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Peter G

Locale: Western Oklahoma
Thanks Ron on 01/29/2014 19:42:41 MST Print View

Thanks for your insight Ron. It's refreshing to see. I look forward to learning more about the Fusion line.

My hope is for something in the 60L range that can comfortably carry 40+lbs if need be, but still scale down for lighter and smaller loads. There's just not much out there for those of us in the transition phase of going lighter. Even if the Fusion packs don't do that, I appreciate the thought behind them.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Smart business move on 01/29/2014 21:51:48 MST Print View

Smart move on Ron's part in my opinion. Looks like two things are going on. First they want to expand past the UL niche market. Good idea because the UL market isn't going to grow dramatically any time soon.
Second within the UL niche market they probably need to set themselves apart. SMD's old packs were probably not that competitive. I'm not saying they were bad, just that lots of other pack makers offered fairly similar products. If you want to remain competitive in that market you need to be different in some way.
It will be interesting to see who beyond the BPL community picks up on this. I wonder if the Flight might have some appeal to adventure racers types for example. I was rather surprised when an adventure racing friend of mine had little knowledge of UL gear or companies.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: SMD Pack - Flight 40 Harness on 01/29/2014 22:21:18 MST Print View

Thanks for the pics Ron,

It looks pretty good for running, I will be definately be watching the roll out and trying get out to try one on.

rowan !

Locale: SF Bay Area
Yayness! on 01/30/2014 00:13:54 MST Print View

I've been awaiting these packs since I tried on the prototype at the GGG a year ago. I'm eager to see the 50-liter pack.

Jeff McWilliams
(jjmcwill) - M

Locale: Midwest
Flight series for running on 01/30/2014 06:15:56 MST Print View

If you're interested in other packs designed for running and fast adventure, (and what may be competing with these Flight packs from SMD), look at products offered by Ultimate Direction.

They've been working with some of the big names in the ultra running community - Scott Jurek, Anton Krupicka, and Peter Bakwin.

I'm not an ultra runner, but I did run a 50K Trail "ultra" about 3 years ago. I don't own any Ultimate Direction packs. I follow Scott Jurek and "Tony" Krupicka on FB because it's interesting to see what they are doing. Tony does some crazy stuff. He's running up and down mountain peaks that most people might take a day or two to summit.

Like the flight series, the Ultimate Direction packs have a "vest" configuration up front with pockets for sport bottles, Gu's, etc. The pack capacities on the Ultimate Direction products are much lower than these SMD packs. I think their biggest is 11L for the PB Adventure Vest 2.0.

From my perspective, SMD's Flight series would be interesting for longer, expedition style Adventure Racing type activities, or fast packing. I've already attached a bottle holder pocket to the front of my Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 pack. I like having my bottle there, and I can see where the "vest" like design inspiration comes from. I've done adventure races, but only short, 6-10 hour sprints. During those, I learned that it's great to have a bottle with something like a "Hammer" brand endurance mix in it, plus a 90oz hydration bladder for water.

MIchael MacCormac
new smd packs on 01/30/2014 19:25:39 MST Print View

i don't see the criticism- the packs look very good. 8oz packs don't seem to offer anything but low weight-little support & they have no shape when loaded. The flight series looks very good & I would definitely look at either the larger Flight or smaller Fusion pack. I have liked my SMD Traveler as well as my Mountainsmith ghost & Mountainlight 5000 and the MLD Burn. Each has its uses- the large mountainsmith was great when hauling gear for when my sons where small-not a problem anymore (in fact I threaten to strap a frig on the larger ones when hiking now). A good suspension system may make the weight feel lighter & more comfortable & will more than "pay" for itelf in weight when backpacking long distances. Ultralight should not only be about absolute weight but about comfort as well- we should not be penny wise & pound foolish. I buy ultralight gear to enhance my enjoyment & comfort- not to merely be a gram weenie.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: new smd packs on 01/31/2014 03:33:47 MST Print View

"I buy ultralight gear to enhance my enjoyment & comfort- not to merely be a gram weenie."

Ito Jakuchu
(jakuchu) - MLife

Locale: Japan
very much interested on 01/31/2014 05:12:48 MST Print View

"I buy ultralight gear to enhance my enjoyment & comfort- not to merely be a gram weenie."

I use a Osprey Kestrel, because it's the most comfortable or best fit to my back.
The way I use my pack now is for pretty long (40~50Km) days with little stopping, carrying food and water in z packs shoulder pockets so that I don't have to go in and out of my pack all the time.

I'm very much interested in these new designs. Seems like they target runners or fast hikers and am very curious about how they ride your back. The back curving away like that for ventilation seems like a good idea for that purpose, my question would be how well they move with you when bumping around on the trail. I.e. does that not introduce (small) side swaying movements?
Would love to test one out.

Looking forward to see more about them.

Jon Leibowitz
(jleeb) - F - MLife

Locale: 4Corners
Re: very much interested on 01/31/2014 08:21:51 MST Print View

"I buy ultralight gear to enhance my enjoyment & comfort- not to merely be a gram weenie."

I love the new packs and can't wait to learn more. For all the gear that I buy, use, exchange, sell, upgrade; only one piece of gear has remained constant and in my pack every single time I go out, and that's my SMD Gatewood. I have a lot of respect for the work SMD does.

Speaking of not being a gram weenie.......Ron, can a brother get a cuben gatewood?!

Edited by jleeb on 01/31/2014 08:31:55 MST.

MIchael MacCormac
SMD packs- cuben gatewood on 01/31/2014 15:54:48 MST Print View

OK count me in on the cuben gatewood- so I am a gram weenie

Edited by mmacc on 01/31/2014 15:55:37 MST.

Kevin Buggie
(kbuggie) - M

Locale: NW New Mexico
Re: SMD packs- cuben gatewood on 01/31/2014 16:19:08 MST Print View

+2 I also want a Cuben gatewood. Would love to buy it from SMD, but might MYOG if its not in the R+D pipeline.

Any custom orders being made by the state-side portion of SMD seamsters?

Zachary Benson
new SMD packs on 01/31/2014 21:13:57 MST Print View

I am so excited about this. I love using "vest packs" and have been looking for a larger volume vest for self supported multi day runs. I really like SMD and I'll definitely be ordering at least one of these new packs. It's going to have to wait until after my next thru this summer, but I'm very, very impressed from what I've seen so far. I can see how these wouldn't be of interest to some people, but for others... wow! (BTW... CF Gatewood! Please!)

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
fastpacking on 01/31/2014 22:24:13 MST Print View

I know its stupid to gossip and speculate based on this little info, but thats what you guys get, Ron for rolling something so promising looking out so slowly.... :)

After seeing the harness system, I'm definitely eager to try one of these out. Hope there's something to fit my longish torso.

Myself, I hope to get out and do some trips where I'm running more than half my mileage, but generally having a pack with an active suspension that moves with the user is beneficial to about any sort of backcountry travel I can think of. This is especially true going off trail, skiing or scrambling/climbing, but even for long miles on trail, its just more comfortable. Most belts that transfer the weight well tend to act like a vice grips on your hips, and its rare to find shoulder straps that don't constrict arm movement, and backpanels that don't limit torso movement etc. etc. etc. This is the reason Ray Jardine recommends not using a hipbelt even up to 20lbs. With lighter loads, I tend to only use the hipbelt to help stabilize the load. I'm still figuring out what I like for running, but I think when you're running with a multi-day load, it feels better to have the weight spread evenly, and close to your center of gravity, rather than cinched up tight around your back and chest, so the a supportive (and flexible) belt is desirable.

Looking forward to these packs. Now, if they only had a good ski carry!

Edited by sgiachetti on 01/31/2014 22:24:52 MST.

Jon Leibowitz
(jleeb) - F - MLife

Locale: 4Corners
It's official on 02/04/2014 16:51:42 MST Print View

Official information released

Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
new SMD packs on 02/04/2014 18:37:32 MST Print View

I looked at the official posting for the two new "Flight" series packs. The Flight 30, a 15oz 1900 cu in pack is just too heavy for me and will likely be for anyone aiming for anything approaching SUL base weight. For my hiking purposes the vest harness is also plain gimmicky. My Zimmerbuilt Quickstep is the same volume, is 9.4oz and, fully loaded with my SUL kit, it is almost like I am not wearing a pack. I can add a pack lid and two shoulder pouches and still be a couple ounces lighter then the Flight 30 with plenty of organization and storage.

The Flight 40, at 2600 cu in and 31 oz, is pretty heavy for my taste. For comparison, it is 3oz heavier then the HMG Windrider 2400. I do like that it can be stripped down to 18oz, but that is still pretty heavy for a UL pack with 2600 cu in of volume.

I see the "gram weenie" bashing and all this talk of "comfort." I have found less weight has corresponded to more comfort for me, not less. Back in my 20's, when I was heavy hauler, my Dana Designs Arcflex Terraplane could make 50 lbs ride comfortably. However, it was still 50 lbs freaking pounds, no matter how well distributed and padded the weight was. I have never been uncomfortable with my frameless packs. With a GG Nighlight in the pad sleeve of my Mariposa, with a properly packed and distributed load, I have never had a problem even well into the mid 20 pound range. I have found just the opposite in fact, I have never hiked as comfortably or as far in my life when I have gotten my base weight down. If I ever need to haul gallons of water for days, moose hind quarters, or gold mining equipment I will reconsider.

I won't be following the herd to heavier packs, even if that is where the market is lumbering. I re-read Ron's blog post about the "death of ultralight" and maybe he just doing his part and making some money along the way. I wish SMD luck. My money is still on UL and SUL. Via La UL Revolucion!

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: new SMD packs on 02/04/2014 18:57:02 MST Print View

Just wanted to quickly say that after having put on a Fusion 50 at the GGG (which I loaded up with about 12 pound of gear) I am very much looking forward to this pack being made available. The load weight distribution of this pack was phenomenal.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: new SMD packs on 02/04/2014 19:55:29 MST Print View

"Back in my 20's, when I was heavy hauler, my Dana Designs Arcflex Terraplane could make 50 lbs ride comfortably. However, it was still 50 lbs freaking pounds, no matter how well distributed and padded the weight was. I have never been uncomfortable with my frameless packs. With a GG Nighlight in the pad sleeve of my Mariposa, with a properly packed and distributed load, I have never had a problem even well into the mid 20 pound range."

I read the comments above and couldn't help but respond...

I don't know why this false dilemma between heavyweight and ultralight backpacking keeps reappearing, but nevertheless, it does. Comparing the comfort of carrying 50 lbs of gear in a heavy hauling pack vs. 20 pounds of gear in a minimally framed or frameless pack is the wrong comparison. It is a false dilemma because it ignores the possibility of viable options in between these two extremes.

How about comparing the comfort of carrying 20 lbs of gear in a frameless pack vs. carrying that same lightweight load in a 2 or 3 pound pack having a semi-rigid aluminum frame? This is a much more realistic comparison. That is to say, it's more fair to compare carrying a total of 21 pounds with a frameless pack versus carrying a total of 23 pounds with a fully-framed pack.

I'm not going to argue for either side here, but let's at least frame the argument in realistic terms instead of creating a straw man argument where ultralight packs with ultralight loads are clearly superior to back breaking loads carried in 6 pound packs.

Sorry for the thread drift.

Edited by dmusashe on 02/04/2014 19:57:32 MST.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: new SMD packs on 02/04/2014 23:01:52 MST Print View


You are going to see a lot of good reviews on the new SMD packs.
It's not the weight, it's how they fit and how the full pack weight carries.

I tried all of the packs on and they do a very good job at the above.
Ron of SMD drilled it into us that of the 4 things they wanted applied to the pack, worrying about the weight was the last on the list.

If everyone worried about how light packs are, we would all be walking around with sub 6 ounce syl-nylon packs.
The reasons we don't buy these pack will be the reason the average backpacker will buy the SMD packs.

I can personally say that the fit of the flight 30 is crazy comfortable for a 30 liter pack.

I don't get the bad mouthing of the weight when they are not met for that purpose.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
comfort on 02/05/2014 00:11:53 MST Print View

Encouraging reports from folks, and nice to get some more details from the source.

I'm a reluctant gram weenie myself: my shelter is 7 oz, my quilt is a lb, and this year I added a 4 oz cook system and a 7oz torso pad and a 3.5 oz down vest to my quiver (I know its madness!) but 15 oz for that pack does not sound heavy to me at all if it carries well.

When I first started backpacking, I carried a gregory backpack that must have weighed 5lbs, add to that my ultra heavy 35 lbs load that I'd carry in it. That pack carried like a dream, and I never had any back discomfort. I just moved slower, my lower half hurt more, and backpacking was less fun. I've since carried UL packs with much lighter loads that F'd with my shoulders, hips and back. Sure I went more miles with those packs and my legs felt better, but I was still suffering because of a pack that didn't carry well. Hiking is so repetitive, if something doesn't feel right at the start of the day, its gonna be a whole lot worse by the end of the day. I don't mean to over emphasize the point, because most BPLer's would already agree, but pack comfort trumps pack weight, especially with all the amazing choices of sub 2lb packs we have available.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
purpose built on 02/05/2014 00:27:56 MST Print View

If the purpose of your pack is to allow you to go on a backpacking trip with less than 5lbs base weight, I can see why 5oz packs would be desirable. But if your goals are more terrain and activity related, then you want the right pack for the right job.

From the SMD Flight page, I think this pretty neatly sums up what I've been looking for in a pack.

'Your hips are free to move naturally and your arms are also less constrained. The vest eliminates the bounce of the pack as you move. For runners, the pack becomes very solid. This make it easier to traverse difficult terrain.

The Flight packs are leaner than similar packs. This make it easier to negotiate cross country through brush.'