Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Searching for a new pack
Display Avatars Sort By:
Searching for a new pack on 12/01/2013 18:54:54 MST Print View

Hi All,
I'm on the lookout for a new pack with the following features.
-Around 40L
-One compartment
-Dyneema gridstop or similar
-No mesh on back or harness
-Internal frame
-Lumbar pad (makes all the difference for me with a big water load).

I'm currently using a One Planet Shadow which has a great harness and design, but is too big for most of my trips and the light canvas fabric isn't ideal for offtrack trips, rubbing against sandstone.

I've had a dyneema gridstop Zpacks and a Golite Gust and Jam that weren't suitable for some of the water loads I carry for some trips.

I've been looking at a Cilogear 45, HMG Porter in Dyneema gridstop for better abrasion resistance, a ULA Conduit in full robic fabric without pockets. Are there any others in the internal frame market I've missed?

I read the review on the porter and it sounded like the seams chosen for the pack weren't the greatest. Has this been addressed now?

I've been scouring the forum and articles sections on reviews.

thanks in advance.

scree ride
ZB2 on 12/01/2013 19:35:31 MST Print View

Zimmerbuilt ZB2

Alex Wallace
(FeetFirst) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Searching for a new pack on 12/01/2013 19:46:09 MST Print View

Will HMG make a Porter pack in fabrics (e.g. Dyneema gridstop) other than their flagship Cuben fiber/polyester blend? If so, what's the cost?

Similar question regarding ULA: will they make a pack minus mesh pockets? I've always thought a Circuit with Lycra style side pockets and no front pocket, in all Robic, would be slick.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Elemental Horizons Kalais Pack on 12/01/2013 20:19:48 MST Print View

I think this one might fit your specs:

You can read the glowing review by our "own" Will Rietveld here:

This pack replaced my ULA pack of going on 12 years this year, and I felt is was an improvement on features as well as weight and that is all I feel I need to say. It has about as great a hip belt as you will find on this class of packs. It fits a bear can, Bearikade size and smaller radius perfectly, so this may be the one if you want comfort carrying a bear can, if that is ever an issue for you. Or just plain UL comfort without the SUL compromises. (whoops, I said even more....)

You can get custom side pockets without the mesh, or whatever you want. Lumbar pad is an option (I got one).

Edited by millonas on 12/01/2013 20:33:03 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Updates to the Porter on 12/01/2013 20:20:25 MST Print View

I just called HMG and they have made a few improvements since that review was published.

-The Porter 4400 (but not the other packs) is made with a heavier Cuban hybrid.

-The Porter 4400 now has a plastic frame sheet in addition to the frame stays.

-The seams are taped (more waterproof but might also add strength I forgot to ask).

Ryan Jordan mentioned the new packs have an improved hipbelt which apparently fixed his concerns about the original hipbelt.

According to Dan at HMG the heavier fabric is 150 d Cuban hybrid as opposed to the original 50 d Cuban hybrid. What this means is the threads on the new fabric are three times as heavy as on the original pack.

Anyway I ordered a Porter 3400 customized with the heavier Cuban and the plastic frame sheet. I can let you know how it works out, I should get it by mid December.

Alex Wallace
(FeetFirst) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Updates to the Porter on 12/01/2013 21:07:11 MST Print View

"Anyway I ordered a Porter 3400 customized with the heavier Cuban and the plastic frame sheet. I can let you know how it works out, I should get it by mid December."

Can the frame sheet be integrated with prior version of the pack? I just recently purchased a HMG Porter 3400 and love it, but the first time I loaded it up I immediately noticed that I missed the frame sheet of my Cilogear Worksack due to the slight curvature of the back panel. I've since paid closer attention during packing to address this concern and so far so good. Although, I'm still curious. Thanks.

Jon Leibowitz
(jleeb) - F - MLife

Locale: 4Corners
SMD on 12/01/2013 22:29:29 MST Print View

If I was in the market for a pack, I'd be waiting to see the new designs SMD will be announcing within a month or so.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Elemental Horizons Kalais Pack on 12/02/2013 06:23:00 MST Print View

I'll 2nd the Elemental Horizons Kalais !! Great pack,you can choose the materials and options you want on or left off and Mathew is great to deal with.

thanks on 12/02/2013 13:10:30 MST Print View

Thanks everyone for the replies.
Screeslide, that pack doesn't appear to have the internal frame, lumbar pad and no mesh that I was after.

Have the seams on the HMG packs changed to a flat felled since the review? I'm a bit concerned about seam separation, even with the gridstop if the construction techniques aren't appropriate for the task.

Both HMG and ULA were very helpful regarding the possibility of custom options like the gridstop for the entire body.

Lapsley Hope
other possibility on 12/02/2013 14:32:55 MST Print View

I own a ULA catalyst and an Ohm, but for longer trips and heavier loads look at the Mystery Ranch line. I have the Trance and is a bit heavy but I prefer it over the ULA's. Might look at Gregory packs also, I don't own one but look to be very well constructed.

scree ride
Re: thanks on 12/02/2013 14:55:03 MST Print View

He'll build it any way you want. The one I just bought for a gift has the mesh lumbar pad, stays, and no pockets. Only daisy chains like the HMG Porter. 2,000 c.i. rated 30-35 pounds. About $200.
I've had no real seam issues with HMG. Tape peeled a little. I'd buy another.

Edited by scree on 12/02/2013 15:21:34 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: SMD on 12/02/2013 16:51:20 MST Print View

"If I was in the market for a pack, I'd be waiting to see the new designs SMD will be announcing within a month or so."


Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Kudos for Zimmerbuilt on 12/02/2013 17:39:32 MST Print View

The point of Zimmerbuilt packs is that Chris builds whatever you ask him to build. You want a frame? Great. Mesh? All dyneema? Lumbar pads? Whatever. The models on his website are just email him and discuss what you want, then he builds it totally to your specifications. Including size, pockets, materials, literally anything you want.

Not nearly as expensive as I thought it would be, my pack from him is a dream come true, and he was super cool to work with. It was nice to see an idea come to fruition...since I'm not at all a MYOGer.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Kudos for Zimmerbuilt on 12/02/2013 17:52:38 MST Print View

Frankly, the HMG Porter in all 150D hybrid-cuben would meet your needs better than all Dyneema X. The regular 50D is bomber stuff, and unless you're doing serious canyoneering, all 150D would more than meet your needs. I can't see an advantage to all Dyneema X on any front. I'd get the 3400 Porter because the extra 15 or so liters comes from the extension collar, which adds negligible weight to the total pack. I rarely carry more than 40 or so liters in mine, but it's nice to have the option to add more when necessary.

Plus, I have to say that I have worked with a lot of cottage companies--nearly all excellent-- and several major retailers, but HMG's customer service is the best experience I've had yet.

If you want side pockets, Zimmerbuilt's options are great.

Edited by GlacierRambler on 12/02/2013 17:58:28 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Re Updates to the Porter on 12/02/2013 18:15:02 MST Print View

I doubt they could put the framesheet in an old pack. Its sewn in and non removable on newer packs.

Edit - You probably don't need it. Its really only for packs with more then 40 pounds in them. If my understanding is correct it is not as wide as the Cilo gear packs so it might not do what you want anyway. I imagine a piece of foam up against the back of your pack would do essentially the same thing.

Edited by Cameron on 12/02/2013 18:28:28 MST.

Robert Perkins

Locale: The Sierras
Searching for a new pack on 12/02/2013 18:19:50 MST Print View

Here's another vote for Zimmerbuilt packs. You can run some ideas by Chris, and I'm sure he would tell you if he could build one to your specs or defer you to someone who could.

I also like Six Moons Design packs, but I have a feeling you may be waiting longer than a month to get a peek at their new designs, than a summer of testing out in the real world to see how they pan out.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Budget Alternative on 12/02/2013 18:24:52 MST Print View

Boreas Buttermilks are on sale on The Clymb in their 365 section. They come in 40L and 55L versions. You get a single compartment gridstop pack at about 3lbs with a fantastic lumbar pad and an internal frame, and you can trim off the "mesh" (it's a stretchy fabric) if you so desire.

$99 shipped free.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: Searching for a new pack on 12/02/2013 18:49:25 MST Print View

AD, I would first ask how big (how much weight) are your water loads you plan to carry to get a better feel for which pack would work best.

I would also tentatively 2nd the Kalais. I have just been out using an all dyneema version that I ordered for the same water carrying and abrasion resistance reasons you state. The tentative part is that I have only used it on one trip with up to 30# and it was much better in load carrying than my SMD Swift. My expectations are it will easily carry the 35# plus that I occasionally have to do in the desert.

You might read this thread on the Kalais and similar packs

Edited by abhitt on 12/02/2013 19:57:32 MST.

great advice from everyone on 12/02/2013 19:34:58 MST Print View

Great advice in this thread, thankyou all.

Alex, the most I've had to haul was six litres. This isn't usual, normally 3 to 4L will do me. My gear is all pretty low volume, so the current 60L pack, while very comfortable is fairly empty. Either tarptent/ exped mat/ down quilt or hammock/ tarp/ under and top quilt.
For me, the frameless packs were fine with three days of food and two litres of water (4.8kg baseweight), but once I started to carry 3+L, it was less than comfortable.

narrowed it down on 12/09/2013 21:02:30 MST Print View

I've narrowed down my pack search to the following:

Custom Zimmerbuilt with internal stays, full dyneema.

Custom HMG Porter in either full dyneema, 150d cuben hybrid, or FULL spectra.

Mchale Merke (really going off the deep end, eating tinned food for months).

Any and all would be great, with the last option absolutely blowing the budget out of the water. As I will be keeping my big packs for longer trips in winter, is there any point going for a Mchale for a smaller load over the other options?