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Pack Recomendation
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Fred Engel
(fnengel) - F

Locale: SouthEast
Pack Recomendation on 09/07/2010 09:56:11 MDT Print View

I would like an informed experienced opinion regarding a pack and I consider this the best place to get that. I have briefly used a Mystery Ranch Deep, Trance, 2 years ago, that seems to do a good job but I need the best load transfer to my hips possible. Is my best bet to just go to an external frame and chop it up to lighten it or are there other alternatives that will get me the weight transfer. I am looking for the best transfer, not just ok.

Following is some history to explain my needs.

Bio: Previously my gear consisted of a beltless homemade pack and most gear, base weight summer 7.5 pounds plus food and water. No hiking last 2 years due to 30 year back issues that came to a peak. I resorted to back surgery 6 months ago L3,L4,L5 fused from the front "ALIF surgery.

Currently, my 6 month review shows good bone growth and no physical restrictions, except the understanding that I am almost 60, not almost 20 and need to be a tad bit more careful. I have started hiking again and have my eye on backpacking as soon as conditioning and strenght etc. is appropriate.

With all that said, The doctors recommend a pack that has a hip belt and transfers almost all of the load directly to the hip bones. I understand this is a lightweight forum and such packs are heavier but I now consider myself a hybrid. The gear I put into the pack will be scrutinized even more for lightness and function.

I do not want to go out and test a myriad of packs to narrow down the field as the wear and tear on me doing that is not acceptable at this point.


Adam Kramer
(rbeard) - F

Locale: ATL, Southern Appalachia
Re: Pack Recomendation on 09/07/2010 10:10:09 MDT Print View

check out the ULA site. or six moon design's 2010 swift getting great reviews for comfort. but if you want true weight transfer with a real frame, my choice would be to go with ULA circuit.

Edited by rbeard on 09/07/2010 10:11:17 MDT.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Pack Recomendation on 09/07/2010 10:16:23 MDT Print View

Do you not want to carry the Deep Trance because of its weight?

The Circuit is a great pack but based on my experience, there aren't any lightweight packs (short of going custom to a Mchale - that are going to provide the type of load transfer to the hips that you would get with the Dana Designs / Mystery Ranch pack.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Pack Recomendation on 09/07/2010 10:51:53 MDT Print View

Given the condition you described, methinks you should look at BOTH weight reduction and weight transfer -- in that order.

I highly recommend that you first look at all your existing gear pieces -- and see what can be left out, substituted for, or replaced by lighter and more compact equivalents.

After doing the above, then you can shop for a lighter weight, framed backpack that will transfer weight properly to your hips.

Edited by ben2world on 09/07/2010 10:58:37 MDT.

Fred Engel
(fnengel) - F

Locale: SouthEast
Pack on 09/07/2010 11:00:22 MDT Print View

Regarding the Mystery Ranch, it is a great pack. I want to figure out if there is a better alternative for maximum transfer before I settle in with it. I definately do not want to hurt myself due to cutting a pound or two off of a pack structure.

Over time even partial loads on my remaining discs may tend to overstress them. The discs above and below the fusion do extra duty for the discs that are now gone. I am good with additional weight for the pack to get the transfer. I understand the lighter loads and pads for a frame do work for good transfer. I am after the maximum.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Pack on 09/07/2010 11:09:09 MDT Print View

I wouldn't worry too much about searching out the "maximum" load transfer. Most all quality, framed packs this day and age will do an excellent job. Despite what some of the fancy-schmancy gear catalogs will have you believe -- it's not rocket science.

The trick is simply to try out some packs -- because getting the right "fit" is critical -- and wholly personal.

But again, if I were you, I would focus first on cutting down load volume and weight -- then shop for an appropriate pack. Arcteryx, Granite Gear, Gregory and Osprey make some of the most popular internal frame packs. All come in different sizes and weights, of course, so again, by first lightening your gear load -- you can then shop for an appropriately small and light pack that will still do the job of carrying your gear comfortably. Anything bigger/beefier than what you really need will simply translate into extra burden for your legs and feet -- every single step of the way. More is not better.

Finally, if you like, feel free to describe the type(s) of hikes you do -- then list out your gear pieces. Bet some of us can give you good feedback -- which you can then pick and choose.

Edited by ben2world on 09/07/2010 11:20:38 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
try it all on on 09/07/2010 11:21:58 MDT Print View

1. as stated figure out your mean and max weights for your equipment/food/water

2. bring that much weight to the stores

3. try on a pack with that much weight ... pack it just like you would with your equipment ... if you can just use yr equipment ... most stores will let you do this

4. walk around the store for a minimum of 1-2 hours non stop ... up and down stairs, etc ....

5. get what feels best ... then worry about weight ... a light pack isn't useful if it doesnt fit you and aint at least somewhat comfortable

6. if you're going to buy online repeat the same process with the pack you ordered ... just make sure there's a good return policy and you will lose out on shipping

get what works for YOU and is reasonably light ... not what others tell you

packs are like shoes ... it fits everyone differently ... and everyone has different ideas of comfort

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
simple! on 09/07/2010 11:29:10 MDT Print View

Yes lightening your load would be beneficial, but the OP didn't ask about that. A 7.5 lb base weight is already pretty darn good.

Fred, I'd go for the Mystery Ranch pack if I were you. More mainstream packs (Osprey, Arcteryx) still don't come close to the Dana system. The main problem I had with my old Dana pack was that it transfered too much weight, and my bony hips would get bruised.

Good luck with continued backpacking.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: My Bad! on 09/07/2010 11:34:23 MDT Print View

Thanks, David -- and sorry, Fred, I missed the part about 7.5lbs base weight. My bad.

This one is going to be subjective (as expected). For such a light load, a "Dana system" may or may not be needed for OP. I would recommend trying some of the lighter weight framed packs ('mainstream') and comparing them to Mystery Ranch -- and pick the lighter option that will do the job comfortably. After all, no matter how comfy, one's legs and feet will still have to bear the burden every step of the way.

Edited by ben2world on 09/07/2010 11:45:09 MDT.

Fred Engel
(fnengel) - F

Locale: SouthEast
Pack Reccomendation on 09/07/2010 12:13:32 MDT Print View

All great information and advice.

I specifically note that so far no one has mentioned an external frame. Is that just overkill or is it that most folks here do not use them for the weight etc. etc.

I am gleaning information and will most likely use the Trance and then experiment around.

Thanks again!


Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Dana system on 09/07/2010 12:19:43 MDT Print View

Can someone explain the Dana system, and how it compares to "regular" packs of the Osprey, Arcteryx, Gregory, etc. lines?

I saw a little diagram on Marmot's website of their system, but it didn't explain much.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Pack Recomendation on 09/07/2010 12:44:55 MDT Print View

No diagram, but although Marmot bough Dana years ago, Dana is still making packs here:

There is no similarity between the way Marmot designs their suspension and that of Mystery need to consult mystery ranch to see the updated version of the Trance pack.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Pack Recomendation on 09/07/2010 12:47:55 MDT Print View

The OP needs to get the weight off the shoulders. Because MR has the ability to custom fit to a degree, he should be able to get the weight almost completely off and all the weight on the hips. The suspension is that stiff and that good.

Have you considered Mchale?

Yes on the External comment - just not many produced anymore.

Edited by FamilyGuy on 09/07/2010 12:48:36 MDT.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
pack recomendation on 09/07/2010 13:26:11 MDT Print View

Here's a vote for an external. I too need to keep weight off of my spine and on my hips. I've just not found an internal that will do this sufficiently. Instead, I chopped down a Kelty Trekker to just under four pounds; it works great--given my needs. Same would be true of a Tioga etc. But I just got a Luxurylite 2 lb external and it is much better; just as sweet as can be, no load on my shoulders or spine whatsoever. It's pricey new but you might get lucky and score a used version.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
external on 09/07/2010 20:27:43 MDT Print View

several of the Osprey packs considered internal frame are probably more accurately described as external packs- the Exos series being one

the Exos series does a good job of transferring weight, it does so at a pretty decent weight point as well- 39 oz for my Exos 46 size Large w/ all the bells and whistles still attached

Jason Knecht
(distortedaxis) - F

Locale: Earth
ULA Circuit. on 09/07/2010 21:08:07 MDT Print View

Probably way overkill for your base weight, but the ULA Circuit is a really good lightweight option that does what you need.

So far, I have tried numerous packs in recent months. Read; Osprey Exos, ULA P2, ULA Catalyst, ULA OHM, ULA CDT, Golite JAM2, Gossamer Gear G4, G5, Miniposa, Gorilla, & SMD Comet and I still find myself going back to my ULA Circuit just because of the weight distribution and overall comfort. It just feels right and my base is right around 15lbs with a hammock or 12lbs for ground dwelling (3-seaon).


Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Pack Recommendation on 09/07/2010 21:18:25 MDT Print View

Hey guys, he needs a lightweight pack that gets the weight completely off the shoulders - he doesn't need a listing of every UL pack out there.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Pack Recomendation on 09/07/2010 21:49:02 MDT Print View


You have some very specific needs, probably outside of most folks' expertise here on BPL.

Here is what I would do... contact Dan McHale at McHale Alpine Packs ( Dan is your age (and mine). He has an excellent reputation, and he sometimes posts here on BPL. From what he has posted in the past, he has earned my respect.

Fortunately, I do not have to deal with what you are going through. And kudos for your determination. Call Dan, it won't cost anything, and talk to him. Yes, his packs may not be the cheapest alternative, but if he can meet your needs, I am sure it will be worth every penny (or dollar).

Good luck!!

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Pack Recomendation on 09/07/2010 22:10:03 MDT Print View

I would still suggest a different route -- although I am by no means discounting Mystery Ranch or McHale.

To me, I would want to try some of the quality, but lighter weight packs out there. Fred, your 7.5 lbs. base weight is pretty darn light, and I don't think you should automatically assume that you need a heavily-built pack to achieve load transfer. Not at all.

Try out some of the lighter weight Osprey, Granite Gear or ULA packs first. I think there's a very good chance that you will be very happy with them. If you are dissatisfied -- then take the next step of shelling out the big bucks and carrying the extra pounds of a Mystery Ranch or McHale. In other words, there are simpler/lighter but potentially very effective solutions out there. I would try those first.

Edited by ben2world on 09/07/2010 22:12:25 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Pack Recommendation on 09/07/2010 22:23:10 MDT Print View

I found the load transfer to the hips excellent on the ULA Circuit. Especially with the light load you are carrying.