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which pack would you recommend for PCT through hike?
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Jeff Howell
(swimming) - F
which pack would you recommend for PCT through hike? on 03/09/2013 15:36:52 MST Print View

GG G4, GG mariposa, or GoLite Jam?

I'm leaning towards the G4 because it's the cheapest and lightest, but am wondering if anyone has experience with this pack, or think another might be better?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: which pack would you recommend for PCT through hike? on 03/09/2013 16:01:05 MST Print View

You will probably get better answers if you know what your base weight is, and what your total load (with food and expendables) is expected to be.

For example, if you know that your total load will never be higher than 20 pounds, then a 2000 cubic inch pack may be sufficient.

If you get all equipped for a total load of 20 pounds with a 2000 cubic inch pack, and then you end up with 35 pounds total load, that really throws a monkey wrench into things.


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: which pack would you recommend for PCT through hike? on 03/09/2013 16:21:27 MST Print View

You want a pack that fits you well and is appropriate for the load. It's like buying shoes.

The G4 is light, but you better have a SUL base weight to match. Durability should be considered too. The G4 will need careful use to last the journey--- watch the branches and don't throw it down on the rocks.

I would look at models with an internal frame if you want a light pack with some carrying capacity. Don't short change yourself on the pack; you will be spending a lot of time together. :)

Get your gear list typed up and share it in the gear list forum. When you have your list refined, it will be easier to pick a pack.

PCT on 03/09/2013 17:42:20 MST Print View

A pack with a stay
Of the 3 you list, only the mariposa has one
At some point you will be carrying A LOT of water in the southern part, its basically desert hiking.

Lets see, 16-20 lbs water, or maybe 24 lbs water, a few days food. Thats 30 lbs.
How much gear will you be taking too?

At some point you may need 10 days food as well.

Edited by livingontheroad on 03/09/2013 17:59:32 MST.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: which pack would you recommend for PCT through hike? on 03/09/2013 19:26:52 MST Print View

You might like looking at Wired's blog she did the PCT in 2011 and is going to be doing the CDT this year,she gives her gear list and a review for it and her new list for the CDT.She said that she was jealous of the people with ULA packs and got a ULA Curcuit for the CDT.The Curcuit is the pack Ryan Linn carried from Mexican border through the Sierras because of the extra weight of water in the desert and the bear can and extras he was going to have to carry in the Sierras.After that he switched to the Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus w/ Belt Pocket, He did a fantastic four part series on hiking the PCT including a spread sheet of everything he brought,it is well worth the membership fee to read.I own the Curcuit and the hipbelt is extremely comfortable,and I would want the aluminum stay for keeping the loads off my shoulders unless a framless pack at the weights you will be carrying at the beginning of your trip won't bother you.

Edited by annapurna on 03/09/2013 19:39:23 MST.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: which pack would you recommend for PCT through hike? on 03/09/2013 20:03:41 MST Print View

For the bear can and high water portion I would look at an internal frame with stay in the 2lb range so

GG mariposa
ULA Circuit
Zpacks Arc Blast
Elemental Horizons Kalais with stay
SMD swift with stay
HMG windrider
MLD exodus with suspension
Ospray exos 45 or 56
REI UL series
Granite Gear ??? Whatever their UL pack is now

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Re: which pack would you recommend for PCT through hike? on 03/09/2013 22:04:28 MST Print View

The Elemental Horizon Kalais Is a great pack also, Here is the EH Kalais page with a video review by Sgt. Rock.You could always remove the stays from the pack when you are carrying less weight if you felt like you didn't them anymore and save more weight,I also own a Kalais,and the windrider and the Gossamer Gear Gorilla.If I had to pick between the ones I own,I would pick the Kalais.

Edited by annapurna on 03/09/2013 22:05:44 MST.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Ditto Wired's comments on 03/10/2013 12:16:44 MDT Print View

"You might like looking at Wired's blog she did the PCT in 2011 and is going to be doing the CDT this year,she gives her gear list and a review for it and her new list for the CDT.She said that she was jealous of the people with ULA packs and got a ULA Curcuit for the CDT."

Ditto. I used a GG Mariposa Plus on the PCT, and overall it worked fine, but I overloaded it going into the Sierras, and carrying a bear can in it was a bit of a PITA. I started with the can strapped to the top but could never really make that work and so shifted to hang a whole lot of stuff on the outside to accomodate the can inside.
The threads holding shoulder straps to the pack started to look alarming in there, so after the Sierras I swapped by mail for my Wife's similar Mariposa plus and finished the trail with that.

I took one of those to start the AT, and got maybe halfway through, and so speculate that that pack did the equivalent of one thru-hike, and it was in somewhat sad shape by then (the waist belt was particularly wonky). I ordered a ULA Circuit by mail and did the second half of the AT in that, and then the CDT in 2011 with it, and a good few hundred miles in it last year, and I plan to do a good few hundred miles in it this year.

The Circuit isn't as light as the GG packs, but it's more durable while still being reasonably light, and it has IMO just the "right" amount of features. I.e., I find it a good balance between weight, cost, durability, capacity, features, and whatever other criteria you can throw in there.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Ditto Wired's comments on 03/10/2013 12:49:07 MDT Print View

Hi Brian,I gave someone a brand new GG Gorilla as a present for his PCT hike a couple of years ago and he had the same issues you are describing with your Mariposa.By the way I think learned about Wired from one of your comments in a thread and started reading it,I have really enjoyed it and am looking forward to her CDT hike.

Edited by annapurna on 03/10/2013 12:55:28 MDT.

Jeff Howell
(swimming) - F
pack switching on 03/10/2013 20:04:38 MDT Print View

Thanks, everyone!

I am thinking of using an Osprey Aura 65 now through the Sierras, then switching to something lighter. I think after the Sierras I will be able to keep the load to under 25 with food and water.

The ULAs seem to be a lot of people's favorite, but also the most expensive...

Dirk R
Re: which pack would you recommend for PCT through hike? on 03/11/2013 02:11:47 MDT Print View

I would just point out that the cost of a thru hike, the backpack ranks rather low on the list. I understand about having to maintain a budget, but if I may ask, what is your overall budget for the trip?

Between several sets of shoes (about five sets of trail runners, for example), food, town stops, and all the incidentals, I think pack cost was the least of my worries. If you show up at kickoff, ULA usually sells gear there, and generally offers thrus some good deals (I'd definitely check with them first about this).

The advice here is sound. Cost shouldn't be the primary consideration for a piece of gear that you will carry for 2,650 miles. Given the things I'd skimp on, I'd first go for a less expensive tent option (you can find plenty of them here on Gear Swap lightly used).

Finally, if you do decide to swap out packs for the Sierra, you are going to have to send your Sierra pack to somewhere before you reach Kennedy Meadows. The last time I checked (and I could be wrong) they don't send outgoing mail. So you will need to swap out packs prior to reaching the gateway to the Sierra. And if you start mailing packs out, consider that cost both in terms of dollars and time.

Just my two cents. Enjoy the journey!


Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Building on Dirks Comments on 03/11/2013 07:37:01 MDT Print View

In addition to the cost comments..... How can anyone even comment on a best pack without knowing what you are carrying, your resupply and water strategy etc? one post claims that the pack needs to be able to carry 16 or even 24 lb of water. 24lbs ? Really? That is 12 quarts of water. I know of no thru hiker that carries that much water capacity let alone that much water. Someone planning for that much water better be carrying a heavy hauler.

What pack you carry will be very specific to your hike. I could tell you that I carried a MLD Burn very successful on the PCT. But I suspect that the Burn would be a disaster for you unless you have extremely low volume gear. As far as weight, I left the border with full water capacity (a mistake) and my pack weighed 24 lbs. 8 lbs of gear, 8 lbs of food and 8 lbs of water. The value of the input folks will give you will be equal to the quality of the information in the question.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Swapping packs on 03/11/2013 08:17:51 MDT Print View

+1 on almost all of the above comments, especially regarding a pack with stays. Though I would estimate more like 10-12 lbs. of water (5-6 L) at most. Also, I had several stretches where I carried 6-8 days of food, at about 2-2.25 lbs. per day.

As for swapping packs, I wouldn't bother. You will have heavy carries here and there for the whole trail, not just in southern CA or the Sierra. There are long waterless stretches in northern California and even in Oregon (N. of Crater Lake). My longest stretch between food resupplies was in southern Washington (150ish miles). Plus, by Washington you may want to add rain pants or some other warmer clothes, especially if you're finishing in late September or after.

If money is an issue, I would just get 1 pack that can go the whole way.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
You can do way better than the aura on 03/11/2013 20:31:47 MDT Print View

I had that pack for a while, but I've since moved to much lighter (and smaller) fare. I recently sold that osprey and when I went to pack it up I was blown away at how much heavier it was than what I've gotten used to. There is no way I would ever feel the need to carry something that beefy and robust ever again, no matter where I was going :)

As the others have said, the pack cost is so little compared to your other costs...and you have to haul that thing day after day after day after day...........

Jeff Howell
(swimming) - F
thanks! on 03/12/2013 11:13:22 MDT Print View

Thanks for the help!!

Thought about it some more and decided a good pack is definitely worth it. Ordered a ULA circuit!!!