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new zpacks pack: the arc blast
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Drew Jay
(drewjh) - F

Locale: Central Coast
Got it! on 06/28/2012 14:38:32 MDT Print View

I had a chance to load it up with my gear at lunch today and carry it around for a bit. First impressions are extremely positive. The bottom stay attachment is well designed - no protrusions/pressure points for me and I guarantee I have a wider back than just about anyone here. The mesh panel tension can be adjusted to bring the bag closer or farther to the body. The tensioned stays are very rigid, I can't imagine better load transfer from any other ultralight system. I ordered mine with load lifters, extra long belt, shoulder straps and sternum strap, and fully taped seams. It weighs 15.6 oz.

Edited by drewjh on 06/28/2012 14:42:58 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Got it! on 06/28/2012 16:36:49 MDT Print View

"I ordered mine with load lifters, extra long belt, shoulder straps and sternum strap, and fully taped seams."

Hi Andrew,

Can you tell me where the load lifters attach to the pack? I'm hoping they attach to the stays and not just the pack body itself, but I can't be sure from looking at the pictures on the Z-Pack website.

Many thanks,

Tom.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Got it! on 06/28/2012 19:47:35 MDT Print View

"Can you tell me where the load lifters attach to the pack? I'm hoping they attach to the stays and not just the pack body itself, but I can't be sure from looking at the pictures on the Z-Pack website."

Ah, ha!

Tom, you get it! But many pack makers don't. Effective lifters need to be attached to a frame stay and high enough above the shoulder straps too work properly.

I looked closely at Joe's site but did not see any pictures with lifters. But the view from the back of the pack shows that the stays are offset from the line of the shoulder straps by quite a bit. I don't see how he could do it unless he moves each stay towards the center of the pack. Doing that would make the vent panel too thin and the external stays would probably be problematic.

To be honest I have a couple of packs with an "air mesh" ventilation system (Dueter and REI Venturi) and don't experience any noticeable comfort than my more conventional packs. I bought them for desert weather. Basically I am going to sweat no matter what. I want my stays close to my back and have the ability to bend them exactly to the shape of my back.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Got it! on 06/28/2012 20:33:01 MDT Print View

"I looked closely at Joe's site but did not see any pictures with lifters. But the view from the back of the pack shows that the stays are offset from the line of the shoulder straps by quite a bit. I don't see how he could do it unless he moves each stay towards the center of the pack. Doing that would make the vent panel too thin and the external stays would probably be problematic."

Your thinking mirrors mine exactly. That is why I posted. I guess I was hoping for the best, because a 13.5 oz framed pack with a proper set of load lifters would have me seriously considering shelling out the bucks to at least check it out in person.

"To be honest I have a couple of packs with an "air mesh" ventilation system (Dueter and REI Venturi) and don't experience any noticeable comfort than my more conventional packs. I bought them for desert weather. Basically I am going to sweat no matter what. I want my stays close to my back and have the ability to bend them exactly to the shape of my back."

+1 I got used to sweating when backpacking a long time ago. It comes with the territory.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Got it! on 06/28/2012 20:39:59 MDT Print View

Better jump to the TV and get off the computer.

5K finals start in a couple minutes.

Drew Jay
(drewjh) - F

Locale: Central Coast
Load lifters, mesh panel on 06/28/2012 20:48:26 MDT Print View

The load lifters are sewn to the pack bag about 2.5" above the top of the shoulder strap attachment point (straps are sewn at an angle.) I asked for a little more torso length, so that distance may be more like 3-3.5" on a standard Arc. With the pack full they lift appx. the back 2/3-3/4 of the shoulder strap off the shoulder (2/3-3/4 of the strap area that would normally contact the shoulder.) A higher attachment point mounted to a frame would definitely lift more of the strap off the shoulder, but the straps are still a good addition to this pack IMO. I ordered them for the same reason I ordered the Arc frame - my back has a fairly pronounced curve. Arcing the frame stays and cinching the load lifters allows the pack to follow the curve of my back. Without a lumbar pad to kick the top back towards my head, I think the top 1/3rd of the Exo would have stood too far away from my shoulders.

The curved arc frame transfers the 20lbs I have in it very solidly to the small of my back though, and so far I find myself fidgeting with the shoulder straps a lot less than other packs I've tried. I stuffed my quilt into the bottom and it makes a nice 'lumbar pad'.

I'm scheduled pretty solid through tomorrow night but will try and take some pics of the load lifters this weekend.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Load lifters, mesh panel on 06/29/2012 18:15:15 MDT Print View

"I'm scheduled pretty solid through tomorrow night but will try and take some pics of the load lifters this weekend."

Thanks, Andrew. I'll be looking forward to your impressions. Also, it might be wise to do a test run with a half empty pack, when there will be nothing in the pack bag up high to give it the rigidity to support the load lifters.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
"Displacement off back" on 06/29/2012 18:42:30 MDT Print View

Any EXTERNAL frame pack will have displace3ment off the back even more than teh Osprey packs. The long gone Trailwise external frame pack beloved by Colin Chapman has a back mesh "displacement" setup too.

Osprey used to have too much spacing but they modified that a few years ago and now most like the back mesh configuration.

Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
Fletcher, maybe not Chapman? on 07/07/2012 19:58:43 MDT Print View

"The long gone Trailwise external frame pack beloved by Colin Chapman [...]"

Might ye mean Colin Fletcher? Back in the early '70s I bought a Trailwise pack because Fletcher recommended it in his book, "The Complete Walker." It was a sturdy, sensible pack with voluminous room. I have no idea when I lost track of that pack, it was three--maybe four--lifetimes ago.

Drew Jay
(drewjh) - F

Locale: Central Coast
Arc Blast report on 07/26/2012 03:29:27 MDT Print View

So a long overdue report on my Arc Blast:

I took it on a 3.5 day/3night 40 mile loop on the July 4th weekend. I made a typical rookie mistake and packed far too much food for what was originally slated to be a 4.5 day/4 night trip. My pack weight on day one with two liters of water was about 25lbs. I must admit I missed the cushiness of my Vapor Trail a bit that first day. The Arc was not at all uncomfortable, but it was more noticeable on my back than the VT had been.

By day's end I realized I had totally screwed up the fit. When Joe mailed the pack he had the mesh tensioned so that there was a rather pronounced arch in the stays. I decided I wanted the pack to ride closer to my back and loosened the panel a bit. That was a mistake. With the pack loaded and on my back, the load was pulling against the mesh panel/stays enough that the frame was nearly straight. That night I adjusted the panel/stays back to where Joe had them in the first place and it made a big difference! The load transfer was quite a bit better, and for the rest of the trip I forgot completely about the Vapor Trail, despite the fact that my brother had borrowed it and was in front of me the whole time. The Arc was totally functional and very comfortable. No complaints whatsoever.

With the gear list I have now and proper food rationing my loads are going to max out around 20 lbs for 3-4 day trips. At this weight the Arc rides like a dream, I think I found the pack for me! Of course a couple more trips this season could change my outlook, but I don't forsee anything negative at this point.

Edit - regarding the mesh panel, there was a difference in ventilation once the panel was properly tensioned. However for me the fact that the Arc frame follows the curve of my back much more closely than the EXO would have is still the main draw for me.

Edited by drewjh on 07/26/2012 03:35:08 MDT.

Paul Backus
(backuspaul)

Locale: Bellingham, WA
my input on 08/11/2012 09:40:17 MDT Print View

I'm a very happy user of an exos 58, but as I've been getting lighter I've been looking for a true "UL" pack. This is the first I've seen with a mesh panel and was instantly drawn to it. The price is pretty good for such a light pack too! Although it gets a little more expensive to add extra pockets and the like.

I still have a bit of lightening to do and at least one more big purchase before a new pack (DuoMid or maybe a Hexamid...or a hammock...can't decide) but I'm definitely keeping my eye on this!

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
@ Joe on 08/11/2012 09:48:41 MDT Print View

Joe, if you're reading this, would it be possible, maybe with an extra cross piece, to have the load lifters attach to a frame piece?

Joseph Valesko
(zpacks.com) - F
Load Lifters on 09/13/2012 14:56:16 MDT Print View

This response is coming a bit late but I can do pretty much any reasonable modifications to the packs if you email me and ask.

Yes sure I could add a cross bar at the top of the frame to attach the load lifter straps to.

By default the load lifters are sewn directly to the pack, roughly in line with the top of the stays. They seem to work well enough, but I don't normally use them myself.

Mike Van
(Mike777) - MLife
looking for more Arc Blast feedback on 11/01/2012 02:39:57 MDT Print View

Anybody?

jason quick
(jase)

Locale: A tent in my backyard - Melbourne
Yep...happy with my Arc Blast on 11/01/2012 04:32:40 MDT Print View

So, I've spent approximately 8 nights/9 days worth of hiking with my Arc Blast now.

I find it very comfortable.

I treat the mesh kindly, as with all of my gear, and find it more than durable for my uses. - I have my shell gear, Steripen setup, fuel and PLB in the front mesh pocket...and that is it.

I don't notice any discomfort or imbalance from the spacing/mesh panel. I also have an Osprey Talon and another locally made trampoline style pack, so am used to this feeling anyways.

The hybrid material is ace too....very durable, and nice to work with.

I have found myself being more attentive to my packing style though...which is a good thing. I have reduced the number of dry bags down to 3...using the zpacks pack liner for my s/bag (zpacks -7 bag), spare clothes, mat (NeoAir) & pillow (OR UL Pillow). The top dry bag is Joe's large rectangular cuben fiber dry bag (still to arrive), however similar sized dry bag test runs allows me to put my ditty bag, food and condiments (zip locked), Eddie Bauer down jacket , and Evernew 600 with Starlyte set up quite easily....my Hexamid Solo stays in its own cuben dry bag for the sake of avoiding moisture getting through the rest of the bag. After all of this I still have some room to cinch up the side straps.

The reason why I thought it necessary to paint this picture is because the arched poles have a slight tendency to pull inwards at the top if I pack the bottom out and neglect to pack out the top.....causing the top to collapse in. This is expected though, and happens on packs...it's just more accentuated with the arched poles. This is easily remedied however, simply by packing my bag correctly in the first place!!

As for the load lifters...I have them on my pack, and find them a waste of time. I use them a lot on other packs that I have, but the UL nature of this pack and subsequent contents kinda renders the use of load lifters useless...for me that is.

I also grabbed a pair of both the shoulder pouches and hipbelt pouches...and I must say they finish the pack off really well. The shoulder pouches hold my GPS and sunnies etc., with the hipbelt pouches looking after snacks, gloves etc.

Really happy with this set up.

Although, I do reaaaally like the white. If anyone wants to swap for an Olive Drab (or work out a deal etc.) for a white let me know!! I know that is superficial, but hey, the white is sexy ;-)

Edit: I actually feel the pack sitting better on my hips, and there is nothing like a bit of breeze wafting through and over the mesh panel, cooling off my back....yep...I can feel it.

Edited by jase on 11/01/2012 04:35:55 MDT.

Mikkel Filskov
(mikkelfilskov)

Locale: UI
Arc blast coming this way! :) on 11/01/2012 06:49:00 MDT Print View

I have also made an order for Arc Blast and are now thinking if I should order any mods for it. Anything you would ask Joe to do if you had to place a new order with Joe for this pack? My setup is also close to yours but with a Hexamid Twin and a Jetboil Sol Ti.

Thanks - looking so much forward to get the package now ;-)

jason quick
(jase)

Locale: A tent in my backyard - Melbourne
Future mods for Arc Blast on 11/01/2012 13:52:33 MDT Print View

Hi Mikkel

The only mod I would make would be to remove the hydration tube port - I don't need it.

Perhaps the only other thing I would 'consider' is to have the whole pack seam taped. It would be nice to have a bomber, water-tight pack. This would take a bit of tape for sure, but the thought has crossed my mind. Although, two dry bags do the trick really well....so it may not be worth the hassle of seam taping it all.

Mikkel Filskov
(mikkelfilskov)

Locale: UI
Seam taping on 11/01/2012 16:08:39 MDT Print View

I can see where you are going with this. I was thinking of buying a CF liner both as reinforcement to the backs fabric and to waterproff it.

Edited by mikkelfilskov on 11/01/2012 16:09:13 MDT.

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Arc blast on 11/01/2012 18:29:47 MDT Print View

" I got used to sweating when backpacking a long time ago. It comes with the territory."

Actually, not. I've been building my own internal frame suspended mesh backband packs for several years now. Of course, sweat is constantly evaporating from my back during exertion; but I have not felt moist, ever; and the back of my top, a polyester T or Polo, with or without a Polartec sweater, remains dry.

What's also nice, is that the back can flex without being constricted or rubbing against the pack.

The key to these packs is to have the tension adjusted just right for the minimum distance between the mesh and the pack, while maintaining enough distance and tension to prevent the pack from touching the back in all situations, like bending over, temporary heavy loads, etc. For this reason, when i first saw the pic of the Arc Blast, I thought, 'Why didn't I think of that!" The buckles allow precise adjustment of the tension, something not found on the Ospreys; hence the Ospreys are tauter than necessary to insure 'one size fits all.' The stays must be stiff enough to maintain tension without bowing more than is needed; thus keeping the pack as close as possible to the back without contact. Choice of nylon or polyester mesh also enters into the equation, as nylon is more elastic.

Durability of the mesh is just a matter of what material is chosen. The 'rawhide' mesh (the one with the little diamond shaped openings) is pretty bombproof, but for an ultralight pack, something lighter might be preferred. Leno mesh can develop runs if too much tension is applied, but is around an ounce lighter per square yard.
There are others available commercially that Joe had to choose from.

Thanks to Joe for this design. It sounds from the users' posts that it is working very well.

jason quick
(jase)

Locale: A tent in my backyard - Melbourne
re: seam taping on 11/02/2012 02:50:42 MDT Print View

"I can see where you are going with this. I was thinking of buying a CF liner both as reinforcement to the backs fabric and to waterproff it."

...the material is way strong enough, so I don't see the need for using a pack liner for reinforcement. I have used it to simply create a watertight space.

The other thing I would modify is to get rid of the bottom tie straps...I have never used these on any bag, every. I might simply snip mine off.