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Big, Heavy Packs
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Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Big, Heavy Packs on 01/20/2011 14:44:22 MST Print View

Why do people carry "Big, Heavy" packs?

First, most of the gear I see here I had never even heard of before. You'll never see the stuff discussed here in a Sport Chalet or REI (the two retailers near me). UL gear suffers from a problem of obscurity to the general public.

Second, BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET. Before I was making decent money, I'd do garage sales, cast offs from friends, sales, whatever. Beggars can't be choosers. The most common stuff is, you guessed it, heavy.

Third, it's a BIG leap of faith to start buying gear over the internet that without trying it on/out first. I've wound up with stuff I didn't like. Yeah, I can Gear Swap it -- at a loss. I see a lot of people here who are super experimenters, constantly striving to lower their skin out weight. Most of the people I know won't take/don't have the time to do that.

Fourth, it's just plain hard work to lighten up. I bought a lighter pack, a lighter pad, a lighter bag, and a lighter shelter. I struggled to get my pack weight down to 38lbs (total weight incl. food, water, and fuel), and I made some compromises that left me a little nervous (carrying an Ur Sack instead of a bear canister in Sequoia Nat'l Park for example).

It's a huge, nay, HUGE change of mindset for someone like me who started hiking and backpacking in the 60's. It ain't easy.

Having said that, my 50lbs days are THANK GOD over and I can't see myself needing a pack as large as the one Ryan posted even for a winter trip.


James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
Re: "Big, Heavy Packs" on 01/20/2011 15:16:49 MST Print View

I think you are serious when you are a member of this community, asking questions, helping others, & constantly trying to improve your technique to enhance your enjoyment of the outdoors. This journey is different for everyone, but for me its highest expression so far has been a 4 day trip with 12 lbs carried in a Gossamer Gear Murmur. I've done the external ladder frame behemoth 60 lb pack from my Boy Scout days until 4 yrs ago & have no desire to return to that misery.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Here
Big, Heavy Packs on 01/20/2011 16:42:31 MST Print View

Thank you for N1
(I do think that some need to lighten up a bit...)

The Osprey Argon (only 110L...) is around 6.5lbs and regularly sold here in Melbourne (and probably more so in Tasmania)

Hiking Jim
Yes that was huge

But if you are serious , the Flextrek 37 Trillion now has a built in Super Gyro Stabiliser (Patent pending but only just) to avoid some of the slight swing you had in the previous version.
It should be on show at Salt Lake City right now..
How about reporting on this one Mr Jordan , or are you afraid of the competition ?

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Big, Heavy Packs - What in the world.... on 01/20/2011 17:02:33 MST Print View

"What in the world does anyone do with an 85 liter pack?"

Climb very big mountains in remote locations.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Small, light packs - aka Look ma I'm special on 01/20/2011 17:06:48 MST Print View

With the exception of a few of you you're all taking this way too seriously.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Big, Heavy Packs @Chad on 01/20/2011 17:12:14 MST Print View

"You're not a serious backpacker. You're just some backpacker who needs try and prove to others that you're serious."

Thanks for setting us straight, Chad.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Small, light packs - aka Look ma I'm special on 01/20/2011 17:14:39 MST Print View

"With the exception of a few of you you're all taking this way too seriously."

Ahem, uh, present company excepted of course. ;-]

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Small, light packs - aka Look ma I'm special on 01/20/2011 17:17:09 MST Print View

I don't care how big the mountain, Tom, I am not hauling an 85L pack!! :)

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Big, Heavy Packs on 01/20/2011 17:22:27 MST Print View

I am not a serious backpacker. Oh, I have done a lot of it, some short trips and some long trips. I only do it because it makes me happy. I do it for my own pleasure.

And why should we question anyone who wants to hang a category to backpacking, such as "serious?" Many of us here are guilty of the same. Light, UL, SUL, etc. There is some gratification to get to a certain predetermined category of "lightness" by many people here. I have been guilty of it too.

The pack I take on any trip is the one in my inventory that will do the job best, will last, and will be comfortable. It weighs what it weighs. Form (and weight) follow function. It is the one piece of equipment we usually spend the majority of our backpacking time using. I do not take lug nuts off my car with a hammer, and I do not drive nails with my torque wrench. Some would say the Abaroka is a big heavy pack, others consider it ultralight and not serious, and some consider it perfect for a particular hike. It doesn't matter what others think, if it is the right pack for you. We need to do our research and purchase the gear that fits our individual needs and wants the best... not what some "expert" tells is best for us.

I think most pack manufacturers are in the business to make a profit. And selling price points are usually set by gross profit margin percentages. In other words, Gregory makes a lot more money (dollars) on a Denali Pro 105 than a Z55. And if the entire backpacking world wanted packs that weigh less than 20 oz, companies like Gregory would go out of business. I am not picking on Gregory.

Today we live in a "risk adverse" society, and many backpackers carry stuff for every conceivable emergency or discomfort. Need a big heavy pack for that.

Lastly, lets not forget the "macho" advertising message to the "serious" backpacker who can toil under 50+ plus pounds, when 15 lbs would be more than adequate.

So what do I think about those who consider themselves serious backpackers? I don't think about them :)

Let us not forget that most of the BPL community is on the fringe of the backpacking world. We are a minority. I have no interest in converting the rest of the world to the glorious world of lightening up. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy discussing gear as much as the next person. But I do not consider it serious conversation.

But this is a good subject for discussion. Thanks for the post.

Ron Babington
(Ohbejoyful) - MLife

Locale: Greenville, SC
big packs on 01/20/2011 17:40:40 MST Print View

Rough day, Chad?

James Klein

Locale: Southeast
rough day on 01/20/2011 18:41:31 MST Print View

OHH NOOO, Chad has you all figured out. Not serious backpackers but too serious on the forum (I hope he doesn't figure me out :( ). At first I hoped it was just Ike but it looks like he's on to everyone (please, oh please not me...).

Chad, what will it take ensure you keep this between us friends on the bpl forum. I'm sure me and my compadres would be absolultey beside ourselves if some serious backpacker saw through our facade in the backcountry.

Also, regarding your uncanny ability to spot a poser... could you clue us in so we could further develop out craft.

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
backpacking verses pictures verse.. on 01/20/2011 18:44:12 MST Print View

If you are just trail hiking, even for a couple weeks, with cheap gear that isn't "ultra" light one doesn't need a big pack.

That being said. My first pack was a 4.5lb external frame pack. Loved it after it quit squeeking on milepost 8 or so... digging into my back with its cross bar, smacked my head with its top bar...

Also have used a Kelty Super Tioga at 8lbs to carry 4x5 view cameras with all the film slides, change bag, light meter, etc. It adds up fast and takes up a Huge volume of space.

For weekend take a 2000 cub inch pack.

Bought Dana Designs Astraplane online because it was going for nearly free and then decided that the Gregory Denali Pro was better for hauling 4 weeks of food and climbing gear for going into remote locations in the Coast Mountains of British COlumbia. These packs are deficient at any load over 70lbs though. Dana Designs/Gregory/Arc TEryx/Osprey are all the same just different colors really and price.

Even for carrying only 50lbs of climbing gear for a week-10+ day trips through the pickets in Washington State North Cascades National Park MChale packs are still superior to a 55L black diamond pack which is darned good as it has haul loops and ability to attach a bunch of gear on the outside which I have used extensively for climbing for week long trips. Mchale packs shrink for doing rock climbing as well.

If I had tons of money, sure I would buy all super light gear and get a dyneema McHale backpack. Real reason? I carry a lot of photgraphic gear along with my climbing gear. Better to be comfortable than miserable.

IF like most folks the longest you go out for is 3 days, then no one needs a large pack. If you have to haul other peoples crap, cuz they are newbies, or because you want to go somewhere remote, then you need the big pack. Or you are one of those folks that MUST stick everything inside your pack making it impossible to find, requiring a 5 hour stop everytime you want a snack...

Edited by footeab on 01/20/2011 18:49:02 MST.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Re: Small, light packs - aka Look ma I'm special on 01/20/2011 18:56:35 MST Print View

"I don't care how big the mountain, Tom, I am not hauling an 85L pack!! :)"

Ben, I have and will NEVER do that again. I think it is a lot more cool doing what we do versus what the others do. I used to think having a big pack made you "manly"....yeah right. Using my head, experience and the gear I have makes my wilderness experience cherished.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Big, Heavy Packs on 01/20/2011 19:02:08 MST Print View

Ha ha ha....Hey Chad, I am a serious backpacker. I take my safety seriously, I take my outdoor experience seriously and I take my own experience seriously. You seem to be a stick in the mud buddy. Macho Macho Man, I wanna be a Mach Man.....


and Chad, I assume that your Ike comment was towards a Mr. Ide?? In a few weeks I will ask him how serious he is about backpacking.

For those that have hiked with me, Ya'all know that I am NOT too serious. In fact....I am a class I guess that makes me a "not serious" backpacker. Oh well dude, see ya on the trails in the Sierra's pppppppfffffffffffftttttttttttt

Edited by kennyhel77 on 01/20/2011 19:05:43 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
How Do You Define Serious? on 01/20/2011 19:17:54 MST Print View

As Clinton himself might have asked...

To me, being a serious hiker means giving it the proper attitude: wilderness hiking is not a stroll in the park. So, everyone would do well to acquire the requisite experience and gear for whatever hikes he or she plans to embark on. There's a wide range from an urban trail to a thousand-mile thru hike or the Himalayas.

In answering Ryan's question, I did not equate "serious" with "hardcore" or "macho". Maybe that was what Chad had in mind?

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Big, Heavy Packs on 01/20/2011 20:17:39 MST Print View

"Form (and weight) follow function"

I follow this in my dating life as well. And I'm one heck of a serious dater. Ain't gonna talk about my UL pack, though....

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Re: Big, Heavy Packs on 01/20/2011 20:38:20 MST Print View

The problem with most "big" packs is that there are lighter adequately durable alternatives that will do the same job. That to me is what makes so many mainstream packs ridiculous.
The need to carry "big" loads is a separate matter and depends entirely on the intention and circumstances of the trip.

Ike Jutkowitz

Locale: Central Michigan
Serious is just a word on 01/21/2011 08:40:01 MST Print View

For some it has positive connotations, and for others clearly negative. If you fall into the latter group, try substituting "passionate". If that is still too much commitment, how about "really interested". Most of us would consider ourselves to be "serious/passionate/really interested" backpackers. Why else would you following a forum on backpacking philosophy?

I took the original post at face value, rather than as a call to debate semantics. (ie. It would be silly to define a backpacker based on something as inconsequential as a the size of their pack, so what really defines a serious/passionate/really interested backpacker?)

For me, it is that I go backpacking every opportunity I get, spend the time in between planning trips to challenge my abilities or take me to new places, and spend some time browsing trip reports and these forums to fuel my imagination. I also use backpacking as a way to spend real time with my family and to teach my girls values I consider to be important.

I guess though that by posting this, I have just proven that I'm not really a passionate or interested backpacker either...

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Big, Heavy Packs on 01/21/2011 09:19:05 MST Print View

I just love how some are so quick to defend how serious they are about their backpacking.

It's not that the word serious has positive or negative connotations; it has nothing to do with being safe, or being prepared. It's all about the ego that comes across when someone defending the seriousness of their backpacking. :P

Now if you’ll excuse me I have a serious winter trip to head out on.

Ike Jutkowitz

Locale: Central Michigan
Re on 01/21/2011 09:45:41 MST Print View

Ego: An inflated feeling of pride in your superiority to others ;)

Have a great weekend all!