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Just musing/ranting about which pack to buy
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G Sticks

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Just musing/ranting about which pack to buy on 02/20/2013 08:19:51 MST Print View

So, this is more of a rant than a question but by all means feel free to jump in if you have any ideas.

Lifelong Scout and backpacker here. I have an old Camptrails 70L pack and a 7lb Mountainsmith that I've lugged around Dolly Sods, Philmont and the Smokys. It was heavy but it didn't occur that I could do something lighter.

Last summer I read Skurka's book and it got me thinking..."hey, I'd like to have these knees when I get older (I'm in my late 20's right now). Started researching but didn't need to buy a new pack. A few months ago I re-read Skurka's book and then discovered this forum.

So now I'm planning a trip for April and I'd like to buy a pack. Over the past months my thinking has changed multiple times as I process the difference combinations of price/features/weight. All the while, trying to stick to the whole "buy gear then the pack" mentality.

First I planned on the Golite Jam, then I looked at the true cottage brands. MLD's Prophet costs too much (for me right now anyway), SMD Swift looked good but too big, the Borah Gear Stealth looked perfect but then I panicked that I wouldn't truly be able to cut my load down to <25 lbs and went back to mainstream brands like Osprey (ie TRY ultralight without having to commit). Turns out they make not 1 but 3 packs that might work for my needs, so now I'm confused between the Talon, Exos and Hornet. Why so many Osprey?? Meanwhile, ULA's Ohm or CDT MIGHT fit my needs anyway, and hey there's still that trusty old Jam, waiting on Golite's website and saying "it was good enough for Skurka you putz!". Finally there's still that cool looking Borah Stealth, which seems to do everything some of the other cottage brands do, but for less. This would also allow me to enjoy being "the only guy with that one pack" on the trail, which always makes me feel better about myself. Only issue is still that I haven't actually TRIED a frameless pack, I just understand the technique and am eager to try it.

Long story short - I find this whole process of picking out my new backpack to be...slightly overwhelming?

For reference, I live right near an REI so trying on all the Ospreys (and anything else there) would be really easy. I need the pack by the end of April, I'm happy to buy used, and I am still confused (that rhymed). In the near future (5 years out) this pack will only be used for up to 5 day trips. I'm also in grad school part-time and just had a baby so if I buy 16 packs at once my wife will literally end me.

Thanks for reading my rant :-)

Edited by VoiceOfSticks on 02/20/2013 08:21:58 MST.

G Sticks

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
by the way on 02/20/2013 08:27:00 MST Print View

I'm not really complaining, just trying to figure out what to buy pack-wise. I've truly enjoyed all the information I've gotten from the BPL forum and from all of you users that have taken the time to message me so far. I do know that moving toward ultralight is something I want to do, but clearly it's different for everyone where to cut out weight and where to make concessions...and I'm still feelin that out.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Boreas Buttermilk on 02/20/2013 08:33:18 MST Print View

I like my pack, but nobody here wants me to keep talking about how I like my pack. ;)

G Sticks

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
hahaha on 02/20/2013 08:40:41 MST Print View

I do Max. Tell me ALL about it. Actually, that one did show up on my radar and didn't I just read that they're on clearance at REI right now?

Mark Andrews
(buldogge) - F

Locale: Midwest
Well... on 02/20/2013 08:45:09 MST Print View

If you're not sure, then using REI's excellent policies might work best for you. I would say try the Osprey (also excellent warranty/policy) Exos 46 and the Flash 45 (don't tell Luke).

You might also consider putting a WTB up on the Gear Swap...Ohm 2.0, ZPacks Arc Blast, HMG Windrider SW, or the aforementioned Exos for that matter.

Lastly, but firstly, make sure you have all your other gear set first and then fit the pack to your kit/needs.

Good'll probably end up buying/selling/buying 5-6 packs! ;)

-Mark in St. Louis

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Just musing/ranting about which pack to buy on 02/20/2013 08:50:16 MST Print View

I've got an HMG Windrider 3400, size medium, that you can try out for a weekend if you'd like.

Andrew Zajac

Locale: South West
Borah gear stealth on 02/20/2013 08:55:30 MST Print View

I agree with the borah gear stealth and would have bought one myself if I didn't already have packs that work just fine and have plenty of life left. However, my girlfriend bought one just this morning to replace a heavy old pack. I'll let you know our initial impressions when it gets in.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
fit on 02/20/2013 08:58:01 MST Print View

buy what fits best ... at the price and weight you want ...

try em all on for hours at the REI ... if you buy online be prepared to pay for return shipping if it doesnt fit

it doesnt matter how light is is, or how many features it has ...if it doesnt fit

its that simple ;)

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
problem with cottage packs on 02/20/2013 09:07:09 MST Print View

I find, that this is the biggest problem with cottage brand backpacks. There is no way to try them on. I'm a big believer in walking around with weight in a pack before buying, but when none of these companies live near you, and can't be found in one place, how can you ever hope to compare the fit and comfort from one to another?
Sure you might be happy with your purchase in your ignorance, but you might be more happy had you had a chance to try on brand x pack.

I think it's a valid rant, and one that extends to tents as well. I often have the same hesitancy to buy something without having been able to try it on/out.

Maybe I just need to start a cottage brand "REI". A company that carries all the sizes of all the popular cottage brand packs and tents. Then you can come to the store and try it out before you buy it. Not sure how I would make any money though. Doubt anyone wants to pay to try on a pack that they are already spending a ton of dough on...

Best option would see if any of the packs you are looking at, have a return policy. Order all of them at once, walk around your house with weight in them and send all the ones you don't like back within the 7 or 10 days or whatever. It would be a lot of dough up front though.

G Sticks

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Re: Just musing/ranting about which pack to buy on 02/20/2013 09:08:31 MST Print View

Doug, I appreciate the offer and I'll think about it. I hesitate to try a pack that will certainly be out of my price range right now - I'd hate to fall in love with it.

G Sticks

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Borah gear stealth on 02/20/2013 09:09:43 MST Print View

Thank you good sir. I've spoken with Jack and John from Borah Gear about it and it sounds great so far.

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
ula on 02/20/2013 09:19:13 MST Print View

get the ohm. great price, great features, great people making it, great resale value if you are the first person in history to try the pack and not like it...

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Osprey on 02/20/2013 09:22:14 MST Print View

I've owned the Exos 58 and still use the Talon 44.

I liked the Exo 58, but it was just huge. It carried bulk and weight relatively well, but I outgrew (undergrew?) that pack as I refined my gear. I suspect the 46 and 38 would be ok if they fit you. Some people really dislike the hip belt and how the pack rests on your back/hips.

I've used the Talon 44 pretty extensively now, and if I had one major gripe about it was that there are a lot of dangly things on the pack. Kinda messy. However, its suited me fine on various trips from winter outings to packrafting trips. With the Talon, you can adjust the harness system to dial in your fit. Everything on the pack is stretchy, so it fits me like a glove without sagging. It's good up to 30 lbs. 35 is doable, and 40 is pushing it. Usually I'm far below that range. It's a good, versatile pack in my opinion.

But this is me. I like the Talon because it fits me and carries what I need comfortably.

Don't get caught up with the minuscule weights of frameless packs. A pack with a frame or at least some stays will often make whatever you're carrying feel lighter because of the support, even though the pack itself may weigh 2-3 lbs.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Frameless on 02/20/2013 09:27:43 MST Print View

I typically use a frameless pack. I don't think sizing is nearly as important with a frameless pack. You can pluck a pretty nice frameless pack at Zpacks for a pretty reasonable price. Those packs have served me pretty well up to about 25 pounds. I have not carried more than 25 so its hard for me to speak about higher loads. I was starting to feel it a little at 25 but I was still comfortable. Its not too tough to keep under 25 pounds for 3 seasons in frameless pack in the areas you're talking about.

Charles P
(mediauras) - F

Locale: Terra
granite gear on 02/20/2013 10:10:19 MST Print View

REI sells granite gear packs online but not in store. You can order a few though, have them delivered to the store, fit them and try them out, and if they don't work then just return them right there.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
RE "Just musing/ranting about which pack to buy" on 02/20/2013 11:31:21 MST Print View

If I were pack shopping right now I would be looking at the Z-Packs Arc Blast or the Granite Gear Crown. Or both. I'm kind of a gear collector. Right now I've got a GoLite Speedpack (2400 cu in/40L) that was my primary bag but it's too small for trips where I have to carry a bear canister. I also have a Granite Gear Vapor Trail I got used here on gear swap and I think it's going to be my new go-to pack because it's large enough for all my gear plus a bear canister. I also picked up a Gossamer Gear Spinnaker Murmur mostly out of curiosity about Spinnaker. It's my most minimal pack but odds are I won't use it much because it's noisy and it's not very robust so bushwhacking with it isn't an option. Anyway, as you can see you're not the only one who is undecided on which pack to buy. :)

Tyler Miller
(FightingTheTide) - F

Locale: Southeast
REI Flash 45 on 02/20/2013 11:37:14 MST Print View

Have you tried on an REI Flash 45? It's pretty much REI's version of a light(er) pack, with some design ideas borrowed from Opsrey (unofficially, as far as I know). Some have even mentioned it's design being similar to other cottage manufacturers. The reason I mention it is because the price is hard to beat...unless you find a pack on steepandcheap, the clymb, or used on here.

Anyway, there's enough advice on here already to get you started, so I won't say more. Good luck!

Oh and steepandcheap usually doesn't sell lighter packs, for what it's worth.

Edited by FightingTheTide on 02/20/2013 11:38:40 MST.

daniel B
(dbogey) - F - M

Locale: East Coast
Re: Just musing/ranting about which pack to buy on 02/20/2013 11:50:32 MST Print View

Purchased the ULA Circuit Last year and have really enjoyed hiking with it. Did the SHR last year and some local hikes here in Western Pennsylvania. I've loaded it up to 40lbs and its was comfortable. Also own the Golite Jam. If I was going to choose one, I'd go for the ULA Circuit.

Levon Jensen
(LevonJensen) - MLife

Locale: Canadian Rockies
pack to buy. on 02/20/2013 11:51:39 MST Print View

Why not post a gear list? trying to fit a 10 lb tent into a 26 oz frameless pack wont work to well.

From reading your post i take it you still have mostly heavier gear.

I would keep the pack you have now and upgrade your other items first, you don't want a frameless pack with 25lbs of gear, unless you have a very strong body.

once you have everything settled, go into REI with your kit ( bring food/water and everything ) and try out a few backpacks, place your gear into them and see how they fit.

Once you've put your gear into those packs you will know if you need a 20L pack or a 40L pack, and if you still have 25lbs of gear possibly a nice framed pack. then you can shop around, look at all the cottage gear and pick the one you like best.

G Sticks

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: pack to buy. on 02/20/2013 11:58:17 MST Print View

Levon, first of all your profile picture is epic. I like it a lot. Second, you are absolutely right about the gear list. I'm in the process of creating one, but it's hard for me to find time to sit down and weigh everything. I do still have some heavy gear but I've already started crossing over. In terms of layers for clothing, I'm pretty much there already with the gear that I use for fast hikes and running. I'm testing out the tarp/trekking pole method for shelter and my sleeping bag happens to be a synthetic that comes close to the 2 lb mark (and my wife is going to help me sew a summer quilt later this year).

But yes, I do need to figure that all out before purchasing the pack...I'm just sort of doing both at the same time :-)