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The craze with frameless
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William Zila
(Ultralightwillinn.m) - MLife

Locale: Albuquerque
The craze with frameless on 07/11/2011 09:53:23 MDT Print View

Can anybody explain the reason why so many of us use frameless packs ? Including myself yes I understand It for those times when your pack weight is under 10 lbs. But I did a little simple testing yesterday I loaded my flash 30 with 15lbs and my osprey talon 44 with 15lbs. keeping in mind this is 15 lbs of gear the pack weights are left out of this. and went on day hikes with them and I can say that the osprey felt a decent amount lighter about 10-15%. Then I stepped it up and put 20lbs the osprey then felt 20+% lighter. I would never have 20lbs of gear but with a 6lb base weight 2liters of water and 10days of food I'm at 20. So is there anyway to get more comfort out of a frameless pack? I was using the flash 30 with the built in foam panel and loaded correctly. So let's here from both sides of the fence for between 10-20lbs frame or frameless and why?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: The craze with frameless on 07/11/2011 10:08:37 MDT Print View

William, you sound like you are trying to instigate an argument.


Bradley Attaway
(AttaboyBrad) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
A false dichotomy. on 07/11/2011 10:09:00 MDT Print View

I think dividing packs into framed and frameless presents a false dichotomy in how products are used.

Except at the most extreme end of ultralight, all of my "frameless" packs will have some sort of frame built into them for actual use--be it a built in foam pad, my sleeping pad, my sleeping pad reinforced with stays, a removable framesheet alone, a removable framesheet plus sleeping pad, a traditional non-removable internal frame, any of these with various levels of hip belt padding, etc.--the nice part about the "frameless" (which are probably better described as "add-your-own-frame") is that you have the ability to customize your degree of support for the loadout on a particular trip.

As my load out increases, the tradeoff between pack weight and pack comfort changes. I choose that setup above which maximizes overall speed on the trail. The pack is only "frameless" before I load it.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: The craze with frameless on 07/11/2011 10:15:09 MDT Print View

I'll take a stab at it. I can see several reasons why many people go frameless. First, there are very few packs with stays in them that are really light, so the penalty for a frame is usually a couple of pounds. Second, most of the people who go frameless do so after having gotten their base weight fairly low - under 10 lbs - and in many cases are sloe doing relatively short trips - 4-5 days - so that their total load minus the pack is less than 20 lbs and often closer to 15. For a lot of people - though not everybody - 15 lbs is pretty comfy in any pack, so why pay the weight penalty to get a frame?
Plus I think not many people have tried a really wide range of packs. If all you have experience with is a 6-lb framed pack and a 12-oz frameless, then the anaylsis is different from comparing that same frameless with a 16-20 oz pack with stays in it.
For myself, since I make my own packs and have been doing so for 35+ years, I've tried all the variations from external frames to internal frames, to framesheets, to completely frameless, foam pads sewn in or stuffed in, day pack that zips ontop of a big fanny pack as hipbelt, you name it. The pack I use now has stays and weighs 16 oz, and I far prefer it to any frameless pack even at 10 lbs total weight. But I see nothing on the market that compares to it, so I can see how it might be a different decision if I had to buy a pack.
And I should say I'm at the low end of the spectrum in tolerance of weight on my shoulders, which makes my less tolerant of frameless packs since they don't transfer weight to the hips as well. Others, who are more tolerant of weight on the shoulders, see it differently.

Of course, there's one other reason - they are all the rage.

Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: The craze with frameless on 07/11/2011 10:55:09 MDT Print View

I go frameless because it feels great and makes for a more rewarding and fun backpacking experience. Keep in mind that packs are made differently. I don't think it's fair to have an REI Flash 30 be the representative of a class of packs that includes the MLD Burn (with which I've happily carried an up to 20 lbs. load).

carl becker
(carlbecker) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: Re: The craze with frameless on 07/11/2011 11:08:40 MDT Print View

I tried many packs before I settled on the Aarn Marathon Magic 33. It cost an extra pound or so but the comfort at 20 pounds is worth it. The Burn looks interesting and I like my Solomid alot but for me the Aarn works. Probably a matter of shoulder weight tolerance and total weight of pack.

William Zila
(Ultralightwillinn.m) - MLife

Locale: Albuquerque
Good points on 07/11/2011 11:14:32 MDT Print View

All of you have made good points and already added a lot as to how I feel about the subject. I tried to come across In a non argumentative way. I'm not tying to start a argument just trying to hear the pros and cons for both from all the guys and gals on here.I love the way my flash 30 carries and I use it and a TNF verto a lot. Matter of fact first time in a year I've used my talon was a couple weeks ago for philmont. And bradley your point that we use things to act as a frame is a great point and I should have incorporated that into post. that's the main reason i can rarely justify my talon is due to the fact that I can't tailor it to the specific needs of a trip. what methods do you guys use to incorporate stays?

Daniel Fosse
(magillagorilla) - F

Locale: Southwest Ohio
Re: Good points on 07/11/2011 13:09:41 MDT Print View

The choice is clear for me 20-25lbs (loaded) or less I go frameless. In the 25lbs plus range I use a traditional pack. For instance, this weekend I'm taking my two kids out. They are 7 and 8 years old which means I have to carry most of their stuff. I'll likely be in the 35lb range. I have an Osprey Aether 70 for this purpose. I could cram everything in to my GoLight Pinnacle but the Osprey will carry the load more comfortably, no contest.

Solo in the summer heat, I can get away with a 4lb base. So I use my MLD Burn. It does not matter if it has a frame because the load is too light to even consider a comfort problem.

It's simple matter of the right tool for the job. There is no frameless craze. It simply just makes no sense to have a rigid pack on a sub-20lb load. This site specializes in people carrying sub-20lbs and therefore has many frameless pack users.

Read a traditional backpacking forum and you'll get a different perspective. Internal frame packs have their place.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
those who cannot rmember the past are condemned to repeat it - G. Santayana on 07/11/2011 13:55:58 MDT Print View

If one takes a huge step backwards we the controversy focused on external framed packs and internal framed packs. We had A16, Alpenlites, and Kelty and many other people who argued in the media at the time over the merits of frame-hipbelt wrap arounds versus attached hipbelts. Harvey Manning's book Backpacking: One Step at a Time really panned the wrap around frame connected hipbelt pack and all of a sudden you couldn't give these away. Only a European would use an internal frame pack.
Along came Don Jensen and others with frameless pack designs and we all did a collective head slap and a lot of careful packing.
Pack choice should come down to a question of weight and density of objects carried, terrain covered, and to some extent physical body type not what is fashionable.
Are you carrying a brass monkey and thirty cannonballs or some warp speed light pile of converted financial resources? Tie a bunch of climbing crapola all over yer pack and give me a call from the trailhead or a skein of trail maintenance tools and yer gonna have a differnet requirement than Aerie Agnus.
Try packing your frameless pack different ways and you will have different results but there is a tipping point because the range of loads a frameless pack can carry is smaller, for arguement sake, less than say 0-20#, than the range an internal frame can carry, 0-40#.A pack is just a tool and anytime a task is at hand one must always first choose the right tool.
Really pack design hasn't changed too much in the last 40 years just materials and perhaps construction. The media to discuss packing ideas has and we don't have to wait for the next book to come out to tell us what to buy or use.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: The craze with frameless on 07/11/2011 20:15:49 MDT Print View

When I hiked the PCT, I traded a frameless pack for an internal frame pack in Agua Dulce because the frameless was killing my back. I swear the weight of all that water and food seemed so much lighter with the internal frame pack. I think there's a sweet spot for frameless packs after which a couple extra pounds for an internal frame is worth it.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: The craze with frameless on 07/11/2011 21:39:24 MDT Print View

I recommend you become a member and read the current SOTMR, Lightweight Frameless Backpacks State of the Market Report 2011 Part 2B – Technical Evaluation – Measurement of Pack Load Carrying Capacity. It (and the other in the series) are chock full of interesting info.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: The craze with frameless on 07/11/2011 21:56:33 MDT Print View

Tried a few frameless rigs and gave up. Light, but so finicky to load and droopy on my back. I won't even use one for a day pack any more. Now I have light framed packs that give good weight transfer, I don't have stuff poking me in the back, they are more stable, MUCH better for my back, and they have ventilated back panels for air-conditioned carry.

Take a SUL load and toss it in a framed pack and it disappears. Adding another liter of water or a bear can isn't a study in pain.


eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Peer pressure on 07/11/2011 22:14:43 MDT Print View

The only one who can tell u what works better is u

Its yr back ... Dont let anyone try to tell you that one is better than the other if it contradicts what works for u

Conversely dont be one of those people who tell others what fita best for them

Frames these days are so light ... You honestly dont feel the extra few ozs of weight .... Or i dont

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: The craze with frameless on 07/12/2011 00:59:55 MDT Print View

I feel the same way about the wierd webbing hipbelt craze for SUL loads. I had my full pack down to about 10lbs (including food+water) with a near 5lb baseweight and there was a noticeable discomfort on my shoulders at times. A long trip, with more food, would not have been fun. I was right about at the tipping point where I would have wanted a real hipbelt, since the webbing hipbelt just cuts into your body at the tension it needs for proper weight transfer. I like the Camp USA Pro Trail 20 pack, as it's only 15oz and has a fiberglass frame down the spine to prevent collapse (not uncomfortable at all, actually). You have to have a pretty small kit to fit everything in there, however.

Edited by lindahlb on 07/12/2011 01:02:18 MDT.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
How you pack makes a difference on 08/03/2011 13:39:08 MDT Print View

A well packed frameless pack can transfer load much better than poorly packed one.

If I am carrying a bigger than average load in my frameless and aren't careful to pack well and tighten down the straps, I will wish I had a framed pack.

If I do pack well and tight, I do end up with something equivalent to a framed pack, and lighter because of the lack of frame.

The only drawback is that you have to be more conscious of how your pack is loaded.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Tent Poles as the stays on 08/05/2011 16:51:14 MDT Print View

Does anyone make a pack that you can use your tent poles as the stays? IF you are carrying tent pole(s) anyway it would be nice to use it/them for the stays.

Eli .
(Feileung) - F
. on 08/15/2011 11:27:22 MDT Print View

Larry, I wonder if tent poles might be too weak for the job. Got me thinking though. What about a modular system with hiking poles. They could snap into horizontal brackets at the top and bottom of the pack.

Of course this would only work for people who only use their poles for tricky spots.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: Tent poles on 08/15/2011 11:49:59 MDT Print View

I would think that tent poles would be strong enough. Look at how much they bend without breaking. They might be to flexible however. I'm going to try it on an REI backpack that has a removable frame sheet. The pack is to heavy for it's size, and the tent poles MIGHT fist nicely in the area that the frame sheet is in.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Tent poles on 08/15/2011 11:59:49 MDT Print View

I put my tent poles on the rear - opposite side from my back - bottom of poles at bottom of pack - top of poles at top with a strap to cinch down to compress pack

It might seem like you want the poles next to your back, but when they're at the rear, and cinched down, the whole pack becomes a solid mass so it doesn't compress vertically

Plus, rather than having a bunch of straps on the side to tighten the pack, there's just one strap at the top

Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
Frameless packs on 08/15/2011 12:29:38 MDT Print View

I really do think this is one of those YMMV situations. I've found that my zPacks frameless is perfectly comfortable below 20 pounds sans hipbelt and stays as long as I have my foldable GG pad in the back and a sternum strap so I don't have to keep hunching forward to keep the shoulder straps on. Oddly, the sternum strap made the difference.

In fact, I find myself throwing in some extra cucumbers and water for a hike because the durned thing is so light that it becomes psychologically uncomfortable to wear it.

However, body construction, strength of shoulder muscles, packing technique, etc. do make a difference, which, I think accounts for the contradictory opinions.

In the end, nobody is wrong here. You simply have to try out various configurations and find out which one is right for you. This is why I have so many durned packs, and why my wife is worried about having enough money to pay for groceries and the mortgage.

Ah, well. Nobody ever said simplicity wasn't expensive. ;-)