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SMD Flight 30 "SUL"?
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Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
SMD Flight 30 "SUL"? on 04/14/2014 18:40:23 MDT Print View

I was looking at the SMD product page and saw an interesting intersection between weight definitions and marketing, both slippery creatures. SMD, in the product description, said the new Flight 30 "is a great pack for the SUL hiker" although the pack, in my size, is 21oz. Given I have been working this off season on my SUL kit, and had looked at a lot of packs, I did not consider 21oz even close to a SUL pack. I settled on the Zimmerbuilt Quickstep, but looked at the MLD Burn, the MLD Newt, and a Zpacks Zero w/some mods. Would anyone on this SUL forum go with a 19oz pack for an SUL kit? If so, why?

Edited by on 04/14/2014 18:41:24 MDT.

SUL on 04/14/2014 18:55:07 MDT Print View


I thought the same thing just the other day.

And to think, I had this idea that a SUL pack would be likely about 10oz.

Then again, it does matter what else you bring.

Just have to bring less I guess.

So, whos really more SUL, the guy with the 21oz pack or the guy with the 10oz?

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: SMD Flight 30 "SUL"? on 04/14/2014 19:17:48 MDT Print View

Because SUL has nothing to do with weight anymore.

"When the concept of SUL was first introduced here in 2003 {}, I mistakenly offered as its basis a metric (one’s base weight) and a performance standard (a base weight of less than five pounds)." More here...

Edited by kthompson on 04/14/2014 19:19:33 MDT.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
Re: SMD Flight 30 "SUL"? on 04/14/2014 19:35:04 MDT Print View

Also confusing: the hip belt is under the 'options' tab, and listed as 10 oz. Does this mean the 19-21 oz pack weight includes the hip belt or not?

I'm actually comfortable with Ryan Jordan's redefinition of SUL to be something like, "taking as little as possible for condition 'x' while still being reasonably comfortable and safe." And for most three-season trips, that's going to mean a BW in the 5# range. I also think having a numerical target is important (at least initially); I'd have had a hard time forcing myself to cut the last few ounces of fat with anything more nebulous.

I keep an SUL list, even though in practice I replace the CCF pad on the list with something heavier (tried CCF alone--can't do it anymore). My MYOG 30+L pack is 9.4 oz stripped, 11.7 with back pad. Like the Flight 30, I'd expect it to max out at 20#.

If I can do the same thing with a 9-12 oz pack I can do with a 19-21 oz pack, how is the heavier pack SUL by any definition?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: SMD Flight 30 "SUL"? on 04/14/2014 21:00:41 MDT Print View

It is time to get rid of the labels all together

How can a pack be SUL or something else? A pack has to have enough volume to carry all your gear, food, water, food, etc. And it should carry it comfortably. So the pack you need weighs what it weighs, based on what it needs to carry.

Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
SUL on 04/14/2014 22:39:04 MDT Print View

I was most interested in the marketing as it relates to SUL definitions. There have been some good threads on definitions, esp. SUL. Seems like the Flight is about carrying more, at that weight, but is being marketed as being "less." There seems to be a trend towards heavier gear from cottage manufacturers. SMD's Feather pack weighted as much as the Flight's hip belt, yet it is being promoted as SUL. Definitions don't matter until there is no longer any SUL gear being sold, just heavy gear being called SUL.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: SMD Flight 30 "SUL"? on 04/14/2014 22:52:45 MDT Print View

Ron has said that these new packs are not for the BPL crowd in mind.

I wonder how hot that vest harness set up will be if both pockets have stuff in them.

I also wonder how useful that cute, little bungee set up is.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: SMD Flight 30 "SUL"? on 04/14/2014 22:57:59 MDT Print View

weights explained more clearly for the 40l

"At 44 Liters (2600 ci.) and 30 ounces for the Small/Medium model, the Flight 40 can function equally as well as an ultralight backpack or true load hauler. The Flight 40 can be setup in a number of configurations depending upon gear and conditions. In true ultralight mode it can be stripped down to 18 ounces and works very well with loads up to 20 pounds. Add 7 ounces for the Delron stay (2.5 ounces) and our light hip belt (4.5 ounces) and you've got a 25 ounce pack that's comfortable up to 30 pounds. In it's default 31 ounces configuration with our standard multi-density hip belt"

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: SUL on 04/15/2014 00:58:37 MDT Print View

"I was most interested in the marketing as it relates to SUL definitions."

Well it is marketing...

Or buyer beware?


If you want the SUL definition of under 5 lbs, I can do that with a 2 lb pack and be good for temperatures down to around freezing at night and be prepared for rain, so that 21 ounce pack must be SUL.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: SMD Flight 30 "SUL"? on 04/15/2014 04:22:11 MDT Print View

You definitely wouldn't want to stuff them to capacity with hard items, but that's also the case with most hip belt pockets as well, or other shoulder strap pockets that come with many packs these days. I can see the number of front options (8 on this pack) being quite handy, even if you just put one small item in each. It would definitely keep me pretty happy during the day.

I agree, the bungie strap does certainly look rather cutsie (useless). First thing I'd remove if I get one, never to put it back on, on an ounces/performance scale this doesn't come close to anything else on the pack. I think its on there purely for marketing purposes...makes it look more alpine I suppose.

Michael Gunderloy
(ffmike) - MLife
Re: Re: SMD Flight 30 "SUL"? on 04/15/2014 06:03:00 MDT Print View

Makes me wonder whether you should even think about a pack at all if you want to head for SUL territory. What's wrong with the old-fashioned bedroll if you're carrying next to nothing? Make your tarp do double duty as a carrier for everything else, slung over your shoulder with a piece of dyneema tying the ends together.

Ron Moak
(rmoak) - F
SMD - Flight 30 SUL? on 04/15/2014 08:57:07 MDT Print View

First, I won't venture into a discussion about what constitutes an SUL kit. There are enough definitions floating about these days.

Second, the Flight 30 wasn't designed as an SUL pack. Nor is it technically being marketed that way. Yes, I do include SUL as one of its use options. If you remove the 5 ounce hip belt, it does get pretty close to a usable SUL weight.

The Flight 30 was designed by Brian for ultra runners who need to carry enough gear to be able to spend a night out without suffering. To accomplish this, it needed to be larger than your typical running pack. However, it also couldn't interfere with your normal running.

The Vest front with its 3 point attachment system. Holds the pack firmly in place. This allows you to easily run across loose scree while still maintaining your balance. The pack fits like a glove and doesn't bounce around. The Vest also provides convenient storage for extra snacks and other items.

The Flight 30 is designed to ride higher on your back and off your hips. This way it doesn't interfere with your normal running stride.

Any judgement about the validity of the Flight 30 should be in context of its primary design characteristics. Frankly, I'm not all that concerned if people don't use it for SUL.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
SMD - Flight 30 SUL? on 04/15/2014 09:39:03 MDT Print View

And once again we return to the crux of the discussion - use the gear for what it was designed to be used for. Ron has clearly stated the purpose for which the Flight30 was designed.

Yes, it is quite possible to use a piece of gear for something else and have it work just fine. It might also fail catastrophically, but that is no fault of the designer. Try driving nails with a crystal vase.

I can use my old 5 pound Jansport Nepali external frame pack for a SUL trip; I just can't put anything in it but maybe a spare pair of socks and still call myself SUL. Who am I kidding? I'll NEVER be SUL. I'm already carrying too much body fat.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: SMD - Flight 30 SUL? on 04/15/2014 11:52:01 MDT Print View

It clearly states it can be used by SUL hikers, but it's obviously not a SUL pack. It's just a marketing attempt to show it appeals to even the UL fanatics which it wasn't designed for.

Like has been said, there are no laws stating what the definitions of UL, SUL, etc are. However, I think it's useful to keep those labels and their historical meanings. Without a number to reach, I would have stopped pursuing new skills and pushing myself to try new things. Goals are useful to me. It can also be fun in itself trying & then finally achieving a goal. Isn't fun what it's about? Maybe I am the only one. Thread drift over.


Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
SUL on 04/15/2014 20:22:12 MDT Print View

I think Ryan touched on my concerns. If we, as a community, reject categories and standards entirely, then others will co-opt them. I have read that Ron Moak is not expecting the BPL community to be big customers of his new packs, but he is still marketing them as SUL or UL. While Ron has been pretty clear in several posts and on his web page about the intended use of his new packs and his expected customer base, he is also trying to have it both ways in his marketing efforts. I can't blame him for that, that is smart marketing. As a lawyer, I also appreciate and admire his use of the word "technically" in his post on this thread. In the business, we call that a "weasel word." What is interesting about SMD right now is that their cuben shelters are great for SUL and UL kits. They have staked out 2 very different market segments with their shelters and new packs. Hopefully, Ron doesn't come out with a new generation of heavier "UL" or "SUL" shelters. My worry is that we end up with a market place full of "SUL" and "UL" gear that heavy, over designed, and mass marketed to low information consumers. I see Ron's move to heavier packs to be a real loss to the SUL and UL communities and hope it is a trend that does not continue.

PS - to all of those who want to reject and abandon SUL categories and definitions, why are you on the SUL forum so much?

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: SUL on 04/16/2014 12:20:53 MDT Print View

I am definitely not SUL and will likely never reach that 5 lbs base weight.

In fact, I have stopped weighing my pack because I no longer care about weight just for weight sake.

I am more concerned with the simplicity of carrying fewer things, which has the side benefit of being lighter.

Of course, given the option of having something lighter like a cuben tarp vs. silnylon, I would likely chose the lighter option.

That said, what has drawn me to this SUL thread is that it pushes the limits of backpacking.

There is a lot of wisdom here that is specifically about simplicity and light weight.

I am simply taking advice, tips, and skills to help me with my own setup.

As others have mentioned, I agree that the weight that you need to carry should be based on your trip and personal needs...and that the mind set of UL/SUL is what is important vs. just looking at a skin out weight.

Anyway, don't want this to be a debate, but Edward was asking why people are on the SUL forum thread if they are against labels.

Just here to learn....share with others.

Too often it seems on BPL there is the focus on the gear (lord knows I spend WAAAY too much time researching gear) when the important thing is about getting out and enjoying the outdoors.....BPL/UL/SUL is a great TOOL to help us enjoy the outdoors.

I wonder if the labels we use are bragging rights more for our ego vs. something useful.

I am starting to tell people that I am a minimalist backpacker vs. a UL backpacker.