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Paradox Packs Evolution pack system review
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Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Paradox Packs Evolution pack system review on 01/16/2014 09:36:48 MST Print View

"I bet Mike still sticks to his guns on that one, Dave."

Indeed. ;)

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Paradox Packs Evolution pack system review on 01/16/2014 11:09:51 MST Print View

Dave C-

Although this pack is much more than I need for any trips I take, I appreciate the well thought out review. Well done.

I understand some of the angst regarding these reviews. I try to keep it in perspective that there isn't a publication out there that grabs my attention with every single article, so I can't expect BPL to do so everytime either. They still hit the mark more than most. Without BPL, I would've never even known pack rafting existed! Now, I look forward to the day I can try it out.


Edited by ViolentGreen on 01/16/2014 11:10:44 MST.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Very interesting... on 01/16/2014 14:10:15 MST Print View

Dave, thanks for reviewing this truly innovative pack design. Great photos and comparison chart.

I could have used the Evolution in its larger hunting format when hunting mule deer in northern Nevada's Ruby Mountains this October. Instead I used my old Dana Designs Terraplane with my scoped Browning .300 Win. mag. strapped to the back of that pack. I was carrying over 50 lbs. but the d@mn pack itself weighed 7.5 lbs!

With 10 F to 15 F. nights and early mornings I had to carry a liner for my TT Moment, a mummy-shaped down "topper" for my overfilled WM 3 season bag and warm clothing like a Thermolite Micro insulating layer jacket, GTX hunting parka, GTX winter gloves W/removable liners, GTX knee high gaiters, etc..

Then there was the dressing-out/dragging-out gear like a larger folding lockblade knife, elbow length nitrile gloves, gallon ZipLoc bags for heart and liver, rollup plastic "Deersleigher" sled, and Gerber folding bone saw.

So UL backpackers who have not backpack hunted please understand the minimum logistics required of a backpacking hunter.

Good Lord, if I could have saved 3 lbs. on my pack weight with the Evolution I'd have done it. Now there is a pack that will easily make me sell my Terraplane. (I understand Terraplanes are now collectors items. Good!)

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Paradox Packs Evolution pack system review on 01/16/2014 17:19:59 MST Print View

Nice review Dave. It looks like a well thought out pack with some interesting features/design concepts. I appreciate you taking the time to walk us through and explain the various components and options.

Like many others, I personally don't have too many needs for a pack of this size or carrying capacity, but I can appreciate that for what it's been designed to do, it's an ultralight solution.

I could certainly see it come into play on an extended unsupported expedition, a long desert hike, packrafting trips, hunting trips or even a hike-a-bike trip where one needs to strap and carry their bike for a portion of the trip. If this pack helps to achieve one of these trips in an UL fashion (and save a few lbs on what's surely to be a heavier load), then it seems relevant and BPL appropriate to me.

A pack like this makes me want to dream up ambitious trips that could make use of its abilities.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: McHale Packs on 01/16/2014 19:28:00 MST Print View

Dan has stated many times that he really doesn't want his packs reviewed. He doesn't need reviews to sell packs.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Paradox Packs Evolution pack system review on 01/16/2014 19:31:00 MST Print View

"I specifically addressed the meaning of "ultralight" in the article. Those who persist in seeing this as a numbers only issue will continue to not have my sympathy."

Yes, Yes, Yes!!!!

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Re: Paradox Packs Evolution pack system review on 01/17/2014 13:32:28 MST Print View

A pack that can carry up to 100lbs (per their website) that weighs 3lb 10oz is interesting to me. This is a great option for those who would like to go on an extended journey but do not have the luxury of a resupply. I understand that this may be a foreign concept to those who never or rarely leave a groomed trail.

I also suspect that if a review of the 48oz ULA Catalyst with a 40lb capacity was done instead, the reactions here would be much different. For a 10oz penalty between the two, I can carry a pint less of water and still come out 6oz ahead.

Not trying to be a BPL groupie but another great article David.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 01/17/2014 13:57:12 MST.

Vanne Mocilac
(tui-chub) - MLife

Locale: South Western Montana
Re: Paradox Packs Evolution pack system review on 01/17/2014 19:58:33 MST Print View

As an older female who archery and rifle hunts in Montana, I really enjoyed this article! This year I boned out a bull elk and put it in Alaska bags to air cool. Four men with various frame packs helped get it out in one trip. I used a Mystery Ranch Trance XXX with the meat inside a trash compactor bag inside my pack, and a Kifaru Gun Bearer for my rifle. Twice I fell and had to be picked up off the ground, like the Gary Larsen cartoon! I need a pack to carry warm clothes for glassing, but ever hopeful, for carrying out meat! Maybe we are a small niche market, however, I love articles like this! Getting off the beaten path to hunt and not having to come back to camp in the dark and then turn around and leave the next morning in the dark is why I joined BPL and sold the wall tent and cylinder stove. Titanium and cuben fiber are my knees' best friends, well, next to my elk packing friends...

Edited by tui-chub on 01/19/2014 09:05:37 MST.

Michael C
(chinookhead) - F - M
David....frame height? on 01/25/2014 21:27:16 MST Print View

David C......thanks for the review. Can you tell us what frame length you used this pack at? Did you keep it at 28" with the frame extensions in or did you sometimes use it at 24"? I am contemplating just getting the 28 solid frame and perhaps trimming it to 26 for a balance between more actual load lifter effect and not needing a 28" frame, since I can't see myself ever carrying much more than 60 pounds. Also, I'm wondering if the 28" frame height made it feel like your head was being forced to lurch over or if at 24" there was not much actual load lifter action? If the 24" configuration had some load lifter effect and the 28" was not too constricting than I will go with the 24/28 standard frame extension configuration instead of trimming a solid 28" frame by 2".

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: David....frame height? on 01/25/2014 22:13:49 MST Print View

Michael, I used the frame with extensions (28") almost all the time. At a 21" torso length, I get some load lifter action at 24, but not much. For me, 26" would probably be fine most of the time, but the extra 2 inches is very welcome at 50 pounds and above.

kevin timm
(ktimm) - MLife

Locale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
Frame Height on 01/26/2014 16:29:59 MST Print View

You can get a standard frame and trim it to desired height, or else use a frame with extensions. I'm 6'1 and find 26 fine for all but the heaviest loads. I would no have qualms about using it for everything. I've also used the 24 and 28 , and both are fine as well, but the 24 has limits of load. The trimmed variant is slightly lighter. I don't find the frame height problematic with either setup. Take my comments for what they are, I am the vendor, but also someone who had put a lot of time in using it as well, in just about every form I can imagine.

Edited by ktimm on 01/27/2014 06:46:07 MST.

Michael C
(chinookhead) - F - M
Scrambling with the paradox? on 01/30/2014 22:32:57 MST Print View

Dave.....or anyone else who has used this pack. How do you think this pack would feel for some mild scrambling and climbing (class 3-4)? I'm asking because for my intended usage it'll be needed to haul in 40-60lbs of gear for week long trips and then it'll be used for daily peak bagging and scrambling. Should I expect it to be very similar to internal frame packs in terms of not feeling like a typical external frame pack making balance tricky when scrambling?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Scrambling with the paradox? on 01/31/2014 07:07:29 MST Print View

You'll find it more stable and body-hugging than just about any burly internal with which I've had experience, due to the frame articulation and close center of gravity. The only thing which holds the Paradox back in this area is size, there's no way for a 14" wide pack to feel as agile as a 10" wide one.

Edward Jursek
( - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Paradox Packs on 01/31/2014 21:34:33 MST Print View is not what I have paid money for. This article and a number of other recent articles show a very identifiable drift into areas away from the what I think is the core mission of BPL and why I pay money to belong here. I see a lot of editorial space and staff energy being directed into areas like pack rafting, heavy packs, hunting, biking, etc. Perhaps the editors and staff have become bored with UL and SUL and moved to other pursuits? These kinds of articles more properly belong in the "Off Piste" forums and not worthy of a feature article.

Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
Disagree on 01/31/2014 22:40:13 MST Print View

Sorry Edward, but I must disagree with your sentiments, and I find the snarkiness somewhat silly. Many of us take trips to places where SUL won't get it done; the terrain and conditions are too difficult, the required gear too heavy and extensive. Spend some time traversing terrain in Alaska or western Canada and you can appreciate what I mean. Not to mention, someone has to build and maintain the trails where you endeavor to pursue your SUL ethos, but I suppose we'll just disregard the madness of trying to pack in tools with a SUL pack? Maybe we should never travel into dry climates where multi-gallon water carries are required? Perhaps we should only traverse areas where a resupply is merely a hitch-hike away? My ultralight glacier/high mountain gear weighs more than an SUL baseweight, but your not moving through an extensively glaciated area without axe, crampons, harness, rope, prussiks, etc. SUL has it place: on a boring, well-trodden, sanitized trail. Which means the SUL hiker misses the wildest, most remote of destinations, the places where wilderness is still truly wild. I'll pass...

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
Comparing Apples and Oranges on 02/01/2014 07:56:16 MST Print View

I think it is fair to say that in terms of BPL's overall membership, both SUL and Hunting out of a Pack (HOOAP?) are both niche interests: Apples & Oranges.

But given that they are both on BPL they do have a commonality in the interest of shaving weight in order to enjoy their pursuits more ... but apparently not all realize those pursuits are different. (And that difference will inevitably result in different gear selections)

SUL is probably the bigger niche here (or at least has seen the most print on how "low can you go", in addition to having its own forum) ... so it likely there are more practitioners with that mind-set, here at BPL.

If the HOOAP folks had their own BPL forum (and not be hidden in the "Other Activities" forum), then the SUL folks would have an advance warning on content they are reading if they decide to click into it ... no Apples to Oranges confusion.

In reference to the post above for needing a big load hauler for some epic remote off-trail Alaskan adventure (non-hunting trip): there are many possible choices that are significantly lighter than the pack reviewed. For one possibility, we can look to Andrew Skurka's Alaska-Yukon Expedition where he decided to use an ULA Epic pack which with the 70 Liter (!!) dry bag he used, weighs 43.4 oz. (= 40 oz for the pack + 3.4 oz for the dry bag: quite a bit lighter that the the 58.6 oz listed for the pack in this review ... and even though it is a breakthrough pack for backpack hunting, as David himself wrote his review: "The utility of the Evolution for the non-hunting backpacker is a bit less clear" ...)

Also in reference to the post above "SUL has it place: on a boring, well-trodden, sanitized trail" (*smile* snarkiness aside, even though being snarky is admonished earlier in that post). One only has to look to John Muir himself as an excellent counterexample. Almost all of his ramblings were off trail (as were no formal trails)

As for my self, I haven't gone on a backpack hunting trip - but respect those that do and their way of connecting to the outdoors.
... and when I do occasionally go SUL I'm either in a friendly, fun competition with friends, or going on a cross country Sierra trip where I want to be fast & nimble.

"The more you know, the less you need" - Yvon Chouinard

HYOH. (which I realize might now, have two meanings: Hike Your Own Hike, and Hike Your Own Hunt ;-)

Edited by tr-browsing on 02/03/2014 07:59:55 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Paradox Packs on 02/01/2014 08:06:04 MST Print View

I, like Edward, am not interested in heavy packs like that

But there were some good ideas about packs in general

That video that showed taking the pack apart - it's inconceivable that there could be so many straps on one pack - amazing!!! - good for some entertainment value watching it - the designer must have a strap fetish : )

Roman Vazhnov
(joarr) - MLife

Locale: Russia
Paradox vs ULA Epic on 02/01/2014 11:04:58 MST Print View

As i can see, Paradox in dry bag hauler configuration weights around 49 oz:
There is also 4800 cu in ultralight combo which weights 48 oz:
So weights are comparable, but Paradox carries much better, judging by this review.

andrew flux
(adventure95004) - F

Locale: Florida/S.Carolina
Just a thought from the other side of the "light" in BPL on 02/02/2014 19:27:11 MST Print View

I am very interested in the review and enjoyed the thought and effort put into it.I have no interest in going SUL or even UL although I have learned much from these reviews. A sub 4lb pack(pack not load) is light for me and one that can carry a load is rare and one that is as modular as this is even rarer unless you go custom.
I have shaved off a good 10lbs from my load over the 2 years I have been on BPL much of it from product reviews and the articles for things that were not strictly SUL/UL.
I know sometimes wit and sarcasm can be hard to convey in a post but reading some of the previous comments about this review smacks a little bit of elitism,something that seems to pervade the sport and pushes people away that might not be as commited to UL but enjoy backpacking "light" as in not humping the traditional 30lb pack but closer to 20, yes that's light to me!! AND I LIKE IT :-)
If a product is not for you then maybe you should just click on the next one and if you have nothing constructive to add to the discussion then why post.
It is BackPackingLight not Backpackinglessthan4000g yes that is a little wit and sarcasm :-)
Thanks for ALL the work BPL does I learn a little from most of the things you do.

kevin timm
(ktimm) - MLife

Locale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
Weights on 02/10/2014 10:21:47 MST Print View

Yes, we have some sub 3 lb options available. Using the lighter frame saves 3 ounces and the lighter bag material saves another 5 - 6 ounces. Not using a Talon compression panel saves weight as well. Another alternative is using a lightweight dry bag, like an Evac dry bag and you get sub 3 lbs, which is comparable to most of the lighter / lightly framed packs. We take a very holistic view of reducing weight, while not sacrificing performance, or longevity. For instance, our pack bags are sort of large, and this in itself helps to save weight by reducing compression sacks and stuff many people use to get gear in smaller pack bags. It also reduced the Beverly Hillbilly affect as well. If you don't need all the volume, don't compress stuff as much. There is no harm in under compressing sleeping gear. We also choose to use materials that do not gain much water weight.

As always, we will continue to push the envelope on weight, while trying to balance usability and durability.

Thanks for all the comments.