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How many of you feel that a heavier framed pack carries light loads much better than a frameless?
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Steven Diogenes
(stevenn) - F
How many of you feel that a heavier framed pack carries light loads much better than a frameless? on 01/21/2014 09:20:42 MST Print View

I currently use a Swift with hip belts at 19oz. I'm curious if a pound or two more for a frame will feel a lot better. 'Cause it's not the number, it's the feel, right? Right?! If an extra lb or 2 actually lightens the FEEL of my load, then I'm all for it. I carry anywhere from 15-24 lbs.

Do any of you do this? What packs do you use? Or recommend? I'm looking at Osprey, especially since they have unlimited repair. I would go out and try one but there aren't any nearby.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: How many of you feel that a heavier framed pack carries light loads much better than a frameless? on 01/21/2014 09:25:04 MST Print View

I like Osprey my Exos 58. it carries much better than my Black Diamond pack that i use for rock climbing. I haven't used a purpose built frameless pack like ULA or SMD though.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: How many of you feel that a heavier framed pack carries light loads much better than a frameless? on 01/21/2014 09:48:00 MST Print View

Nm

Edited by FamilyGuy on 02/02/2014 08:35:46 MST.

D S
(smoke) - F
Which Model Swift? on 01/21/2014 09:55:47 MST Print View

Do you have the Swift that allows you to add the hoop frame? If so, what about trying that?

I was looking at trying an Osprey Hornet 46, but several people have warned against it.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"How many of you feel that a heavier framed pack carries light loads much better on 01/21/2014 10:07:55 MST Print View

With a disc problem, getting the weight off of your shoulders/spine and onto your hips is a good way to go.

I ended up using a Luxury Light frame with a GG Mariposa strapped onto it. This combo weighs just over two pounds and carries like a dream. The LL frame is perfect for carrying a bear canister too.

I've never found a frameless pack that transfers weight completely off of my shoulders onto my hips.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
How many of you feel that a heavier framed pack carries light loads much better than a frameless? on 01/21/2014 11:32:23 MST Print View

Not me.

I always keep an open mind especially if I'm approaching the upper weight in the range you mentioned. For me, the final step before packing up for a trip is to pull out all of my gear (and food and water) and try it in my framed and frameless packs to see which feels best. The frameless pack seems to win every time as long as I keep it below 25 lbs. For shorter trips, my total pack weight will be between 15-20 lbs and at that weight I won't bother trying the framed packs because it's no contest.

To me there are two aspects of comfort... the load hauling ability of a pack and the "balance" it provides. Framed packs by their design will carry a heavy load better but they sit farther away from your back and are rigid. My frameless pack feels like it's part of my back and I never have to adjust my centre of balance. None of the pack sway or stiffness that I feel in the framed pack. The framed pack may feel more comfy but I believe I expend less energy with the frameless pack because the weight is so close to my core.

My MLD Burn is the frameless pack that I've settled on and my current framed pack is the Osprey Exos 46. Both very nice packs IMO.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"How many of you feel that a heavier framed pack carries light loads much better on 01/21/2014 13:25:56 MST Print View

Mike wrote: "Framed packs by their design will carry a heavy load better but they sit farther away from your back and are rigid. My frameless pack feels like it's part of my back and I never have to adjust my center of balance." Yep, it's precisely because frameless packs utilize your back as part of their structure/fit that people like the op with spinal issues often find them uncomfortable.

This is a very personal thing. In my case and the OP's case, anatomy is an issue. Weight on my spine is uncomfortable for me. Simple as that.

Oh and I can adjust my framed pack so that there is no sway. And I like the small space that's left open between my back and the pack because it keeps me cooler than when I wear a framed pack.

I'm curious as the whether most people would prefer frameless to framed packs if there was no weight difference between the two--although Mike has already answered this for himself.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: light loads and pack frame on 01/21/2014 13:50:50 MST Print View

With some disc issues, I'm firmly in the framed pack even for light loads school of thought. I carry my lunch, a book or two, and some papers daily to my office in a frameless day pack, but anything more, and I want a framed pack.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Never on my shoulders on 01/21/2014 14:41:12 MST Print View

I don't like to carry even 5 lbs on my shoulders, it starts to hurt after awhile. I need something to transfer all of the weight to my hips, The shoulder straps are just for balance. With a heavy load I will transfer a little to my shoulders/back to give the contact points on my hip a break, but not for very long. No more than 10 minutes at a time. So, I want a framed pack, regardless of the weight. Well, if it was 2 lbs I could use a frameless pack, but it would probably be a fanny pack. ;)

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: re: light loads and pack frame on 01/21/2014 15:42:08 MST Print View

Steven,
This topic was just commented on ad nauseum in this thread here:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=86310

That will probably be interesting reading for you.

I'll just reiterate the comments that I made in that thread that a pack that doesn't comfortably support the load you put in it is faulty in the sense that it's not even serving it's primary purpose well (hint: being lightweight is not a pack's primary purpose).

I'm firmly in the framed backpack camp with a few of the posters above like Steven Barber, Jerry Armbruster, and others.

Everyone has a different comfort zone, but if it was me carrying the loads you are talking about, I would definitely use a pack with a decent frame.

The trick is finding a pack that fits you well and is supportive. That is the thing that's unanswerable for anyone but you, since it's so personal.

A lot of the guys around here have great things to say about the ~2 pound framed packs like the Gossamer Gear Mariposa or the ULA Circuit. I personally haven't been able to get the right fit from any of these ultralight framed packs yet so I'm still using my stripped down ~3 pound Osprey Volt, which I like a lot. YMMV, but I'd recommend this pack if nothing else is working since it's extremely adjustable in terms of torso length, well made, and cheaper than most of the alternatives. Not everyone likes the Osprey fit though, so you'll just have to see for yourself.

billy goat
(billygoat) - F

Locale: West.
Go frames! on 01/22/2014 08:29:53 MST Print View

When I designed and built my pack for the JMT and SHR, I included a frame. I would rather my whole kit weigh a pound more (up to 10 lbs from 9 lbs) for the comfort of having the load transferred to my hips. I've put as much as 20 lbs of food/water on top of that base weight and been comfortable. The ONLY way I'd go w/o a frame would be for an overnight.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: How many of you feel that a heavier framed pack carries light loads much better than a frameless? on 01/22/2014 08:53:56 MST Print View

There are a tremendous number of generalizations being made here.

What is defined as a frame? Very few carry a frameless pack without a rolled up sleeping pad (or folded) or alternatively (or additionally), soft gear packed extremely tight. Would this be considered a frame?

Carbon rods?
Plastic sheeting?
Aluminum vertical stays?
Perimeter rods?

Not all 'frames' are created equal and the belt type, length of frame, shoulder harness, etc, all go into ensuring effective load carry onto the hips.

We could even talk about different body types because this is a consideration. People with large mid sections will always carry the belt lower than someone who is thin. For a larger waisted person, this would require a longer torso size (or 'frame' length) and wider belt. Get that wrong and there will be a lot of weight on the shoulders despite a 'frame.'

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: How many of you feel that a heavier framed pack carries light loads much better than a frameless? on 01/22/2014 10:03:55 MST Print View

I would look at a light load as under 10 pounds, more of a day hiking load for me, or perhaps a short trip SUL load. Getting upwards of 24 pounds is getting up there and definitely more comfortable with a frame.

I switched to using a framed 30 liter pack for much of my summer day hiking last year and found it much more comfortable. There was no agonizing over adding another liter of water or taking more camera gear, I just dumped in what I wanted for that trip.

For me, the real advantage to framed packs is the ease of loading. It takes careful loading to get a frameless pack to transfer weight to a hip belt well. With a frameless pack, there is always the juggle of rolling or folding pads and arrangement of lumps inside the pack and getting a good tight stuff to create a stable column to get the weight transfer. It's fussy and adds to the hassle of getting things in and out of the pack during the day. Adding something like a bear can be a major pain.

The framed packs with a plastic frame sheet and aluminum stays like the REI Flash 65 or the modified external frame like the Osprey Exos series gives good weight transfer and isolate the load from your back, sob you can load for balance and trail convenience without concern for a skin tight stuff or items poking you in the back.

Hoop frame packs like the Gossamer Gear Mariposa split the difference, giving light weight and good weight transfer, but needing more care in loading.

The the question posed by the OP, light loads in a framed pack don't feel as heavy to me. I think that comes from good shoulder strap and hip belt padding, and the zinger being that the pack is more stable: I think part of the impression of weight is how well the load moves with you, besides the pressure points on shoulders and hips. The weight still catches up with lungs, heart and knees farther up the switchbacks, but better for shoulders and back.

I've had some back issues over the years and would look for a pack with excellent weight transfer if I had disc issues. I've used the Exos 46 with good results. I think that an UL pack with a plastic frame sheet and aluminum stays can be as effective for weight transfer but can be hotter than the trampoline back panel designs.

I think the hoop frame packs are a good compromise when you get into say 65 liters or more where the pack weight starts to add up: you are carrying enough stuff that you really have to get every item to the lightest versions, including the pack. I assume that someone using a higher volume pack is hauling more food or winter insulation, or in my case, adding more hammock gear that needed more space.

Which pack you choose from there is more like choosing a shoe, depending on how it fits your particular body type. Hip belt stability is key--- you want it to stay put without pinching or sliding down. The rest of the pack design should be pointing the weight to the connection with the hip belt. You end up with the shoulder straps being there for stability rather than load bearing.

Getting to a store with a lot of packs, some test weights and a couple hours time will tell you a lot about what works for you. You have to try them with weight and move around with them: adding 20 or so pounds really settles the pack into your body and makes it fit much differently than when empty, as well as the stability when you start moving.

Happy hunting :)

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
OXYMORONS on 01/22/2014 12:33:51 MST Print View

Some oxymorons (IMHO)

1. "military intelligence"
2. "jumbo shrimp"
3. "comfortable frameless pack"

So, yeah, a lightly framed pack to TRANSFER the load to my hips via padded hipbelt is my preference.
Without that transfer to a hipbelt the load is borne on the shoulders and ultimately the spine. Not good.