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Paradox Packs Evolution pack system review
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sean neves
(Seanneves) - M

Locale: City of Salt
Re: Paradox Packs on 02/18/2014 10:07:15 MST Print View

Couldn't disagree more with you on this, Edward. Subscribed for the last six years. Typical base-weight sub-10lbs, etc, so I have the street cred. I also do massive un-resupplied packrafting trips too. I have been known to haul bikes in really weird ways. Not everybody works outside the way that I do so I don't expect the world to bend to my ways. You shouldn't either. This is really useful information for a lot of people. The gram-weenie stuff is boring now for me. Been there, done that.

Great work, Dave. One of the best articles on here in some time.

Edited by Seanneves on 02/18/2014 10:36:49 MST.

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
Paradox evolution suspension on 02/28/2014 07:25:03 MST Print View

Enjoyed the review. If I have to carry water or I'm on a long trek the paradox suspension may be useful.

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
z on 03/01/2014 09:22:33 MST Print View

Part of the reason I enjoyed the article was the honesty and thought that went into the article. I liked that the author wrote,

" the best contemporary UL internal frame packs can carry close to if not more than 40 lbs, and do so well. These same packs hover around 2 lbs. While I don’t see any ready ways for Paradox to cut weight from the current design without impeding either durability or function, I nonetheless need a compelling reason to carry the extra pound and a half which the Evolution frame represents. The best answer to this question lies not in the brute ability to transfer weight throughout the frame system, but in the comfort with which a given pack does so."

I ended up purchasing an Paradox Frame that I paired with a Zimmerbuilt backpack 13 oz. I like a narrow pack, dimensions similar to zpacks blast.
The Paradox frame is the most comfortable backpack I have every used, a thing of beauty.



I'll do a review later and compare it to the HMG Porter which I also own. A large part of buying a backpack is personal taste, kind of like buying a car so to each his own. I've owned a GG Gorilla, a ULA Omh, Circuit and Airx, an HMG Windrider and a Porter. My goto backpack is a 13 oz Zpacks Blast with stays and I usually carry about 18 lbs with food and water on a two night backpack, my base weight with a few optional items is about 5.5 lbs. I'm planning a longer trip without resupply and I plan to carry about 30 lbs, not sure if I'll take the Porter or the Paradox.

I also have an injury that doesn't allow me to put weight on my shoulders.

The Paradox has the more comfortable hipbelt and the better suspension system.
I like that I can used a hydration sack outside the pack.
It can hug the body or I can loosen the shoulder straps and lean it back like an external frame. Does the comfort justify the extra weight? Can the frame be stripped down even more?

My HMG Porter with custom water side pockets and hipbelt pockets weighs 35 oz, the Paradox with Zimmerbuilt weighs 51 oz, 16 oz more. If I add a golite infinity framesheet to the Porter then the Porter weighs 41 oz. The framesheet is extremely strong; it has 6 tiny metal rods with diameter of the lead in a pencil encased in plastic an molded to the proper shape.


The ParadoxZimmerbuilt does handle the Bearikade Expedition better.jjll

Nothing left to do but load em up and see which I like better after a full day of hiking. I also could strip it down a bit but not sure I'd want to lose the functionality.

Edited by anthonyweston on 03/01/2014 09:34:07 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Paradox and Zimmerbuilt on 03/01/2014 14:03:32 MST Print View

Looks good Anthony, hope it works for you. I look forward to thoughts about comparing the Paradox and Porter, and what difference the framesheet makes in the later.

Kevin T and I have been knocking around a few ideas about how to make the Paradox lighter still, but that will be a long running project.

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: z on 03/01/2014 16:41:54 MST Print View


You said, " If I add a golite infinity framesheet to the Porter then the Porter weighs 41 oz."

Do you plan on using the Golite infinity frame in addition to the HMG Porter's two aluminum stays or in place of them? Also, the Porter's pad sleeve is sealed; how do you plan to install the Golite Infinity frame?

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
p on 03/01/2014 17:34:07 MST Print View

Not sure how I will use the framesheet. It would be easy enough to sew in a pocket of some kind to hold it. So far I just put it in loose in addition to the stays went around the block with it to test it with a heavier load and did flatten the load against my back and give some rigidity.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Paradox update on 03/10/2014 21:53:42 MDT Print View

I number of updates to the Paradox system/line have gone live since I wrote the article.

I got my hands on the improved harness last week. It addresses all the concerns I had. The inner face is lined with lighter 3D mesh, and the foam is more flexible.

An UL frame made of lighter tubing is available in all configurations. I have not used this. Kevin Timm with Paradox says it can be 3+ ounces lighter (30% or so) and doesn't really give up any functional durability.

They've also been doing custom bags in a variety of configurations and fabrics, including hybrid cuben.

Paradox also just came out with a version they're calling the Unaweep. It integrates the frame into the bag, making the whole deal simpler and saves quite a bit of weight. As the weight breakdown table in the article shows, this is the one obvious area to do so. According to Kevin, a 4800 Unaweep with the UL 26 inch tall frame, done in VX-07, is a hair over 2.5 pounds.

Conversations with Kevin got me thinking about the possibilities of this integrated frame, and this past week I built one for myself. It's not perfect, but it is quite a bit smaller and tighter than the pack I tested for the article. In 1000 denier cordura (what I had on hand), the 24 inch full strength frame, and the stock harness and hipbelt in comes in under 3 pounds. This for a ~4000 cubic inch pack. I'll be taking it to the Grand Canyon next week.

What drove that decision was the hipbelt. It only took a half mile of a training hike to be reminded how, for me, the Paradox belt absolutely blows everything else out of the water. For light loads (sub 35 pounds) I can get a traditional internal belt, stay, and lumbar pad rig to work just fine. Just fine meaning I can carry it 10 hours a day for a week and never think about my pack. For weights above that, the Paradox is just way better than anything else. Which makes taking it on this upcoming trip an easy choice.

Edited by DaveC on 03/10/2014 21:55:38 MDT.

Michael C
(chinookhead) - F - M
Re: z on 03/16/2014 09:23:40 MDT Print View

Anthony, what xpac material is your zimmerbuilt bag made from? Is it VX21?

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
z on 03/16/2014 09:27:34 MDT Print View

VX21 Xpac for the back side and bottom of the pack and a lighter weight VX07 for the front

Doug Coe
(sierraDoug) - F

Locale: Bay Area, CA, USA
Fascinating pack design on 04/04/2014 15:57:02 MDT Print View

I doubt I'll ever have a need for this pack, or want to spend the money for one, but I love seeing such innovative design thinking. And it's great to have choices, external frame systems as well as internal ones.

Thank you for the fantastic review, and I love seeing all the photos of it, especially taken apart.

That Zimmerbuilt bag at different heights with and without the bear can is cool too as I mostly backpack in the Sierras in black bear country.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
A place for heavy packs on 04/06/2014 17:59:16 MDT Print View

I just got back from another trip in the Guadalupe Mountains with an Exped Lighting. At 38 oz its on the heavy side but its the pack I keep grabbing. I have a 28 oz pack but I never take it to the Guads. The reasoning is very simple, no other pack I have has such a comfortable hipbelt. My recent custom Zimmer pack was close but unfortunately is too short for me.

I'm as into spread sheets and gram counting as the next guy but when you measure your water load in gallons a 5 or 10 extra ounces for a pack that fits better is a no brainer.

Dave P
(BackcountryLaika) - M

Locale: Northern Alberta
Thank you for the Paradox on 01/04/2015 16:00:37 MST Print View

Thank you for the review, been looking for a sub-4lbs external frame which can handle 100+lbs worth of weight.

I've become a gram-weenie after some bush-whacking last year and made slow progress. Noticed a huge change after lightening the load. Going into the bush is fine, the problem is trying to find a pack which can haul stuff out of the bush.

I enjoy my 2-lbs backpack for trail-walking, but it doesn't hold all the necessary equipment I need for hunting. When you're hauling carcasses, every gram matters; but no one is going to go anywhere if they don't have the proper backpack for the weight load. While trail-walking, there is a much more forgivable error of margin.

Tried a frameless designed for grouse-hunters, and it became obvious because of its design the folks who fell in love with it only went out on day-hunts; not over-nighters, let alone a week-long expedition. Figured out the money would had been better spent on a GoLite Jam than that thing.

Would like to see a review of the Krux frame though.

Edited by BackcountryLaika on 01/04/2015 16:09:15 MST.