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Anybody tried the Exped Lightning 45 and 60
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Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Anybody tried the Exped Lightning 45 and 60 on 03/30/2013 18:21:29 MDT Print View

Anybody noticed the Exped Lightning 45/60? Basically two packs based on the same model weighing 35 to 38 oz and supposedly capable of carrying 50 pounds! Looking at the suspension that just might be possible. It even has and adjustable frame. Looks like a good choice for an UL hiker who might occasionally need to haul extra weight.

One thing I don't like is the long frame. According to the website the pack is 72 cm or 28 inches tall. I'm assuming that is the height of the frame. This would be a bummer for me because my load is normally small enough I can compress the pack down so its just level with my shoulders. Looks like the Exped packs would stick up above my shoulders a bit which is annoying if you don't need your pack to be that tall. However if you are carrying big loads all the time this may not be an issue. Packrafters, climbers and guides might love this pack. And if you are a really tall guy who wants a 28 inch torso length this pack might be perfect for you.

Edited by Cameron on 03/30/2013 18:33:15 MDT.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: Anybody tried the Exped Lightning 45 and 60 on 03/30/2013 20:01:18 MDT Print View

Good find, Luke. Here is a pretty detailed video over-view of the pack:

The adjustable torso looks good, but I wonder how the back padding is? The little pocket at the top is neat too. I've been trying to find a pack that actually fits me, maybe I'll order one of these to try out.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re: Anybody tried the Exped Lightning 45 and 60 on 03/30/2013 20:06:39 MDT Print View

I watched that video. Backpacker tried this pack out too (that is where I first saw it). This might be the main competition for the HMG packs in the UL heavy hauler category.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Exped Lightning 60 on 04/03/2013 22:20:40 MDT Print View

Well I ordered an Exped Lightning 60. It is a neat pack, to say the least. The suspension is quite good. I loaded it up with about 35 lbs and was able to place 100% of the weight on my hips. The way it works is cool and simple. At the top of the pack, the main stay (which is very stiff) forms a T. The pack bag basically hangs from this T:


The main stay then goes down to the hipbelt (I've un-velcroed the lumbar pad here):


And transfers the load directly into a little pocket sewn into the back of the hipbelt:


So it seems to basically be a very simple and light external frame pack. No part of the frame resides inside the pack. In fact, there is nothing inside the pack except for the little zipper pocket. Adjusting the torso height is very simple and can even be done with the pack fully loaded. It takes me less than a minute total.

The shoulder straps are well-cushioned but thin. And the hipbelt padding is a little on the thick side but pretty nice overall. Unfortunately, I am right at the lower limit of the hipbelt. I have about a 30 or 31 inch waist and have about half an inch of webbing left in the hipbelt when it's fully tightened. It was obviously made for bigger folk.

What I like least about the pack is the lumbar pad. It is overly cushioned and seems to place more pressure than I'm used to on my lower back. It's not uncomfortable but I wonder if it would cause me back issues after a long day. Maybe I just need to try bending the bottom part of the stay to a different curvature? The lack of back padding does not seem to be an issue. The pack only really contacts my back through the lumbar pad and the padding in the shoulder strap harness.

If you want a light pack that can carry a big load, I think this one is worth a look; however, I am not sure if I will keep the pack or not. The hipbelt size and the lumbar pad are both issues for me and may be deal-breakers.

Edited by johnnyh88 on 04/03/2013 22:22:39 MDT.

Maris L
(Ablaut) - M
Re: Exped Lightning 60 on 04/03/2013 23:03:12 MDT Print View

Thanks for the quick write-up, John.

I have a Marmot pack - Odin 35 - that has the same issue with the lumbar pad. I thought it might also end up being painful over an extended time. So far no pain for weekend trips, but it just feel so weird. Can't get used to it, even though the hip belt carries so well. Haven't used it much, only because of that pad.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
t-frame on 04/04/2013 05:09:41 MDT Print View

wow, I always daydreamed about MYOG'ing this exact same suspension system* (which is just a more streamlined/lighter version of the Kifaru suspension system, which has the same flip down lumbar pad, and adjustable torso length via webbing--neither of which are patented I think) but kept getting stuck about how I would create the T. Short of welding two pieces of aluminum bar stock together, I had no clue how to form the T. John, is there anyway you can see how they connected the two pieces of aluminum? Is the main stay that goes the vertical length of your spine connected to the horizontal aluminum stay through some kind of slot? or are the two pieces welded? Thanks!

*I even brainstormed stupid trademarkable names for it, finally settling on "DTS" suspension, standing for Direct Transfer System ...LOL. Looks like Exped settled with "T-rex"

Edited by Konrad1013 on 04/04/2013 05:14:55 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: t-frame + 2 questions on 04/04/2013 06:14:42 MDT Print View

In the Outdoor Station video Bob mentions that the stay is replaceable.

Have a bear canister that you could show packed in there? How long a torso would that pack fit?

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Frame Question on 04/04/2013 08:59:51 MDT Print View

Thanks for the write up John, that was better then the reviews I'd seen. Could you tell me how tall the stay itself is? I would consider this as my "Do it all pack" but a frame that towers over my head when I don't need a tall pack is a deal breaker for me.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
t-frame on 04/04/2013 09:05:48 MDT Print View

Konrad, that's awesome! I think DTS would be a better name than "T-Rex". The "T" is actually really simple. The top of the main stay just slides into a pocket at the top (see first picture) and then a separate piece of metal (sewed into the gray fabric) is directly connected to that pocket. The head of the "T" is not completely fixed - it can angle to each side a little bit. So I guess all the weight of the pack really hangs from the top bar of the T, which then has a pocket to transfer the weight to the main stay, and then down to the hipbelt.

Ken, how big is your bear canister? I have never used one. I do have an Ursack stuffed completely full inside the pack. It cannot fit horizontally but it fits vertically with room to spare in every dimension. I currently have a Granite Gear Blaze AC 60, REI Flash 65, HMG 4400 SW, and ULA Circuit. The pack's dimensions are very similar to the first 3, except the HMG pack has a larger extension collar. It has much more interior volume than the Circuit.

I have an 18.5'' - 19'' torso and there is approximately 3'' left of adjustment for me (maybe 3.5''). My guess is it will work for up to 22'' torsos, +/- half an inch.

Regarding the lumbar pad, I discovered the pressure I was feeling is actually from the webbing buckle near the top of the lumbar pad (see 2nd picture). By velcroing the lumbar pad a little lower, I am able to reduce the pressure I feel. After doing this, I carried the pack around for about 30 minutes with no problems. The suspension system is really effective. Again, 100% of the weight on my hips with 35 lbs. 25 lbs in the pack is barely noticeable, but trail miles will be the real test. I'm taking a wilderness first aid course this weekend, but hopefully next weekend I can get out for a hike.

The Blaze AC 60 and Flash 65 are going back to REI this weekend. This pack and my HMG 4400 SW seem to easily carry better than both of those.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re t-frame on 04/04/2013 09:27:43 MDT Print View

Thanks again John. My torso is about 21 inches. So are you saying if I adjusted the pack for my torso I'd only have about 2 inches of pack sticking up? That might be tempting.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re t-frame on 04/04/2013 09:32:33 MDT Print View


Edited by FamilyGuy on 10/30/2013 12:05:54 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Re t-frames on 04/04/2013 09:54:13 MDT Print View

My load is normally compact enough that my pack barely extends over my shoulders. So for me a taller pack is just an nuisance. I agree however that for bigger loads the load lifters and taller frames are nice to have.

I agree they look amazing but perhaps not for my intended us. I try to keep a 2 pound(ish) pack that can carry 35-40 pounds occasionally but compresses down for weekend trips when I don't want to use a SUL style pack. Right now my Zimmerbuilt pack fills this role. I'm trying to figure out if the Exped would to the same thing and carry a bit more weight.

Edited by Cameron on 04/04/2013 10:00:56 MDT.

Avery S
Hipbelt on 04/04/2013 12:47:17 MDT Print View

Is the hipbelt completely removable? It looks like it is, but I want to be sure. I might just have to pick up one of these... Too bad doesn't have them, they have a 20% off coupon for a few more days...

Abraham Schlossberg
(ernda) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Torso length on 04/04/2013 13:07:28 MDT Print View

For the exped 60 any idea how short a torso length it adjusts down to? I need a 16-17 inch torso length.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: Re t-frame on 04/04/2013 13:56:57 MDT Print View

I measured the total height of the stay to be around 25 inches. I don't find it to be "towering" over my head, but I get what you mean. It doesn't feel much different than my Circuit which I've used for over the past year. You would have a couple inches of the stay above your shoulder. Here's a picture of me wearing the Exped 60 with 35 lbs:


Do you see the little things directly above where the load lifters connect? I believe these may be alternate locations for the load lifters to route through, which may be necessary if you are pushing the max torso length? But I am not sure.

The hipbelt is completely removable. I suppose it might be possible to make your own (or get one built) that fits you better, if need be. This is a neat idea I hadn't thought of before...

16-17 inch torso length should be easily accommodated. I think the minimum torso length is around 15 or 16 inches. Exped really needs to publish some torso length recs

Edited by johnnyh88 on 04/04/2013 13:59:10 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Lightning Frame Question on 04/04/2013 19:36:54 MDT Print View

Thanks John. Your pics and pack size comparisions give me enough info. If it is larger than a Circuit, a bear canister will be no issue.

I agree that it is set up to run the load lifter straps in two positions.

It's a pretty clever suspension.

Wonder why no black available in the USA? That green is pretty nice though.

Edited by kthompson on 04/21/2013 22:46:33 MDT.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: Exped Lightning 60 on 04/04/2013 21:35:10 MDT Print View

Forgot to mention the pack (with tags) weighs about 39.8 oz, so pretty close to its spec'd weight of 38.8 oz.

I'm going to give my HMG 4400 SW another chance to see how its torso length works for me; I like the HMG's pocket and compression system better and it's 7-8 oz lighter than the Exped. If it doesn't go well with the HMG again, I'll probably end up keeping the Lightning 60. Tough decision!

Leigh Baker

Locale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
Exped pack on 04/05/2013 04:49:20 MDT Print View

Interesting, I see they make a women's 45. I have a lumbar disc issue, and as long as everything gets transferred to my hips, it doesn't bother me. I've been pretty happy with my Deuter pack, but it appears this one would shave around a 1/2 lb. I'm with Luke though on the height; can't stand a pack that I bump the top of with my noggin or hat. Make try one out and see, thanks for posting.

Richard Reno
(scubahhh) - M

Locale: White Mountains, mostly.
Backcoiuntry Edge? on 04/05/2013 05:13:59 MDT Print View

I don't know whether this is a good deal, but I just saw this pack on Backcountry Edge for $219, and you can get 12% off for joining their mailing list.

The 45, that is...

Edited by scubahhh on 04/05/2013 05:14:56 MDT.

Avery S
Campsaver on 04/05/2013 09:26:27 MDT Print View

I just ordered the 45 liter off of Campsaver. $164.21 as it's on sale for 25% off. No tax (in CA) or shipping cost.

I was hoping would have it so I could combine their 20% code with 10% cash back from shopdiscover, but they don't have it and the chat representative seemed helpless as to knowing if they ever would.

If anyone has any questions specific to the 45 liter, I'll know in a few days!