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Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Huh? zPacks on 03/06/2014 20:20:35 MST Print View

I've had a Zero, a Hexamid, a Kilt, and Poncho Groundsheet for 2.5 years. The pack has 2 water bottle pockets and a pad holder. The shelter came with a carbon fiber pole, which I replaced with a more robust pole from Ruta Locura. Total cost of everything was $544.90.

The Zero is a stuff sack with shoulder straps,and I knew that before I bought it. It works for what I want it to do. It is probably going to die this year, but I have gotten my money worth's out of it. When it goes, I'll just substitute my small McHale in its place. I bought the Zero because it was fairly inexpensive and I wanted to test the cuben as a pack material, as I was considering a McHale in Cuben Hybrid. It has lasted longer than I thought it would.

I am thrilled with the Hexamid. It is my go to shelter on most 3 season trips. No netting or beak on it.

The poncho/tarp is pure genius. I rarely use it as a ground sheet, but it shines as a poncho. As a groundsheet it clips to the Hexamid as bathtub floor. In cold rain I need the kilt.

Two years ago I bought 20 degree quilt with a zipper and an ounce of overfill. Quality is good -- not a WM, but I am also happy with it. It is my shoulder season bag and for use in the mountains when I expect the temps to drop a little below freezing.

Joe makes gear for minimalist type of hiking. With care it lasts. His service is top notch.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Huh? zPacks on 03/06/2014 21:45:14 MST Print View

@ Nick

Yep. Now we know why it seems grumpiness is an occupational hazard amongst some expert gear makers - and Dan McHale is not the only one - people who don't really know what they are talking about making snap judgments. In a store no less.

At any rate I agree about zpacks. It may or may not be your style or your thing, but as someone who has looked at and thought about that equipment in some detail my conclusion is that every damn stitch in that gear has been carefully thought out, the workmanship is near perfect, and when for some reason a mistake was made it is fixed immediately with no questions and at no cost. Not only that but a lot of his solutions to perennial backpacking issues are quite novel. Having someone say it looks amateurish, if I were Joe, would just make my head explode.

Edited by millonas on 03/06/2014 21:52:59 MST.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
zpacks on 03/06/2014 21:51:08 MST Print View

Ive spent more with Joe than I hope my wife ever finds out about.

When i read others gear recomendations on forums to people for lightening their packs, Zpacks seems to outnumber all the others combined today. Except for Joe, the cottage industry appears to be moving in slow motion. Some vendors never have anything in stock, rarely new products, etc. 3 yrs ago he wasnt considered mainstream UL cottage gear really, today he seems to be a very large pecercentage of it.

Edited by livingontheroad on 03/06/2014 21:51:51 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: zpacks on 03/06/2014 23:55:05 MST Print View

Joe started out in the fringe niche of UL. A lot of Cuben, and the really thin stuff. A lot of his early customers understood the limits of the gear and the need to be gentle with it. Over time he is moving to more robust materials -- maybe the market demands it or maybe too many problems/complaints from customers whose gear failed due to "abuse." I don't know.

His construction quality has improved over the years too. Sometimes I think he may be stretching himself thin with the breadth of his product line. Time will tell.

To be honest the construction is not quite at the level of Tarptent, MLD, SMD, ULA, GG, or EE - all companies I have purchased products from and have been in business a lot longer than Joe, except EE; but Tim concentrates on just one product. Then there is the upper echelon of quality such as Nunatak, WM, and McHale. These 3 I have experience with too. But Joe's products are completely acceptable quality-wise, given the nature of minimalist products.

I think another factor that is good for Joe is that are many people, like me, who can afford multiples of gear items that allows them to be very selective in picking gear items for specific trips.

If I could only keep one of each item I own I would choose my McHale Full Dyneema LBP 36, MLD Silnylon Trailstar, and WM Ultralight. Meaning my base weight would move from around 5 lbs on a lot of trips to around 8 or 10 on every trip. The McHale is my favorite pack. The MLD and WM aren't necessarily my favorites but they are robust, well made and can be used on almost all trips I take.

As my zPacks stuff wears out, I probably won't replace it as I am leaning towards stuff that lasts and can take abuse - items I already own. The one zPacks item I would re-purchase without hesitation is the poncho/groundsheet. I am not unhappy with any of Joe's products, but I do hike a lot and they just aren't going to last years and years for me.

Joe has his niche and does it well. I have nothing but good things to say about him.

Of course he probably doesn't like some of the criticism in this thread, but that comes with the territory. zPacks gear isn't for everyone, just as a McHale isn't either.

At the end of the day, what matters is that we spend as much time as possible in the wilderness. Whether I am using an old piece of gear or something leading edge it really doesn't matter that much; as long as I am safe, warm, dry, and walking.

Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
haters on 03/07/2014 05:12:24 MST Print View

Build it and they will come.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Zpacks on 03/07/2014 05:44:17 MST Print View

It's a very competitive company that has some of the lightest gear. I think the minimum life span for any product is 1 thruhike.

That is plenty durable for most people, maybe not everyone. Obviously Zpacks is dominating the market right now. They are selling more than anyone else I'm guessing.

Kevin S.
(kstephens)
Impressed on 03/07/2014 06:56:34 MST Print View

I have been nothing but impressed with Zpacks stuff. I am still waiting to check out a shelter. I understand his products do not, and should not appeal to a mass market. However, I feel that when I buy a product Joe has put it through the test, and stands behind his products. Communication and customer service is far beyond that of a larger company.

On a side note, and back to OP, I was wondering where he got the trail name Samuri Joe. I am sure the hat is functional and serves a purpose, however, the dork factor is an 11. I just stick to my OR sun runner hat with back sun shield flaps (because we all know that is not dorky).

Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
No fuss no muss hat on 03/07/2014 08:35:05 MST Print View

It's a good hate that deflects wind, rain, and sun equally from all angle no fuss no muss.