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finding backpack mission, need opinions


Reflex
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Hi,

Been reading recommendations from Outdoor Gear Labs. Went to REI and tried (loaded at 25 pounds)

Osprey Atmos 65:Sure nice suspension an all that jazz, but feels, stiff, heavy, im carrying a big block.

REI Traverse 70: uncofortable at shoulders, shoulder straps not wide enough for me

Osprey Exos 58: lighter feeling, not sure if in practice it would hold load well and it would become like a a heavy school packpack....?

I didnt even bother trying Gregorys, too heavy. 

Why buy these heavier packs??

Very Curious about Gossamer Gorilla 40  and Mariposa 60...but REI doesnt have them. Any thoughts on these?

Also read good things on Outdoor Gear Labs  about the North Face Banchee 65, which is 3lbs, 12oz.  After reading about it all over, still not clear where in it I can put the tent, and the poles.

http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Backpacks-Backpacking-Reviews/The-North-Face-Banchee-65

My current weight of stuff is 10lbs + tent/pad, sleeping bag which will make it about 15 lbs. This still doesnt include food, phone, and point and shoot camera. Im guessing I would end up at 20lbs plus the backpack. My tent will either be BA Copper 2, Copper 1 or REI Quarter Dome 1.

Trips will range from 3-7 days backpacking or 2 weeks+ international travel mixing outdoor and city stuff (which may require  a few more clothes items)

Thoughts?

Thanks

Edited by Reflex
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Aaron Zagrodnick

Regarding the Gorilla, check out @HikerBox's recent and excellent in-depth review here:

It depends on what you end up with for the remaining items, but I've had really good success with the ULA Circuit, up to around 35lbs total but I've carried well into the 40s on some occasions, which has been doable at least temporarily until food / water weight drops.

ULA also makes the Catalyst which would be a great choice if you're planning to carry more volume / weight on a regular basis or to start with until you inevitably lighten your gear over time. Whatever you go with, and there's a lot of different options that work well, I think a 3lb pack or less is a good target weight wise for most modern day type lightweight backpacking.

Regarding the issue of where to pack the tent - I always pack my tent in the main compartment and any poles or stakes in an exterior pocket. The only international travel I've done with my current setup however has been in a car into Canada, but beyond that it would just depend on the plan and the method of getting what I need to go about completing the plan comfortably to where it needs to be.

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I don't know anyone with an Exos pack, but I was tempted to buy one the first time I saw it in the local shop a couple months ago. 

I have friends with Mariposa packs and ULA Circuit & Catalyst packs. The Mariposa is kind of a beefed up ultralight pack and the ULAs are light midweight packs. Both are good packs, but the Mariposa is a little flimsy for me, since I tend to carry too much.

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I have an older version of the Mariposa, had it a couple years now. I have carried up to about 30 pounds, but usually more like 20 pounds. I like it a lot.

I think that Gossamer Gear has a pretty liberal return policy, give it a try and return it if it doesn't fit.

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@@Reflex I am hoping that whomever helped you at REI went through the fit process, informed you where to wear your pack etc before having you try them on. Full disclosure I work at REI and probably take the longest on a pack fit then anyone else in the store, because I am thorough. I also want to reiterate that although pack weight is important, comfort is more important. Yes a pack is part of the big 3 and can be a great place to save weight, but flip flops are also light but you don't see many people backpacking in those do you? My point is the comfort should be paramount and weight secondary. Now on to packs....

The reason that packs from companies such as Gossamer Gear, Z-packs, Golite, etc work for people and are "comfortable" is because the rest of the gear is ultralight, meaning total weight in most cases is well under 20lbs. This is because a lot of these packs are frameless, so the ability to transfer weight to your hipbones is decreased, where in a traditional pack with any sort of frame, between 80% and 90% of the weight is transferred to your hips.

As for the packs you mentioned...The Exos is "light" but has some different features with their "anti-gravity" hip belts that often times do not fit a lot of people. I won't comment on the REI packs, but let's just say I don't own one. The Exos is going to be one of your lightest options that maintains the ability to carry heavier weight more comfortably (up to 40lbs they say, if I am not mistaken). Gregory packs tend to be on the heavier side because they are geared toward mountaineering. However their z series are lighter with a suspended back panel. Go with fit and comfort. It pays in the long run. 

My main pack is a Gregory Contour 60L that weighs right at 4lbs, but it is comfortable, and that is what matters. 

Look into the Osprey Aether, yes it is heavier but fits really well and is incredibly adjustable. 

I love the Exos, I have carried one numerous times and is my next purchase (if I can rationalize a reason to own 6 packs).

Think about your capacity and most common trips and this will stear your toward your pack. Most people stick between 50 and 70 liters, settling on 60. 50 is perfect if you have small/light gear for almost any trip. 70 is a bit extreme. 60 is about perfect for 3-5 day trips and i lived out of mine for 1.5 months in Africa. 

I am a firm believer with people getting out and enjoying the outdoors, no matter how that is, if your cutting handles of your toothbrush that is ok, or if you're bringing along the dutch oven, enjoying the outdoors is what matters. But if you fall somewhere in the middle (like me) and care about weight and cut where you can but aren't obsessive, I would look for a pack between 2 and 4 pounds with good support and comfort. If you have specific questions about some of the packs mentioned let me know. Chances are I either own one, have owned one, carried one, or know someone who owns one. Happy looking! 

Edited by Mcaldwell
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I agree with Mcaldwell - the pack should be the last thing you buy! If you have a big sturdy tent and tend to overpack on other gear the cottage packs won't work well for you.  At your current weight I think you should be looking into packs burlier than the Gossamer Gear series unless you want to lighten the load quite a bit.  

ULA catalyst would be the lightest non-REI pack I would recommend.  

Edited by HikerBox
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On 3/18/2016 at 1:21 PM, Mcaldwell said:

The reason that packs from companies such as Gossamer Gear, Z-packs, Golite, etc work for people and are "comfortable" is because the rest of the gear is ultralight, meaning total weight in most cases is well under 20lbs. This is because a lot of these packs are frameless, so the ability to transfer weight to your hipbones is decreased, where in a traditional pack with any sort of frame, between 80% and 90% of the weight is transferred to your hips.

The Gossamer Gear Mariposa is not frameless and as I mentioned in the post above your, I have carried up to 30 pounds comfortably and regularly carry around 20 pounds comfortably. I also have a Deuter ACT Lite 65 and I don't find it to be more comfortable than the Mariposa for weights in the 20-30 pound range.

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Got the Atmos 65 Osprey today. Not crazy about weight and bigness but it is comfortable; if I dont like afterusing it i will return it and then gamble on the Gossamer Mariposa which charges for return shipping and does not accept used returns and only gives you 30 days to "try" them.

I tried on and compared to REI Flash 65 and Gregory Zuly 65, and Osprey Exos 58. Atmo 65 s not the lightest but the most comfortable. Done. ;)

Should I get to get the rain cover?

Edited by Reflex
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Give that Atmos some time to break in to your curves and see what you think. Be sure to adjust the hip belt (not the webbing...the velcro adjustment...not sure why, but many people never seem to do that and it gets skipped by pack fitters a lot).  Since you're looking at larger capacity packs and given your weight range you shared above, I'm not sure you'd really be happy with most of the lightweight packs like ULA and GG.  When you approach 25-30 pounds they get noticeably less comfortable and it starts to really strain stitching and their minimal padding & suspension designs.  A light weight pack doesn't necessarily matter at the end of the day.  If a 2 pound pack doesn't carry as comfortably with your load, then you might feel like you're carrying 10 extra pounds, where a "heavy" 4 pound pack may leave you more comfortable and feeling fresher when you pull in to camp.  Light packs more or less require pretty light loads to be at their best.  One nice exception are the Six Moons packs, which are totally worth a look. Excellent fitting and great fabrics, but they lack a lid and some other typical features...if the design suits you, they're great packs, though.  I'd also recommend you take a look at the new Granite Gear Lutsen...great improvement over their venerable Leopard design.

Rain covers...I like them, but they will usually let in some water on all-day rainy hikes or heavy downpours...if water doesn't come in through stitching on the back panel somewhere, it will at least soak your padding, but there's really no way around that except to hole up until the rain stops.  Many people are fond of an inner liner instead (trash compactor bag, sil-nyl dry liner, etc).  As long as you don't let them get holey and carefully get the top closed/folded over, they'll keep everything dry (pack fabric will likely be soaked but contents should stay dry).  Some use both...and/or dry bags for critical gear like your sleeping bag and spare/sleeping clothing.  I like the Osprey ul cover but the Sea To Summit ones are nice, too...both are somewhat fragile, though, so if your trails are scratchy or you lay a covered pack on its back a lot, you might want a heavier fabric.

You may not like the Exos very much either.  I haven't tried one of those but a number of people are unhappy with the shoulder straps...minimal padding and a tendency to roll when under loads in your weight range.  Heard a few people complain of collar bones being rubbed painfully at the end of the day.  Otherwise a pretty nice pack.

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