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Going back to big packs
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Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Going back to big packs on 10/18/2011 21:59:17 MDT Print View

After years of dialing my pack weight and pack size down, I find myself in a position where I want to carry a heavier load again, both for food and the occasional extra insulation. My gear is relatively small in volume now, but packing it into my largest backpack, a ULA Circuit, only leaves enough space for about 4 days worth of food with my 3-season gear list packed in as well. Maybe I could fit another day and a half's worth of power bars in the cracks and corners between all the other gear, but what I want to be able to do is fit 7+ days worth of food, plus my 3-season gear set-up, without having to perform a Houdini level vanishing act with it all just to fit it back in my pack every morning.

Lots of backpack manufacturers advertize their backpacks' volume as the sum of all the pockets and compartments. ULA breaks this down pretty straight-forward. The ULA I'm using, for example, is a 4200 cubic inch (~70 liter) total volume pack, but the main storage area is only about 50 liters in all. I think I need at least another 10-20 liters of space in there, and I could do without almost all the pockets.

What is the market for packs that have a main storage area in the 60-70 liter range like?

tyler marlow

Locale: UTAH
Golite pinnacle on 10/18/2011 22:17:02 MDT Print View

Sounds like what you're looking for, although I've never believed a frameless pack can comfortably hold that much volume/weight comfortably. At least my experience with it's baby brother the Jam leads me to believe otherwise.

Maybe a pinnacle with a piece of corrugated plastic and maybe even a removable stay ala Gossamer Gear or Six Moon Designs would do the trick.

I do agree with you in the allure of being able to pack a full 7 days of food. Something about the full weeks worth is just satisfying.

Although to contradict myself, I (as well as Eugene and others in a contrary thread) are drawn to less volume rather than less weight right now.

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: Golite pinnacle on 10/18/2011 22:40:14 MDT Print View

It wouldn't have to be an internal frame pack, or at least if it were, I'd think that a full-frame internal pack would be better than something with a light frame like a sheet or thin wires (most ultralight packs). For instance, I have an Arc'teryx Bora 80, and although I think the main compartment is more like 65 liters (still big enough for me), the backpack is ridiculously heavy, maybe 8 pounds empty. Are there any respectable external frame packs being made anymore? I've never carried one, but would be open to trying it.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: Golite pinnacle on 10/18/2011 22:50:54 MDT Print View

I use a Mystery Ranch Trance @ 69L and 4lbs, 2oz. Excellent load carry ability, durable, but cavernous. The main bag is very large.

Ismail Faruqi
(ismailfaruqi) - F
Twin Frame on 10/18/2011 22:52:41 MDT Print View

If I were you I'd look at packs with a minimum of twin 7075 frames... that seems to be the recipe of load monsters like Kifaru, McHale, Gregory, Mystery Ranch, or Aarn.

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
McHale on 10/18/2011 23:49:46 MDT Print View

I'll cast a vote with my McHale Chasm. 41" circumference top to bottom, holds everything you need for a week plus and carries 40lbs like a dream. If you wanted to carry loads at or over 50lbs, I'd opt for McHale's Critical Mass harness. Nice optional goodies to be had as well, with huge hip-belt pockets, top pocket, shoulder strap pockets, etc, etc.......

Edited by mfog1 on 10/18/2011 23:59:29 MDT.

Ryan Krause

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Alpine Packs on 10/19/2011 00:11:36 MDT Print View

If you don't want pockets and want a larger volume pack - an alpine pack may work well. Cilogear Worksacks come to mind. Just about to pull the trigger on a 45L Worksack (albeit for alpine use) - with the extension collar it holds 75 L and compresses to 22 L. Weighs in a 3.9 lb or stripped of the frame at 1.6 lb.

Granite Gear comes to mind as well - perhaps the Nimbus Meridian or Vapor Flash which appear to be just one big compartment plus lid. The Flash also comes to mind but I'm not sure if they are including the large mesh pocket that runs the front of the pack in the volume.

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: Mystery Ranch on 10/19/2011 02:03:33 MDT Print View

Thanks for the recommendations. I'm googling every one of them. I had a Granite Gear Vapor Trail back a few years ago (my first ultralight pack). Its gigantic thin neck taught me the importance of width and minimizing the neck length or else accessing your gear becomes difficult. Those Mystery Ranch and McHale packs look really good.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
back to big packs on 10/19/2011 06:17:50 MDT Print View

The Quest may fit the bill. I found the suspension to be comfortable up to 40 lb and it has a decent compression system for when the food is all gone. (Well that does not matter in bear canister country, does it?)

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
don't overlook externals on 10/19/2011 06:26:56 MDT Print View

When you start carrying loads and the pack maufacturers are adding hoops and stays, the weight can exceed a good external. The ventilation and comfort can't be beat.
I modified an external and actuaally saved 1.5 lbs over and old osprey.



Edit to add: the $$ are much less also

Edited by dmgoody on 10/19/2011 06:27:55 MDT.

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: don't overlook externals on 10/19/2011 06:47:33 MDT Print View

Are there any good external-frame packs you would recommend?

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
re: externals on 10/19/2011 07:20:11 MDT Print View

I looked at a lot of packs before I modified and made my own. I used the kelty Cache Hauler frame and removed the shelf, cut it down, replaced the pins with alum bolts, and added a custom removable tube system. I spent abou $175 and got what I wanted. I have used it for the entire season and love how it handles. I know this is specialized for my needs, but in my search I saw many good packs.

The Kelty:

Just one pack: I liked the expandablilty of this pack:

The mystery racn packs use a hybrid interna/external frame: $$$ :

any older kelty tiogas on e-bay would work. Just have an open mind. Backpacking lighter and smarter is my moto.

Hope this helps,


Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
pinnacle on 10/19/2011 08:26:17 MDT Print View

the Pinnacle would probably handle the volume, but probably have a tough time with the subsequent weight- as mentioned above I think w/o too much trouble you could firm up the Pinnacle w/ a HDPE sheet and light aluminum frame

w/ frequent 40% off sales (as well as frequent for sale ads here) the Pinnacle can be had for very reasonable, if $ enters into the equation at all

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Starlight on 10/19/2011 09:00:53 MDT Print View

I have used my SMD Starlight for 8 day trips with little if any issues, 30-31 lbs. I would say. It is 4500 ci. With Bearicade to boot.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Kelty on 10/19/2011 09:15:15 MDT Print View

Kelty is apparently making a run of Tiogas, just for Campmor, in 2012. Burly frame, proven design, hardware that lasts forever and fancy, new-fangled shoulder straps and waist bands. The pack bag fits a BearVault 400, laterally or vertically, fully within if you want it that way.

I have some of the new shoulder straps coming for my old Tioga.

The Tioga frame is like the hauler described above, but with lighter-weight hardware and materials. The hauler is designed to be treated like a wheelbarrow...

Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
GoLite Quest on 10/19/2011 09:31:02 MDT Print View

I agree with Ray, I bought a GoLite Quest for exactly the reasons the OP mentions. It replaced a Dana Alpine as my winter/load hauler/long trip pack. If I remember correctly mine weighs 3lb 5oz vs 7lb 8oz for the Dana. Not as voluminous as the Dana but it's large enough for 10-14 day shoulder season trips with temps to 20F, or long weekend trips in winter with temps to 0F or below. I also like the fact that I can take a date on a weekend trip and allow her to only carry a daypack ;). Soon it will be hauling my neice nad nephew's gear on their first forays into the woods with Uncle Scott.

The suspension is comfortable to around 40 lbs for me; it's non-adjustable, with a fixed belt, so it won't fit everyone. One large main compartment with a large zippered front pocket, top lid and stretch-mesh side pockets. Has a taller, slimmer profile than many light packs I've used, which I prefer as it allows me to load weight higher and closer to my back; in addition, the load-lifter straps have nice leverage because of the angle the taller profile allows.

The pockets are nice in that they are well-placed, the back pocket is relatively weatherproof, and their low profile makes the pack fairly snag resistant. Hipbelt pockets are nice size, and the side pockets are easily reached for water bottle storage. Inside bladder pocket with complimentary ports. The compression straps can be configured to carry snowshoes or a large CCF pad.

Great pack if you fit one of the sizes, and you can often find killer deals. I think I paid less than $120 with one of the GoLite coupons. Hard to beat that!

Ceph Lotus
(Cephalotus) - MLife

Locale: California
Kifaru 3700 or 5200 on 10/19/2011 09:57:07 MDT Print View

You may want to consider the Kifaru 3700 to 5200. These are lightweight load haulers. The backpacks weigh under 3 pounds, and were designed to carry up to 100 pounds. Only downside, they are a bit pricey.

Edited by Cephalotus on 10/19/2011 10:19:59 MDT.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Kifaru 3700 to 5200 on 10/19/2011 10:02:05 MDT Print View

I have read some issues with durability on those packs. The suspension is robust but the rest of the pack is not.

Have you had experience with these?

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Kifaru 3700 to 5200 on 10/19/2011 10:09:02 MDT Print View

I have a Kifaru 5200 pack. You do not want to put a Bearikade Expedition Cannister in it sideways positioned, because it's easy to scratch the outer layer if you rub against something, but the inner layer stays intact.

The problem with it being sideways is that if you rubbed against rock, it's like metal against rock, and neither is going to give, which means the interveaning fabric is going to be stressed. That inner layer fabric is incredibly tough, amazingingly tough.

What I don't like about the pack is there should be a drysack type closure mechanism for the top of the pack (it is just a cinch mechanism), so it's hard to close the pack up tight if it is only about 80% packed. He does have two side (vertical) straps which helps a little. I'm thinking of doing two things to my pack:

1. reinforce the sides where the bear canister rubs against the side because I like the bear canister being sideways.

2. have the main inside chamber top be modified to close like a dry sack by going to a tailor and bringing in a dry sack identical to the bag top.

Edited by marti124 on 10/19/2011 10:20:45 MDT.

Ceph Lotus
(Cephalotus) - MLife

Locale: California
Kifaru on 10/19/2011 10:12:19 MDT Print View

The lightweight Kifaru backpacks have been out nearly a year. I was seriously considering getting one, so have been monitoring the Kifaru forums. There were some concerns initially about their durability in the Kifaru forums. But I have not seen any reports from anyone who have actually used these Kifaru backpacks about any issues with their durability. Kifaru does have an excellent reputation for their quality, but most of their tents and shelters are on the heavy side. If the price was lower on them, I probably would have bought a Kifaru 3700 to 5200 by now. Then I stumbled across BPL, and decided to get a lighter, cheaper backpack instead. :)

Kifaru also has a another new backpack called the Timerline, which is more durable then their lighter 3700 and 5200, but it's in the 6 pound range, so probably not much of interest for BPL people.

Edited by Cephalotus on 10/19/2011 10:18:47 MDT.