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Which Pack?(Gossamer, MLD, MLA)
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Ryan Hart
(drmguy) - F

Locale: Orange County
Which Pack?(Gossamer, MLD, MLA) on 04/07/2010 00:51:12 MDT Print View

I purchased a Jam with my REI dividend because it was the only UL pack that REI carries. The only other thing I could find I wanted from REI was a steripen which I am not sure I really want either. Anyways, after receiving it part of me is wondering why I am settling for a Jam when there are such better alternatives.

So now, the day I received it in the mail, I want to return it if you all feel something offered from Gossamer, ULA or MLD would be a better alternative.

After reading through various reviews it seems like models from those three manufactures would be the best choices but I cant narrow it down much more. Could you provide some pros and cons of the manufactures I listed and if I am missing another great pack?


Peter Longobardi
(paintplongo) - F

Locale: Hopefully on the Trail
ULA on 04/07/2010 00:55:20 MDT Print View

I only have experience with ULA, but I can tell you top notch quality, great benefits/features, comfortable, great people and great prices. I thru hiked the AT in 2009 with a Catalyst and it still is in great shape. I just bought a Conduit based on that experience and if everyone else is right, I'm sure I'll love it.

(onthecouchagain) - MLife

Locale: Sunny SoCal
tough stuff on 04/07/2010 01:11:54 MDT Print View

I, like so many others here, have used all of the one's you mention. ALL top-notch bags for sure. It all boils down to fit/features/function. That may be stating the obvious but...a ULA just does not quite get me (a med. is too small and a large too big), MLD bags are awesome but I need a bear canister so that limits it to one model offered unless I carry the can externally (do not like that idea at all), Gossamer Gear stuff is terrific too...they offer some scary light weight bags but where you go and what you do may impact the materials??

What ends up happening inevitably is that you have more than ONE in your gear closet. Say a larger volume winter/mountain bag, a medium sized relatively light weight bag at about 19oz-32oz and a UL bag at under a pound.

The makers you mention are some of the best and you won't be disappointed in any of their offerings (excepting of course, if you don't follow the 3 F's of fit/function/features...then heaven help become a gear head). You really have to know what you want the pack to do before you go looking for the right one i.e. capacity, durability, weight, etc.

Good luck and keep checking the gear swap pages...great gear at great prices sold by stand up people.


Edited by onthecouchagain on 04/07/2010 01:46:26 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Which Pack?(Gossamer, MLD, MLA) on 04/07/2010 01:27:59 MDT Print View

To these I'd add the Six Moon Designs Starlite, 30 oz. with the "optional" (mandatory, IMHO) stays, easily carries 35 lbs. if needed, has room for that bear canister. For light loads (< 20 lb.) you can omit the stays, but the load lifters (wonderful for pressure-sensitive shoulders like mine) won't work well without them.

I have its discontinued "little brother," the Comet, and love it!

(onthecouchagain) - MLife

Locale: Sunny SoCal
a plug for JOE! on 04/07/2010 01:33:18 MDT Print View


Take a look at Joe has earned quite a following here and for good reason. His stuff just seems to work and work well for a good price.


Hendrik Morkel
(skullmonkey) - MLife

Locale: Finland
Needs on 04/07/2010 01:39:03 MDT Print View

Would be easier for us to help you if you'd tell us

- your base weight
- where you plan to hike
- for how long
- how much your consumables usually weigh
- do you need a bear canister or not

With that info we can narrow it better down, now it is more like stating which bags we like and think are great.

Also, how about you first try out that Jam before you decide to get another pack? Its a good pack, used by many here, and might just be the right pack for you.

Mike McHenry
(mtmche2) - F
Jam on 04/07/2010 01:42:36 MDT Print View

I personally like my Jam2. Granted it is a few years old and has none of the beefed up features like the new one you just purchased (adding a significant amount of weight I might add). However, I do feel that the Jam is a good value and is pretty bomber as far as UL backpacking goes.

Ryan Hart
(drmguy) - F

Locale: Orange County
Re: Needs on 04/07/2010 01:47:52 MDT Print View

I haven't done my spreadsheet yet but I am getting there. I am anticipating right around 10 lb base.

First major usage is the JMT

I will be using the weekender.

Ryan Hart
(drmguy) - F

Locale: Orange County
Re: Jam on 04/07/2010 01:49:18 MDT Print View

I am a guy of extremes and with the Jam I feel like I could go lighter.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Jam on 04/07/2010 07:50:20 MDT Print View

I just received a GG Gorilla and am very impressed!

Ryan Hart
(drmguy) - F

Locale: Orange County
Re: Re: Jam on 04/07/2010 11:38:18 MDT Print View

I think I have narrowed it down to either the Mariposa Plus or the Conduit.

(onthecouchagain) - MLife

Locale: Sunny SoCal
that was fast on 04/07/2010 11:44:47 MDT Print View

Wish I could get my act together that's taken me years and tons of money! Good for you, now buy it and get to it man!


Bradly Feeley
(bradly) - F

Locale: San Diego, CA
Re: Which Pack?(Gossamer, MLD, MLA) on 04/07/2010 11:50:28 MDT Print View

Have you thought about the SMD Swift '10? I am still deciding on a pack for the JMT this year and have been leaning towards that one.

Peter Longobardi
(paintplongo) - F

Locale: Hopefully on the Trail
Re: Re: Which Pack?(Gossamer, MLD, MLA) on 04/07/2010 11:54:20 MDT Print View

^Good suggestion as I looked at that pack as well. I like the Conduit's uniform pockets and the waistbelt on the Swift wouldn't fit very well for someone with a waist 34 or over I don't think based on Travis's pictures of his. He looks like a pretty trim guy and the pockets don't even come around his hips leaving them pretty far set back. I'm sure either way you couldn't go wrong though.

Ryan Hart
(drmguy) - F

Locale: Orange County
Re: Re: Which Pack?(Gossamer, MLD, MLA) on 04/07/2010 12:18:55 MDT Print View

I actually had a gatewood on order so I called SMD just now and tacked on a swift.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Which Pack?(Gossamer, MLD, MLA) on 04/07/2010 12:20:28 MDT Print View


This step requires you to take some time and do a lot of research. Read threads, read BPL articles, etc.

People here tend to be brand loyal (not a bad thing). But it would be difficult to make a decision based on the feedback in one thread.

GG, ULA, MLD, and others all make good packs. And they all have similiarites, and some unique features. Obviously the first step it to determine what capacity you need, or even if you might need more than one pack.

For me, the next critical step is how easy is it for me to live out of the pack. I think this is huge. How does it carry on you back, how easy is it to get to items you need during the day, and when setting up camp. How easy is it to pack. How durable is it. And of course, how light is it.

The good thing is that many of the cottage industry companies will let you return it, if it is not perfect, assuming you have not requested any customized features.

Even if you cannot return it for some reason, most are easy to sell here on Gear Swap.

I have my favorite brand, based on ease of use, and others prefer a different brand, even if they had once owned one of my favorites. It is highly subjective.

Ryan Hart
(drmguy) - F

Locale: Orange County
Re: Re: Which Pack?(Gossamer, MLD, MLA) on 04/07/2010 12:26:37 MDT Print View

This has become my most visited website since deciding to do the JMT this summer.

I have compiled excel sheets with what everyone uses(from gear list) I have compiled pros and cons lists and much more.

I honestly feel with something as important as a pack I cant make a perfect decision without having that thing on my back.

I ordered the Swift and I will most likely order a conduit and see what works best.

Thanks for all the input.

Duane Hall
(PKH) - M

Locale: Nova Scotia
Re: Which Pack?(Gossamer, MLD, MLA) on 04/07/2010 12:37:10 MDT Print View

I'm not going to make your choice easier for you; I would add Six Moon Designs to your list.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Please post a follow-up on 04/07/2010 13:11:09 MDT Print View

Ryan, I'm in the same boat as you--trying to decide between the Swift and the Conduit for my first frameless pack. I hope you'll post a follow-up with your thoughts/reviews on the Swift and the Conduit if you get it, too.

Ryan Hart
(drmguy) - F

Locale: Orange County
Re: Please post a follow-up on 04/07/2010 13:19:20 MDT Print View

Yep I just ordered the Conduit as well.

I hope Gossamer gets the torso nightlights in soon as that is the pad I want to use.

I have to say both SMD and ULA have been GREAT.

Me previously being a big box shopper I wasnt used to real customer service.

Edited by drmguy on 04/07/2010 13:20:39 MDT.