Zpacks Arc Blast users
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Emily B
(emilyb)
Zpacks Arc Blast users on 01/25/2013 19:31:28 MST Print View

Hi folks, I'm interested in hearing from women who've tried the Arc Blast, or guys who've had lady friends try yours. Or anyone who has a curvier lower-back / backside / hips than the average guy.
If this is you, what do you (or your female acquaintance) think about this pack, comfort-wise, so far? How does it carry?
Thanks!

Laurie N
(SEKILaurie)
Soon To Be User on 01/26/2013 15:43:08 MST Print View

I just ordered mine last week. Hopefully I'll have it in a week or two and tell you all about it. I'm definately of a curvier stature. I was backpacking last September and got talking to another backpacker who had a ZPACK. He was nice enough to let me try it on fully loaded, and it was a dream! His did not have the mesh back panel though. If I thought I could have outrun him I would have ran for the trailhead and left him with my old dinosaur. :-)

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: Zpacks Arc Blast users on 01/27/2013 01:56:10 MST Print View

I am interested in this as well. I've been wanting a new, lighter 40-50L size pack weighing less than 1 lb. So of course I've been eyeing Zpacks' line of packs for the CF, weight and options, not too mention the ease of getting custom work or sizing done. I've found a lot of the other cottage industry guys can't do custom sizing for shorter women, which rules out a lot of other packs for me.

WRT the Arc Blast, I'd like to know not only how it fits and carries, but how the "bend" and its location supports carrying larger, heavier objects that one would ordinarily desire to carry lower in the pack, like a bear can for example. I understand from other posts about the Arc Blast, and Zpacks' website, that bear cans can't fit past the bend to be carried in the lower portion of the pack. I'd like to know from a user if this is true or there is a way to get a small can, ie I use the BV450, lower in the pack.

Thanks!

Michelle A
(mauhler31) - F
I have one on 01/27/2013 20:12:06 MST Print View

I have an Arc Blast, but I have not taken it out backpacking yet. So far I've only worn it around the house, but in the next few months I'll start taking it out on some day hikes, and then an overnighter in the spring. I'll try to remember to report how it feels then.

So far, I've loaded it up with 20 and 25lbs. It is quite comfortable at 20 and only slightly less so at 25. Most of the time I plan to carry < 20lbs. I put my sleeping bag at the bottom part of the pack and it feels very soft against my back. For comparison, I put my REI Flash on afterwards and the padded lower back panel felt quite uncomfortable and hard as a rock. Overall, the feel of the pack feels great. I don't feel like the weight is pulling me down at all.

Regarding bear canisters, I can fit a BV500 vertically past the crossbar with no problem. It is the Bearikades that are slightly too wide. If you need to fit a Bearikade, I believe you may be able to custom order the pack to be slightly wider so that it can fit under the crossbar.

As for fit, I am pretty small, 5'0" and 105 lbs. I custom ordered the pack to have a torso length of 16", so that fits well for me. I only have a few minor nitpicks about the fit:
- I'm almost maxed on out the hipbelt. The stock hipbelt supports down to a 30" waist, and I am very close to that limit. If I get any skinnier (which I'm trying not to!), then I won't be able to cinch the hipbelt tight enough on me.
- The shoulder strap doesn't rest evenly between the shoulder and sternum. Most of the pressure is on the inside edge of the straps. This may be the reason why women's straps have more of a J shape vs a straight shape for men. Right now it doesn't bother me, but I haven't worn it long enough to tell.
- I'm so short that the loops on the shoulder straps are too low when I cinch them tight. I'm actually using the loops meant for the shoulder pockets for my sternum strap, which doesn't leave any room for shoulder pockets (not that I use any...).

Anyway, these are all minor issues, and Joe has said he can make some adjustments for me if they ever become a problem. So far I am very happy with the overall comfort compared to my previous pack (REI Flash 50).

Emily B
(emilyb)
Zpacks Arc Blast users on 02/07/2013 15:10:56 MST Print View

Thanks all! I'm glad to hear that a couple of women have given it a try and found that so far it appears to ride well overall. Also good to hear those details about the harness, hipbelt, etc, so as to think about potential mods beforehand.

If anyone else has more thoughts on comfort of Zpacks Arc Blast for women, please chime in! I'll still be seeking opinions for a while as I'll likely wait a couple months yet before pulling the trigger, in case Joe ends up making adjustments to the pack (or has ideas on useful mods for women) after having used it for a thru-hike.

Laurie N
(SEKILaurie)
Zpacks Arc Blast users on 02/19/2013 21:06:03 MST Print View

Ok, I just got mine in the mail today!! I'm 5'4 (and a half!) and when I measured my torso length according to their chart, I was at 18 inches. The default length on this pack is 21 inches. However whenever I try on packs at a store that are "regular" lenth they fit just fine, so I ordered the 20 inch length, rather than the 18, and this seems to have been a good choice. I think I just like my waist belt to ride a bit lower than most people do. I loaded it up for volume and it feels great. My bear vault 450 solo fits perfectly fine riding next to the middle support and I have room to pad it with some clothing around the girth. I'm on the curvier side and the pack fits comfortable on my backside. No uncomfortable rubbing. I'm going to take if for a walk on the treadmill tomorrow, so I'll know if there are any hotspots then. If you decide to get one, measure your hips! The default hip belt is 40 inches. I was surprised to find my hips were 43 inches. I'm glad I measured before I ordered. I've never even been close to filling out hipbelts on packs I've tried on in stores. I'm very pleased with the pack and they were great to work with. I asked for a custom option and they got it perfect! Oh, one other thing, if you are busty, you may want to ask them to leave a little extra length on the sternum strap. Mine is perfect, but with no extra wiggle room, and I'm just average (38B).

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Zpacks Arc Blast users on 02/20/2013 08:57:11 MST Print View

Laurie,
Did Matt send any notification your pack was shipped? I ordered about the same time as you. Maybe mine will be at the PO when I get parcels Saturday.:) I'm hoping my length is good, I went -1 and normally go the default length.
Duane

Edited by hikerduane on 02/20/2013 13:54:48 MST.

Duane Hall
(PKH) - M

Locale: Nova Scotia
Zpacks Arc Blast Users on 02/20/2013 11:54:48 MST Print View

Zpacks provided email notification when they shipped my Arc Blast.

(the other Duane Hall)

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Zpacks Arc Blast Users on 02/20/2013 13:54:07 MST Print View

Is there a mirror somewhere here?:)
I also ordered a shelter and mentioned they could be shipped together, the shelter having a short wait time was finally decided on a week later after the pack. Maybe I'll have a few surprises in my box Saturday.
USA Duane

Laurie N
(SEKILaurie)
Zpacks Arc Blast users on 02/20/2013 19:24:31 MST Print View

Yes, I did get a automated email notification when shipped, it was shipped Priority Mail, and had tracking. I brought mine to work today to show off to my backpacking friends, they were impressed!

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
torso on 02/20/2013 19:32:39 MST Print View

Duane, how tall are you that you went -1?

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
torso on 02/20/2013 20:16:19 MST Print View

Michael,
I'm 6'. I questioned that too, even had some help with the 3rd or 4th measurement. I also read that height does not matter. We'll see, I've never gone that short before, usually using the normal way of measuring, from your most prominent vertebrae to the top of the hips.
I see tarps/shelters are a few weeks wait also, I paid for my pack Jan. 22 and for the Hexamid Feb. 8. I mentioned they could be shipped together, that may be why the pack has not shipped. Looking like I won't have it this weekend. Not doing a trip this weekend I think, one off for a change.
Duane

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - M

Locale: Western Washington
Useful mods? on 02/26/2013 15:43:51 MST Print View

Ok, I've got Christmas money and tax return money, so I'm itching to buy one of these packs since I saw one on the trail. I'm short but wide, so I'm planning to order the longer hipbelt, and sounds like I'd like a longer sternum strap as well.

Any other useful mods to know about? I'm not very busty, so I don't think I'll have trouble with the straps. I know what I want in terms of the extra pockets.

Load lifters yes or no? I've liked them on other packs, but folks seem to think they are unnecessary on this one.

Emily B
(emilyb)
Zpacks Arc Blast users on 03/20/2013 20:42:34 MDT Print View

Hi again folks, the time draws near when I may need to decide whether or not to go for that Arc Blast, so I wondered if anyone out there has further thoughts:
Like Diane, I'm wondering about mods-- Did you get any that you recommend? Think of some you'd like after having used your Arc Blast a bit?
And opinions on load lifters?
Also, have any of you women had a chance to use your Arc Blast more, or men had any women use yours and have insights into its fit/comfort for women?
And of course any other general thoughts from those who've used/seen this pack are welcomed!
Thanks!

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

Locale: www.peaksandvalleys.weebly.com
2 Cents on 03/20/2013 21:13:30 MDT Print View

I have no input from women, as I don't know any that have tried this pack. However, here are my thought on the pack, and the mods that I had done.

I'm 6'1" around 175 lbs and have a runners body (ie. "big legs and little arms"). I had a ULA Circuit in Medium / Medium with the S-straps (the women/thin men's shoulder strap style) and loved the pack. Wanted something even lighter for 3 season thru-hiking / fast & light style trips. I'm primarily an East Coast hiker, but wanted room for a small bear canister in case I do the ADK's.. I'm used to a small volume bag -- having used the MLD Burn for 1,700 miles of my AT thru-hike (2300 cu in). The Arc Blast is stated at 3,200 cu in., and is a great size the UL packer that wants a lightweight bag with the carrying comfort of much more involved frames.

I've done a number of 14 mile peak bagging day trips since getting this pack. I've packed it with everything I'd normally have on a standard 3-season outing, plus 3 days food(6 lbs) and 2 liters water (4.5 lbs). Total is usually about 18 lbs.

Pack is carries so well, I forget it is even there. As my first cuben pack, I'm very pleased, and think that the carry is excellent.

Customizations :

Roll top closure with side closure and top closure clips (dry bag and Circuit style closure options), no hydration port, 1.5 inches shorter than the standard torso height, Torso strap buckles for the top bag closure and the two rear pad strap closures, as well as the side closures (like to buckle things rather than have to loosen and pull a strap to the side). Got two side hipbelt pockets, and bought 2 zimmerbuilt cuben zippered chest pockets for phone and waterproof camera.

What may I have wanted -- make the pack bag slightly larger to better fit a bear canister horizontally (likely only fit vertically right now), heard about other folks having that done, and contemplated it.

As for durability - all my cuben gear has held up very well, and I expect the same with this bag. I'd buy it again.

A W
(lost_01)
Re: 2 Cents on 03/20/2013 21:56:45 MDT Print View

Seth,

Saw that both you and Duane went '-1' on the height. I'm also 6'1, 175 and am having a hard time judging what length to order. (seem to be a very tall 'standard' height for this pack?)

Any input on if you went with the right length, or would have preferred the standard length?

Thanks!

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

Locale: www.peaksandvalleys.weebly.com
Like the lowered torso height on 03/21/2013 08:17:24 MDT Print View

I had Zpacks originally send me a "stock" torso Arc Blast -- tried in out indoors for fit, and then returned it for both the sizing adjustment and the customizations that they ended up doing on a new pack . I feel that my torso height is "effectively" in the 17.5 - 18.5 inch range. . . . and usually like the hipbelt a bit high (belly button for the buckle). Really like the new torso height and feel that it works much better for me -- by ensuring that the shoulder straps adjust perfectly to hold the pack, and the weight transfer to the hips are much better.

NOTE: I'm a 32" waist and probably should have had them make the hipbelt padding a little shorter -- if I lose weight the hipbelt may end up almost touching.


Zpacks is really good with the customer service, and get your torso measurements and see what they would recommend if you are still unsure.

Emily B
(emilyb)
Zpacks Arc Blast users on 03/29/2013 23:24:18 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the detail, Seth. That is super helpful. Good idea on trying a stock one for size before ordering.

So if I understand correctly, on the standard version all of the straps have the simple buckles that tighten/loosen, rather than the kind that open and close? The top strap as well?

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

Locale: www.peaksandvalleys.weebly.com
I believe so Emily on 03/30/2013 14:23:14 MDT Print View

If my memory serves me, I think that ALL the straps are loosen/tighten in like a ladder-lock slider. I had to CUSTOM order them all as small buckles, including the custom mod for side closure options (like on the ULA Circuit).

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - M

Locale: Western Washington
hip belt pocket mod on 06/09/2013 22:04:34 MDT Print View

I just had my first week-end out with my Arc Blast. Loved it! Still have to work on how I pack it--I'm lightweight, not ultralight, and I had to carry a bear cannister with it. Worked great on the way out, couldn't get quite the same pack job on the way back and ended up with no airspace behind my back--the frame had pushed out. Still carried comfortably.

The only thing I didn't like was the closures on the hipbelt pockets. I couldn't reach around and close the clips with both hands easily, and one hand operation was tricky. Maybe guys with their longer arms don't have this issue? I wrote to Joe, and he kindly switched them out for pockets that used a clip that hooked into elastic--much better! Was easily able to hook the closures with one hand.

I was afraid that the shoulder straps would rub on my neck, but at least with the shirts I was wearing I didn't have any problem. I'm still fiddling with the position of ther sternum strap, and need to try different methods of packing, but otherwise I have no problems with the pack, and like it a lot. There's probably going to be a SMD Traveler up for sale on the Gear Swap soon.