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Lightweight Frameless Backpacks State of the Market Report 2011: Part 3 – Packs for UltraLight Backpacking
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Lightweight Frameless Backpacks State of the Market Report 2011: Part 3 – Packs for UltraLight Backpacking on 07/12/2011 14:31:15 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Lightweight Frameless Backpacks State of the Market Report 2011: Part 3 - Packs for Ultralight Backpacking

Edited by addiebedford on 07/12/2011 15:21:31 MDT.

John Quinn
(inspector8598) - M

Locale: Northeast
Lightweight Frameless Backpacks State of the Market Report 2011 : Part 3 on 07/12/2011 17:13:18 MDT Print View

Will, When did Mountain Laurel Designs start to offer a cuben fiber version of the Prophet backpack? I do not see it mentioned on their website.

Will Rietveld
(WilliWabbit) - MLife

Locale: Southwest Colorado
Cuben Fiber Prophet on 07/13/2011 06:53:24 MDT Print View

John, According to Ron Bell at MLD, a Cuben version of the popular Prophet pack will be available. Oftentimes it takes awhile for things to get on the website since small manufacturers do many roles themselves. This is another good example of how BPL and forums like this provide readers with the latest information. Happy hiking! Will

Stephen Hoefler
(TalusTerrapin) - F - MLife

Locale: Happily wandering
SUL State of the Market Report? on 07/13/2011 15:08:11 MDT Print View

First off, really enjoying This State of the Market Suite! Thanks Will!

I was wondering if there are any plans to more specifically cover the SUL backpacks available? As was mentioned, much has changed since the 2006 SUL review and I would love to read an updated comparative review specifically covering the SUL packs available.

MLD Burn and GG murmur have seemed to evade the spotlight as well.

Edited by TalusTerrapin on 07/13/2011 15:38:50 MDT.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Soakin' it up on 07/13/2011 22:02:30 MDT Print View

Love these SOM reports. I am a bit surprised, being that it did so well in the last report, that the Jam did not garner the Highly Recommended rating. Sure seems that the GG Gorilla came out on top as a go to pack with the Mariposa Plus doing well too. Thanks Will and crew for a great report segment. -Hopefully the Ohm will be in a future report.

Jon Leibowitz
(jleeb) - F - MLife

Locale: 4Corners
bear canisters? on 07/14/2011 08:08:20 MDT Print View

I have a general question....

How do any of these packs deal with holding a bear canister? Obviously, the larger the pack the better a can would fit. But more specifically, the packs with no bear cans work alright with them?

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
bear cans on 07/14/2011 15:41:24 MDT Print View

Hey John,

I have a 2011 SMD swift and it fits my BV500 vertically but not horizontally. It's a huge pack too! Or rather, it fit, I just had to put it in vert then move it to horiz, and it blocked the use of the side pockets, so vertical it is!

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: bear canisters? on 07/14/2011 16:49:24 MDT Print View

Another orientation is horizontal, with a 90-degree twist. I have a solo BearVault that I place into my old Golite Breeze backpack. I place it in the bottom of the pack with the flat cap facing against my back. In other words, the axis of the cylinder is parallel to the trail. I could probably load two of them into the same pack this way.


Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Re: Re: bear canisters? on 07/14/2011 17:28:52 MDT Print View

It would have been a good thing to include bear canister capacity in the framed and frameless backpack testing! It isn't just Californians who occasionally need to carry them!

Craig Price
(skeets) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne, Australia
re Bear cannisters on 07/16/2011 02:05:31 MDT Print View

Has anyone ever thought of this: Why doesn't someone create a shaped bear cannister, say a kidney shape in cross section, with fitting lids - with a cross section shape to match your back. Larger than normal, shaped to fit inside a frameless backpack of, say, 45L volume internal, and this would provide a rigid internal frame for all the gear and waterproof it, and float it for river crossings? Taking it to an extreme, you could have a bear cannister as a small (e.g. 30L volume) pack with fittings and foam on its own for a backpack, as long as it was shaped in cross section. In my part of the world we don't get bears, but I've always wondered why you guys carry your bear cannisters on top of or outside of the pack instead of integrating it, especially as part of the frame, as most seem to then rely on rolled sleeping matt for frame and a separate bag for water proofing, as well as the bear cannister.

I've had a lot of experience in building competition white water boats in carbon and other more exotic materials, so I know such would be technically possible, and with appropriate foam cored technology you could keep the weight down to a fraction of a solid resin layup. Every time I see the "ideal" cross-sectional shape for backpack (e.g. Aarn website) I think about this sort of thing.

A thought, anyway.


Edited by skeets on 07/16/2011 02:09:22 MDT.

Robert Perkins

Locale: The Sierras
Bear Canisters In Frameless Packs on 07/16/2011 07:39:47 MDT Print View

I'm not an expert on bear cans, but the deciding factor on shape, has to do with what a bear can or cannot possibly open their jaws around to grip it and carry it away or provide any crushing force to it. Strong enough not to be crushed by their weight. Or opened by bouncing on them, ( I have seen this method employed ), it worked on the early models of the Bear Vaults. The lid would pop off if they compressed the sides enough.

I do agree that bear cans need to be taken into consideration in more of this kind of backpacking reviews. I pretty much ignore any reviews that don't consider them, because almost all of my hiking is areas where I need them. Having to carry a bear can will probably keep me out of the SUL forum as well. Even with the Bearikade, I'm at a 30 oz disadvantadge. I probably will never attain self proclaimed 'SUL Guru' status, but I think I can live with that....I know we can be like golf and bowling and have a handicap system subtracting the weight of the bear can, then , maybe then I could be a Uber cool SUL hiker.

By the way, how do Uber cool people get those two dots above the U in Uber anyways???

Edited by rp3957 on 07/16/2011 12:19:41 MDT.

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: Bear Canisters In Small Frameless Packs on 07/16/2011 10:07:05 MDT Print View

One method for using bear canister with smaller UL and SUL packs is to strap them on top empty while hiking.

Carry the food inside in the regular fashion and then fill the canister up for night storage.

Various small mods like adding a velcro strip to the can and to the center top pack strap , etc will hold the light weight empty solo canister just fine. Using this method and you can use a small 10oz frameless pack like the BURN on the JMT, etc.

Bradley Attaway
(AttaboyBrad) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Bear Canisters In Frameless Packs on 07/16/2011 11:13:39 MDT Print View

Discounting a bear can sounds fair enough to me.

As Tommy proposed in the XUL definitions thread:

"In areas where a bear canister is required by law, the weight of the canister will not be counted towards the 5.0 lbs limit, but instead an asterisk * should be used next to the weight and a sincere written apology for being responsible and law abiding."

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
It goes with the food weight on 07/16/2011 11:54:27 MDT Print View

Bear canisters are realities for some folk. It would be nice to see some new more functional shapes that would work better inside a pack. But as others have pointed out, the thing must be big enough and tough enough that the bear can't bounce the lid off or evn worse, get his jaw around it and twist it off like a vise grip. I also like Ron's idea of carrying it empty on the outside of one's pack. Sounds great in theory though I've never tried it.

Here's a link to a bear canister that is under development and trying to get approval.

And here's a link to their website. It appears they are still trying to get approval as the order status is "pre-order".

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Putting the Ü in Über on 07/16/2011 14:45:14 MDT Print View

Annoy your enemies, impress your friends! :P

Kent C.
(kent) - M

Locale: High Sierra
Have your cake & eat it too? (compression and mesh pockets) on 07/17/2011 17:00:52 MDT Print View

Possible solution? I "restrung" my pack and will be trying this out this week.

I threaded the shock cord on my GG Mariposa Plus inside the mesh pockets, to see if I can get compression AND unfettered access to the pockets. Another possibility - at about 1/2 the weight - is Spectra cord (more on this in a moment).

Threading: from inside the pocket, cord goes through a hole in the mesh to the outside, right next to the ribbon, feed through the fabric ribbon (lash-point/anchor), back through the mesh to the inside of pocket and on to the next lash point, again feeding the cord out, around, and back in. (The cord lock remains on the outside for easy access - the ends of the cord go through the mesh to the outside.)

Using the supplied shock cord may prove problematic because it is rough and seems to "stick" or catch a little on the mesh when cinching due to its rough outer surface; a smooth-surfaced cord may prove more effective.

I have no experience with various cords, but it seems logical that a smooth-sheathed cord may be a better idea (Spectra or similar). 1. Won't catch on the mesh when pulled through, and 2. cord will hold the tension and keep the pack compressed whereas shock cord gives up some compression when it stretches.

Now I'll test the idea and see...

(For the MYOG crowd, just sew the anchor points inside the pockets to begin with.) :-)

Stephen Jones
(joness606) - MLife

Locale: Central Florida
Thanks for the insight on 07/18/2011 13:28:13 MDT Print View

Thanks for the well done, and for my purposes timely, article. Just returned from a five-day/50 mile trip through the Great Smoky Mountains with six 13-18 year old Scouts. My son was using his GG Gorilla for the first time and it could not have worked out better. He started out with a 15 lb. load that included his food (not water)and was the envy of his peers. The medium size pack with small belt carried exceptionally well on his 64"/100 lb. frame, provided more than enough storage room, and the mesh pockets proved to be handy. The aluminum stay made a significant difference by keeping the load on the hips and allowing air circulation around the back (with temps in the high 80's and humidity at 75% this was a real benefit). Now we're preparing for an 11 day trip to the Bob Marshall and his friend who is accompanying us desperately wants to lighten his load. I was in the process of researching packs for him when I checked BPL and found this article. The range of products and analytical approach are great. Looks like we're in the market for another Gorilla.

Jim Sweeney
(swimjay) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Z-Pack sizing on 07/19/2011 12:29:12 MDT Print View

Thanks, Will, for another great and comprehensive review.

You mention that the Z-pack Dyneema X 2600 actually has a capacity of 3300 cu in. Is this different from the Cuben version? And if the Dyneema X 2600 measures so large, what does the X 3200 measure?

Will Rietveld
(WilliWabbit) - MLife

Locale: Southwest Colorado
ZPacks on 07/22/2011 16:00:28 MDT Print View

Hi all, here's responses to your comments and questions specific to the ZPacks Dyneema 26:

Compression System: I agree that braided cord would provide more solid compression rather than elastic cord, and there should be no problem with threading in through the inside of the front mesh pocket so it compresses the whole pack. Joe Valesco at ZPacks would probably do that for you if you request it.

Volume of X32: I only tested the X26 in the Dyneema Gridstop fabric, and found it to be oversized. The X32 is exactly the same design, with a larger volume, and I did not obtain that pack and measure it. Sorry, its not reasonable or do-able to request every pack size from a small manufacturer.

SUL Packs: This group of packs has totally changed. Unfortunately, I couldn't get all of the packs currently available, so I will not be doing a SOTMR on them. Instead I plan to do an article on "Mountain SUL Backpacking" where I up the base weight to 7.5 pounds so I can include adequate insulation, shelter, and rain wear for backpacking in the mountains. The current SUL base weight of 5 pounds does not allow that kind of gear, so it only really works for warm/dry backpacking. The second part of that article will include reviews of some of the SUL packs.

Happy hiking, Will.

Edited by WilliWabbit on 07/22/2011 16:06:17 MDT.

Daniel Allen
(Dan_Quixote) - F

Locale: below the mountains (AK)
Re: ZPacks on 07/22/2011 18:09:48 MDT Print View

"I plan to do an article on "Mountain SUL Backpacking" where I up the base weight to 7.5 pounds so I can include adequate insulation, shelter, and rain wear for backpacking in the mountains. The current SUL base weight of 5 pounds does not allow that kind of gear, so it only really works for warm/dry backpacking. The second part of that article will include reviews of some of the SUL packs. "

Can't wait!