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Packs with great load transfer
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nathan matthews
(nathanm) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Packs with great load transfer on 04/25/2012 21:12:37 MDT Print View

Since 2004, my primary pack has been a Jam. It's still a great pack, but it carries most of the weight on my shoulders. This wasn't a problem for most of its career with loads of less than 25 lbs, but because of a shoulder injury I'm now looking to move more weight to my hips. I'm sure this question has been answered before, but I'm looking for recommendations. I'm interested in packs that don't add any features other than a "real" hip belt (my 2004 jam just has webbing) and a stiffer frame. I also need something tall--I'm 6'6" with a 21+" torso, so some packs are so short that even if they have a good hip belt and frame, I can't get the hip belt on my hips while properly adjusting the shoulder straps.

The only other feature I'm looking for is durability. For a few years I wasn't getting out as much as I liked, but my Jam has been on a lot of trips and, despite a few patches, is holding up well. I already feel bad replacing it before it's completely worn out, so whatever my next pack is needs to last a while as well.

Heath Pitts
(heathpitts) - F

Locale: Nashville
RE:Packs with great load transfer on 04/25/2012 21:42:27 MDT Print View

I am extremely happy with the MLD Exodus FS. Particularly with load transfer to the hips. They do have a model listed with a 21.25 torso as the large model. However, it is listed only for users up to 6 feet 3 inches.

Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Packs with great load transfer on 04/25/2012 22:20:24 MDT Print View

Of your budget allows, McHale is worth a look. A better suspension would be hard to find, and you can be sure of a proper fit :)

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
ULA on 04/25/2012 22:20:26 MDT Print View

My ULA Catalyst and Ohm 2 both do very well with weight transfer. I've got some back issues, which prevents me from even thinking about a pack that doesn't put nearly all the weight on my hips. I went through a bunch of packs, and the ULA packs did the best job. I am very happy with them! (I did not try the MLD Exodus - just saying!)

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Packs with great load transfer on 04/25/2012 22:23:31 MDT Print View

I have a long torso as well and have found the offerings available from ULA to be long enough with good load transfer. I have had both the Circuit and currently use an Ohm. Both transfer the load quite effectively, especially at 25 pounds.

Peter Griffith
(petergriffith) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
ULA Ohm on 04/25/2012 22:51:19 MDT Print View

+1 on the ULA Ohm. No weight on my shoulders. The shoulder straps simply keep the pack from falling away from your back. All the weight is transferred to your hips.

Stephan Doyle
HMG on 04/25/2012 23:13:26 MDT Print View

Hyperlite Mountain Gear makes an XL size called large/tall.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Osprey EXOS 58 on 04/26/2012 00:52:06 MDT Print View

Try a loaded Osprey EXOS 58 and see what you think.

That pack will, if necessary, carry 40 lbs. comfortably B/C it's designed ON a frame, not with a frame as an afterthought. The comfort is worth the slight extra weight.

Simone Zmood
(sim1oz) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne, Australia
Aarn pack on 04/26/2012 05:35:18 MDT Print View

I use a Jam for short walks but I love my Aarn Featherlite Freedom and am sometimes tempted to take it even when I don't need so much carry space because it is just so incredibly comfortable and convenient.

I just used the Aarn FF for an 8 day walk in Tasmania. I'd never carried that much food before and the adjustability of the pack allowed me to move the weight around easily. Most of the time I carried the weight on my hips but I could pop a bit on my shoulders if I felt like it.

The Aarn body packs have front pouches (if you pack properly they counterbalance with the back pouch) and lots of adjustment straps which could drive some people nuts. But now that I know how to use it, I sure miss its features when I walk with anything else. Those front pouches are amazing, I never need to take my pack off. Everything I need for the day is right before my eyes.

Now that I think about it, I think I will get a second smaller 36L Aarn pack for weekenders and give the Jam to my kids!

One word of warning, I wouldn’t buy one for the first time without being able to try it on and play with it because it is really different from anything you will have seen before. Also, a good salesperson should be able to help you choose the right size and adjust all the fittings to fit you. (I never let anyone else use my FF – it’s all mine!).

It is not widely stocked in Australia, and the same is probably true in the USA, so for more details see:

Edited by sim1oz on 04/26/2012 05:37:28 MDT.

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
Re: Packs with great load transfer on 04/26/2012 07:51:08 MDT Print View

Nathan, I wonder if it is an issue with an older model Jam? I have a 2010/11 Pinnacle and if I pack it right I can put the hip belt on and have no weight on my shoulders. When packed right and put on correctly (for me) I can have the shoulder straps completly loose and the pack stays put it is just hanging too far from my back. I only use the shoulder straps to bring the pack up against my back. I have heard that the hip belts have gotten better over time on the GoLite packs so maybe that is the issue. (I have no experience with the older packs myself, this is my first GoLite pack).

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: Packs with great load transfer on 04/26/2012 08:58:20 MDT Print View

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter.

Carries extremely well, has been functionally very durable, is under 2lbs, and can carry 30 lbs in absolute comfort.

Alternative to that would be the ULA OHM, although I have limited experience with the 1.0 version.

Rick Adams
(rickadams100) - M
load transfer on 04/26/2012 12:59:59 MDT Print View

I'm in my 40's, can't stand up straight and have serious shoulder problems.....I feel your pain. I've tried REI stuff, ultralight stuff and modifying or making things. I now use either a beefy aarn pack, filled with light gear, or an aether 60 with argon belt and straps plus hardware store aluminum bars attached the the hip belt and bolted thru the framesheet of the pack. For any load more than 10lbs it's one of these. Even day hikes. 99% of the wieght is on the hips, it helps a ton.
I think, if your loads light enough, you could modify any internal frame pack to add direct and sturdy load tranfer between the belt and pack. If you want to buy a pack, Aarn is the way to go, Dana at Aarn USA was very helpful, just tell him what you want to acomplish. the other thing I noticed was that I needed to pack differently, keeping the heavier items closer to my back.

Happy trails

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
+1 on Ula catalyst on 04/26/2012 13:48:48 MDT Print View

I used to use granite gear packs (nimbus, vapor trail, etc) since they had so much squishiness to them.
But a while back I went out on a limb and got a ULA Catalyst. Despite the lack of squishiness, the pack is at least twice as comfortable due to the amazing suspension. The only thing I miss is the stretchiness of the side pockets on the granite gears. Oh well.

nathan matthews
(nathanm) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Thanks for the pack recommendations on 04/26/2012 18:49:43 MDT Print View

Thanks everybody for the thorough and prompt responses.

McHale is out of my league. Aarn doesn't look like what I'm looking for either. Here are a couple questions about the other packs folks have mentioned, but really, if anybody in the bay area has a tall Exodus, Porter, or Circuit I could see in person, that'd be great--PM me.

The new Jams look to have much more going for them than my old one, both in terms of a stiffer hipbelt and with it apparently being placed inside from the edges of the pack. On the original Jam the hipbelt wings are sewn into the seams at the very edges of the backpanel. This is fine when the bottom of the pack contains a mostly-lofted sleeping bag and the whole pack can wrap around me, but works less well with a fuller, more rigid pack. I'm a little worried, though, about whether that change would be enough to bump it up to carrying 25-30 lbs comfortably.

Relatedly, for the MLD packs, I'm worried that the hipbelt, although more than webbing, has the same issue as my old Jam. Although maybe with the extra rigidity being attached at the outside edges isn't such a big deal. I have an MLD bivy and love the quality of Ron's work.

On the HMG pack, since Cuben is new to me, I'm worried about it's longevity. Also, how is the construction quality on these packs? I haven't seen any HMG gear, but some of the BPL review pictures have what looks to be pretty irregular stitching.

I don't know anything about the ULA packs. As I said, if anybody has one nearby me, I'd love to see it.

Thanks again everyone.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Nearby? on 04/26/2012 19:32:08 MDT Print View

Nearby to what???

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Packs with great load transfer on 04/26/2012 23:31:09 MDT Print View

The only suspension I know of that comfortably takes nearly all the load off the shoulders is the Jackpack design. I have posted pix of one on MYOG, and hope to have another much lighter one posted there by sometime in July. Unfortunately, as far as I know, the design is not currently available anywhere commercially.

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Tall Guys on 04/28/2012 12:38:19 MDT Print View

If you're 6'6" then most likely your torso is 24" or more. I think your primary consideration should be an internal framed pack made long enough for your torso. The only one i have found (my torso is 24" also) is the ULA Circuit with XL torso size, which is a very popular, internal framed pack. It's not the lightest, but weight should be secondary to fit in my opinion. I am considering finding an internal framed pack as well for carrying large amounts of water on my desert hikes. I'm in Socal, probably too far for me to let you try my ULA CDT unless you end up this way some time. One other consideration comes to mind which might seem farfetched but...

Good Luck!

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Packs with great load transfer on 04/28/2012 12:48:18 MDT Print View

You can try some ULA packs at Down Works in Santa Cruz.

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
z on 04/28/2012 20:09:52 MDT Print View

I have an injured spine and I can't take any weight on my shoulders.
I've been using the Zpacks Exo, it's the lightest pack at 12.8 oz that carries
25 lbs comfortably with the weight where I want it on my hips.

this is the Zpacks Exo on the right, along side the Nimbus Ozone.
The Exo is wide and narrow and this also helps keep the load close to your back.x

carl becker
(carlbecker) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: Packs with great load transfer on 04/28/2012 21:37:24 MDT Print View

You should not dismiss Aarn packs. Even if they have extras on them the pack itself probably has the best load transfer ability made today. I have tried many different packs and types from old Kelty framed to Six Moons ultralite's. Not sure about your size as I am only 6'1".