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Ben Dixon
(Bendixon84) - M

Locale: Earth
New pack on 12/22/2013 13:28:19 MST Print View

Hi there! I'm a relatively newcomer to the BPL world and am finding this site a fantastic source of advice.

I've been lurking on the forums for a while but this is my first post, and I was wondering I'd you guys had any thoughts/advice on backpack choice.
Specifically the HMG porter and the mystery ranch trance xxx. The pack will primarily be used for hiking and backpacking trips of upto and around 7 days. However, I'm considering purchasing a packraft in the new year and would be using the pack for this too. I have some experience with mystery ranch's adjustable yoke system and find it rather useful. I do like the semi dry bag nature of the porter though.
I'm in the uk so I can see either of these packs before I buy, sadly. So any help/advice would be appreciated.

Thanks
Ben Dixon

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Basics. on 12/22/2013 13:44:17 MST Print View

These packs are totally different animals. the HMG porter is a lot lighter and the cuben is going to be pretty robust, but adjustability (and likely comfort) will be lower. if yur load is light, the decrease in padding might not affect you at all.

The Trance XXX is a monster; it'll comfortably carry a lot more weight because the hipbelt is a beast. It's also more adjustable for comfort. I think the cordura used on a lot of the Trance is a little more durable than the lightweight HMG, but YMMV; some people use cuben packs for years and years.

I would decide how low your baseweight is WITH the packraft, and then choose. I am always in the camp of picking the more capable pack, because you never know when you'll have to carry extra food-water and go way over your UL weight.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: New pack on 12/22/2013 13:51:32 MST Print View

The general advice is to buy your pack last. Do you know the volume and weight of your kit? You might start with all your gear, stuff it in a box that is close to the right size and measure to get a rough idea of the volume. You should have an itemized list with weights to answer that question. Keep in mind that total pack volume specs vary regarding the inclusion or exclusion of the outside pockets and factor that into your research.

Regardless of the pack design and waterproofing, I would have my insulation in a waterproof stuff sack. An unscented trash compactor bag with the top twisted shut is a favorite way of waterproofing gear, but I would go the stuff sack route for water travel.


I would lean to the HMG if possible and the Mystery Ranch only if you have a heavy load and need the extra volume, with weight being the really issue. I would work hard on my gear list to keep that from being a necessity.

It's a horrible thought, but you may need more than one pack :)

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Packs on 12/22/2013 14:07:47 MST Print View

I think the Mystery Ranch pack will be overkill for most everything.

Before you drop $300 on a Porter I'd suggest taking a look at the Exped Lighting 45 or Lighting 60 (same pack two sizes). Its a nice pack with good load carrying ability and very adjustable, only $180 or so online.

I currently have a Porter (new) and an Exped. Both solid packs but the fit its a bit different. If one doesn't fit try the other. If neither works good options might be the ULA Circuit, ULA Epic or a Gossamer Gear pack

Just an FYI Six Moons Designs is coming out with new packs soon so waiting a bit might be a good idea.

Ben Dixon
(Bendixon84) - M

Locale: Earth
New pack on 12/22/2013 14:12:17 MST Print View

Thanks for the reply :)

Yeah, my initial plan was to get the pack last. My current pack is beginning to get a little past it's best unfortunately :/
Looking at the quoted weights on the websites, given that I'd probably add a couple of the water bottle pouches and some bungee to the porter and likely remove the lid of the trance ( that things gotta weigh a bit, it's pretty substantial looking!) I'm not sure the weight difference would be as huge as I first thought (depending on your thoughts on extra weight they is!) or am I missing something?! I reckon the porter with attachments is going to be somewhere in the region of 1100g/39oz ish and the trance is listed at 1900g so once you lose the weight of the lid maybe not so huge a difference?

Ha ha two packs is a pretty expensive sounding prospect :/

Ben Dixon
(Bendixon84) - M

Locale: Earth
Exped lightning on 12/22/2013 14:18:20 MST Print View

Hey like, there for the advice.

I was looking at those lightning packs actually (they're readily available over here, which is nice!) and they look pretty damn decent. The compression straps over the side pockets though just seems silly. I see a design revision in the not too distant future for exped there.

What are your thoughts on the adjustable frame? I've used mystery ranches futura yoke and was wondering how they'd compare.
Montane use a similar, albeit non adjustable, single stay frame in their new grand tour pack and I'm was pretty impressed by it.

Ben Dixon
(Bendixon84) - M

Locale: Earth
Re on 12/22/2013 14:20:33 MST Print View

Ha ha sorry Luke, your name got auto corrected :D

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Exped Lighting on 12/22/2013 15:06:09 MST Print View

The compression straps are going to be changed on the 2014 version of the pack. What I've heard is that the straps will go under the side pocket.

Normally I carry water bottles, my map and a few odds and ends in the side pockets of my pack. With the Lighting I moved a 20 oz water bottle to the shoulder strap so I could drink on the go. I moved my map and compass to the cargo pocket of my pants. Once I figured out how to rearrange things the pockets weren't a huge deal.

Overall I really like the suspension system on the Lighting. I tested it briefly with 54 pounds and it felt pretty good at that weight.

Ben Dixon
(Bendixon84) - M

Locale: Earth
Exped lightning on 12/22/2013 16:03:24 MST Print View

Wow, that's a pretty impressive weight for such a light pack.

How do you think it'd hold up durability wise, it seems to have been designed in a way which limits the number of seams so I imagine it'd be pretty tough.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Exped Lighting on 12/22/2013 16:10:32 MST Print View

Durability wise I think it will hold up pretty well. The fabric is Dyneema gridstop which has a good reputation as far as durability goes. The seems are minimized. As far as I can tell all the weight bearing seams are pretty well spread out.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: New pack on 12/22/2013 16:40:15 MST Print View

"I think the cordura used on a lot of the Trance is a little more durable "

Nope. It uses Xpac. I have one. Yes, it is extremely durable and water resistant.

The pack is under 4 pounds (3 lbs, 10 oz) if you leave the top pocket off but the pack is enormous. The main compartment of the pack is approximately 65L and much larger than either the Circuit, Porter, or Lightning.

The extra weight comes from the adjustable yoke which has a separate plastic spine. It is one of the most comfortable packs I have ever used at any load but it is simply too large for what I pack now. I would like them to also update the compression system on it. It could be better.

If you are hiking with an UL volume, then the Porter would work well. If however, the volume of your load will be much larger, then the Trance would be ideal. The latter is much more feature rich, adjustable, and more comfortable with loads over 25 lbs but having said that, the Porter carries amazing for the minimal weight. I have been using the Porter almost exclusively over the past two years and it has proven to be a worthy companion and is still my favourite ultralight pack.

Ben Dixon
(Bendixon84) - M

Locale: Earth
Porter vs trance on 12/22/2013 16:53:44 MST Print View

Hello Dave! Thanks for the post :)

I thought the trance looks a lot larger than the porter in the photos I've seen. Even though the porter 4400 should be more or less the same volume! Go figure eh?
I prefer a smaller pack to be honest and probably don't need the cavernous space of the trance. My load is pretty much always under 10-12kg (about 20-25lb) with food and water so I guess the porter would be more than adequate? I don't suppose you've tried the new water bottle pockets hmg make? They look.....fiddly.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Porter vs trance on 12/22/2013 17:04:50 MST Print View

I actually had a friend make me some side water bottle holsters - similar to the ones that HMG now sells, but full dyneema gridstop. Sorry - no direct experience with the HMG ones. I used a prototype front pocket made by HMG which worked (works) really well to add some additional volume.

Based on your load requirements, the Trance would be overkill. The Porter packs are tall and lean beasts, which is what makes them multi-sport packs, in my opinion. They also compress really well.

If HMG is what you want, I would go for a Porter - it is designed a little differently than the Windrider series and carried better for me. The Windrider carries well, but the Porter carries better (belt design is a little different, at least was when I used both packs - newer versions may be more alike).

What size? Probably the 3400, which would give you the best overall compromise (I can do 6-8 days out of it). If you plan on doing shorter trips and would require even less volume, then maybe the 2400 with the front pocket, which is removable so the pack becomes a little more modular. I can get 3-4 days out of the 2400, assuming the weather is not too cold which would require more insulative layers.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
New pack on 12/22/2013 17:08:08 MST Print View

I've been pretty impressed with my Exped Lightning so far (early days thought). As they are readily available locally I would definitely recommend giving one a try.

Ben Dixon
(Bendixon84) - M

Locale: Earth
Exped lightning on 12/22/2013 17:12:45 MST Print View

Glad to hear your lightning is working out well :)
I reckon I probably will give one ago, maybe wait for the compression strap redesign, since I could pick one up easily. Plus it'd be like a third of the price of the porter!

Ben Dixon
(Bendixon84) - M

Locale: Earth
Porter vs trance on 12/22/2013 17:21:01 MST Print View

Hmmm theres some good food for thought Dave. Thanks a lot youre a veritable font of information :)

The 3400 series is what I was looking at, there's a video review on YouTube and it looks a pretty good size. But 2400 could be an even better for most trips I'd say. I'm glad they compress down nicely, the trance looks as though it wouldn't compress so well.

How's your porter holding up after two years? I've heard people talk about sunlight delaminating the cuben, but it seems more like scare mongering than anyone actually experiencing it. I tend not to leave my gear out in the back yard all year anyway.....

Thankd for all the replies guys, it's been really helpful :)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Expensive? Moi? on 12/22/2013 18:12:20 MST Print View

"Ha ha two packs is a pretty expensive sounding prospect"

Gossamer Gear Mariposa, Mountaineers Gear Swap sale: $30
REI Stoke 29, REI Gear Garage $21

Piece a cake! My Native American name is Stands with Bargain

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Porter vs trance on 12/22/2013 18:23:55 MST Print View

Ben, the fabric is holding up really well. No abrasion issues. However, the white discolours easily and quickly, so the pack can take on more of a grey appearance. It will clean up nicely, however, with a bit of Oxyclean. I have had no durability with the pack but be aware that the pack design has been the subject of ongoing, running changes such that any concerns with durability have likely been wiped out.

Are you set up to accept a PM? I have something for you.

Ben Dixon
(Bendixon84) - M

Locale: Earth
Porter on 12/22/2013 18:26:10 MST Print View

Well dirt is not such a big concern :)

I believe I am

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Pack Size on 12/22/2013 18:50:05 MST Print View

I ordered a customized Porter 3400. Great pack but really tall. Since I'll never fill it to the top the 3400 is more then I need. I'd suggest taking a good look at the 2400 before the 3400. If your total weight is about 25 pounds I doubt you'll need the extra space of the 3400. You can order side pockets form Chris Zimmer and also use the front pocket to add space.

If you want more then the 2400 take a look at the Lighting 60 because it has a taller frame and in my opinion would handle tall bulky loads a bit better (this is speculation I have not had time to put a tall load in the Porter).

Edited by Cameron on 12/22/2013 18:57:30 MST.