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Lightweight Frameless Backpacks State of the Market Report 2011: Part 1 – Choosing and Using a Frameless Pack
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Casey Bowden
(clbowden) - MLife

Locale: Berkeley Hills
No Waist Belt on 06/01/2011 16:48:48 MDT Print View


I eventually cut the hip belt off of my Gossamer Gear Mariposa since I never used it.

Matthew Black
(mtblack) - F
No waist belt on 06/01/2011 16:59:29 MDT Print View

It was Casey who prompted me to try a pack without the waist belt. Works great for me along with stuffing my sleeping bag directly into my pack liner rather than messing with a stuff sack, another Casey tip.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Better support on 06/01/2011 17:11:19 MDT Print View

Disclaimer: I'm a confirmed internal stay user.

But... for frameless packs using a hipbelt to attempt to transfer some load I STILL say a CFC mattress cut in half transversely and rolled into two smaller but tight rolls is the way to get a true transfer of load to the hipbelt.

The two CFC rolls would have to have their own sewn-in tubes in the inside of the pack with heavy duty Velcro top flap closures (with a few inches of adjustment in the closures) to force the CFC rolled tubes to stay all the way down in the sewn-in tubes. This would give the necessary stiffness for load transfer.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
UL Frameless Packs 2011: Part 1 on 06/01/2011 19:56:32 MDT Print View

Great article and plenty of info..Perfect timing I am in the market/hunt for a new UL pack. SMD Swift or MLD Exodus???????


Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: UL Frameless Packs 2011: Part 1 on 06/01/2011 20:02:37 MDT Print View

I'd get the Prophet before the Exodus, unless you want a bigger pack. You can get an awful lot of stuff in a Prophet!

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Lightweight Frameless Backpacks State of the Market Report 2011: Part 1 – Choosing and Using a Frameless Pack on 06/01/2011 20:17:04 MDT Print View


Sounds like a lot of people really like the Swift, but I really like my Exodus. Just a great all-around pack. I rolled it up and put inside my carry-on luggage for a recent trip to Bolivia. While there, I used it as a daypack, backpack for a trekking trip and a travel pack. It went on boats, on top of cars, got rained on and finished pretty much looking like it did when I started.

Exodus on a fishing boat to Isla del Sol

Bill B
(bill123) - MLife
Re: Lightweight Frameless Backpacks State of the Market Report 2011: Part 1 – Choosing and Using a Frameless Pack on 06/01/2011 20:49:06 MDT Print View

I have an LBP as well. I would consider the stays attached to the hipbelt. Even though they are not directly attached, the stay pockets are so integral to the hipbelt that they effectively work as a single unit.

Roman Vazhnov
(joarr) - MLife

Locale: Russia
Osprey Hornet on 06/02/2011 02:56:46 MDT Print View

Why Osprey Hornet was not considered?

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Good overview of the packs on 06/02/2011 03:25:12 MDT Print View

Will, Thanks for the great overview of the packs. I won't quibble on the details, you presented a good selection. You seem to have forgotten to include the pack liners and waterproof part of the well it would adapt to being submergerd/subjected to a rainstorm, or, maybe that's still comming? No matter, an excelent reveiew of the state of the market! THANKS!

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Women's Specific packs on 06/02/2011 23:53:15 MDT Print View

First off, great review! very awesome article. I think it also calls attention to a very big problem in the UL industry. You'll note that ONLY TWO PACKS, the GoLite Jam and Pinnacle, have a women's specific model available although these are generally heavier than the vast majority of packs on the list. That said, at least GoLite understands that there is a big fit difference between men and women and that merely designing a pack for men and than labeling it "Unisex" does not change the physiological reality that male and female humans have different proportions, skeletal and other structures.

GoLite gets a lot of flack on the forums here for being heavier than a lot of the cottage industry folks, but at least Golite understands the female market and makes products for us, which the others such as GG, SMD, MLD, etc do not. Yes, there will always be a few women who can use a man's specific (aka Unisex) pack without problems and many will be forced to make do while always sacrificing some level of fit, comfort or functionality just to have something.

Seriously though, in this day and age, I think any responsible manufacturer, cottage industry or not, should realize how large the female community of backpackers is and begin including us in their pack designs. Another untapped market for UL packs!

By the way, I really love my GoLite Pinnacle size small. Thanks GoLite!!!

Robert Cowman
(rcowman) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: Women's Specific packs on 06/03/2011 00:28:42 MDT Print View

yes there is a large community, but how many pack designers are women? Lightheart is really the only woman designing UL products. The people designing packs don't have the personal experience to design woman specific packs.

Will Rietveld
(WilliWabbit) - MLife

Locale: Southwest Colorado
Re: Lightweight Frameless Backpacks State of the Market Report 2011: Part 1 – Choosing and Using a Frameless Pack on 06/03/2011 07:44:43 MDT Print View

Hi all, here's my responses to some of the comments:

What's a LBP??

Removable Stays: Several comments on packs not included. Packs like the ULA Ohm and Osprey Hornet are IF, not frameless. The frames in these packs are not intended to be removed, or easy to remove. Packs with removable stays are designed to be used with or without the stays. And the purpose of the stays is mainly pack stiffening. The stay sleeves are on the backpanel and the stays are not directly connected to the hipbelt. So removable stays are not a built-in, integral, structural pack frame.

Waterproof Pack: Nothing like that exists as far as I know. Most pack fabric is highly water resistant, but no pack is waterproof unless it is seam taped or seam sealed. Any pack with stitching will leak through the seams. Of course there are packs that are more water resistant than others.

Keep the comments coming, good discussion. Happy hiking! Will

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Lightweight Frameless Backpacks State of the Market Report 2011: Part 1 – Choosing and Using a Frameless Pack on 06/03/2011 09:12:23 MDT Print View

"What's a LBP??"

Little Big Pack. Simply a Mchale that is smaller version of the Critical Mass Packs.

Brendan Murphy
(mbmurphy777) - MLife
Anyone tried one of these? on 06/03/2011 10:32:17 MDT Print View

I know it's "framed" but it looks nice to me:

"Chair-e-it" backpack

a lightweight backpack that converts to five different modes: backpack (seen above), camp chair, lounge chair (seen left), cot, and fanny pack. Yet only weighs 1 lb 15 oz. The article has pictures of all the modes and notes about its actual use during our Philmont trek.

Looks like a fun project. I love my Ohm, but I also I have a slinglight chair so maybe I'll try it.

Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Schedule of articles on 06/03/2011 11:56:09 MDT Print View

A rough schedule can be found here.

I plan to meter out the SOTM parts every other week!

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
women's packs on 06/04/2011 04:40:22 MDT Print View


I'm sure you mean well, but it really doesn't matter what the gender of the designer is...any good designer in business today should know how to make their product fit their customers. just like in any other industry, ie garment industries, there are female designers that design men's clothes and vice versa.

so really, it's a matter of recognizing that there are female customers and wanting to do it. how would you feel if only 2 packs (out of almost 100) were available for you to choose from?

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Re: women's packs on 06/04/2011 12:43:32 MDT Print View

+1 for Susan's comments!

Kathy A Handyside
(earlymusicus) - M

Locale: Southeastern Michigan
Re: Women's Specific packs on 06/04/2011 14:11:11 MDT Print View

Thanks Susan! I'm so glad to see this point addressed.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

SOTM on 06/04/2011 19:11:29 MDT Print View

This is going to be a great series. Nice job BPL.

I understand the arguments against including the Ohm since the frame hoop is attached to the hipbelt and it's tougher to remove that some others, but in the previous SOTM on internal framed packs the Ohm wasn't included because it was said it would be included on an upcoming SOTM on packs with stays...which this SOTM appears to be. Hopefully the Ohm gets included somewhere because it's such a great pack.

Obviously we could argue all day about which packs should or shouldn't be included and I understand the line needs to be drawn somewhere, so hopefully my post and the previous Ohm posts will make readers aware of this great pack and give it due consideration. It's essentially a ULA CDT with a superior compression system and nice removable frame hoop.

Charles Reneau
(charley289) - F

Locale: Cascades and Oregon Coast Range
Gossamer Gear G6 on 06/04/2011 22:51:12 MDT Print View

Hi there,
I've been using my GG G6 for years. I don't take it off trail, and I tend not to take it on trips when I'll be carrying more than two liters of water at a time (for the desert trips, I take my Mariposa). I've got one puncture the whole time I've used the pack- when my fiance unthinkingly dragged it across concrete (I just about cried!). Even then, the tear was tiny and on the bellows, so I just duct-taped it and forgot it. I've taken it bikepacking, in fact.

The G6 on the Still Creek loop, Mount Hood National Forest

I think the coolest thing about the pack is that it rides well. It fits me well, and doesn't get in the way.

So, while it's totally fine that the manufacturers are building packs twice as heavy but lots more sturdy, I still think there's a place for a 3.7 ounce backpack. I think the lightest one in this report is about twice as heavy, right?