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Help choosing size backpacks please
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David B
(davidbee0233) - F
Help choosing size backpacks please on 05/31/2012 01:57:44 MDT Print View

My wife and I will be going on our first full blown backpacking trip, and looking for some advice on picking what size backpacks to get.

We will be mostly doing 2-3 night stays, light hiking nothing too crazy maybe for example the trip we are taking first will only be 5 miles each way(which is why weight isnt too much an issue). We are both a little on the smaller scale im 5' 10" and my wife 5' 4" we are young and athletic but we dont want to be hauling around huge 80L backpacks. How many liters combined do you think we will need between the 2 of us(i was thinking about 80L combined between us both should do it?), Im bigger built and more athletic so I will be carrying the majority of the heavier items so I will probably go with a bigger pack so my wife could carry a lighter load.Below is a list of some of our gear +- a few items but for the most part ive included all the bigger heavier items. Our gear list isnt exactly in the ultra light area but we are preparing for cold weather possibly strong winds so weight isnt too much an issue just pack size. Judging by the list do you think that a 35L pack for my wife and a 45-55L pack for myself will be sufficient?

Thanks in advance

-high peak enduro 4 season tent
-2 rei self infatable sleeping pads
-2 infatable pillows
-1 double size sleeping bag that we share
-1 pack towel
-set of clothes for each of us (thermals, jacket, socks ect.)
-1 pocket rocket stove with 1 butane fuel tank
-1 sto away pot
-1 bear canister filled with dehydrated foods
-matches/emergency fire starter
-water treatment tabs
-wilderness wash
-insect repellent/sunscreen lotion combo
-emergency rain poncho
-emergency mylar blanket
-small first aid kit
-2 sets of titanium utensils
-1 waterproof flashlight
-50ft paracord
-small tackle kit/fillet knife
-2 piece fishing pole (can go outside the pack)

other small misc. accessories and gear that im shure wouldent take too much space

Edited by davidbee0233 on 05/31/2012 02:16:43 MDT.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Help choosing size backpacks please on 05/31/2012 05:34:07 MDT Print View

Adding in 6 pounds of food, thats about 50lb of gear. Not too bad for a first attempt at backpacking.

First off, get all the stuff in two paper(large sized) grocery bags. Then weigh each bag, roughly. This will give you the approximate volume and weight capacity of a pair of packs you will be looking for.

Second, take all the stuff to the store with you, but don't forget to leave some space for "food, fuel and water" or consumables. Try on every pack in the size range that fits the stuff. Don't forget, if you really like camping/hiking, you will be upgrading to lighter, smaller gear as you go.

Third, choose the most comfortable pack, in the lightest weight they have. Later, once you have more experience, you might want a lighter pack, or, smaller pack, or more versitile pack or less durable or something. Don't worry about duplication. I have a half doven packs I use regularly. 2 for solo trips, a couple for the wife and I, a couple loaners, and several others for special things (trail work, shelter maintenence, training, canoeing, etc.) The process of selection can take as long as a couple days, since it IS a process.

Fourth, it has to handle the weight. After all, that's one of the big reasons for having a pack, to carry your gear. Try every pack with the weight for *at least* a half hour. You cannot tell in less time than that without a lot of experience. First time through will take time to adjust everything, or, "dial it in."

Fifth, avoid packs over 3 pounds. Unless you are on an expedition to Mt. Everest, you do NOT need a huge and heavy pack. For two or three days, temper this with your intended destinations. Peaks and Mountains? Lakes and Rivers? Rolling hills? You don't want a 3lb pack going up a mountain. Nor a Mountain pack for stand up hiking and bushwhacking. Use your judgement, only you know your needs in that regard. I typically use a 8oz-14oz pac for most solo hikes up to about a week. I also use a 3#3 for two weeks or longer trips.

Sixth, chose one with as much dual purpose as you can get. A removeable side pouch makes a good bear bag for smelly items. A pad pocket lets you use a pad as part of the frame. This is more advanced, so, you *can* ignore this for now. REI or EMS does not carry these. Zpacks, GOssamerGear, SMD, others all do this to some degree but are more specialized.

Seventh, FIT, FIT and FIT. Everything about a pack is comfort. If it don't fit, don't get it. Same for your partner. You may end up with completely different packs. That is OK. After adjustments, it needs to fit like a glove. No pinches or weight pressure points. Even pressure on your back, shoulder harness and waist belt is what you are looking for. Your legs, knees and feet need to carry the additional weight. Make sure you are in shape to do that. Some people like external frames, some like internal frames, some no frame. Depends on you.

Eighth, I prefer three pockets, one for kitchen gear, one for water, one for ready stuff (trail bars, candy, water treatment, bug dope, tp, etc.) A waist pocket is handy for a camera.

Lots more to this but you should be able to find a light pack that will fit well for the gear you mention. Later, with a bit more knowledge of how, and why, and what you like, you can think of mail order. For now, stick with something you can return at one of the chain stores. Your confidence WILL increase as you do more hiking. As will your comfort as your gear declines, quantity, volume and weight.

Thomas Fischer
(hankmeyer) - F
Backpack Size and Equipment on 05/31/2012 15:30:49 MDT Print View

Hi David,
I started to decide what to take and what to leave on my first lightweight tour some months before I started to go. I used an excel Sheet and writen down EVERY part including the weight (I was surprised how many you can save just for example take an alcool burner (Trangia UL) instead of gasoline (Berghaus all-fuel + pot). Mostly it is an compromise between comfort and weight (self-inflating vs mouth-inflating camping mat).

So I think you really did a good work already, but for Example I don't know if you are need the paracord (I like to take a small roll of finger-tape for climbers as gaffa-tape replacement). So this really depends on where you are going.

Anyway.. I hope I could give you some new approaches
Have fun

David B
(davidbee0233) - F
Thanks for the advice :) on 05/31/2012 20:32:37 MDT Print View

we have measured ourselves and checked out some packs online but since theres really no stores in our area we are just going to have to wait till we take our trip and stop at a shop on the way up with our gear to test some packs out.

I am in the process of trying to lighten up and conserve space, so far the tent and the sleeping bag i cant really change since we might end up with some pretty cold/windy/rainy weather so the 4 season tent will have to stay, and the sleeping bag aswell since we might need to stay pretty warm and since its really not a double size bag but actually more like an oversize bag that we both barelly are able to squeeze into together anyways so cant really go smaller/lighter with that I will be getting some compression sacks for it and the clothes though, but as far as sleeping pads are concerned im looking at some half size pads or possibly just use a space blanket/emergency blanket underneath to block cold/radiate heat, also looking at switching over to a alchohol stove instead of the butane with just a small pot/kettle to boil/heat water since we only need it to rehydrate our food anyways.

Also considering just double bagging/sealing food into odor proof bags and hanging our food up to get rid of the bear can since the area we will be in doesent require the canisters and since the area is more remote of an area and less traveled.

Rich Lillo
(sierrahiker) - F
Re: Help choosing size backpacks please on 06/08/2012 02:13:04 MDT Print View

Depending on your budget, you may want to buy used packs or rent for your first trip. There are so many choices and features in selecting a pack that you will not really know what you want until you have gone on a few trips. If you don't mind ending up with a few packs each before finding something you really like, then get a pack that will comfortably fit the gear you have with no extra room. If you find that the two of you really enjoy backpacking then you will most likely be getting different gear to better suit your needs, which may require different size packs. Before making your purchase check lots of gear reviews to narrow down brands and models.

As far as the other gear, stick with the butane stove for now, for convenience sake. The one you listed is very light and for a short trip one cannister will do. Definitely use inflatable pads, if you can't find a soft spot to set up your tent you will be miserable, which might turn you off to backpacking. ¾ length is a good choice to save weight and bulk, which is what I use and place my fleece jacket under my legs. Make sure whatever you use is wide enough since you're sharing a bag.