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u.l. pack comfort
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jennifer ross
(jenhifive) - F

Locale: Norcal
u.l. pack comfort on 09/24/2011 21:11:32 MDT Print View

I've tried every pack on at rei and they are not comfortable to me. I had a rei starlite for a few years and while it is heavy it is the most comfortable pack I've found. The ospreys have that rubber lower back thing, arcteryx and black diamond a weird rotating hip belt and the other packs don't have enough padding.

I found a granite gear (escape a.c., 3 lbs. 2 oz.) that is working for now but everything on it is adjustable so it feels unstable (hence falling into a lake) and makes a bunch of swishing noises so I've had to apply tape to parts of the fabric. Also it has four side pockets. Two of them are for water bottles but are horizontal so when you lean forward at all, even just hiking up steep terrain, they fall out. I thought I'd stick with g.g. since this is a comfortable bag but I purchased and returned their Blaze and nimbus, they didn't have the same soft padding.

I'd really like to try a u.l. pack and comfort is key for me. I'd like to hear from people that have packs so comfortable they can't wait to tell me all about it. Thanks for reading.

comfort on 09/24/2011 21:20:51 MDT Print View

Any "comfort" in UL packs come 100% from carrying as little weight as possible.

There is all kinds of comfort. Shoulder comfort, hip comfort, knee comfort, ankle comfort, and overall comfort.

If conventional packs are uncomfortable for you,and dont have enough padding, Im not sure you would find an ultralight pack comfortable at all.

If you share your base weight, and carried loads, etc, Im sure theres a lot that would be able to help out with reducing that as a first step.

jennifer ross
(jenhifive) - F

Locale: Norcal
Re: comfort on 09/24/2011 22:20:15 MDT Print View

So what do you do, though, when you have to carry a bear can with ten days worth of food. My base weight is under ten pounds but 10 days worth of food adds 20 lbs.

Hmm.. well still what would be the most comfortable? I could just use my granite gear for long hauls and the u.l. for shorter hauls if it's not as comfortable.

I'm looking for shoulder, hip and the lower part of the bag that sits on my back to be comfortable but I think that would just come from my sleeping bag right?

Ceph Lotus
(Cephalotus) - MLife

Locale: California
Most comfortable ultralight backpacks on 09/24/2011 23:17:27 MDT Print View

According to the Backpack State of the Market Report 2011, the most comfortable of the lightweight frameless backpacks are the Gossamer Gear Gorilla and Mariposa Plus, Laufbursche huckePACKs, and Mountain Laurel Designs Prophet.

For the larger backpacks (greater than 3800 cubic inches), the ones most comfortable were the Elemental Horizons Aquilo, Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus and Ark, and Six Moon Designs Starlite.

jennifer ross
(jenhifive) - F

Locale: Norcal
Thank You on 09/24/2011 23:33:33 MDT Print View

So much.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: comfort on 09/24/2011 23:35:43 MDT Print View

"My base weight is under ten pounds but 10 days worth of food adds 20 lbs."

That sounds a bit on the high side. Unless you are a big person, you ought to be able to do OK on 1.5 pounds of food per day, so ten days worth would be 15 pounds. You see, you just saved five pounds before you left home.

That 15 pounds plus base weight is only 25 pounds, so that isn't so hard to find comfort in a backpack.


eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
comfort on 09/25/2011 02:42:23 MDT Print View

only trying it on will tell you ... everybody is different

if you tried on every pack at REI and nothing felt good ... you may have the same issues with UL packs

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
(sorry to play shameless self-promoter) on 09/25/2011 09:38:10 MDT Print View


20 pounds for 10 days is TOO much for consumables! (Yikes)

I wrote a book on how to do a 10-day ultralight trip with a pack-weight of UNDER 25 pounds. And, it has cartoons.


(sorry to play shameless self-promoter)

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
comfort on 09/25/2011 09:54:07 MDT Print View

The most comfortable pack I've used on long hauls is the old granite gear nimbus ozone with the stiffer hip belt but I would only use this if I was carrying 10 days worth of food as you say. My base weight is around 6 lbs but I tend to carry 3 liters of water when it's 100 degrees, uphill and at every stream I dunk myself. Oddly enough after trying many packs (gorilla, circuit, fanatic fringe etc), I've been happy with the zpacks blast on short trips. I have one with "Stays" and I like to be able to let the backpack lean back off my back from time to time but it's only comfortable for me if I have less the 20 lbs total. The only problem I'm had with the blast is the hipbelt digs in. I have ordered the new zpacks exo backpack (11.8oz) with the external frame and what looks like a more comfortable hipbelt, Joe says it's good to 30 lbs so I intend to use it for 25lbs or less. I should have it this week. I'll let you know what I think after I've loaded it up and gone up the mountain and back.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
UL Pack Comfort on 09/25/2011 10:04:05 MDT Print View

A quote from above:

"According to the Backpack State of the Market Report 2011, the most comfortable of the lightweight frameless backpacks are the Gossamer Gear Gorilla and Mariposa Plus, Laufbursche huckePACKs, and Mountain Laurel Designs Prophet."

Caveat: "comfort" comes from carrying minuscule loads in these packs.

If you are trying to put more than 20 pounds in any of these, watch out. None of these packs offer "comfort" in the way that you might be used to in a pack that has some decent padding, and a real suspension.

Some UL'ers have a higher tolerance for discomfort than others, so might perceive that these types of packs are appropriate for loads of more than 20 or 25 pounds.

They may work for you at those weights, they may not. Just recognize that the standard deviation of "perceived comfort" starts to get a lot bigger as the load grows to more than 20 pounds with a frameless pack, and as you increase your sample set beyond the "UL community"...

My vote: be rigorous about reducing the weight of the gear inside your pack, but don't be (too) stupid about reducing the weight of your pack for the sake of weight reduction.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: (sorry to play shameless self-promoter) on 09/25/2011 10:13:46 MDT Print View

In response to Mike's claim that 20 pounds is too much for 10 days of consumables, I'll play devil's advocate.

IF you adhere to the rigid UL philosophy of maximizing the caloric density of your foods, then he's right.

IF you are a weekender at casual levels of fitness and have a moderate amount of body fat, then he's right.


IF you have a low BF% (less than 10%) then you better up your caloric intake, which increases weight; or

IF you want to enjoy some foods with a low caloric density, then accept a little bit higher weight.

I love to take smoked salmon with me - a big old 4 oz steak a day for lunch is about right. Caloric density is 90 Cal/oz. This is a far cry from the 125 or 135 Cal/oz that you need to target to get away with MC!'s recommendation of 1.4 ppppd.

Other stuff I like to take: bell peppers (roasted over a fire!), nectarines, licorice, soup, coffee! None of these things have a high caloric density.

So I try to balance it out by taking nut butters, shortbread, ghee, Nido, dry sour cream, nuts, etc. for caloric boosts to my meals.

That said, 2 lb/day is not a big deal. That's about what I'll be carrying this week as I go into the Beartooths on a Wilderness Trekking School course.

I think one of the greatest benefits of reducing pack weight is to be able to add back weight in other areas to increase your enjoyment.

That's not to say I'm enjoying my food more than the guy who's bringing a diet of 135 Cal/oz, I'd rather have fresh nectarine juice dribbling down my chin than drool :D

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
UL pack comfort on 09/25/2011 10:17:59 MDT Print View

For me the most comfortable packs have been my Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone and the Luxurylite frame pack. The LL is lighter, but more expensive (if you didn't find one on a crash-and-dent sale like I was lucky enough to). As long as you can pack it snugly enough to keep weight from shifting side to side it is easily the most comfortable pack I've had - feels like there is no weight on the shoulders or back at all, everything rests on the very comfy hipbelt.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
I take food in my pack very seriously on 09/25/2011 10:32:32 MDT Print View

My reply to Ryan J :

Please know - I take food in my pack very seriously. My goal is to eat extremely well!

I do a lot of prepping before a trip, and my target number for food of 1.4 pounds per person per day might seem low, but there is a lot of love (and flavor) in my backpack.

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
Alternatives on 09/25/2011 10:34:29 MDT Print View

Even though this might seem odd or heavy to some people here, I wear a light nylon fishing vest and some light nylon cargo pants/shorts. They have alot of pockets, both large and small.
I put many of the smaller things in the various pockets of the vest and cargo shorts instead of the pack, and it distributes the weight load all over my body.
Then, I use the pack for the sleeping bag and camp items that don't fit in the pockets of my clothes.
Sure, the clothing is somewhat heavier than an ultralight shell setup like a Camp Magic anorak/pants, but it has the pockets which are very useful to me.

With an arrangement like this, the weight is so diversified over the body that it helps to keep the pack lighter, and gives a general feeling of carrying less weight, even if it isn't actually less weight. I find it more comfortable than putting everything in the rucksack and hanging all the weight on my shoulders with 2 padded straps.
Just my 2 cents about an alternative way to go.

Edited by towaly on 09/25/2011 10:37:25 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: u.l. pack comfort on 09/25/2011 11:20:30 MDT Print View

Sounds like you don't have access to a store with a large number of packs to try. My wife just went through the pack-buying process and she wasn't interested in any of the UL models. She gets to hike her own hike too, so I kept quiet on the UL issues and helped her find something that worked for her. She has some curves and I got a great lesson in fitting packs to the female anatomy-- it is different! That and her personal likes and dislikes. She ended up with a {{{{shudder}}}} 4lb 11oz Osprey Ariel 55. At least the rest of her gear is light!

Anyway, she tried on all the women's specific packs in the REI Flagship store plus another independent hiking gear supplier and a few men's models as well, loading them with 20+ pounds and walking around. My point is that I can't see you getting a pack that suits you without getting hands-on access to a bunch.

BTW, I don't know what you mean by the "rubber lower back thing" on the Ospreys. Maybe you were looking at older models? I'm not an expert on their whole line, but the three I have here at home don't have rubber back pads. (Exos 46, Ariel 55, Stratos 24). My daughter has a Granite Gear Vapor Ki and my impression is that they have lots of padding that makes them feel good in the store. It is recommended for loads under 30 pounds. Of course, what feels good for 15 minutes with 20 pounds in the store may be a lot different than 30+ pounds for 12 hours and many miles.

Frameless packs need careful packing to work well and be remotely comfortable. With the load you want to haul, you are past the limit for most frameless packs and it looks like you need some volume too. The next step up are packs with frame sheets or stays and then packs with light external frames. I would get a membership here so you can read through the state of the market framed pack articles; the information is just what you are looking for.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: UL Pack Comfort on 09/25/2011 12:03:22 MDT Print View

"My vote: be rigorous about reducing the weight of the gear inside your pack, but don't be (too) stupid about reducing the weight of your pack for the sake of weight reduction."


Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: I take food in my pack very seriously on 09/25/2011 12:10:47 MDT Print View

@ Mike - Yes but that is specific to YOUR metabolism, how many calories you are burining at rest and on the move, where you are trekking - the weather conditions and temperature, etc.

1.4 PPD is much too low for me so to set a standard for anyone to follow without the above considerations is bit disingenous. Especially for someone new to lightweight backpacking....

Edited by FamilyGuy on 09/25/2011 12:15:18 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Ul AND comfort on 09/25/2011 13:44:31 MDT Print View

Jen- I think the ULA Ohm would qualify in both regards. the delrin/carbon hoop really helps w/ heavier loads, the waist belt is very comfortable (w/o getting carried away w/ padding), the fit/finish of the pack is top of the line- it's a nice "bridge" from main street packs and really light frameless packs

check the review section here, pretty positive feedback on this pack

I have to agree w/ Dale on the Osprey's- I've owned packs in the Talon, Exos and Hornet range and none had a "lower back thing"

the Osprey Hornet is another pack that bridges the gap- IF your torso length is less than 19"- I had to send mine back, but I really didn't want to- it was nice UL pack


John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: u.l. pack comfort on 09/25/2011 15:07:37 MDT Print View

Golite Pinnacle should be another consideration with it's 40 lb max load rating.

For food, the goal in going lighter weight is 1.5'ish lb/day, but you need to carry food that you will eat, esp for 10 day trips. As others mention, bigger miles/day require more food.

Edited by jshann on 09/25/2011 15:13:32 MDT.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: u.l. pack comfort on 09/25/2011 15:17:17 MDT Print View

BPL's own test of the Pinnacle indicated substantial torso collapse at 25lbs. 40 lbs is absurd.