is about 18 lbs.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Winter Backpack Recommendations on 11/18/2009 12:28:41 MST Print View

The closest I can think of w/frame and under 3 lbs is a ULA Catalyst at 4600 cubic inches total and 47 oz. (3200 in the body/collar, 1400 in the various pockets).

I have a North Face Skareb 55 that in size large comes in at 48oz after taking out the removeable plastic frame sheet (8oz), which leaves just the light aluminum suspension. Capacity in large is 3650, but that doesn't include the pockets, which probably get it over 4000. I liked mine okay last winter, and while I'd prefer a Catalyst for winter camping, I got my pack at a TNF outlet for $80, so I can't complain.

Edited by jrmacd on 11/18/2009 12:29:28 MST.

Roger Homrich

Locale: California/Michigan
Re: Winter Backpack Recommendations on 11/18/2009 12:40:05 MST Print View

I second the ULA Catalyst. I initially bought mine for other uses, but it is perfect for winter. I’m glad for this, because it’s too much pack for most UL three-season use.

I’ve hauled up to 45 pounds (multiple day’s water supply) in mine and found it extremely comfortable and well thought out. The materials are very durable and it also handles a fluctuating load size/weight very well.

For me, it was the best combination of high capacity, relatively low weight (given its load carrying ability) and comfort available at the time.

Good luck.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
REI Flash 50 on 11/18/2009 12:43:37 MST Print View

The REI Flash 50 is a 50L pack weighing in at 2 lb.10 oz. I use this in the winter for showshoeing when I have to pack in my snowshoes. I have stripped mine down to remove a couple more oz. as well.

Ray Dunham
(Raymond) - F

Locale: SE US
Winter Backpack on 11/18/2009 12:51:45 MST Print View

I am considering the ULA catalyst, golite pinnacle, nimbus ozone and rei flash. My winter cubic inch load is about 3,600-4,000 depending on equipment and food. Max weight w/food and water is 30 lbs. Please keep the recommendations coming. I appreciate the help and guidance.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Winter Backpack on 11/18/2009 13:29:04 MST Print View

I forgot about the Osprey Exos 58. Just under 3 lbs and between 3300-3700 capacity in the main bag. I don't know how much the pockets add.

I spent a week trying a Exos 46 and I liked it alot but decided for my summer needs a GG Gorilla was better suited.

John Brochu
(JohnnyBgood4) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
Re: Winter Backpack Recommendations on 11/18/2009 13:29:19 MST Print View

I bought a GoLite Pinnacle for what I hope will be a base weight of around 15 to 18 pounds, so it's something you might want to consider.

It doesn't have a frame though except for a sewn in pad but I've found those are good up to 30 pounds or so.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Another vote for the Catalyst on 11/18/2009 15:51:47 MST Print View

Tough to beat any time you need to carry 30 lb.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Winter Backpack: SMD Starlight on 11/18/2009 16:04:57 MST Print View

The Six Moon Designs Starlight was my pick- and I just bought another for my wife. It is superficially quite similar to the ULA Catalyst but only 31 ounces with frame & belt pockets vs. around 46 for the ULA. You can leave the frame at home and save 5 ounces.

I do like a lot of the ULA features better than the SMD- bigger belt pockets, more suspension padding, better side pockets. The ULA suspension appears much more robust. I suspect that's where most of the additional weight comes in. Still, I have been fine carrying up to 40 pounds with my Starlight. It is much better under 30 though.

My bottom line decision going SMD vs ULA was about 1/2 price and 1/2 weight savings.

Edited by jimqpublic on 11/18/2009 16:10:19 MST.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Starlight on 11/18/2009 16:08:14 MST Print View

Been using a Six Moons Starlight (with stays) for a number of years, almost entirely in the winter, plenty of volume and have carried up to 40# (lots of water) without any problem.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Aaarrrrr! on 11/18/2009 21:19:45 MST Print View

Ye pantywaists! I carries me Dana Terraplane at a mere 7lbs. 6 oz. when winter camping. It is comfortable as long as I leave a few non-essentials at home like me sleepin' bag and stove. Aaarrrr!

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: Winter Backpack Recommendations on 11/18/2009 21:40:47 MST Print View

Another vote for the Golite Pinnacle. I've used this for several years and the previous model before that. Great pack and it works great for up to about 30 pounds. My review of this pack is on the site.

Can't WAIT for winter trips!

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Who's a pantywaist? on 11/19/2009 07:25:35 MST Print View

Eric, the Terraplane may be OK but there's nothing like the Mystery Ranch BDSB (now the Grizzly, I think) - 8.5 lb and 7400 cubic inches. Best pack for weight transfer I've ever carried. My winter trips are now mostly hut-to-hut so I don't use it that much anymore, but when I do it's great.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Winter Backpack Recommendations on 11/19/2009 11:00:20 MST Print View

If you want excellent near custom fit and a suspension that is second to none (except maybe Mchale), look at the Mystery Rany Trance XXX. 70L and 4lbs, 2oz but can be stripped to almost 3.5lbs. The suspension will easily carry over 40 pounds in comfort. Not a glorified book bag..this.

Dewey Riesterer
(Kutenay) - F
MR-BDSB on 11/19/2009 11:40:51 MST Print View

I agree with Richard Lyon, it took over 8 months for MR to get a BDSB to me, here in BC. I rigged it with Longpockets, Fliptop Boxes and, sometimes a gun carrier and it is THE bomb.

I have a DD-Bozo Astralplane and had a Terraplane OK plus several other DD-MR packs, I have, I think, 8 all told. However, for big loads in hard winter, the BDSB-Kodiak is IT.

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Winter Backpack Recommendations on 11/19/2009 11:42:58 MST Print View

Another Pinnacle vote. My winter base is around 16lbs and it always seems to do the trick. The simple, clean and mesh free design do a great job deflecting snow when walking under low branches or doing alittle butt glissading.

John Smith
(jbmarcott) - F
Winter Pack on 11/19/2009 14:02:41 MST Print View

Check out the GoLite Quest. It's about 4400 cubes in a size large, framed and 3 poundish. This has become my "go to" pack for winter backpacking. Tons of room for winter gear / clothing, water resistant fabric / zippers. The side compression straps will connect across the back of the pack to hold snow shoes, shovel etc. The only downside is the pack is tall and is level with the back of the head so if your hiking uphill and tilt your head back it can be irritating. There's a review of this pack here on BPL somewhere.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Winter Backpack Recommendations on 11/19/2009 14:31:19 MST Print View

Exos 58 is 2# 3oz. Great pack, light. The GoLite Quest mentioned might be good. "Mass market" Gregory Z-65 or Osprey Atmos 65 (honestly prefer the Exos to the Atmos). Perhaps a Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone, 3 pounds even. Cottage industry, the Catalyst is great. Maybe a Mariposa Plus.

I know people have hauled 50+ pounds in a Pinnacle, but I get pretty cranky hauling more than 25 pounds in the frameless pack.

Edited by 4quietwoods on 11/19/2009 15:06:13 MST.

Ray Dunham
(Raymond) - F

Locale: SE US
Feedback / Reasonable weight on 11/19/2009 14:57:06 MST Print View

Thanks for all the feedback. The pack doesn't have to be panel - I am perfectly fine with a top loader.

Any thoughts on the osprey aether 60.....heavier than I would like but I could get a good deal on one.

What is the heaviest backpack weight you recommend for winter loads. Not total weight just the weight of the pack.

What seems reasonable? I know reasonable can be a slippery slope to weight gain:-)

Jason Klass
(jasonklass) - F

Locale: Parker, CO
Winter Pack on 11/19/2009 15:51:24 MST Print View

Here are my votes:

ULA Catalyst
Golite Pinnacle
Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus

I have all three and they're all excellent winter packs.