REI Flash 65 and REI Flash 50 Packs

Mini-review for the 2010 State of the Market Report on Internal Frame Backpacks.

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by Roger Caffin | 2010-09-28 00:00:00-06

To quote the REI website,"What began as a group of twenty-three mountain climbing buddies is now the nation's largest consumer cooperative with more than three million active members." That means that REI is a rare successful not-for-profit company: the profits made during the year are returned to the Members at the end of the year as in-store credits. In addition, REI has this apparently mad policy of allowing a no-questions return of any gear bought from them - cases of gear being returned years after purchase (and use) have been cited. You would think this would be commercial suicide, but that has not happened yet. Apparently the commercial advantages of giving potential customers that assurance outweighs the small number of cases where it gets exploited.

REI is obviously not a cottage industry by any means. Gear sold under the REI brand is not 'flash,' but they are usually solid functional items. It may be a case like that of the modern Toyota Corolla and an old Rolls Royce: the Corolla is reputed to have a higher quality. Why so? When you sell hundreds of thousands of something you get very good at eliminating the bugs. However, like several other American manufacturers, they were not that good at estimating pack volumes - at least, not according to the ASTM Standard.

REI Flash 65 Pack

Pack Rating Qualifications
Flash 65 Average Low cost, but not large

This pack was taken on a multi-day tour through some of the wilder parts of Wollemi National Park in Australia. It is a land of huge sandstone cliffs, dense basalt jungle, and some rather nasty (sharp and pointy) scrub. A pack needs to be fairly tough to survive in this country. In addition to carrying food for four days, I was carrying winter clothing, 4 L of water at times, and 40 m of light abseil rope (regardless, we didn't use the rope: 40 metres was too short for the cliffs).

REI Flash 65 and REI Flash 50 Packs - 1
REI Flash 65, 1.35 kg (2.98 lb), 50 L (3100 cuin)

I had no trouble fitting everything in the pack, provided I packed carefully. Only our flat foam sit-mats and the flat stove base went in the back pocket - it was convenient for that. A few bits went in the lid pocket. My camera was clipped to the shoulder strap. Otherwise everything else was inside. When I put the pack on at home, and also just out of the car at the start, I did notice that the padding down the back was very firm, almost hard. However, after about ten minutes walking up the hill, the padding and my back had become acquainted and got on well together for the rest of the trip, with no problems. It was noticeable that the pack did not carry 'heavy.' Sue found the lumbar pad on this pack to be 'male-oriented,' and it needed a bit more curvature for her, but this is normal.

As mentioned above, there is no way you could call REI a cottage industry company. This shows in several ways. First, there is some economy of features in the design, but I prefer to call that an absence of marketing frills (except for a stupid orange whistle buckle in the sternum strap). Since a mistake in the design could trigger a rather expensive recall, given the volume of sales at REI, there was obviously some incentive for the designers to get it right. I have to say they seem to have done that. Everything worked quite well.

Technically, the internal frame consists of a stiff plastic sheet and two aluminium stays. You can get the aluminium stays out to alter the bends if you want. The two rectangles of padding contain highly perforated foam covered by soft nylon mesh. The shoulder straps and hip belt are also mesh over foam. The straps are all long enough and the buckles worked very reliably. The waterproof zips on the lid and the back pocket are a bit stiff to open, but that applies to all WP zips. The fabric is light, but apart from getting a trifle dirty in the scrub, it survived the trip without any visible effects. And the base of the bag is fairly square, so the pack sits upright.

There is a small security pocket attached to the strap under the lid with a hook&loop closure. I was not entirely convinced about the idea, but it worked just fine. I could have used the much larger security pocket on the underside of the lid - it is also closed with hook&loop tape, but for what I wanted (credit card, drivers licence, keys) the latter seemed too big.

There are compression straps under the base of the pack. You could use them for carrying a rolled-up foam mat of course, or you could reduce the volume of the bottom half of the main bag. Both work. There are lots of other little attachment points on the bag, but I haven't needed any of them.

REI was not happy with the volumes we measured for either of the Flash packs. Their measurements gave quite different results, as the table shows. However, since so many other manufacturers' claims came out within a few percent of our measurements, we are confident of our methodology and that we comply reasonably well with the ASTM Standard. During the email discussion which ensued, we were told that REI had measured the capacity of the lid pocket to be 9 L: we had measured it as 4 L. REI had measured the back pocket as having a capacity of 6 L: we had found it was very difficult to get anything much into it without pushing back into the main bag. In fact, in the field all I was able to get into the back pocket was two small sit-mats, and that took a bit of pushing. The only way we could get the volumes quoted by REI into those two pockets would be to fill them up while the main bag was empty, but this is not how a walker uses a pack. We do not have an answer here.

REI Flash 50 Pack

Pack Rating Qualifications
Flash 50 Average Low cost, but not large

You could call this the smaller brother to the Flash 65. I did manage to get all the test gear inside the bag, but I had to float the lid up a bit to get it to cover the tent. The strap under the lid, which I used to hold the tent in place, is combined with the strap which holds the back pocket. I was not really enthused about this design: I would prefer they added an extra buckle.

REI Flash 65 and REI Flash 50 Packs - 2
REI Flash 50, 1.18 kg (2.60 lb), 43 L (2600 cuin).

Once again, the harness or back padding was really solid. Sue found this fitted her OK and was quite comfortable with it. As might be expected, it too carried fairly 'light.' The upper part of the main bag is noticeably straight up rather than tilted towards the wearer's head. A bit of a tilt at the top could be created by bending the aluminium strips, but note that the bag design is straight. You could not put much bend in without distorting the bag.

This pack seemed a bit better shaped for a woman, with just a bit more curvature at the lumber region. Whether this would be found with every unit I do not know, but you can always adjust the curvature to suit anyhow. That's the great thing about the use of aluminium stays down the frame: they can be shaped to suit the wearer.

The shoulder straps had a lot of extra length to them. I have yet to understand why pack makers seem to have so much trouble getting shoulder straps and sternum straps the right length - a bit of extra length but not too much. However, that is a minor point.

A curious thing found on both Flash packs is what looks like double side pockets. As you can see from the photo, there seems to be a tall flat side pocket with a shorter bulging side pocket over it. Actually, the short bulging side pocket is real, but the tall flat 'pocket' is actually the mesh sides to the back pocket. Yes, you could use them as 'pockets', but I doubt you could get much in them. The same applies to the zipped pocket on the outside of the back pocket: it is a bit flat and of limited value. It is strange that REI have these two 'features' on the Flash when removing them could lower the cost. The back pocket itself does not have a lot of space either, but it was useful for carrying our flat sit-mats.

This is a mini-review in the 2010 Lightweight Internal Frame Pack State of the Market Report. The articles in this series are as follows (mini-reviews can be found in Part 2), and a subscription to our site is needed to read them.

  • Part 1A covers the very basics and lists all the packs in the survey.
  • Part 1B covers the frame and harness which carry the pack itself.
  • Part 1C covers the main bag and all the other pockets, plus the all-important question of comfort.
  • Part 2 in this series covers the individual packs tested.


Citation

"REI Flash 65 and REI Flash 50 Packs," by Roger Caffin. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/rei_flash_65_rei_flash_50.html, 2010-09-28 00:00:00-06.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Lightweight Internal Frame Packs: a State of the Market Report - Part 2: The Packs


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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Lightweight Internal Frame Packs: a State of the Market Report - Part 2: The Packs on 09/28/2010 13:43:13 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Lightweight Internal Frame Packs: a State of the Market Report - Part 2: The Packs

And I'm trying to wrangle all the mini-reviews so that this is also their forum. It's harder than it looks... but here's hoping!

UPDATE: +10 points for me!

Edited by addiebedford on 09/28/2010 14:17:26 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
uh oh on 09/28/2010 14:23:21 MDT Print View

time to put on the asbestos suit ....

interesting that a Jansport that you can buy online for $50 got the same rating as many higher end packs including some cottage manufacturer ...

Edited by bearbreeder on 09/28/2010 15:07:01 MDT.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Lightweight Internal Frame Packs: a State of the Market Report - Part 2: The Packs on 09/28/2010 14:56:34 MDT Print View

Thanks a lot Roger! I found your mini-reviews to be fair and informative. Worth waiting for :)

The comfort thing is the one issue that is, as you point out, impossible to get right. For instance, I found the GoLite Quest to be comfortable for weekend trips, but when loaded up for anything more, the pressure it put on my lumbar was unbearable. I find the Exos and Flash to both be comfortable with these heavier loads, and have no difficulty getting 10 days worth of (non-winter) gear and food into them. But I do make liberal use of all those frilly pockets to accomplish this ;) Couldn't agree more about those 'silly' whistles, but since I remove sternum straps anyway, they don't bother me.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: uh oh on 09/28/2010 15:22:18 MDT Print View

> interesting that a Jansport that you can buy online for $50 got the same rating
> as many higher end packs including some cottage manufacturer ...

Take the Rating in the context of the Qualification! That modifies things slightly. But otherwise, a fair comment.

If you are going to make 10 packs in a garage, then you may be willing to tweak as you go. If you are going to get 1000 packs made in Asia in one batch, you had better have the design RIGHT before you send it off. That accounts for some of the design differences - maybe. I do know that in the case of the Jansport the pre-production prototypes were NOT as good as the final design!

But otherwise, I think the price difference is a reflection of the different manufacturing costs between American cottage and Asian factory.

Cheers

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Lightweight Internal Frame Packs: a State of the Market Report - Part 2: The Packs on 09/28/2010 18:01:47 MDT Print View

"interesting that a Jansport that you can buy online for $50 got the same rating as many higher end packs including some cottage manufacturer ..."

Actually, it's wonderful to have a low-price alternative available to suggest to those starting out backpacking with ultra-low budgets. College students come to mind!

The comfort thing is definitely an individual affair! IMHO, pack fit is almost as individual as shoe fit--there ain't no one size fits all!

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/28/2010 18:03:07 MDT.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Lightweight Internal Frame Packs: a State of the Market Report - Part 2: The Packs on 09/28/2010 18:22:36 MDT Print View

Another fine report.

The upper left quadrant of the efficiency chart is empty. Wondering if that is an opportunity for someone or a reality for all.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: uh oh on 09/28/2010 18:26:32 MDT Print View

>> If you are going to get 1000 packs made in Asia in one batch

Probably most made in the same facility with the same machines by the same sewers in Vietnam. None of which even comprehend the concept of backpacking. Not that it makes any difference. Only interesting to contemplate.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Lightweight Internal Frame Packs: a State of the Market Report - Part 2: The Packs on 09/28/2010 18:45:22 MDT Print View

The individual reviews of the packs were quite interesting. I only have real familiarity with the Golite Odyssey which my daughter uses and the REI's. All of your observations were spot on. One thing I'd like to add about the Odyssey is that the original hipbelt buckle was very weak. I read an account of it failing somebody many miles in the mountains which produced a nightmarish exit. I requested a back-up from Golite which they sent me free of charge. It was much heavier and clicked in with twice the torque. My wife is using the predecessor to the Flash which had adjustable Velcro closures for torso. It's OK , but the volume is indeed skimpy, the compression system with internal cords a bit weird, but the rear "pocket" is actually a full kind of sling liked you described on the Lowepro's. Open at the top it offers a big volume for something like a wet tent.Your analysis of the panel loading pro's and cons of the ULA Camino applied very well to my Mountainsmith Ghost in terms of the zippers and the need to use compression straps to control any load on them . So I also will look at Osprey's in a different light now, and above all I like reading reviews by a couple of the same reviewers so there is some consistency in the ratings. And the revelations about volume are eye opening. Weight is one thing but I've felt that the volume, true load capacity and waterproofness variables have been subordinated to UL weight here at BPL fairly often. The hard thing to fathom is how much work this took. To consider an application of similar reviews to the rest of the pack universe is pretty daunting. Thanks for your hard work!And Roger would you consider any of these a keeper YOURSELF?Another forgotten variable is whether any of these lids actually can be taken off and turned into Daypacks? A major plus for the way I hike.

Edited by Meander on 09/28/2010 19:02:38 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
another look on 09/29/2010 00:55:41 MDT Print View

here's a slightly diff look with the same data ...

as you can see the BPL vol vs weight is a tad eye opening ... the top in vol/wt is over 70% more efficient than the bottom

also note the USD/ vol ratio (converted at today's rate does not include shipping, I also adjusted the ULA to reflect the listed price) ... the worst value camino cost over 3x as much per L as the jansport best value one

interestingly enough those packs that had the better vol/wt ratio also tended to have the better usd/vol ratio as well ... in other words the more efficient packs were usually also the better deals

one thing that really stood out from the number was that the high denier "bombproof" packs dont pay much if any weight penalty over the more fragile fabrics ... the lightwaves, crux and jansports 400-600D+ fabrics give you as much vol per weight as the more fragile packs ... kind of pops the myth that you need to use UL fabrics to make a decently light pack =P

at the end of the day its what fits best ... nothing else is as important



Edited by bearbreeder on 09/29/2010 05:17:19 MDT.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Lightweight Internal Frame Packs: a State of the Market Report - Part 2: The Packs on 09/29/2010 06:26:35 MDT Print View

Interesting. I sold my Exos 46 (the most painful pack in the history of the world) to buy a ULS Circuit, and couldn't be happier.

We've been thinking about pushing our Boy Scouts toward the Jansport, looks like that would be a good idea.

Tracy Novak
(tracyn) - F
Women's Flash 65 on 09/29/2010 09:41:37 MDT Print View

I've been using the Women's REI Flash 65 for 2 years now and your comments are exactly what I have found, esp. about the volume.

I do use the larger (fake) side pocket to hold a large 2 liter water bladder with drinking hose so I can keep my water outside of the pack. Works great for this and I really like it. Bladder doesn not flop over due to taller pocket. Hipbelt pocket is too small.

I bought and returned a lot of packs over the last few years because they were not comfortable. Although this pack isn't perfect, it's my favorite because it has the features that I like and it's comfortable. Hurray for having women's specific pack, REI! And I got it on sale for $104. Nice!

aarn tate
(aarndesign) - MLife
You left out the most important factor! on 09/29/2010 14:03:14 MDT Print View

Sports science research shows that the most important factor determining the energy required to carry a given weight and to create the least strain on the body is the closeness of the center of gravity of the load to the center of gravity of the body. This has been found to be even more important than the weight/ volume ratio.
Lets call the distance between the center of gravity of the load and that of the body the load leverage distance. The greater this distance the more leverage the load creates on back and shoulders, increasing the forces acting on the body substantially above that due to the weight alone. Another important factor is the length of your back. A pack with the same weight and load leverage distance will create much higher forces on the body of a person with a short back, that a person with a long back. This is often the reason why short women in particular cannot carry the same loads as men. They have to work harder to carry the same weight.
Therefore for a pack comparison to be truly authoritative the load leverage distance should be included along with the weight/ volume ratio. A composite value combining these 2 factors would be highly accurate, and take a lot of the subjectivity out of a comparative analysis. You start with an accurate determination of the forces acting on the body by a given load due to the each design geometry. Once this is known, you can evaluate comfort much more accurately.
The load leverage distance is quite easy to determine. The packs can be filled with soft items like sleeping bags and the distance between the front and back of the pack at the mid height can be measured. Half of this distance would be the load leverage distance.
I believe Backpackinglight aims to provide the most authoritative analyses and product comparisons. This was certainly the case with the stove analyses done by Roger. I am disappointed that Roger did not provide the same hard-headed analysis for his pack comparison.

Aarn Tate

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Lightweight Internal Frame Packs: a State of the Market Report - Part 2: The Packs on 09/29/2010 15:57:07 MDT Print View

Hi John

> Roger would you consider any of these a keeper YOURSELF?
A very good question. many of them were very nice looking packs, very attractive.
But my good wife reminded my of the finite size of the planet Earth. Which means that our house and my gear cupboard also have a finite size. You can see where this is leading?

Yes, we kept a few, for specific functions. The rest have been passed on to Australian & NZ BPL members (kept the postage down) for further field testing. I expect that they will provide some Reader Reviews in due course.

> whether any of these lids actually can be taken off and turned into Daypacks?
Basically no, and that is a design which I strongly dislike anyhow. When I want a daypack I want a real daypack, with enough capacity and good scrub-bashing ability. My preference.

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 09/29/2010 16:20:58 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: another look on 09/29/2010 16:02:47 MDT Print View

Hi Eric

> the BPL vol vs weight is a tad eye opening ... the top in vol/wt is over
> 70% more efficient than the bottom
True, very true. But note that I did add that that figure of merit does not include comfort.

> interestingly enough those packs that had the better vol/wt ratio also
> tended to have the better usd/vol ratio as well
I did not look at that figure of merit myself, so this is a valuable observation. It is especially relevant to novices and those of us with limited budgets. Thanks.

> kind of pops the myth that you need to use UL fabrics to make a decently light pack
Yes, I did note this. I think I commented on this in the assessment of the Shadow. It turns out that the harness is often a major weight factor, but it is the harness which gives the comfort. A trade-off, and everyone will have their own balance point.

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: You left out the most important factor! on 09/29/2010 16:13:52 MDT Print View

Hi Aarn

You are of course quite right that the 'load leverage distance' is of significance, and your web site does have a good discussion of this.

However, what I found was that there was little real difference between all the different models of packs. Sure, as the pack volume gets larger the CoG moves outwards a little bit - that has to be expected. However, I suspect the increase in weight carried might be more significant.

And what leverage difference there was could be easily swamped by how the user loads the pack. Putting a heavy wet tent in the back mesh pocket pulls the CoG away from your back perhaps more than the shape of the main bag. Where you stow three 1.25 L PET water bottles matters a lot: I put them high up and right against my back, which is very different from putting them on the outside (or back).

Yes, the size of the body carrying the pack also affects the load leverage, but I have NO control over that factor!

So I did look at the pack shape or load leverage factor, but I decided it was not all that significant in comparison with many other factors. In the end I left it out as I think that there are other more significant 'comfort' factors - although you may not agree. But discussion is always valuable.

Cheers

Dan Healy
(electricpanda)

Locale: Queensland
Centre of Gravity assesment technique on 09/29/2010 20:06:47 MDT Print View

…Perhaps the Aarn method of measuring the Centre of Gravity (CoG) of a pack is less relevant to the reality practised by most people … ie most folks pack their pack so that the CoG is high and close to the body.

Was very keen on getting an Aarn recently… so had a read of the website … being an engineer I am very enthusiastic about new ideas and Aarn packs are a great example of bringing old and new concepts into an improved product … however it may be that some of the marketing is ‘jacking up’ a smaller issue… it seems, on face value, that CoG is one of them… the data example presented on the website (3-4kg of pull from a 16kg pack) seems to assume that the CoG of a pack was in the centre and bottom … whereas in practice high and close to the back is the norm…

Further to this…. we got back form a recent walk with a few packs (btw all of us liked the way the Aarn carried, albeit with caveats) but none of the other packs (all heavy load carriers ie around 2.5 to 3kg packs) were criticised for how they carried either.

The issue of CoG got our interest up (two of us anyway) so a small scratch pad analysis was done to measure at what weight our ‘normally packed’ packs CoG pulled our shoulder straps backwards. We attached digital scales to the front a few of the packs and slackened of the shoulder straps letting the load swing a little. There was 12 to 14kg in the packs and we measured between 130g and 210g of backwards pull... pretty rough and ready but we were happy enough with it. Certainly it reinforced our view that how you pack is more important to the effect of CoG than the pack in a general context.

Also that a heavy load carrying harness carries a lighter load ridiculously well and in many peoples opinion on the day it is worth taking a heavier pack just for this benefit – a view long held by this crew anyway. However, the Aarn carried beautifully also - so no complaints there at all – and it was lighter than the other packs.

Personally I am still a big fan of the Aarn system but for the overall integration rather than just the way it carries.

Edited by electricpanda on 09/29/2010 20:15:34 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Centre of Gravity assesment technique on 09/30/2010 00:19:15 MDT Print View

Hi Dan

> We attached digital scales to the front a few of the packs and slackened of the
> shoulder straps letting the load swing a little. There was 12 to 14kg in the packs
> and we measured between 130g and 210g of backwards pull.

Blimey! That little? Makes the whole argument seem a bit ... pointless, doesn't it? I guess that includes a) a good supportive hip belt and b) you were leaning forward in the normal 'walk balance'.

But this sort of MEASURED data is what BPL is all about. Thank you!

Cheers

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Lightweight Internal Frame Packs: a State of the Market Report - Part 2: on 09/30/2010 01:55:28 MDT Print View

Of course the center of gravity of a pack can be measured. However, I agree with Roger that it's mostly how you load the pack. A lot also depends on just where the body's center of gravity is, which will differ by individual.

Being a woman who's rather broad across the beam, my center of gravity is quite low (close to where I sit!) and I load my pack accordingly--the heaviest stuff right above my sleeping bag (which is in the bottom) and as close as possible to my back. For a slender male with narrow hips and broad shoulders, the center of gravity for body and pack will be a lot higher (although still close to the back).

If a pack is so constructed so that you can't put the heaviest stuff where you need it, that would be a problem. I doubt that there are many of those around, though. I personally haven't seen one.

My pack loading problems come near the end of a trip when I've used up most of the food so there is really no item that is heavier than the rest. Of course the pack is a lot lighter by then!

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/30/2010 02:03:42 MDT.

Derek Goffin
(Derekoak)

Locale: North of England
Centre of Gravity assesment technique on 09/30/2010 04:24:56 MDT Print View

The experiment is interesting but as Roger implys the amount the scales show depends on an unmeasured detail the forward lean. If you lean not terribly far forward you can get the scales to read zero! I read Aarns science as saying that it is likely that any forward lean has an energy cost. That is also how it feels to me.

Dan Healy
(electricpanda)

Locale: Queensland
Measuring CoG effect on 09/30/2010 05:57:13 MDT Print View

Roger, We measured the pull on the shoulder straps standing up straight with the load necessarily supported by the hip belts.

The conundrum was how to measure how much we lean forward when we walk? (Personally I say bugger all if you have good core strength) We enthusiastically discussed this to gain no real answer ... so the plan evolved to walk around, get a good balance and 'feel' then come to a stop and measure. We had the scales already attached by fishing line to the tops of both shoulder pads. The measurer ensured the wearer was standing normally.

Also, like lots of folks, I have always attached water bottles or cameras to the front harness which we didn't test as we ran out of time but you would think would make a difference. Certainly with the Aarn pack with the pouches loaded correctly could be balanced very well.

I reckon if you were really keen you could devise a much better and more accurate set of data with tension scales attached to both shoulder harnesses. Not my field though.

Again, going by feel and to add a bit of qualitative data, there was no substantial pulling back … I must point out the packs were all 70L +, all weighing between around 2.7kg to 3 kg and had heavy load carrying harnesses. ie in all cases the front of the shoulder straps were attached to the bottom of a pack with a substantial pack frame and the rear of the shoulder straps attached either to the frame bars lower down or right down at the bottom of the pack. The hipbelts were all double density foam with HDPE framesheet to keep foam integrity under load tension. For the Aussies/Kiwi’s they were 2x Macpac, 1x Oneplanet and 1x Wilderness Equipment (with their new harness which we voted the best of the field).

Dan Healy
(electricpanda)

Locale: Queensland
Measuring CoG effect on 09/30/2010 05:58:17 MDT Print View

Derek, absolutely agree that any backwards pull that causes you to use energy leaning into is not good… what we are trying to determine is in the overall context of carrying weight from one spot to another… is a 1% increase in the effective weight you carry going to trump other factors? Certainly 20% is getting important – but is this really the case?
In the rush to get lighter packs - so that on paper we carry a lighter load - maybe we have forgotten why it was that harnesses got better/heavier in the first place… perhaps in practise we feel more comfortable at the end of the day by using a better harness - albeit making it a heavier pack.

Derek Goffin
(Derekoak)

Locale: North of England
Measuring CoG effect on 09/30/2010 06:28:43 MDT Print View

I am totally with you that, for me, a comfortable carry is worth some packweight.
People are really used to leaning forward to balance their rucksack load. I suspect you were all leaning forward a little.
Some Macpack packs have diagonal straps that pull on the sides of the hip belt to pull the load into the back and reduce the strain on the shoulder straps to some extent. Whether that is as as good (from an energy point of view) as balancing the load completely, like Aarn front pockets can, is not clear.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Measuring CoG effect on 09/30/2010 15:50:35 MDT Print View

Hi Dan and Derek

Yes, I know those packs. It is an amusing thought that Au/NZ packs have such good harness systems because our local gear is otherwise so heavy ... need to think about that one for a while!

Yes, of course we all lean forward a bit for balance. Better that we lean from the ankle than from the waist though. Bad memories of the old A-frames ...

Now, those diagonal straps at the base on the Macpac etc - I think they are there to stop sideways sway. I do notice the improved ride when they are adjusted properly. Quite a few (most?) of the packs tested in this review also had them, so I don't think they are uncommon at all.

Cheers

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Very well sorted out on 09/30/2010 17:21:44 MDT Print View

Thanks Roger, for an excellent, understandable and in-depth series. The data is very helpful for ccomparisons and the photos of each pack were instructive. Must have taken you a lot of time to prepare these articles but really, where else could we go for such comprehensive and thorough information on this subject? Magazine reviews and even "Buyer's Guides" don't lay it out this well, all in one place.


As a result of these articles I am beginning to become a fan of the Lightwave series of packs, and especially their split hipbelts. I'll have to find a US vendor so I can try the largest one on with weight.

Used to be that the best packs mainly came from the US but that's not true anymore. Lots of great packs and innovative ideas from Britian, Europe, OZ and New Zealand.

Edited by Danepacker on 10/01/2010 12:02:43 MDT.

aarn tate
(aarndesign) - MLife
Forward lean and backward pull of the shoulder straps. on 10/01/2010 02:08:21 MDT Print View

All the comments about the importance of packing the weight close to your back are right- this does make a huge difference and validates my point about reducing load leverage. Also the point that leaning forward also reduces the pull back forces on the shoulders is also correct.
However the sports science research is very clear that the greater the forward lean, the more energy is required to carry a given weight and the more strain there is on the body. As the forward lean is the result of both the weight and the center of gravity of the load, it would be the most accurate way to determine the efficiency of the load carrying system. In the research they measure this by trunk angle. A photo is taken from the side and a line is drawn from the hip to the shoulder. The angle between this line and the horizontal is the trunk angle.
The research showed that when walking at 27 degrees downhill, on level ground and 20 degrees uphill, the increase in forward lean with an Aarn Bodypack was 8.2 degrees, 8.9 degrees and 8.2 degrees respectively, while for the traditional backpack, packed in the recommended way with the same gear, the forward lean was 17.3 degrees, 21.6 degrees, and 26.0 degrees respectively.
As a result, there was a smaller physiological cost (eg 6.4% less energy required when climbing uphill), smaller perturbations from normal gait patterns and better scores on a variety of subjective measures such as balance, stability and comfort with the Aarn Bodypack compared to the traditional Backpack. There was the elimination of pain/ discomfort in the shoulders, neck and thighs, and the virtual elimination in the back (loads of 22.5kg) with the Aarn Bodypack. The experience of pain/discomfort in these areas was experienced in an average of 40% of the experimental subjects with the traditional (internal frame) backpack.
I agree with Roger that comparing different backpacks on the basis of forward lean may not show significant differences if all were packed in the optimal way with the heavy items close to the back. But why not compare with an Aarn Bodypack?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
packspackpacks on 10/01/2010 22:28:41 MDT Print View

"Personally I say bugger all if you have good core strength"

I agree with Dan. Easier to buy a new pack, rather than get fit to carry the old one.

"Why not test v. an Aarn."

Probably because, your comments thus far to the contrary, we're not your marketing tool?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Forward lean and backward pull of the shoulder straps. on 10/02/2010 04:43:27 MDT Print View

Hi Aarn

> for the traditional backpack, packed in the recommended way with the same gear,
> the forward lean was 17.3 degrees, 21.6 degrees, and 26.0 degrees respectively.

I haven't checked the research you are citing, but I strongly suspect that the 'traditional backpack' was an A-frame, or something similar. With one of those it is quite possible that someone could bend forward from the waist by that amount. Like, been there, done that, and suffered!

But there is NO WAY I lean forward that much when wearing my external frame pack. That amount of lean would leave me on my face on the ground. What lean I do is not confined to the trunk either: I lean forward from the ankles. My spine stays largely straight. That is how any experienced walker uses either an external frame pack or an internal frame pack.

0429 Standing up straight with pack on

What leaning forward from the ankles means is that the physiological cost is far smaller, the balance and stability are close to normal, and comfort is similar. Back pain? Don't experience it.

But I am quite happy to believe in all these problems with an A-frame style of pack!

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 10/02/2010 04:50:32 MDT.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Lightweight Internal Frame Packs: Part 2 on 10/04/2010 19:21:20 MDT Print View

Great article Roger!
Something I noticed in your comparisons, which I have often seen talked about elsewhere, is the volume to weight ratio.

I've never been impressed by this statistic because I can picture a 100 liter gunny sack made from the lightest weight cuben, tied up with a dyneema string, suspended from ones neck. Extreme, I know, but it illustrates my point. That configuration would get a "great" score.

The statistic that would impress me would be the weight carrying capacity vs. the weight of the backpack itself. A backpack, in order to have a high weight carrying capacity needs a sturdy frame and formidable suspension - however - those things add weight to the pack.

The ultimate pack would be capable of carrying 40 lbs but weigh only 4 ounces. Weight carrying capacity to weight of pack, I believe, is the challenge in making an "efficient" pack. Not the volume to weight ratio: that's too easy!

I fully realize that the weight carrying capacity is a subjective measurement, but, obviously from your article, so is a volume measurement. As long as the same person is rating the weight carrying capacity of a series of packs, like your excellent article could, the measurement could at least be "accurate" relative from one pack to another.

E J
(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
great review; additional usable volume on the Exos on 10/04/2010 20:48:52 MDT Print View

Excellent thorough analysis and review Roger - much appreciated. And as usual I'm impressed with the wisdom BPL readers have added in comments.

I just wanted to add regarding the Exos - another BPL member pointed out to me in a PM conversation that the Exos has usable volume between the mesh back support and the pack bag - that member user packs this space to hold a water bladder and extra clothing - that's not a small amount of extra usable volume. That member added that this helps keep out snow in winter as well (to the BPL member who pointed this out - feel free to jump in and comment - it was a good point).

Arapiles .
(Arapiles) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Re: Very well sorted out on 10/05/2010 04:47:04 MDT Print View

"As a result of these articles I am beginning to become a fan of the Lightwave series of packs, and especially their split hipbelts. I'll have to find a US vendor so I can try the largest one on with weight."

I'd support that - I've always been impressed by Crux. From 2001 to 2006 I travelled to London regularly and checked out the Crux packs and was suitably impressed. Lightwave came along later. Oddly, when I was living in London in 2006/2007 Lightwave was almost impossible to get my hands on - they seemed to have very limited dealers.

Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
Lightwave on 10/05/2010 05:38:39 MDT Print View

They still are horribly limited in terms of UK distribution, even in the more technical shops. (rare in London, like locusts in the Lake district ;)).

The Crux packs are much easier to find. No idea why its that way round! Especially as the Lightwave sacs always seem to do well in the magazine tests.

Its a strange world sometimes :)

Edited by MartinCarpenter on 10/05/2010 05:39:44 MDT.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: great review; additional usable volume on the Exos on 10/05/2010 13:14:43 MDT Print View

Hi EJ

It's not meant to be a secret, and this is a good place to point it out. many folks shy away from the mesh backed packs for winter use, but at least in the case of the Exos, that mesh space can be well utilised. In winter I put my hydration bladder there with a thin piece of evazote between it and my back. this keeps out snow, keeps the cold water off my back, yet also keeps the water from freezing. It adds around an extra 3 litres of usable volume as well, which also comes in handy on winter trips, and it's easier to get your bladder in and out of this space than the internal hydration sleeve. other stuff like rain jacket, wind layers, ground sheets etc...could also be put there if you prefer to carry your water in bottles. It is all these little extrs that make the Exos 58 (really a 61 in large, but who know what the true main pack volume is) a suitable winter pack for me. Generous top pocket, generous hipbelt pockets, generous side pockets and a generous kangaroo pocket for sleeping mat, sit pad etc...just don't try bushbashing in this configuration or something is going to get shredded!

Mike Alford
(mikebpl) - MLife
Re: Lightweight Internal Frame Packs: a State of the Market Report - Part 2: The Packs on 10/11/2010 01:50:38 MDT Print View

Thanks Roger, great analysis!
Just one question - how come theGoLite Pinnacle, wasn't included in your selection? At only 930 g it seems to fit nicely into that space on the upper left of your weight-volume chart.
Cheers,
Mike

Oops, I can answer my own question - just noticed that the Pinnacle is frameless.
Cheers

Edited by mikebpl on 10/11/2010 02:04:03 MDT.

Paul Hatfield
(clear_blue_skies) - F
Bending at the waist on 10/11/2010 22:11:12 MDT Print View

Bending at the waist doesn't seem to affect Lance Armstrong's performance terribly. Sure he would probably perform better on a recumbent bicycle, but it's clear that athletes can perform for many hours at very high levels of exertion with extreme bending at the waist.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Bending at the waist on 10/12/2010 03:39:20 MDT Print View

Ha!
And how long is a day's stretch on the Tour de France? NOT as long as a day's walking for sure, AND he has a team of masseuses at his beck and call AND a super-soft bed at night (and a cook).

A totally different situation, and not really relevant to walkers imho.

Cheers

aarn tate
(aarndesign) - MLife
: Forward lean and backward pull of the shoulder straps. on 10/13/2010 14:20:14 MDT Print View

Hi Roger,

The research compared an Aarn Bodypack with a Karimor Alpiniste internal frame pack - state of the art at the time- not an A Frame! Are A frames still available?

The picture shows you with quite a bit of forward lean. Forward lean is least when standing still as in your picture, greater when walking forward, and maximum when climbing. (The same is true without any load).

Trunk angle does not measure forward bend at the waist as you suggest, but the difference between a line drawn between the shoulders and the hips- and the HORIZONTAL. So bending forward at the ankles with a straight back is an economical posture to assume with the forward lean. As most of the subjects in the study were experienced backpack users, I assumed they also leaned forward in this way, but this could be checked with the original research photos.

Ray Lloyd, who did the original pioneering research on forward lean, has been doing some more work on load carriage. He recently wrote regarding his latest work: I quote "my current work seems to suggest that freedom of movement of the trunk is a determinant of economy (your double pack system allows more than either a backpack (which constrains to lean forward) or head-loading (which constrains to upright). In addition, our current findings suggest that individual variability of response in relation to economy is greater than we might have anticipated. Consequently we are intending to look at relationships between economy and kinematics at a range of loads and speeds and wondered if you might be interested in having some of your more recent designs tested in this context and, if so, if you would be able to send a sample(s)".

If you want to contact Ray his details are below:

Ray Lloyd
Head of School
School of Social & Health Sciences
Level 5 Kydd Building
University of Abertay Dundee
Dundee
DD1 1HG
Scotland

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: : Forward lean and backward pull of the shoulder straps. on 10/13/2010 15:44:03 MDT Print View

Hi Aarn

> The picture shows you with quite a bit of forward lean.
Well, maybe 4 - 5 degrees, yes.

> So bending forward at the ankles with a straight back is an economical posture
> to assume with the forward lean.
I agree, of course.

But I find it hard to imagine some bending forward from the ankles at 26 degrees, as your first posting stated. OK, maybe a severely overloaded SAS trooper carrying his FULL load of munitions and water might do that for 100 m from the chopper which landed him, but a walker with a reasonably light-weight pack???? Photographic proof would be needed.

As noted in some other postings, the backwards tension in the shoulder straps has been measured as not all that high *in practice*. This suggests to me that a reasonably light-weight load carried upright in a reasonably good pack is not really going to present that much of a problem. The amount of tilt needed to balance this will not be high.

Now, do we lean forward some more when going forward? Yes, we do, but that is needed to keep the CoG of the whole walker somewhere between the front and back feet. You would fall flat on your face if you didn't do this. And it may also be that the faster you go, the further forward the CoG needs to be.

That necessary forward displacement of the CoG has to be assessed in combination with the weight of the pack *relative to the walker's weight*. I weigh 64 kg; my pack weighs 10 kgs. The influence of the pack weight on how much my CoG has to move is not going to be all that large. This suggests that the change in position of the CoG due to a light-weight pack is not supremely important.

If there are other factors coming into play, such as the ability to see one's feet, than any small benefit from a shift forwards of the CoG due having front packs in place may *in practice* be inconsequential. This seems to be the experience of many walkers: they rate being able to see their feet far higher, especially in rough terrain.

Other factors which can detract from the front-mounted load include the increased heat load on the body from the reduction in ventilation, the increased difficulties experienced in swinging a pack on and off one's shoulders when there are large weights on the shoulder straps, and the increased problems when scrambling with a bulky thing at the front pushing you off the face. The importance of these factors will depend very much on the individual and what he is doing.

So while some people undoubtedly like having front-mounted packs to alter the CoG, the market place seems to be putting other factors higher in importance. Well, that's what the sales figures and walker preferences indicate, anyhow.

I hope this explains my thinking.

Cheers

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: : Forward lean and backward pull of the shoulder straps. on 10/13/2010 16:35:37 MDT Print View

"If there are other factors coming into play, such as the ability to see one's feet, than any small benefit from a shift forwards of the CoG due having front packs in place may *in practice* be inconsequential. This seems to be the experience of many walkers: they rate being able to see their feet far higher, especially in rough terrain.

Other factors which can detract from the front-mounted load include the increased heat load on the body from the reduction in ventilation, the increased difficulties experienced in swinging a pack on and off one's shoulders when there are large weights on the shoulder straps, and the increased problems when scrambling with a bulky thing at the front pushing you off the face. The importance of these factors will depend very much on the individual and what he is doing."

+1 to all of the above. However, Aarn packs used without the front pockets work very well too. It's mainly the lack of a hydration port that stops me from using them in this way...yet another factor important to *some* walkers.

Alan Bradley
(ahbradley)
R Caffin / Aarn: External frame / front aux pack on 10/16/2010 05:50:55 MDT Print View

Roger (Caffin):
Do you still think your external frame sacks are a lot better than commercial internal frame ones.

Aarn packs:
Doesn't the front rucksack cause overheating: now you have a lot of insulation over your temperature regulated core (chest)

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: R Caffin / Aarn: External frame / front aux pack on 10/18/2010 15:19:09 MDT Print View

Hi Alan

> Do you still think your external frame sacks are a lot better than commercial
> internal frame ones.
Let's say I still prefer my external frame pack for most conditions. It is very light, the harness suits me very well, and it handles anything between 8 kg and 28 kg happily. yes, I am able to carry up to 28 kg with it when portering in to a remote hut for a ski trip. I can't normally get that much capacity with the IF packs.

However, it does have one disadvantage. The frame is very light and could be damaged if mistreated. I package it up in a cardboard box every time I fly. If you are planning on flying and don't have a high load, an IF pack might be a safer (less worry) choice.

> Doesn't the front rucksack cause overheating
I found that it did on me, at least in an Australian summer. Perhaps I am a bit sensitive to this, as I normally travel with very light clothing.

Cheers

Coin Page
(Page0018) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern USA
External Frame Packs? on 10/18/2010 20:47:02 MDT Print View

Thanks for a nice review Roger.

Perhaps outside the scope of this review, but since the subject of external frame packs has come up: do you have any recommendations for lightweight, commercially available, external frame packs that capture your "H - frame" idea?

Back in the old days, my external frame pack and hip belt could shift almost all the weight onto my iliac crests, or alternatively, onto the greater trochanters.

I find now, with increasing age, a decreased tolerance for prolonged heavy loading of the L5-S1 disk, and the SI joints. Anything much over 20 lbs all day, no matter how it's distributed over the shoulders or the lumbar area, starts to hurt.

Some of the individual pack reviews and comments above suggest some of these packs come close, but it sounds like you think the external frame is better at overall comfort - issues of durability, fragility and standing up to heavy brush aside.

Am I on the right track here? Any advice. How can I get most of the load back on the sides of my hips - the iliac crests - and still go lightweight?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: External Frame Packs? on 10/20/2010 23:43:42 MDT Print View

Hi Coin

Sorry, but I don't have a simple answer for you. I think I noted somewhere in the review that my hips are rather narrow, such that many hip belts do not work very well on me. For this reason I have always preferred to carry the load on my back. This does *not* mean 'on my shoulders'.

With my design I find the load does go through the mesh on the back of the pack to the full area of my back. Frankly, I am not really sure why this works so well, but it does work for me.

I am sure that it won't work for many other people, and that a solid hip belt will work better for them. In this sense, fitting a pack to a person is very much like fitting a pair of shoes. I sigh (for the same reason) when I see someone ask 'what shoes should I buy' and then read a reply that they should buy SuperDucksMultiWeb shoes.

However ... I will offer the following advice - which is also in the Review somewhere. Try to buy a pack which matches your torso length, but do not buy a pack with a torso length which is too short. Better to have a pack torso length slightly longer than your torso length: that will throw the load onto your hips more effectively.

Even better: pick a pack in the right size with an adjustable torso length. Then fine tune over several trips how it fits you. Yes, I definitely give brownie points to packs with an adjustable torso length.

I also give brownie points to packs with a solid stiff harness or frame. Frameless packs are all very well if my total load is under 6 -8 kg. Over that the weight of the harness is far outweighed by the added comfort it brings. Now, I know this comment will attract numerous responses contradicting me and saying how wonderful a frameless pack is. Well, as with shoes ...

Can an external frame pack (like mine) stand up the 'heavy brush'? Chuckle. Trust me, the scrub in the Australian Blue Mountains (and in SW Tasmania) is definitely world class.

A commercial equivalent? Sorry - at this stage I cannot make a recommendation, because I don't know.

Cheers

Cameron Semple
(camS) - F

Locale: Brisbane, Australia
Shadow on 10/21/2010 06:43:52 MDT Print View

I had a look at a Shadow this evening at a local distributor. I liked the clean, no frills look. Didn't have time to load it up though. You mentioned the thick webbing used on the hip belt. I found it virtually impossible to tighten the belt once fitted. The webbing was so rough that it wouldn't pull through easily. Combined with the older style of pulling the straps out rather than into the middle.

Any ideas when the 2011 line of packs will be available? The Umbra looks interesting.

Edited by camS on 10/21/2010 06:45:49 MDT.

Alan Bradley
(ahbradley)
small manufacturers / osprey atmos on 10/21/2010 15:46:43 MDT Print View

Roger (Caffin):
Would any of the ultralight small manufacturers be interested in making your external frame sacks.

The osprey atmos 50/65 has a kind of all back mesh (for ventilation) but I think the gap between back and pack is bigger. I didnt like the shooulder straps.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: small manufacturers / osprey atmos on 10/21/2010 20:58:46 MDT Print View

> Would any of the ultralight small manufacturers be interested in
> making your external frame sacks.

I would be delighted if someone did want to.

Cheers

Alan Bradley
(ahbradley)
osprey exos possible equiv to Roger (Caffins) MYOG external frame on 10/22/2010 04:55:27 MDT Print View

Roger (Caffin):

Actually, from reviews, the osprey exos 46/58 looks better than the atmos, as still has kind of all back mesh (for ventilation) but the gap between back and pack seems smaller, and the rucsac storage looks less curved.

Perhaps you could borrow one and compare it (not using waist belt) against your external frame pack.

Coin Page
(Page0018) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern USA
External Frame Packs? on 10/24/2010 09:12:13 MDT Print View

Thanks Roger.

Yes, like finding well fitting shoes. But I did find those (wider), so I keep my optimism for finding the perfect pack for heavier loads. Thanks for the reminder/emphasis on torso length (longer for me).

The Aarn packs, and LuxerLite pack seem hopeful. Discussions of these packs over the last 5 years give lots of opinions both ways. I would love to hear from owners/users of these packs what they still think of them now.

Any other packs in this general class - lightweight with enough frame to transfer all the weight to my hips if I want to - that anyone thinks I should also consider? Any packs in the review above come close for a long torso?

Thanks.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: osprey exos possible equiv to Roger (Caffins) MYOG external frame on 10/24/2010 15:35:08 MDT Print View

Hi Alan

The survey covered both the Exos 46 and the Exos 58. Nice packs.

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: External Frame Packs? on 10/24/2010 15:38:09 MDT Print View

Hi Coin

The survey lists the available pack sizes. I was testing Medium in just about everything, but many of them have a Large model available.

Which one to choose? Ahhh... Very personal. 'Every body is subtly different ...' as they say on the planes.

Cheers

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: External Frame Packs? on 10/25/2010 12:46:16 MDT Print View

"The Aarn packs, and LuxerLite pack seem hopeful. Discussions of these packs over the last 5 years give lots of opinions both ways. I would love to hear from owners/users of these packs what they still think of them now."

I have used both of these, and in both cases they are nice packs, but I ended up using them without the front pockets. They just didn't work for me. however, if you like front pockets, I find the LuxuryLite pocket (and frame) to be more functional and cooler. I also ditched the LuxuryLite cylinders and modifies a GoLite Gust to attach to the frame. Excellent volume and comfortable carrying. Note: the LuxuryLite pocket restricts you vision more than the Aarn. Also note, I have both of these for sale. If you are interested, shoot me a PM and we can negotiate a price.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
frogs ... on 10/26/2010 06:24:59 MDT Print View

just a note for others that the french site i-trekkings has done a similar test with packs in roughly the same weight and volume range

note how the Decathlon Forclaz 50 Ultralight scored very high in comfort and on score/price while being the cheapest and lightest pack

just shows you what can be done ..

just use google translater on the links below



http://www.i-trekkings.net/bibliotheque/articles/tests/sacados/Test-sacados_comparatif.pdf


http://www.i-trekkings.net/Xdossiers/dossiers.php?val=29_comparatif+sac+dos+30++50+litres

Edited by bearbreeder on 10/26/2010 06:28:48 MDT.

Alan Bradley
(ahbradley)
exos 58 usage with no load thru hip belt on 10/27/2010 15:08:48 MDT Print View

Roger (Caffin):

I checked the articles 1A-C,2 butt did not find a mention of testing the exos 58 with no load bearing via the hip belt i.e. a comparison against the way your your external frame myog pack is used.

Do you still have one for a hip-beltless comparison against your external frame pack.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: exos 58 usage with no load thru hip belt on 12/16/2010 20:22:34 MST Print View

Hi Alan

Sorry, this dropped off the radar for a while.
Unfortunately no: the Exos packs were farmed out to Australian readers.

Cheers

Eric Botshon
(Ebotshon) - F
Exos 46 on 07/12/2011 10:36:03 MDT Print View

The review mentioned that the osprey pack was closer to 40 than 46 liters.

Any chance this test was done with a size small pack instead of the medium? The smal torso length pack is smaller than the stated 46.

Willem knopper
(willem65) - MLife
Exos Frame on 09/08/2011 15:41:10 MDT Print View

I have tried the Exos and I find them to be to very ridged, the pack does not move with you (back) at all. I personally think they are really just a fancy external frame pack. I did like the idea of the air flow but was just very disappointed how it restricted your movement especially if you were to use it doing any walking other than on the flat.

Regards

Phillip Damiano
(Phillipsart) - M

Locale: Australia
Jansport Big Bear on 03/22/2012 21:42:44 MDT Print View

Roger mentioned in one of his comments here:
(Yes, we kept a few, for specific functions. The rest have been passed on to Australian & NZ BPL members (kept the postage down) for further field testing. I expect that they will provide some Reader Reviews in due course).

I'm one of those Australian BPL member, I've recently acquired one of the Jansport Big Bear 63 prototype packs of Roger.
The pack has only been in my possession for a few weeks now, tested on day hikes including some rock climbing.
The Harness is very comfortable and the material is very durable. I've tested this on a Off-track hike recently with very thick vegetation. I got scratches over me, the pack survived with no scratches.

I'm yet to test it out as a Overnight hike, but I can't see it causing any problems there. It's a nice pack. I do like the colour that the prototype pack was supplied in with the orange trims.

This is an on going review, I will keep you's updated on my findings on my next overnight hike, which is not for another 3 weeks from today. In a couple days, I've got a day hike I'm planning on, I will pack all my overnight hiking gear into the pack for a test to see how the pack feels with some weight in it. My base weight is just under the 8Kg. I'll add a few litres of water to that, making a total weight of 11kg.

So far, I like the pack. It's not exactly on the ultra light weight at just under 1.5kg but it does have a good frame and harness.Jansport Big Bear Prototype Pack

Edited by Phillipsart on 03/22/2012 21:51:42 MDT.

Phillip Damiano
(Phillipsart) - M

Locale: Australia
Re: Jansport Big Bear on 03/24/2012 19:33:34 MDT Print View

Packed my hiking gear into the Jansport Big Bear pack yesterday and went for a walk around the block with apx 12kg load. Pack is comfortable, enough room for 5 or 6 days of food. No complaints.

Will be continuing wearing the pack with my gear on daily hikes for the next couple of weeks as training for an upcoming 3 day overnight hike in some steep terrain.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
"Pocket Man" on 06/14/2012 21:41:39 MDT Print View

I own an older - and IMHO better - version of the REI Flash 60. It's the REI Cruise UL 60 (2nd model). That pack absolutely NEEDED side pockets. Fortunately REI had "aftermarket" pockets at that time, but no longer.

I like side pockets because they store stuff I may need quickly like 1st aid kit, water treatment kit, toilet kit, potty kit, and things I don't want inside my pack
Like stove stuff including fuel. (For ex., ESBIT tabs smell fishy -like two other things I know of. ;O)

My REI pockets add 400 cu. in. each and make the pack "complete" in my dinosaur mind. Yeah, I'm a geezer and like exterior pockets. As another poster said of the Ospey EXOS that front "shovel" pocket is nice and can hold that wet tent, etc. Same goes for my Cruise UL 60 - which should really be called the "UL 50" - sorta like many post-recession 401-K funds should really be called "201-K" funds.

SPIRIDON Papapetroy
(spotlight) - F
Osprey Exos on 09/09/2012 21:15:47 MDT Print View

Has anyone had pain in the part of the body where the lower part of the frame touches it. I am a bit worried because it doesn't have any padding.