Nov 8, 2007 at 10:55 pm #1225766
The SMD Comet '07 has been my intro UL "Frameless" pack (frameless with stays). I've totally enjoyed the light weight qualities but, with no prior experience for contrast, I'm at a loss to fully understand the pack's pros and cons, or what my next pack should incorporate. Basically, I'm looking for a comparable pack, not necessarily the same design features, to broaden my UL pack experience.
Typical Trip: 2-3 days
Base Weight: +/-10lbs
Volume Used: I have room to spare in the 2600 cu.in. main compartment
Sleeping Pad: Torsolite or Nightlight Torso
Thus far my only major complaint with the Comet is my inability manage weights above 20-25lbs. My shoulders get sorely taxed (I'm trying extra padding next trip), and I really don't understand how anyone takes this pack above 25-30lbs.
-MichaelNov 9, 2007 at 6:25 am #1408486
@fairweather8588Locale: The Desert
The Jam was issued high marks (came in second place) on BPL's "ultralight pack smackdown" where they tested 1/2 a dozen or so frameless packs. The Jam2 is a definate improvement for 07, and I would definately not overlook it as a contender. Skurka just carried one for 6800 miles!Nov 9, 2007 at 6:36 am #1408488
@jkrew81Locale: White Mtns
I will vouch for the Jam2 as well. I got it above 30 lbs on 2 occasions and it worked just fine. The trick is to use a rolled sleeping pad unraveled with your gear stuffed inside to create a virtual frame for the pack. Without this anything above 25 lbs would be pretty painful.Nov 9, 2007 at 8:02 am #1408497
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
IMO, if you are looking for a pack that will carry heavy loads in significantly more comfort than your existing Comet — I see the Jam / Jam 2 essentially duplicating what you've already got. For loads much heavier than 30 lbs, I would start looking at the lighter ranges of more traditional, internal frame packs (i.e. Ospreys, Gregory's, etc.).
As for "broadening your UL experience" — the other side of the spectrum is to see if you can shed base weight to 10lbs — or even less — at least for trips of shorter duration. Again, YMMV, but to me, pretty much any decently-designed frameless pack should carry 20-23 lbs total weight reasonably comfortably — when packed correctly. Take a look at the very, very light weight Z Packs. I have one, and really like it for weights 25 lbs. and below.
Finally, Ryan brought up a good point above — much depends on how you pack your backpack.Nov 9, 2007 at 8:39 am #1408498
@splproductionsLocale: Salt Lake City, UT
I've taken my Jam2 to around 24lbs – it handled just fine and I wasn't even using the hip-belt. The key (like others have said) is getting a rigid frame using your gear. It helps if you don't use the hydration pouch (just use the side mesh pockets) because then the pack sits flush against your back.Nov 9, 2007 at 8:43 am #1408499
Thanks for the JAM2 recommendations. I'd been circling that choice and had actually canceled the REI order in lieu of the Comet last Spring. And, Ben, I've noticed your recommendation for Z-Packs on more than a few posts. Are they publicly traded? ;?) I checked them out a couple months ago and really liked what I saw.
With the Comet, I place my torso light against my back in the compartment. Should the pad circle the pack with the JAM2? I had suspicions about poor packing in the beginning but thought I'd solved it. Maybe I'll work up a diagram of my current process and a gear list; that may shed some light. Damn, now I'm dwelling on that again.
Yer right Ben, I'm talking out both sides of my mouth while mentioning 30+lbs and UL as goals. My base weight is sub 10lbs. And the only reason I'm complaining about pack weights above 25lbs is due to my slim (oxymoron) choices in hiking partners, and a necessity to pack their loads. 2-3 days can mean 6 days of food on my shoulders, and suddenly I've got more than a tarp. AND next week there's a liter of wine too! But next week includes a special guest. So maybe my question should have been, "what pack will get me laid and stay UL?". HA!
-MichaelNov 9, 2007 at 8:54 am #1408501
You may be on target with the shoulder pads. I made a pack with no waist belt, so it's all on the shoulders, and it does well up to ~ 35 lb.
It does have a sort of ergonomic framesheet as well as an unrolled RidgeRest, but the main thing is it has the cushiest shoulder straps one could buy, off the heavier Osprey packs. Probably THIS is it. At age 16 and loaded with 55 lb, I remember thinking: weight for a good suspension is weight well spent.
So it might help! Especially since your problem is very specific. Forgot to check: Is the pack hanging off your back or does it sock into the small of your back correctly?
If test padding seems to work, you can get at least 12×18" sheets of foam, possibly EVA, at hobby/craft stores, those horrible ones that are like half crapbooking and 1/3 stinky candles. Michael's. They have all different colors.
Good Luck!Nov 9, 2007 at 8:54 am #1408502
@arichardson6Locale: North East
To this I reply:
When it comes to your special guest, who cares which stays ultralight! Pack some candle lanterns, fancy cheese, and comfy pillows (these are multi-use in this sutation by the way..)
As for your other friends, that I assume aren't so special, I have no idea. I only have one pack and it wouldn't fit your criteria. It's the Nimbus Ozone and it's a hefty 3 lbs (I never take the lid, just liked the panel access).. I can say it carries 30lb loads very well. It's essentially what Benjamin suggested earlier..Nov 9, 2007 at 8:55 am #1408503
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
Let the record show that a backpack by itself will NOT:
1. broaden your UL experience
2. get you laid
As for the Z Packs… as mentioned above, I think most all decently-designed frameless packs will carry <25-lbs loads pretty well. The two things I really like about Z packs:
1. incredibly light weight to start
2. the a la carte approach to adding all kinds of accessories — or none at allNov 9, 2007 at 9:06 am #1408505
@pyeyoLocale: pacific northwest
The problem is we are all geeks and no amount of slick new stuff will improve our odds.
Perhaps by staying ultralight our joints will not wear down quite as rapidly as our heavy packing brethren and we will have our dance cards filled at the assisted-living complex.
Then the question will continue, as in mountaineering, as to whether to use oxygen or not, how much aid do I need for this route [looks like it's been climbed quite a few times before], or whether new technology will improve our performance. Whatever it is Ryan and Bozeman Mtn. Works will be on the leading edge, giving new meaning to the words "love that ultralight".Nov 9, 2007 at 9:13 am #1408506
@clbowdenLocale: Berkeley Hills
I recommend the GG Mariposa. It has superb shoulder straps (wide and soft) and is large enough so that you can carry all of the gear required for a two-person, multi-day trip. My wife, who took the photo below, wore no pack at all during our 3-day hike to Havasupai.
Nov 9, 2007 at 9:51 am #1408510
I suspect that the packing or adjustments may be slightly off. Have you had the pack long? Maybe you need to "dial it in". My Essence '07 can handle loads like that (now that I have it dialed it). I have carried about 23 lbs (food and water incl.)a number of times and it carries very nicely. Since you have the carbon stays, i would imagine it should carry even better?
To me, sore shoulders would indicate that the pack is not transferring the weight to you hips properly – is your hip belt tight enough? Shoulder straps to tight? When I batten down the hatches on my Essence belt, the shoulder straps just touch my shoulders…not much load – and that's with a 3 oz GG pad. Silly questions, but maybe something to think about…
As for pack ideas, plenty out there – maybe you need a couple of packs (most do), one for the UL nights and one for when someone special tags along. :)
The ULA packs look fantastic, but you probably already know that.
HTHNov 9, 2007 at 10:17 am #1408513
@fairweather8588Locale: The Desert
I have not endorsed any pack that I own, so you know there is no false pride/customer loyalty here (at least not from me)
when I endorsed the Jam2 it was because of thoughtful consideration. I dont own that pack. I do have these:
homemade spinn pack
all of these packs use my GG sitlite pad for a frame. I dont care for the concentric pad set-up because it doesnt conform to my back just quite right. Its hard to recommend a pack but based on your desires, a 10 lb base weight, 25 lbs. max load, I still call the Jam2 the winner. Or, talk to Brian from ULA if "made in america" matters to you. Sorry Ben, but Gregory is made for mainstream consumers and the Z pack/G pack is not an exception just because its light. Its still not ULTRAlight.Nov 9, 2007 at 10:58 am #1408519
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I am a wimp. I haven't found any frameless pack that I am happy with with more than 16lbs. Some of the ultralight packs with stays such as the Comet & Mariposa were ok up to around 30lb, but they weren't great for me. For off the shelf packs, I would recommend the granite gear vapor trail. Over the last 7 years I have tried out something like 15 packs. The vapor trail has been my go-to pack for the last 3 years. I have written up my experience with a variety of packs http://www.verber.com/mark/outdoors/gear/pack.html#lightNov 9, 2007 at 1:48 pm #1408545
Steve: I've entirely suspected that I need to "dial-in" the Comet pack but, honestly, that requires experience I'm only just building. Maybe I can gear up this weekend, take pics of how the pack rides and how it's packed, and post those for advice.
I'd like to get both the Jam2 and Z-Pack on my back for testing. Hmmm….
-MichaelNov 9, 2007 at 2:09 pm #1408548
I load my pack and then work it like a pizza dough – pushing bulges in, pulling dents out, spinning it in the air sometimes – tightening the compression straps as it takes shape. It's a work of art when I'm done. ;) Give it a try, it really does make a difference the way it is shaped.
Bon Appetite.Nov 9, 2007 at 2:37 pm #1408552
@mad777Locale: South Florida
Although I don't own one, by all accounts the Comet is a fine pack for its intended use. I do use a Jam (original) Pack which fills a similar need.
I wouldn't be looking for a similar pack to replace the Comet, unless there is a specific problem that you have identified. If I were you, I would access my needs for a completely different type of trip and not even compare it to the Comet (apples & oranges).
For instance, I have a Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone (3 lbs.) for winter trips in New England for me and the wife. Like you have experienced, I carry about 75% of our joint load leaving her the remainder. This makes sense because I am over 6' just under 200 lbs. and she wears a petite size 4.
I consider the 3 lb. pack a good investment in additional weight because I couldn't last anytime with a frameless, lightweight pack in those conditions. With that "heavy-duty" suspension, I can't even feel the load! I know that I'm carrying more TOTAL weight but, it FEELS like less weight and to me, what it FEELS like is what's important.
I also have a "uber-light" pack, mostly for cold weather day-hikes and fanny packs for summer day-hikes. So IMHO,it's not which pack is best. It's which pack is best suited for the conditions.Nov 13, 2007 at 12:31 am #1408852
@skopeoLocale: British Columbia
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