November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Paradox Pack or Mchale?
Display Avatars Sort By:
S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Paradox Pack or Mchale? on 04/07/2014 17:09:37 MDT Print View

I am looking for a new pack for expedition use (i.e. Denali) and for backcountry climbing use (~45 lb. loads). I think I have it narrowed down to a Seek Outside Paradox Pack (possibly with a custom pack bag) or a McHale Super Sarc. Any advice one way or another what would work well?

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: Paradox Pack or Mchale? on 04/07/2014 17:30:00 MDT Print View

I haven't carried the Paradox, though it looks very interesting! If I was hunting elk in Colorado and packing out the meat, I'd definitely go with the Paradox.

I have and have used the McHale LPB, and am very happy with it. It's very versatile, and is as comfortable to carry at `15 or 40 lbs (other than the extra effort of lifting the extra 20 lbs up each foot of incline!). Very well made. Great pack!

Ross L
(Ross) - MLife

Locale: Beautiful BC
Re: Paradox Pack or Mchale? on 04/07/2014 18:41:25 MDT Print View

Have you looked at the Stone Glacier Sky 5100? Versatile and relatively light load hauler. It may hug your torso better when climbing than a Paradox would. Can't go wrong with a McHale either.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
Re: Paradox Pack or Mchale? on 04/07/2014 21:32:04 MDT Print View

Denali's rather a large mountain to be beta testing gear on, it's killed plenty enough people to be considered serious play, and it costs a cubic Load of money to get there.

given ; the facts as we know them pretty much guarantee the following statements to be true.

the Paradox pack may work very well.
the McHale pack Will work very well.

my thoughts on this is WHY do you even have a question ????


well bob, i see there's a new climbing rope on sale that a few people have tried and they say it looks really nice. it is a different design from the other ropes that we know for a fact have arrested countless falls. the guys that make it are not actually climbers, and they're new to the rope business, but they are polite, and demonstrably rather clever. hey ! ..... let's get some of that stuff, go on a one chance in a lifetime climb, and see if it works in the central alaskan highlands !!

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Paradox Pack or Mchale? on 04/07/2014 22:20:53 MDT Print View

Can't help with regards to McHale, but I find it hard to fathom a 50+ pound capable pack carrying closer to the body than a Paradox. The Paradox rides closer than a lot of frameless packs.

Desert Dweller

Locale: Wild Wild West
McHale on 04/07/2014 22:27:48 MDT Print View

Just look at the photos of people wearing them on his website, mountain climbers use them and the pads at the back and waist are right on your back but also breathe extremely well.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Paradox Pack or Mchale? on 04/07/2014 22:32:09 MDT Print View

How much do you want to spend?

S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Re: Paradox Pack or Mchale? on 04/07/2014 22:59:47 MDT Print View

Sorry, I had to respond to Peter. I have virtually ALL the gear for Denali already. I currently have a functional but heavy pack (Dana Designs) that I had been planning to use for an attempt last year. That attempt was cancelled due to a partner dropping out for financial reasons. I am not new to the game of mountaineering. Nor would I consider "beta testing" a pack for the first time on a big mountain. Any pack I got would be tested thoroughly on training trips before I even set foot on Denali. Boots, sleeping bag, and backpack are three pieces of gear that can totally make or break a trip. I like the McHale a lot and think that may be the direction I will go, but I ask about Paradox because it is an intriguing new design that may fit the bill well for me for a little less money. If it works well for my purposes, that's super. If not, that's something I would like to know (thus my question). I realize they are new to the market with a relatively new design. I like new if it is innovative and works. If we just stayed with the status quo nobody would ever get anywhere and we would still be using wool blankets and canvas shelters and leather clothes. Sorry if I seem a little defensive but your post seemed a little condescending to me. I apologize if I took it the wrong way.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Re: Paradox Pack or Mchale? on 04/08/2014 06:30:12 MDT Print View

McHale S Sarc user here, only for backpacking and not any mountaineering. I really like mine. I tend to use it mainly with the lid and other bits removed but its handy to know I have the extra carrying capacity if needs be.

Dan Geiger
(strat) - M
Paradox pack on 04/08/2014 08:09:56 MDT Print View

Agree with David i have never had a pack that rides as close as my Paradox.

Rick Adams
(rickadams100) - M
i have both on 04/08/2014 10:26:02 MDT Print View

Can't say anything bad about either one.

The paradox rides very close to your back and will handle your load just fine. I would definitely recommend a custom pack as the base pack is on the small side, basically a drybag with water bottle pockets. The design of the pack puts the weight kind of low which I find less easy to manage on the trail. It also is "strappy", a strap for everything. A custom bag with the features you want and shaped how you like would make it better. Also adds cost.

I recently recieved a McHale S-Sarc +1 and it is a very nice piece. It is feature loaded and carries the kind of weight you're considering very nicely. If you like your Dana you will love your McHale. I found a Dana comfortable until the load got more serious. The Mchale hipbelt and frame will remain comfortable with higher loads both from a design and fitting standpoint. A McHale is very modular as well, mine is cavernous ( for winter camping ) and "shrunk" for a summer weekend. I didn't go crazy with spectra material and it still is far lighter than the Dana and I would guess comparable or lighter than a well sized custom bag for a Paradox.

I like and have kept the Paradox so far, but I would buy the Mchale if I was in your shoes.

Edited by rickadams100 on 04/08/2014 10:29:08 MDT.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Paradox on 04/08/2014 10:30:56 MDT Print View

I hear the Paradox pack does not use a frame sheet so everything inside has to be packed carefully to avoid back jabs. If this is true it would be a complete negatory for me.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Paradox on 04/08/2014 11:02:29 MDT Print View

Walter, that is accurate. Careful packing is required. Ultralight = technique.

Rick Adams
(rickadams100) - M
back jabs on 04/08/2014 11:03:44 MDT Print View

Hasn't been a problem and i'm scrawny. My McHale doesn't have a framesheet either though it does have a comfy partial back pad.

kevin timm
(ktimm) - MLife

Locale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
Back Pads on 04/08/2014 11:29:44 MDT Print View

The Unaweep has more back padding, so careful packing is not much of an issue. There is only an inch or two above the waist belt and below the pad that has some exposure. The Unaweep is also a lot less "strappy" or cleaner. To avoid confusion the Unaweep is also inter changeable with the more modular configuration as well (same hipbelt, harness , framing, compression panels, lids etc).

We can do custom styled pack bags, however thus far, everyone seems content with a roll top plus base talon. Most of our custom questions have been with or without a side access zipper and Cuben.

We also have a new day talon in the works, that has a minimalistic lid, that can be used either on the pack bag or on the talon.

A Mchale would certainly be a fine choice and no one would ever fault you for making that choice. I personally think a Paradox would work very well, and carry big loads very effectively as well.


Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Paradox on 04/08/2014 17:55:41 MDT Print View

Ultralight might equal technique but the Paradox is designed to carry up to 100lbs and comes in either 6000 or 6300 cubic inch sizes. (There may be other smaller options I haven't discovered). So, with that volume and approaching those weights, I'd say having a framesheet is critically important.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
Re: Re: Paradox Pack or Mchale? on 04/08/2014 20:02:02 MDT Print View

" Sorry if I seem a little defensive but your post seemed a little condescending to me. I apologize if I took it the wrong way. "

no offense taken. (you took it the wrong way.)
to be expected on occasion, as peter writes in the cynical verse ... on occasion.

i have nothing poor to say about a paradox pack other than it is new. new is not a crime. just recently our own tester (dave the packraft god ?? ) used one, and liked it quite a bit. however he whined about the hip belt a trifle, and ... poof ! new hip belt arrives. that is all 100 percent good. and it proves my point ... exactly.
excellent though paradox may be, it is currently a work in progress, and even more so as per your intended usage.

i am all for forward progress. have invented numerous of cool things/devices/tools.

but here is the deeper thing.
it's a big mountain, and that matters. since you have sufficient experience to responsibly attempt such a venture, you are well aware of the risks. you are also well aware that Each and Every new'ish bit of kit you toss into the mix carries with it a risk. the risk of the mountain exposing a previously hidden weakness. (which it can do that to US as well).
my thinking is that when we have available to us, such a exceptionally well tested tool , a tool relentlessly developed over what is literally several decades of user experience, that we now have as an empirical fact that it works well in that application. then it looks irrational to me the accept even minor risk in exchange for the diminutive percentage of how much better another pack might be.
in my opinion, as a solo trekker, i would consider taking the proven tool the more professional and mature decision.

thirdly : you have a Dana pack. Dana Gleason is a good man. i have had three of his packs. they all had awesome pockets on the back, and they all caved when the load went over 60 pounds (maybe 55).
i own 2 of Dan's packs. they carry just fine. they also get shorter on demand, which is so entirely cool that it is hard to explain. as is the removable back pad.
either way you go, i think you'll be stunned by how much Paradox and Dan have raised the bar vs what you have now.
except for the rear pockets. because Dana's pockets Rock.

let us know how it turns out !


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Paradox on 04/08/2014 21:08:50 MDT Print View

Framesheets have benefits, but they're a very weight-inefficient way of supporting a load, which is why you see just about all the hunting pack manufacturers figuring out ways to cut them out of their designs.

Peter, I whined about the harness not the belt. I try to practice targeted whinging only.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: or maybe the new MH South Col 70 Outdry? on 04/09/2014 02:48:44 MDT Print View


Edited by rmjapan on 06/21/2015 12:27:38 MDT.

Nathan Coleman
Re: Paradox on 04/09/2014 06:25:11 MDT Print View

Tipi Walter,

We now offer a 3900, 4800, and 6300 ci packbag. Those sizes are available on the Evolution platform, which allows you to use the suspension with or without a packbag, or to interchange different sizes. We are also offering the Unaweep platform in a 3900 or 4800 ci size, but without the ability to use the frame sans packbag. You can check the current options out HERE, or HERE.

As for the framesheet, in my opinion it is completely unnecessary to big load comfort. Don't pack something pointy so it pokes you in the back and there is absolutely no problem. The only complaints we've had about this issue were from folks doing training loads with steel weights, and the weights got uncomfortable. In that situation a foam sleeping pad between the packbag and frame negates the issue.