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Backpack questions
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Gregory Allen
(Gallen1119) - M

Locale: Golden, CO
Backpack questions on 07/14/2012 22:49:07 MDT Print View

I'm overwhelmed by the options and need some help. I've carried my overpacked, overheavy, over-EVERYTHING Deuter backpack for the last time. My wife and I were out a couple of weeks ago and we were dying. Granted, I haven't backpacked much in recent years, but my kids are old enough that they don't need continuous supervision on weekends and we plan on getting out more, just the two of us (plus dog). (I know, weekend teenage parties at my house might be an issue.) So...I'm jumping headlong into this backpackinglight idea. Carrying 40 lbs for a 2-3 night trip just isn't an option any more. I've bought a Clelland book, I've got multiple prototypes of coke-can alcohol stoves in the study, I'm weighing everything on the kitchen scales, and relegating most of the old stuff to the car-camping storage boxes. Here are my plans/needs as I am starting, so you guys can help me out:

Golden, CO is home
2-3 day trips
3 season, no winter trips yet planned, but I won't rule that out completely
Most plans will be just below to just above tree line. May include a few nontechnical 13er's and 14's
We have decent, simple, and light sleep systems already
Cooking system is well on it's way
Pretty sure I can get base weight to the 18-20 lb range based on my current spreadsheet.
Dog already carries her own food and water and seems to have no trouble doing twice the distance we do...up, back, right side, left side of trail, runs trough meadows at 10,000 feet...stupid canine endurance, she makes me curse.

Packs????

I had done lots of reading and research and kind of settled on either a GoLite Jam 50 or GG Mariposa. REALLY like the price of the Jam and some of the features of the Mariposa. Now I find the GoLite Jam 50 will not likely be available until Oct/Nov. Not sure the Jam 35 would be enough room. Retail store employee at GoLite seemed reliable on those dates.. Should I shave the weight in other areas and carry the Deuter another season, go with the Mariposa, or do guys have other ideas? I have other Osprey gear (luggage) that is awesome. Should I look at the Exos line? ULA? Granite Gear?

Any advice would be welcome...

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Packs on 07/14/2012 23:37:53 MDT Print View

You're looking at a list of great packs. The Jam, Mariposa (or Gorilla) and others listed are all great options.

I've used the Jam a decent amount and quite a few other packs in the past few years and I can't find anything I like nearly as well as the ULA Ohm. It's awesome. Nice volume (similar to the Jam 50 or a bit bigger), awesome compression system, best side pockets there are, the 2oz frame works quite well, the load lifters are awesome etc. It's definitely capable of carrying more weight than the Jam and yet it's lighter at about 22oz. Unless I'm planning on carrying +35 lbs, the Ohm is the answer for me.

The Jam is a good pack too, but it's only comfortable to about 10 lbs less than the Ohm since there's no frame stays.....so about 25 lbs for me. It's also heavier by about 10oz, the rear pocket isn't as useable and the Ohm easily wins for compression and side pockets.

The Mariposa (or Gorilla) do look like awesome packs as well. I haven't used them but the designs look very strong. The compression system is pretty minimal in the Mariposa, so be sure you need all that volume over the Gorilla. If you can afford one, I'd definately choose the GG pack over the Jam because it has a nice curved frame, a more useable rear pocket and load lifters and weighs less.

Regarding other companies, I'm pretty sure Osprey and Granite Gear don't make any packs under 30oz with frame stays and you really don't need to go above 30oz to get a very nice pack that handle 30+ lbs easily. If you want to add more packs to your search, the HMG Windrider and Zpacks Exo/Arc Blast are in this class. I haven't used the Zpacks models, but I prefer my Ohm over the Windrider easily.

Edited by dandydan on 07/14/2012 23:44:17 MDT.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
packs on 07/15/2012 02:47:45 MDT Print View

If you are carrying 40 lbs, the extra ~3-4 lbs that your current pack weighs really isnt the issue , is it?

It is easier to carry lightwt gear in a conventional pack, than to try to carry heavy gear in a lightwt pack.

2-3 days isnt much food, so you really dont need a large pack for that if your gear is compact.

UL packs arent the same as the pack you are used too. They are not rigid, and thickly padded. Your mindset of what a pack is, and needs to be, will have to change. However, if you keep your gear LIGHT, they will take you to a new level. Learning how to pack a pack best with YOUR gear is critical too, you dont just throw everything in

I like to say that there is more of a difference in backpacking experience between 15-20 lbs, than any other wt. 20, is still like carrying a pack. 15, is like not at all. My target is always to stay under 20 if possible, fully loaded with 2L water.

Yours may vary, but I would say to not PLAN to have a pack wt ever >27 lbs with a lightwt pack. A few will carry 30-35 OK for short periods, but you are possibly going to be better off with a heavier pack if that is your norm. Fitting stuff in is also going to be a problem.

A baseweight of 18-20 lbs, is not particularly lightwt. You need to drop at least 5 lbs from that IMO before you start considering UL packs,if you want room for food and water. 3 days food is 5 lbs, and 2L water is 4.4. 20lb base puts you at 30 lbs, minimum.

If you post a gear list, you will get suggestions on what to cut out and what to replace. The big 4, shelter, sleeping bag , sleeping pd, pack, are your most critical. These need to total about 8 lbs max. Next you probably need to keep clothing and insulation layers down to about 2 lb total. Raingear no more than 1 lb. The rest is ez, leave whats not needed home.

Order and try packs from ULA, granite gear, gossamer gear. If you are really tending toward that high wt, ULA Catalyst is probably the best pack. If you can get it down by 5 lbs, the ULA circuit or granite gear crown VC 60.

Edited by livingontheroad on 07/15/2012 03:52:20 MDT.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Backpack questions on 07/15/2012 06:32:38 MDT Print View

I have the older GG Gorilla and like it. I suspect I'd like the new model even better.

I haven't tried the Jam or Ohm, but I thoroughly read reviews and experiences with these before deciding on the Gorilla. What I've read agrees with what Dan posted, and I agree with his opinion on good options.

I think that a good first step would be to post your gear list with weights in the gear list forum. You should be able to get down to around 12 pounds (base weight, not counting food, water, and fuel) fairly easily unless there's some type of non-essential gear you need to take along, like pro-level camera gear.

Edited by AndyF on 07/15/2012 06:34:29 MDT.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Backpack questions on 07/15/2012 07:59:45 MDT Print View

A base weight of 18-20 pounds means a total pack weight of ~30 with 3 days of food and some water. For me, anyway, that is not comfortable in a frameless ruck like the Jam. I'm good to 20-22 pounds frameless, then it's just too uncomfortable. In my personal experience, my base needs to be <12 pounds including the pack to go frameless.

I've not tried the Mariposa, though it looks like a fine pack. I've used the SMD Starlite, which is a great pack and good to >30 pounds with the stays, and both the ULA Ohm and Circuit. My current go-to pack for year-round use is the Circuit. It's a little large in the summer, of course, but it carried everything for winter use and handles up to 30 pounds with ease. It's what I would recommend for someone making the transition to lightweight hiking.

Wes Kline
(weskline) - F

Locale: Adirondacks
+1 on Mariposa on 07/15/2012 08:39:53 MDT Print View

The Mariposa Plus 2012 is a fantastic pack - I just got mine and took it out on a Springer Mountain hike and it was fantastic. There's really nothing I would change about it (although I've never seen the point of load lifters, they may come in useful if you have alot of gear in your pack). It is a supremely comfortable pack, and ways almost the same as the smaller Gorilla. Some sort of GG voodoo allows that to happen. I previously had the Granite Gear Blaze 60, and find this to be much more comfortable and useful with its feature set.

John Gilbert
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Jam 50 on 07/15/2012 09:01:32 MDT Print View

I ordered one when they were in stock. Tried it on 1 evening walk around the neighborhood. My impression was that the pack is a good size - but requires LW and compact gear choices.
Compared to a 3 lb pack, the hip belt feels saggy, and the shoulder straps are only lightly padded. The give in the hip belt allows the pack to bounce a little up and down while I was walking - but the pack never slipped downward. The shoulder straps were comfy - but probably only because I had no weight on them since the torso length was a little long for me.
The pockets all worked great. I could remove and replace a water bottle to get a drink. The mesh didn't seem very sturdy/snag resistant, but I didn't test this. The rear pocket held about double what my deuter lid held, and was out of the way, so I could more easily get/replace layers or lunch in the main pack body.
The side straps have a disconnect, which makes it easier to strap tents or pads to the outside.

I usually carry 20-22 lbs total, with food and water. For me, at 27 lbs, I would prefer a pack with denser shoulder and hip belt padding, and a plastic frame sheet or light stays. The most comfy 3 lb pack I've tried is the granite gear blaze. You can also stiffen the jam's frame with a piece of corrugated plastic lawn sign, and get performance some where in the middle.

Gregory Allen
(Gallen1119) - M

Locale: Golden, CO
Awesome! on 07/21/2012 16:42:26 MDT Print View

You guys are great! I posted the questions as a nonmember and after receiving 5+ awesome responses in less than 24 hrs I went straight to the subscription page. Been reading all the excellent content of this site ever since. This has to be one of the best online communitiies I have ever seen.

I have taken the recommendations to heart and have shaved my base weight goal down to 12 lbs and am on my way. I'll post the gear list once it is a bit tidier and refined. Many things have already gone in the car-camping storage boxes. My budget is not as limited as it used to be, so I have made some purchases and am waiting by the front door for the FedEx and UPS guys. I decided on a Mariposa for my wife and an UL Ohm 2.0 for my self. I also took the plunge for two Enlightened Equiptment quilts. I haven't even taken my first lightweight trip, but am giddy with excitement. The customer service from these smaller companies is amazing.

I had previously made some alcohol stoves just for fun, but was afraid to take them as my only cooking method. I've now practiced on the deck a few times so the fuel bottle stove and multi pot cooking system is out. The hydration bladders have given way to empty water bottles.

Now I'm off to Target to get a reflecting sunshade to make a pot cozy.

Thanks again. I feel liberated already.

Greg