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Going back to big packs
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Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
aarn? on 10/19/2011 10:47:57 MDT Print View


(rps76) - F
Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch.... on 10/19/2011 10:52:45 MDT Print View

Cilogear. Done.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch.... on 10/19/2011 11:01:19 MDT Print View


Edited by FamilyGuy on 07/08/2013 23:17:15 MDT.

Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: McHale on 10/19/2011 11:13:34 MDT Print View

I have one of the tall McHale packs, and I opted for the additional side access panel, which includes a removable shelf. It makes getting to your gear a lot easier even with a tall pack. I mainly partition mine so that my tent and photo gear are on top, everything else is in the bottom, which keeps me pretty nicely balanced.

I've been carrying 50+ pounds in it, most of that weight photo gear and food, and it carries incredibly well. The Critical Mass harness is quite impressive, and if you're willing to spring for Dyneema construction, you can save quite a bit of weight.

I've heard a lot of great things about the Cilo gear packs also, but I haven't had a look at them; I didn't know about them when I got my McHale. I did notice that Feathered Friends has them now, though. I might have a look, just out of curiosity. :)

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
Going back to big packs on 10/19/2011 11:27:15 MDT Print View

I own two mystery ranch packs the big sky and the sweet pea, The mystery ranch packs are great at carrying heavy bulky loads they are joy to carry and the fine design of Dana Gleason master pack designer and the quality of being made in the USA.
The packs only weigh about 1 1/2 to 3 pounds more than the ultra light packs are bomber because mystery ranch makes packs for the US military ,Hunters and Hot Shot fireman. But for the 69 liter backpack you will want the pretty light weigh 4 lbs 2 oz pack Trance XXX and designed especially for thru hikers is the made out X pac. It has the same frame system as my Big sky.

I just purchased a sweat pea in a beautiful Navy Blue / Grey color for around town and for short 2 days or over nights in the desert, local mountains backpacking trips. It only is 33 liter in the main pack body but it seems like it more like 36 liters in the pack body when stuffed full,And with the front stick it/ beaver tail pocket it adds about 1500 to the pack I fit my OR aurora bivy and ground cloth and umbrella in it's unique no zipper entry from the back stick it pocket. And it weighs only 3 lbs 9oz. But with ultra light gear, food,2 liter of water I am still carrying only carrying 23 lbs and I have room in the pack to add 6 liter dromedary bag for water in desert.

I have carried The big sky in death valley backpacking loaded up with 35 lbs. of gear and it carried the load like it was nothing.

Edited by socal-nomad on 10/19/2011 11:32:53 MDT.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
Lowe on 10/19/2011 11:32:31 MDT Print View

Lowe Outback 70 (70 liter), a bit over four pounds, great straps/hip belt, simple bag, zero bells or whistles, just bag, straps, twin aluminum stays, top pocket, easily would hold I'd estimate 40 to 50 pounds, and comfortably. Also easy to find used for probably 50 dollars. Solid materials. It's very light for being made out of heavy materials with thick hip belt. I picked one of those up used for cheap a while ago, perfect shape. Doubt I'll use it though, but it's nice to have the option if I need it. Oddly, the new Outback 65 weighs almost a pound more than the old Outback 70.

I just got a Lowe Zepton 50, 2.5 pounds, I had no problem fitting 8 days of food into it, I could easily have gone to 10 days. And I am not an ultralight (UL) backpacker, just a regular Light one (L). That was with a tent and a synthetic sleeping bag too, and an extra set of camp clothes, and a fleece jacket. And a prolite pad and Gossamer gear 1/8 pad. If I really worked at it and didn't need a bear cannister, I think I could go 14 days with that pack, the first day or two wouldn't be super comfortable but after it would be fine. I just noticed that Lowe now has the Zepton XL series for longer backs, so that's a good range of fits too.

Cost, about $100 on sale,, maybe $120. I can't really see any way I'd need more room than this has. 35 pounds is I would say about the max weight it can do comfortably, maybe a bit more for the first day if you really wanted to push it. Very comfortable, 30 pounds were no problem at all, no discomfort.

They make a bigger one too, the nanon, which I think goes to 60 liters. That also comes in an XL size for longer backs, as well as being bigger, but seems to be rated at the same weight, so I'd guess that's a choice for bulkier loads.

Maybe re-evaluate how you are doing your food?

Also, the ULA Circuit main body at 2400 cubic inches is 40 liters (2400 cubic inches in liters: 39.3289536 - when you want to do liter/cubic inch conversions, just type in google: x cubic inches in liters), and I assume because you have to roll up the top some of that is actually not really used. The Lowe Zepton is 50 liters, period. That would explain why I can easily get 8 days of food into it when you are having problems fitting in less. That's also one reason among several I did not get the Circuit by the way. The Zepton top lid inner and outer pockets probably hold 5 or more liters, not sure, but I don't believe those are counted in the total, that's also very useful. If I add in the capacity of putting on some stretch cord to create basically a back pocket, then I could pretend that the Zepton is a 60 liter pack, or whatever, but I don't do that (pretend outside pockets are part of the capacity, that is, I did add stretch cord to the back).

Edited by hhope on 10/19/2011 15:08:13 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Going back to big packs on 10/19/2011 15:51:05 MDT Print View

A Six Moon Designs Starlite with the "optional" stays should be just fine unless your pack weight is well over 30 lbs. The main body plus extension collar hold about 67 liters (4200 cubic in.) as measured by BPL in this article:

If you look at the articles on lightweight internal frame packs, you'll find that ULA considerably overstates the volume of their packs. You really should read the entire article, which will also help you in choosing a larger pack:

I have the Six Moon Designs Comet, the discontinued "little brother" of their Starlite. I have carried up to 37 lbs. in it (with the stays, of course). My back, shoulders and hips were just fine, although my knees and feet were screaming! Mine takes a horizontal Bearikade Weekender just barely. The Starlite is enough bigger that it should take a Bear Vault or Bearikade Expedition horizontally.

Now the big question--you mentioned a lot about volume, but not weight! How much weight will you be carrying with a week's food?

Edited by hikinggranny on 10/19/2011 16:16:12 MDT.

Mark Montag
(mMontag) - F
Look at Deuter on 10/19/2011 20:29:12 MDT Print View

I've spent the last five years lightening the essentials backpacking load - just so I could heavy it up with additional photography gear. My multi-night 3 season w/ photo gear is around 34lbs - alpine destination winter w/ photo is around 40+.

I've tried a lot of the internal frame soft packs recommended for carrying 40+ lbs - most are just too heavy - take a look at the Deuter "ACT-ZERO" - the 2011 - 50+15 weights in at 3.4 lbs - you can sometimes find the 2010's 60+10 that weights 3 lbs on E-bay. Be sure you're looking at the "Act Zero" - they also have an "ACT-LITE" line-up.

No zip side or back pockets or any other unnecessary compartments - nice lid pocket, a back and two side mesh pockets and just enough compression straps - adjustable shoulder harness, very comfortable hip belt & back support system. Overall a pack with a very nice ride.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Big Pack on 10/19/2011 22:09:42 MDT Print View

Perhaps I should just stick to the question asked, but I can't help but wonder if there are any alternatives here than going to a big pack. You've gotten quite a few good big pack suggestions already, so I don't feel too bad deviating the topic a little. Please ignore this post if you'd rather not engage on this tangent.

You say you've spent years dialing down your gearlist and that it's 'relatively small in volume now', but admit you've only got enough space for your 3 season kit and 4 days of food in your Catalyst. To me, this doesn't sound like a very dialed down and low volume gear list, but I don't know your hiking locale/situation either. I consider my gearlist to be fairly low volume and dialed down, and I can fit it inside a ULA Ohm along with up to 15 days of food (done this twice).

I don't know your gearlist so I can't offer any suggestions, but perhaps ask yourself what would happen if you took the money you'd spend on a big pack ($200-$300) and applied that inside to reducing the weight/bulk of your gearlist. Maybe a smaller pot or higher end down bag or jacket would free up enough space to add 3 days of food?

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Big Pack on 10/19/2011 22:15:46 MDT Print View

Good question Dan.

BTW, kudos to you for getting 15 days out of an OHM. I can't do that....I always take too much food!

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: Big Pack on 10/19/2011 22:19:48 MDT Print View

I agree there are plenty of really good suggestions in the thread so far, and a little discussion about reducing gear volume might be constructive. I'll try to itemize a few of my gear lists for different conditions a little later for open discussion. In the meantime, do you have your gear list for where you're fitting 15 days of food into the Ohm? What kind of conditions you're using it in? Perhaps just as importantly, what kind of food are you packing?

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Going back to big packs" on 10/19/2011 22:24:28 MDT Print View

15 days in an Ohm!

I need to smoke what you're packing.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: "Going back to big packs" on 10/19/2011 22:33:53 MDT Print View

"I need to smoke what you're packing."

But then you'll end up needing to take even more food....; )

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: Re: Big Pack on 10/19/2011 22:38:03 MDT Print View

Alright, here's my 3-season alpine gear list. With all this gear, I can get a big stuffsack full of food into the bottom of the backpack, which has lasted me 4 days, maybe 5 if I planned it right, and it feels like I'm really cramming everything else into the pack. The sleeping bag is bulky, as are the down jacket and the 2L camelbak. I'd like to move away from bringing a stove in the future, but am not sure if the food I'd have to bring would really be that much smaller.
Pack: ula circuit
Sleeping bag: montbell ss down hugger #1
Pad: thermarest ridgerest (outside pack)
Shelter: MLD duomid (outside pocket), homemade bivy, several stakes, polycro groundsheet
Hydration: camelbak 2L (inside pack), platypus bladder (for back-up)
Cooking: IMUSA 600 mL pot + mini alcohol stove
Clothing: wool beanie, glove liners, 2 pair socks, clean LS shirt, thin long underwear, NB Fugu down jacket
Rain gear: OR Goretex paclite jacket and pants
Misc: small stuffsack with headlight, water treatment, first aid, compass, car keys, and other misc. things
+minor fly fishing gear (usually a reel and two small foam fly boxes in the pack and a 3 wt rod in an outside side pocket), which doesn't really take that much space, but I should include it for the sake of full disclosure

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Re: "Going back to big packs" on 10/19/2011 23:22:00 MDT Print View

"15 days in an Ohm! "

To be a bit more clear, it was an 8 day trip where I carried 16 days worth of food because I was carrying virtually all the food for my wife and I. If it was actually me eating it all, then it would likely have lasted about 14 days.

Besides food, I had....
- GoLite Ultra 20 quilt (bottom of pack)
- Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3 (OUTSIDE stretchy pocket)
- Fishing Rod/Reel (OUTSIDE side pocket)
- Clothes: all worn (pants, shirt, windshirt, sun hat) except MB Ex-light vest, 1 spare pair socks, 1 spare underwear (top of pack)
- Misc Gear (headlamp, toothbrush etc....small stuff sack @ top of pack)
- 1.3L ti pot (@ top of pack trying to escape out drawstring closure).


Here's some gearlist comments:

1) Do you need the polycro groundsheet for under your bivy? I personally prefer to just have a more waterproof/tougher floor (if need be) rather than use a groundsheet, as it's usually lighter and it's definately simpler to use.

2) The NB Fugu jacket looks like one amazing garment, but maybe it's overkill for a lot of your trips? I looked at Richard Nisley's data on this jacket and it's 2.5x as insulating (clo. 6.18) as my Montbell Alpine Light Jacket (clo 2.5) which I consider to be quite luxurious for my colder shoulder season trips. With this said, the Fugu isn't that heavy and it sure looks awesome. I want one.

3) The OR Goretex Paclite jacket and pants are likely a bit heavy and bulky, but it would be a lot of money to replace this. I'm not sure how much weight/bulk we are dealing with here. But if this is a 13oz jacket and 10oz pants then you could cut that in half.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Re: Re: Big Pack on 10/19/2011 23:28:35 MDT Print View

you need to leave things behind ... yr gear aint exactly the bulkiest in the world ... and the bulkiest items are outside the back anyways (pad and tent)

or get a bigger pack ;)

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: Re: "Going back to big packs" on 10/19/2011 23:51:48 MDT Print View

I'm trying to transition to a gatewood cape, which would lighten up my rain gear, but I need to test it on a few shorter trips before I decide it's OK for a 7 day trip. I've tried using water bottles (in the outside side pockets) rather than the camelbak inside the pack taking up space, but prefer having the convenient hose.

I think you're right that the Fugu is overkill, but it's not that heavy and is plenty warm for late summer nights in the mountains of northern Utah and Wyoming. I've looked at other jackets, but I like to be over-prepared whenever there's a chance that snow will fall on a backpacking trip, even summer snow.

Maybe I need to reconsider my food packing methods, or even my general packing methods. Up until now, I've been putting all my food into a stuffsack, then shoving that into the bottom of my pack, which I can then take out and hang up in a tree to bear bag. Do you or anyone here just pack food directly into the bottom of your backpack? What are your favorite kinds of food to save space?

BTW- thanks for posting your gear list.

Edited by artsandt on 10/20/2011 00:05:52 MDT.

David Stenberg
(dstenberg1) - F

Locale: South
Hyperlite Mountain Gear on 10/20/2011 08:39:23 MDT Print View

Check out the new Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter pack. The one on the website is 3400 cu. in. but I read (I think it was) on their facebook page that they will also have a 4800 cu. in. version. I am sure if you ask it can be done. Another individual in these forums said you can double up or add an extra set of pack stays to the HMG packs in order to gain more load carrying capacity.

It also has no external pockets so all the volume is in the pack bag itself.

Never tried the pack, but it looks like a good option.

Edited by dstenberg1 on 10/20/2011 08:40:18 MDT.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Hyperlite Mountain Gear on 10/20/2011 08:49:25 MDT Print View

I have a Porter and Ryan J. has a modified version of the larger Expedition model. We've both been testing prototypes and suggesting changes for several months.

The last I talked to Mike they're working on getting beefier stays for them, which IMO, is definitely needed. The pack is large enough and versatile enough to carry a real load, but the current stays are the same as those in the Windrider and not capable of the same weights as the pack itself. I'd also like to see them increase the padding on the shoulder straps and hip belt.

Edited by simplespirit on 10/20/2011 08:51:09 MDT.


Locale: Pacific Northwet
Re: Re: Hyperlite Mountain Gear on 10/20/2011 09:32:30 MDT Print View

Hi Chris,
The porter pack looks interesting to me but one thing I don't really like are packs that tower above the level of the top of the shoulder straps. It looks like on the porter pack the top compression strap is pretty high.

In your opinion, how well does this pack work if you don't have it loaded to capacity? Can you still cinch the top compression straps, and can the pack work without the top portion "extended" above the level of your shoulders?