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BPL Absaroka Pack
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Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re BPL Absaroka Pack on 01/23/2010 14:25:54 MST Print View

Interesting thoughts Miguel. Personally my favorite type of backpacking is to hike down to dusk with my little modified Golite Ion and SUL gear. In that sense I don't regret going light and expect I will eventaully get a bit lighter.
On the other hand when I have a friend who wants to stop earlier and go at a slower pace I'm more inclined to through in a few luxeries. If I felt like spending the money this would be an attractive "luxery pack" to be combined with a neo-air mattress for slower paced trips.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: BPL Absaroka Pack on 01/23/2010 15:28:57 MST Print View

"Or for people who are going to be trekking five, six, seven, even nine days w/o resupply then a 37 ounce pack becomes necessary."

Not necessarily true, Sam. 9 day un-resupplied trips have been done with an OHM by at least 2 BPLer's that I know of. 14-15 days without resupply? Yeah, probably.

William Johnson
Ohm nom nom. on 01/23/2010 16:08:38 MST Print View

Nine days of gel packs and fat reserves? Yum!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Ohm nom nom. on 01/23/2010 16:36:15 MST Print View

"Nine days of gel packs and fat reserves? Yum!"

Nope. A diet very similar to that of Don Wilson and Alan Dixon on their recent Sierra trip. 1 pound 6 oz/day @ ~2800 calories/day. The keys, as they mentioned are careful attention to packing and calorie density. Also, I wasn't using a canister, which frees up space and weight, but I was carrying food for 10 days-we ended up coming out 1 day early. I have practice loaded my Ohm with food for 12 days. It fits by slightly extending the collar. The only issue is that I will be up at around 29 pounds, not including any water, and that is starting to push the comfort envelope a bit if I add in 2 liters of water for dry East Side Sierra approaches. Still, it is only an issue for a day. It is eminently feasible.

Fat reserves? Definitely. SOP for me. My calorie density is about 10-15 calories/ounce less than Don and Alan's. That is because I have a higher percentage of my food in carbs to burn my body fat. The downside is less total calories/ounce of carried food, but it works fine for me, at least up to 9-10 days. Much beyond that and I'd use less carbs, more protein, and a couple more ounces of fat.

JR Redding
(GrinchMT) - F
From a bigger persons perspective on 01/23/2010 16:39:39 MST Print View

"More and more it seems like a pack looking for a reason to be, rather than filling in a specific need."

I'm 6'3", 240 lbs and have broad shoulders. My first experience with a frameless pack was my last experience. While it was so nice to be "UL" it was ridiculously uncomfortable, un-adjustable and no it couldn't have sustained me for anything past an overnight. It didn't feel good to wear the pack.

Being bigger, my clothes are larger thus taking more volume, they weigh more. I eat more than someone of average height, my quilt is larger at 61 inches wide and 84 inches long.

When it comes to packs I personally didn't want to buy anything without having tried it on if it wasn't fully adjustable. The major selling point with this new BPL pack is just THAT. It's adjustable, a little more volume if you need it, able to carry loads more than a few days and while not "SUL" 2 lbs to a person like me is nothing. If the price is right, I may buy it based on those merits alone.

I think the pack will sell well if it is indeed as adjustable and durable as Ryan claims it is. Minimalist is ok and is a HYOH. Then there are people like me who want to be as light as can be, but comfortable. I think this pack will address that need.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Absaroka Pack and UL Backpacking on 01/23/2010 16:53:50 MST Print View

A 2 lb pack fits completely within the 10 lb base weight typically associated with going UL.

dan mchale
(wildlife) - MLife

Locale: Cascadia
honesty on 01/23/2010 18:31:37 MST Print View

I like some of the honesty I'm seeing in this thread. I witnessed and lived through the soft pack/frameless pack fad during the 70s. Having done that, it was easy to predict what is being said in this thread. It's just a matter of time before people want to carry a little more to be comfortable, whether it's a more substantial sleeping pad sytem or carrying a more substantial pack. Once people see that going lighter than they even need too is pointless, then they ask what is the point? The UL movement hurts itself by making anyone think they are too heavy with a 35 lb load, whether it is for 2 days or 10.

Edited by wildlife on 01/23/2010 18:32:39 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Taking Things to Extreme on 01/23/2010 18:36:18 MST Print View

Sorry for going on a tangent, but reading Dan's post above, I agree that the point of going ultralight -- at least initially -- was to make the hike more enjoyable. Everyone has a "sweet spot" where the load is light enough that he or she can hike all day without undue stress or discomfort. Mine is about 25 lbs.

But like with almost anything, there will always be some who want to take things to the extreme. Nothing wrong with that as psychic benefits can feel just as real -- but I do agree with Dan above. To the traditional backpacker unaccustomed even to ultralight backpacking -- the quest for SUL will strike most of them as odd.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Taking things to the Extreme on 01/23/2010 18:47:43 MST Print View

I think after a certain point its not so much about comfort as challenge. I don't have time or money to go up to Alaska anytime I want but I can challenge myself in Virginia by carrying a lighter load and learning how to sleep under a poncho etc. At this point a complete 3 season gear list for me is about 8 pounds, 10 if I add all my extra luxery items. Thats plenty light but what do I normally do? I leave a lot of that great gear at home and go out with my little SUL pack, foam pad and poncho tarp just to see if I can. Am I just crazy or do other people here think the same way?

dan mchale
(wildlife) - MLife

Locale: Cascadia
be here now on 01/23/2010 19:12:34 MST Print View

That just happens to be where you are at with it now. Maybe you will get over thinking it's cool to go out with your tarp. There is certainly nothing wrong with a challenge - that's what it's about for many. For many others, just getting out is important, and there are those that have used tarps, bivi bags and etc. that now use a nice light free-standing tent. It's when what you do HAS to be what other people want to do that it gets ugly. It's when it goes from challenge to dogma that I don't like it. Personally, I can't stand the term 'traditional'. Traditional seems to have taken on the meaning of 'those other stupid people'. I'm not implying that's what you mean Ben. :>)

Edited by wildlife on 01/23/2010 19:19:42 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re be here now on 01/23/2010 19:28:35 MST Print View

I agree Dan, its just a personal choice. My sweet spot is to try and keep my total pack under 25 pounds as much as possible. Beyond that, SUL is just a fun exercise. I suspect I'll carry more this spring when I go out with my friends (Tarp tent etc, we don't hike all day when we're together).
All that said I get really excited when I see lighter packs like the Absaroka and the Exos because in my opinion it makes reasonably light (as in less than 30 pound packs) backpacking more available to guys who aren't freaks.
Speaking of traditional my dad did some hikes in the 70s and to be honest it sounds like they kept things pretty light and simple even without all the fancy gear of today.

Edited by Cameron on 01/23/2010 19:35:37 MST.

dan mchale
(wildlife) - MLife

Locale: Cascadia
fun on 01/23/2010 19:37:41 MST Print View

Yeah, it's all pretty fun. I still need to get a quilt to offset the weight of my tent a little. I hate to cute up my old WM Mitylite to do that!

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re Re BPL Absaroka Pack on 01/23/2010 20:37:19 MST Print View

"This version of the Absaroka Pack is targeted to thru-hikers, expedition trekkers, and others who want maximum comfort and long term durability out of a pack. We are designing this pack to carry 40+ pound loads in comfort."

In the write up, the first word THIS is underlined.

IMO, this version does not bring with it the demise of SUL. I still plan to use my Zpack and a 5 lb base weight on certain trips. Sure it's a mainly in the brain thing for most hikers when going below 10-12 lbs base. But it's like the reasons why they climb mountains and trek to the Poles or around Alaska or you get in shape or lose weight or play a musical instrument or master a camera, etc. - because it's there and can be done - and you need to push yourself. You have the power to make your life better.

My long range goal is thru-hiking so, for me, THIS version might be the pack I will use for THAT because it will be durable and comfortable. If there is confusion, then re-read the write up.

James Dubendorf

Locale: CO, UT, MA, ME, NH, VT
Re: fun on 01/23/2010 20:56:25 MST Print View

Man, I hope I'm not the only one here who thinks 10 lbs sure feels different than 20 lbs!

The "sweet spot" concept is a good one, and it can be unique both to the hiker and their situation. Just as terms like "traditional" can sound derogatory (many people hiking at that weight are carrying the hottest new technology), the notion that tarp users are "freaks" worried about looking cool isn't exactly a compliment. What a site like BPL can help any hiker do, regardless of their goals, is make educated choices about what kind of hike suits them.

Most hikers I've encountered on the trail with 30+ lbs packs have not CHOSEN to carry that weight as opposed to lighter alternatives. Either due to lack of experience, or a flurry of expensive impulse purchases at REI, they are carrying much more than they want or need, and regretting it. Of course, this does not necessarily mean that those kind of pack weights are always a result of inexperience. But choosing that load based on a careful consideration of personal preferences, the particular situation, and the viable alternatives is much different than succumbing to a marketing blitz on the pages of Outside Magazine.

I pack light so I can carry much of my girlfriend's stuff in my pack. She thinks that's much cooler than the tarp. ;-)


Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
BPL Absaroka Pack on 01/23/2010 21:25:52 MST Print View

I think this pack will appeal to those who haven't been happy with frame less packs and to those who are looking to do longer unsupported trips with heavier loads. However, it doesn't seem to me that the development of this packs shows that frame less packs were some kind of fad that didn't work and that poeple have now realised this and are moving on.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re fun on 01/23/2010 21:40:42 MST Print View

James if you thought "freaks" sounded bad please don't take it as an insult. Note that I included myself under that heading as well. I said that because thats what I get called when people see my little Ion pack. They think I'm weird not cool. I try and explain I have a system that works but no one seems to get it. I've tried 10 pound packs and love them too. The point was that 20-25 pounds was "Good enough" for me. If my sole concern was avoiding a sore back at the end of the day I could have stopped there.
I went lighter mostly as a challenge and discovered in the process I could cover a lot more ground that way. I love going SUL or close to it but if I'm going to spend a lot of time in camp with a buddy I bring a few luxery items because I can.
I would totally agree with your point that a lot of people are carrying a lot of weight because they don't know any better. Many of these people could achieve the same comfort level for a lot less weight just by shopping around more carefully.
It really depends on what your goals are. I like hiking all day with a really light pack. My friend hikes for 8 to 10 miles max and stops well before dinner and enjoys the scenery. He doesn't need a SUL pack and probably is better off with a few extra items.

Edited by Cameron on 01/23/2010 21:52:30 MST.

James Dubendorf

Locale: CO, UT, MA, ME, NH, VT
Re: fun on 01/23/2010 22:22:22 MST Print View


No worries, I knew it was all in good fun and took no offense. I say let those silnylon freak flags fly! For fear of instigating too much thread drift here, I'll add that the Absaroka looks very nifty, and I'll be eager to hear about people's field experiences with it.


Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Re fun on 01/23/2010 22:45:10 MST Print View

Yep just wanted to make sure we were okay James. The silnylon freak flag was a pain to raise (31 grams)so I am replacing it with Cuban:)

Back to the pack it does look interesting. The advantage I see of this pack for a thru-hiker is the flexability. Its barely heavier than a lot of frameless packs but I suspect it would be well worth it if you had to go a long distance between resupplies. Stories of hauling water on the southern PCT come to mind for example.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: BPL Absaroka Pack on 01/24/2010 01:25:32 MST Print View

As I stated early on in this thread, this new pack is probably not for me.

However, we cannot judge a pack based only on its weight. What we need to do is wait until those who buy it give us their feedback.

I do find it ironic that I have seen many, many recommendations here on BPL for the ULA Catalyst & Circuit (47 oz & 36 oz), GoLite Pinnacle (33 oz), Granite Gear Vapor Trail (37 oz), and others in the 2 lb range. And now this Absaroka is blasphemy?

Who determines what is an acceptable weight for a pack, shelter, or sleep system? Ultimately the user. Not the pundits here on BPL.

Regarding the notion that many of us have overshot the UL paradigm, and are moving back to an equilibrium of heavier weight. Not necessarily.

I am one of those who carried the “heavy” external frames in the 60’s & 70’s, moved to internal frames, then back to external, and now have embraced the UL packs. I still have and like my old Kelty external pack. Even in my early years, I practiced lightweight, given the available gear of the time. I have always used a tarp as my main shelter. I sill have two Gaz Globetrotter stoves and some of the long obsolete Gaz cartridges. Weight-wise, they were revolutionary for the time. The mindset was there; technology had just not caught up.

This year I will turn 60. I am not as strong or as quick as I once was. Today UL equipment allows me to enjoy the same kind of hiking I did 40+ plus years ago. I can hike with my 23 year old son and he does not have to slow down for me, and I do not have to push to keep up with him. We can just hike and enjoy the trip. The UL equipment expands my limits, and does not put me in harms way. It is technology. Lighter equipment, made from newer materials. None of the equipment of the past 40 years is revolutionary. It has been evolutionary, slowly improving each year.

UL equipment allows me to continue to hike a lot. And since I hike a lot, I can still sleep well with a NightLight or TorsoLite pad. And these pads lighten the load. I have tried tarp tents, and just don’t like them. A tarp works better. I used my first tarp in 1969. A tarp lightens the load. My Nunatek quilt and WM bag are both lighter and warmer than the 600 fill down bag I carried for decades. And they lighten the load. So, I don’t need a “heavy” pack, whatever that is.

There are some luxuries I will continue to use, as my experiences with the alternatives are not viable for me. I shall always carry toilet paper of some sort. Leaves don’t cut it, and there aren’t any in the desert. Finger toothbrushes do not hack it either. And Dr Bronners for toothpaste sucks. Just my opinion and what works for me.

So let us wait until the Absaroka comes out, and then judge it on its merits. And let’s continue to seek lighter alternatives, based on individual needs, and not hold our minds and bodys hostage based on what the UL community declares as gospel. However I shall continue to weigh (pun intended) the opinions of the many folks here who's knowledge and experience I value.

That is my two ounces... or is it cents?

Edited by ngatel on 01/24/2010 01:29:23 MST.

JR Redding
(GrinchMT) - F
Re: BPL Absaroka Pack on 01/24/2010 06:06:32 MST Print View

That was really well said Nick. Thank You. :)