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Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks
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Miles Libak
(mileslibak)

Locale: Pacific NorthWest
Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks on 06/29/2014 21:03:24 MDT Print View

Can someone expect for a UL backpack to last as long as durable kelty or arcteryx?

Nathan W
(werne1nm) - M

Locale: Michigan
Re: Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks on 06/29/2014 21:14:59 MDT Print View

yes

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks on 06/29/2014 21:18:58 MDT Print View

Depends on the materials, if it's dyneema and ripstop like ULA packs then yes. I've also heard that cottage manufactured packs have more/better stitching.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks on 06/29/2014 21:19:14 MDT Print View

NO.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks on 06/29/2014 21:24:15 MDT Print View

Dragging behind your car? No

Normal usage? Yes

Gerald L
(Mtngeronimo) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks on 06/29/2014 21:24:34 MDT Print View

Yes and No.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks on 06/29/2014 21:32:37 MDT Print View

UL backpack may have lighter material so be less durable.

If you take care of it, it will last a long time.

My 1970 Kelty Pack is still going strong, but I never use it because it's so heavy, so it will last forever.

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
ul backpacks on 06/29/2014 21:38:52 MDT Print View

No, cubin is not as durable.
But my zpacks blast has lasted 3 years without any signs of wear but
I also have to baby it. No sitting on rocks with the pack on.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks on 06/29/2014 21:40:44 MDT Print View

I nearly destroyed my zPacks cuben day pack the first day I used it.
As a climber I am used to taking off my pack and throwing it down on the nearest talus block. At the end of the day that pack had several holes in it and the bottom was nearly abraded through from butt sliding down some talus blocks (the bottom of the pack was sliding too)

Some of these UL fabrics are delicate and must be treated with more care than the old cordura packs.

Besides punctures and abrasion cuben packs are vulnerable at the stitching where stress on the stitching will widen the stitch holes... plastic stretches...

Cuben also dries out and gets micro cracks over years of exposure to sun...

billy

Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear1) - F

Locale: On Vacation from BPL
Re: Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks on 06/29/2014 21:45:43 MDT Print View

Not speaking from an experiential base on this one, but i imagine if you have a full/pure dyneema pack, it will likely last a very long time, while being UL or quite light weight relative to some heavy packs.

While i would love such a pack, i can't afford one--if i could source the material, might make one myself, but even that is a challenge. I've gotten holes in mid weight nylon reinforced with dyneema grid stop with no heavy duty use, like a thru hike.

Theoretically speaking (yes, again), i don't know why someone couldn't buy some lighter weight and relatively less expensive spectra fabric, use that as the main material/body, and then just line it will a large silnylon liner for water proofness etc. Or do similar with quality carbon fiber tubes (or even bamboo or aluminum), wrapped with dyneema cord, for a external frame type pack.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks on 06/29/2014 23:04:03 MDT Print View

Maybe Cuben is a poor choice for pack material

Pack has small area so heavier fabric doesn't weigh much more

Cuben is good for a tarp that has a large area so the lighter weight of Cubem saves a lot of total weight. Tarp doesn't get a lot of wear like a pack

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks on 06/30/2014 01:15:47 MDT Print View

> Can someone expect for a UL backpack to last as long as durable kelty or arcteryx?
Nope. Won't happen.

But have you actually looked at the difference in weight between a Cuban pack base and a Cordura 500 base? It's trivial - but the Cordura does last 'a little longer'.

Cheers

Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear1) - F

Locale: On Vacation from BPL
Re: Re: Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks on 06/30/2014 02:34:47 MDT Print View

> Can someone expect for a UL backpack to last as long as durable kelty or arcteryx?
Nope. Won't happen.



Not even a 100% dyneema or spectra fabric backpack as made by McHale? I'm very skeptical of your statement Roger. (and tend to be quite skeptical/wary of most absolute ideas/statements, except a couple relating to larger spiritual concepts, such as no one will EVER convince me out of the utmost/core importance of universal love).

Or maybe those packs don't quite fit into the UL category, but more straddle the "light" definition? To be honest, i don't know how much the all dyneema packs weigh--note, i'm not talking about cuben fiber, which i see various potential issues with.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks on 06/30/2014 07:04:22 MDT Print View

A heavy duty nylon pack (c.f. the old Dana Designs Terraplane) will probably outlast me, my niece and her children. :)

OTOH, that beast is freakin' heavy.

I have a beautiful, well made and classic Filson Double Mackinaw coat given to me on my 30th birthday from my Dad. I wear it around town. It is VERY durable in addition to being warm and weather resistant. Almost exactly 10 years later, it is just showing a little wear around the cuffs.

However, as durable and warm as it is, I would not want to wear it in place of my down parka or even fleece when winter backpacking. Obviously I take more care with my thin and delicate nylon vs the heavy duty wool.

It is the same reason why I, and others, use lighter packs.

The old Dana Designs is bomber. But do I need something THAT bomber for my backcountry pursuits?

Edited by PaulMags on 06/30/2014 07:09:58 MDT.

Lori Pontious
(lori999) - M

Locale: Central Valley
gear is for a purpose... some gear more specific than others on 06/30/2014 08:04:17 MDT Print View

I would argue that you don't buy a UL backpack for a thru hike and then go technical climbing.

I bought a Gregory for throwing in Jeeps, out of helicopters, and beating around generally through manzanita for five years. It's torn, but the frame is intact and the main body of the pack is scarred but not compromised.

I sold a Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus to get it when I signed up to volunteer for search and rescue, because one merely has to observe that it will not by any means stand up to that kind of treatment - because it was not made for it.

I stopped using the Gregory when I stopped search and rescue - these days I am sporting a nice ULA Circuit, as it will stand up to an occasional shove through manzanita, but is pretty darned nice for miles of trail, a few miles of alpine or subalpine cross country where there is little to no brush - but you can bet I am not crawling up class 4 chutes with it.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks on 06/30/2014 08:54:02 MDT Print View

With REASONABLE care, ultralight packs hold up fine, but they don't have the abrasion resistance of heavier materials. Bushwhacking and climbing call for tougher clothing let alone packs.

Rodger makes a good point, with the underlying therory being that design and construction techniques lower pack weight more than the fabric weight. When you buy a typical "bomber" pack, you get a load of features that add weight. All those extra pockets, massive zippers, straps and hardware add up.

Cilogear comes to mind for tough packs with Spartan features and light weight.

Edited by dwambaugh on 06/30/2014 08:59:40 MDT.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Re: Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks on 06/30/2014 09:11:45 MDT Print View

I agree with Dale that with reasonable care most UL packs are plenty durable but even that depends on the pack. I know Gossamer Gear and MLD made spinn packs years ago that were not that durable and sil nylon packs aren't either. The 210d dyneema grid ripstop is pretty bomber.

I had a six moons pack that had a seam rip after 1200 miles. The pack was still useable but other seams were showing stress. That pack weighed 16.4 ounces so it was pretty darn light and the fabric itself could have gone another 2000 miles easy. Most pack makers like MLD and ULA have better sewing quality.

A spectra McHale would last forever not only due to the fabric but also due to the quality and amount of stitching and reinforcements. I have a McHale and the quality of the pack is beyond compare. Of course you are probably looking at a 2 pound plus pack stripped so that may not be "UL".

Edited by Mocs123 on 06/30/2014 09:12:29 MDT.

Stuart R
(Scunnered) - F

Locale: Scotland
Re: Thoughts on the durability of UL backpacks on 06/30/2014 09:12:25 MDT Print View

Can someone expect for a UL backpack to last as long as durable kelty or arcteryx?

No UL gear is as durable as heavy weight gear, that is the compromise.
How long UL gear actually lasts depends upon how you (ab)use it.

For example, I use one of these packs for almost everything from week long summer hikes to winter mountaineering with crampons and ice-axes or even skis and plastic telemark boots to get up to the snowline. It's made from dyneema fabric and is 5 years old with still no sign of wear.

http://www.theomm.com/products/packs/thevillain45/

Like most of my gear, it fits into the lightest-with-no-compromise-in-function-but-still-reasonably-versatile category rather than UL, but the tiny weight premium is not important to me.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Dead bird on 06/30/2014 14:24:34 MDT Print View

The dead bird cierzo doesnt last too long with its 100D nylon sides

I blew through mine in a few months

The manufacturer isnt what matters generally for well built packs (except for the warranty)

Its the materials ...

And as roger said, and as shown in his SOTM report a few years back, the materials in many pack isnt what is causing the weight difference

But rather the useless features

;)

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
What makes a pack heavy on 06/30/2014 14:44:38 MDT Print View

A pack has about 1-1.5 yards of material. So the weight difference in a 120 denier nylon pack with dyneema ripstop versus a pack made of 500 denier Cordora is only 0.5-1.0 of weight. The rest of the weight is in the frame, suspension, and features (pockets, zippers, etc).

IMHO, 500 denier is the minimum for abrasion resistance bottoms, climbing packs, etc) for a "no worries" pack. 250 denier works fine if you don't drag it over rocks. 120 denier with a dyneema ripstop will get holes - but only as big as the ripstop squares. Or you can just be careful not to set it down on sharp sticks :)

Heavier duty fabrics will hold up better if you carry heavier weights inside the pack. The smaller threads (denier) in light weight fabrics won't hold as much weight without the stitching ripping the fabric. If you don't carry more than 25 lbs (with occasional 30 lbs for a day or two), then 120 denier with dyneema ripstop is fine.

The frames in light weight packs (made to carry 20-25 lbs) weigh 0.5-0.75 lbs. In packs made to carry 40-50 lb loads, the frame weighs 1-2lbs.

Most of the extra weight is in the plastic lined thickly padded hipbelt, thick lumbar pad, thick back padding, and thick shoulder straps. This weight is useful for 40-50 lb loads, but only half that padding is needed for 20-25 lb loads.

The useless weight in both traditional and lightweight packs is in layers of pockets, sleeping bag compartments, side access zippers, etc. A lid pocket, shove-it pocket, and side water bottle pockets, and hip belt pockets are nice - but none are needed. You can keep your accessories in a ditty bag instead of the lid, put a water bladder (or bottles) inside the pack, and keep your rain shell on top inside the main compartment. This configuration actually works better for bushwacking and climbing.