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Z Packs Arc Blast w/~25 lbs?
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David Affleck
Z Packs Arc Blast w/~25 lbs? on 12/06/2012 09:26:02 MST Print View

Hey All,

Looking to get a new, lighter pack for the upcoming spring/summer season. The Arc Blast is what I think I want, but... Having read all the threads here I can find, it sounds like loads of ~25lbs may be about where the comfort limit for this pack is at.

With my current gear and the Arc Blast, if I were packing for a early spring three night canyon trip right now, my total pack weight including food and whiskey (but not water) would be ~24 lbs. Since I'd be starting with a full Gatorade bottle, the actual starting weight would be closer to 26 lbs.

I know - get lighter. I'm trying. This is part of it. I'm buying a new pack and a new solo shelter for this year. But this is about as light as my experience/comfort level and gear $ are going to take me this year. So, the weight is what it is for now.

Anyhoo... Typical agonizing over the decision at this point. Comfort is a priority for me. I'm drawn to the light weight of the Arc Blast like a moth to a flame. But if my load is too heavy to be really comfortable with it, I'll be bitterly disapointed. So, the safe bet may be just get an Exos 58 which I'm familiar with and know will be comfortable with loads under 30 pounds. But, at the expense of an additional 27 oz. in itself, over the Arc Blast. At this point in my lightening campaign, 27 oz. seems HUGE!

So... Just wanting to hear from people with actual experience carrying loads of ~25 lbs with the Arc Blast? The good and great, the not so good and downright ugly, would be most interested in hearing it all.

- Dave

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Re on 12/06/2012 10:59:54 MST Print View

I will say this, get your pack last, I know you don't want to hear that but it's the truth. First start with geargrams and then ask for help in the gear list sub forum. Achieving a 10 pound baseweight should is actually very easy nowadays with all the resources available.

David Affleck
Way too late for that... on 12/06/2012 12:06:39 MST Print View

"I will say this, get your pack last..."

But a new pack is what I'm going to get. Well, a new pack and a new shelter, don't see where it really makes any difference which of those I get first. But this thread is about just the pack. It's going to have to carry up to about 25 lbs. Comfortably.

- Dave

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Re on 12/06/2012 12:27:15 MST Print View

If you get a new shelter that is sub 2 pounds, sub 2 pound sleeping bag is very easy, sub 1 pound pad, 1 pound max of extra clothing, cookkit sub 1.

That is 7 pounds, add in maybe 3 pounds for water filter and pack/first aid etc. this is very practical to achieve a 10 pound baseweight.

You say you plan on carrying 16 pounds extra food then?

No offence but I'm just trying to help you out. When you come in here asking if this pack will work for you, it's hard for me to say without looking at a gear list.

Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
It should do fine on 12/06/2012 12:41:22 MST Print View

The pack will hold 25 lbs. But will 2,400 cubes be enough for your gear? It depends on what you're carrying. What sort of sleeping bag and pad do you use? What's your current shelter, and will it need to fit in the Arc?

For a 13.5 oz. penalty, the 27 ounce Gossamer Gear Mariposa or the 52 ounce Gorilla will carry well and have ample space inside. I have a frameless Zpacks that I really like and is super comfortable, but no experience with the Arc.

It is a good rule of thumb to get the pack last, after you know what's going in it. Not sure if you need to upgrade your sleep or cook system, but volume as a factor will be as important as weight in this equation, and determining whether or not the Arc will work for you.

All that said, it will definitely handle a 25 pound load, and I bet comfortably. It has a frame and a sturdy hip belt. But it would be a lot easier to know for sure with an idea of what's going to be inside it.

David Affleck
Pack is last though... on 12/06/2012 14:02:21 MST Print View

Well, I guess I haven't been communicating clearly. I am getting the pack last - I already have the rest of the gear and I don't see any of it changing substantially in the coming year ($$).

Good question on the 2400 being enough volume though. For some reason I thought the Arc Blast was 3200. Which, even at that, I thought would be pretty tight. If its 2400 it probably isn't big enough.

May as well just post gear list at this point.

*Skyscape Trekker w/CF poles (that's the plan as of now, anyway)
FF Swift/Neo XTherm
Jetboil Sol Ti, fuel, Ti mug, Ti spoon
Platy 1L (x 2), 32 oz. Gatorade bottle
Steri-Pen Adventure Opti
TP/Trowel/Wash kit (5 oz total)
Headlamp (H51)
2 each Bic minis
First aid/repair kits (4 oz total)
50' Spectra cord
Multitool (PS4 - 2 oz)
Sunglasses/Canon S100 w/case extra batts & mem card
Whiskey (750ml in Platy)
Food @ ~1.75 lbs day
Clothes - 1 ea. socks and underwear, Terramar bottom, Smart Wool top, MH Canyon shirt, Houdini, Patagonia down jacket, rain gear, hyperlite gloves, MH beanie, bandana

*Note - have not bought the tent yet.

What do you think? That all fit in/on an Arc Blast?

Like I said, I'm looking to get a pack and a tent this year, but that's all the $$ I've got for BP gear this year, so the rest of that list isn't very open to change in the near future.

- Dave

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Carrying Capazity for ZPacks Arc Blast on 12/06/2012 14:57:17 MST Print View

Hi Dave,

I own both the ZPacks Exo and the ZPacks Arc Blast. Both backpacks use the same bag on a different frame.

This year I hiked the JMT and SHR with the ZPacks Exo. The year before I hiked the JMT with the Osprey Exos 58. Here is a BPL link that describes my experience ZPacks Exo on JMT with up to 39 lbs

So far I have not taken the ZPacks Arc Blast on long trips -- only on 20 miler weekends. On the last 20 mile trip my wife carried it instead of her Osprey Exos 58 and she was very happy with it. She didn't like the Zpacks Exo in the past and kept her Osprey Exos 58 -- mainly for the mesh panel. Now that the ZPacks Arc Blast is offering such a mesh panel she is switching to save 1.5 lbs on her backpack. Since we are carrying Bearikade Expeditions in the Sierra it is important to us that they fit into our backpacks. Although the ZPacks Arc Blast uses the same bag as the ZPacks Exo and the bear canister fits without problems into the Exo we had problems with the Arc Blast due to the curvature of the frame. We had a hard time sliding the canister past the cross bar. Thus we returned the first Arc Blast and asked for a special order with a bag that has a wider diameter (by 0.5 inch). That solved the issue for us and we can now carry the Bearikade Expedition in the Arc Blast without problems.

The total volume of the Arc Blast is stated as 52 l (3200 ci) on the ZPacks website broken out as follwows: Main body (2,400 ci) + Mesh center pocket (550 ci) + Side pockets (250 ci)
Total volume- 3,200 Cubic Inches / 52 Liters

I added two hip pockets and two shoulder pouches to my ZPacks Exo and had enough space to carry everything for our JMT trip.

Looking at your gear list, I would think that it all fits. Here is a rough description of my gear and where I put it -- following your list.

Skyscape Trekker w/CF poles (that's the plan as of now, anyway) -- SMD Haven - main body
FF Swift/Neo XTherm -- WM SummerLite/Neo XLite - main body
Jetboil Sol Ti, fuel, Ti mug, Ti spoon - Caldera Keg-F Stove System (incl. stove, pot, mug, cup, Ti spoon, sparker) + 8 oz fuel botte - left side pocket
Platy 1L (x 2), 32 oz. Gatorade bottle -- 32 oz Snapple botte (2x) - one in each shoulder pouch
Steri-Pen Adventure Opti - SteriPen Freedom - left hip pocket
TP/Trowel/Wash kit (5 oz total) - right side pocket
Headlamp (H51) - Zebra H51 - right hip pocket
2 each Bic minis - sparker - in Caldera Caddy - left side pocket
Map/Compass/GPS -- map in use in pants pocket -- other maps - mesh center pocket -- compass right hip pocket -- GPS on left shoulder belt
First aid/repair kits (4 oz total) - right hip pocket
50' Spectra cord -- 50' Kelty triptease -center mesh pocket
Multitool (PS4 - 2 oz) -- Leatherman Style - on lanyard
Sunglasses/Canon S100 w/case extra batts & mem card -- Canon Powershot SX 150 - left hip pocket
Whiskey (750ml in Platy) -- N/A
Food @ ~1.75 lbs day -- Bearikade Expedition (900ci)full with food for 10 days - main body
Clothes - 1 ea. socks and underwear, Terramar bottom, Smart Wool top, MH Canyon shirt, Houdini, Patagonia down jacket, rain gear, hyperlite gloves, MH beanie, bandana -- rain gear, gloves - mesh center pocket -- socks, underwear, down jacket, down beanie, long underwear -- main body.

In addition to that I carry Tenkara poles in the right side pocket and some fishing gear (box with flies, etc.) in the center mesh pocket.

I hope this helps,


Edited by Orienteering on 12/06/2012 14:58:38 MST.

David Affleck
Very helfpul on 12/06/2012 16:44:00 MST Print View

Very helpful indeed Manfred. Thank you!

- Dave

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Z Packs Arc Blast w/~25 lbs? on 12/07/2012 10:47:29 MST Print View

Hey David,

What Brian said in his initial post really is the kicker with this backpack for your situation I feel.

But will 2,400 cubes be enough for your gear?

To put this into perspective: The most common backpack on the PCT and AT for many many years has been the ULA Circuit and its larger brother the Catalyst. They are exceptionally comfortable backpacks and therefore significantly heavier then the Arc Blast, ZPacks heaviest backpack.

The ULA Circuit is 4,200 cubic inches and the ULA Catalyst is 4,600 cubic inches.

Lets take the ZPacks Arc Blast at 3,200 cubic inches, and add on two hip pockets to obtain another 122 cubic inches, then just for the sake of it lets add onto the backpack two top side pockets and you can gain another 100 cubic inches or so of backpack space. Put all of this together and you are at around 3422 cubic inches of space. That is almost 780 cubic inches of space less then the smaller ULA Circuit. That equates out to two or three days worth of food depending on your PPPPD ratio. I think you could also think of that as about the same size as the SMD Skyscape Trekker.

I have owned a little over a dozen backpacks from ZPacks and as far as comfort goes the Arc Blast supports a heavier load better then my other ones. For me a heavy load is anything over ten pounds.

I have yet to put any miles on my Arc Blast with a TPW of 25+ pounds.

The reason I have not is because I cannot fathom how to get 25 pounds worth of gear inside of this backpack.

I recently loaded it up for a five day hiking trip and my TPW was in the 15 pound range. I had the backpack *stuffed* and I ended up clipping on the outside a couple of stuff sacks with other gear inside of them. This was for a sub-freezing weather hike so I had a 20 degree bag, a puffy jacket, and a large air inflated pad inside. I had just enough room for five days worth of food.

If you would like to see just how much gear you can get into one of these Arc Blast backpacks I did up a video on my setup that you are welcome to watch, and compare your gear to the what I have inside (to compare bulk sizes) and hopefully from there you can determine if all of your gear will fit in and on this backpack.

If I were to buy another one I would have them add three inches of material to the top so I could (a) gain another two days worth of food, (b) have additional winter gear on the inside rather than hanging it on the outside, (c) not have to compress my sleeping bag and puffy jacket so much. I would also add the top side pockets to gain another 100 or so cubic inches of space. And of course have the hipbelt pockets. Adding these to this backpack and I think this could be an very viable long distance backpack (which is all I usually care about, not sure what your uses will be, but I am mostly a long distance backwoods hiker).

Lastly: I have had a number of people (experienced hikers and non-hikers) put this backpack on (loaded with the 15 pound setup in my video) and every comment has been how comfortable the backpack holds those 15 pounds. For me with thousands of miles, I find myself thinking I am missing some gear, as it feels more like it has 7 or 8 pounds inside of it, rather than 15. The way it distributes the load has highly impressed me. But as I said above, how it will handle its rated 30 pounds TPW is beyond me, as I simply have no way of getting 30 pounds of gear inside of this ~3450 cubic inch backpack.


David Affleck
Thanks! on 12/07/2012 13:41:20 MST Print View

Thanks John, the video helped put it in perspective.

I think I might actually be able to "just" cram all my stuff into and on the AC, with the addition of hip and shoulder pouches. But it would be super tight and leave no room for additions - like fishing kit, or my 2 man tent when hiking with my son.

I think I'll be better served for now with something a bit larger.

- Dave

Jim Jessop
(StokeyJim) - MLife
Z Packs Arc Blast - hip belt? on 12/07/2012 16:39:36 MST Print View

The hip-belt looks a comfortable design and sensible size but how well does it grip the hips?

With no mesh lining on the inside of the hip-belt, it looks like the fabric would be slippy. Is it?

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Z Packs Arc Blast - hip belt? on 12/07/2012 16:56:24 MST Print View

The hip-belt looks a comfortable design and sensible size but how well does it grip the hips? With no mesh lining on the inside of the hip-belt, it looks like the fabric would be slippy. Is it?

I only wear the Montbell Dynamo Wind pants when I hike (or the the ZPacks Waterproof Breathable Cuben Fiber Rain Pants if it is raining *and* cold and I feel thermoregulation needs to be taken serious) so pretty much both of these are already slick material. That said, I have not noticed the backpack slipping when I have the hipbelt snug and then take the weight off my shoulders for awhile.

Can only comment on how it works for me Jim, others will have to give their thoughts on this issue.

(edited: forgot to close blockquote)

Edited by JohnAbela on 12/07/2012 16:58:03 MST.

Jim Jessop
(StokeyJim) - MLife
Re: Z Packs Arc Blast - hip belt? on 12/08/2012 09:30:59 MST Print View

Thanks John, that's helpful.


Corbin McFarlane
(raven15) - MLife
Exo on 12/08/2012 10:36:15 MST Print View

I've got the exo and have loaded it to as much as about 35 lb including 1+ gallon water(just guessing there, didn't want to depress myself by actually weighing it). I found it to be no problem at that weight. Hipbelt slipperyness is not an issue. Actually I am pretty positive about the pack except that it does abrade very easily. Otherwise perfect. I recommend the hipbelt and shoulder strap pockets, but not really the top side pockets.

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

Weight max on 12/08/2012 21:03:20 MST Print View

I've only had time to take my new one out for a hour long test for overall ride comfort -- while loading it up with gallon water jugs stacked on top of each other. Total pack weight for an hour was 38 lbs (more than I ever plan on actually carrying with this...I plan on maxing out at 30 lbs w/ Sierra gear, 5 days food and 4 liters water...not that I would need all of that at the same time).

Most comfortable pack with the exception of the ULA Circuit...but much lighter, and a great small volume pack (which I like). Good load carry and at 35 lbs or less I think this will be an excellent bag. Looking forward to getting to actually use it a bit more and test out the custom features.

Trace Richardson
(tracedef) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
33 lbs ... on 01/15/2013 20:16:45 MST Print View

I carried about 33 pounds due to carrying 7 liters of water for a day and it did well ... probably do about 25 pounds on a regular basis with no issues .... ymmv.

George Maung
(georgemaung) - F

Locale: BayArea
Mash panel on 01/16/2013 08:49:09 MST Print View

Trace, How do you like the mesh panel? Does it give sufficient 'air flow,' thanks!

Ben Pearre
(fugue137) - MLife
Whisky? on 07/17/2013 14:42:56 MDT Print View


You're still being imprecise. _What_ whisky? If you're carrying something weaker than cask strength, you'll never hear the end of it here.