Feb 9, 2008 at 11:34 pm #1227217
I've been researching a better pack for my Nimbus Ozone which is up for sale right now, and I think I've narrowed it down to about 5 packs. My current and future gear list is here: Gearlist, but the short version is: Tarptent (SMD soloE/Wild Oasis), quilt (ARC Specialist), foam pad (Nightlight/thinlight), minimal clothes, 5 days of food/water max. Normally less than 20 lbs carried, but could max at 30.
Here's my selected choices:
I realize this is highly subjective, but I wanted to poll the masses and see if I forgot something. If you own any of these packs, please chime in with your thoughts, and if you could pick one of them for the JMT, which would it be?
I also plan to use this pack for weekend excursions with my daughters and UL 3-5 trips down the road.
Thanks in advance!Feb 9, 2008 at 11:45 pm #1419924
My first question would be to ask you how many resupplies you plan on having? I own a ULA Conduit and recommend it to any and everyone.
That being said, I would consider adding the Gossamer Gear Miniposa or Mariposa (Plus version if you want more durability) to your list for comparison. The Nightlight pad should fit nicely in the external pad sleeve, while the Thinlight will work will lining the inside of the pack for rigidity.Feb 10, 2008 at 5:32 am #1419934
I just got done going through the same process and would up with the ULA Conduit. I had narrowed it down between the Mariposa Plus and the Conduit and ultimately went with the Conduit.
You really can't make a bad decision with any of these packs though.
BTW, you have the pricing on your Conduit/Circuit mixed up. I often get these packs confused too.Feb 10, 2008 at 10:27 am #1419961
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
Have you included the ability to carry a bear canister in your criteria? You'll need one on the JMT, or perhaps an Ursack if they're allowed this year, or to travel from bear box to bear box.Feb 10, 2008 at 10:42 am #1419965
I think you may have mixed up the prices for the ULA packs, they should be reversed.
Great list though, my suggestion would be to try as many as possible and decide whether you need a frame (ULA circuit), or not. Then the decision comes down to construction material and volume, in my view.Feb 10, 2008 at 10:55 am #1419969
Thanks to all for comments,
Good catch on the prices, I fixed them.
I added a row for bear cannister, but from my research they will all fit one vertically, but only the conduit could fit a small one horizontally. Again, please chime in if I'm wrong on any of this.
I looked at the Mariposa, but didn't fall in love with it at first glance. I'll add it to the comparo.
Any other potential packs that would be worthy of mention? FF, ZPacks, other?Feb 10, 2008 at 10:58 am #1419971
@gungadinLocale: Pittsburgh, PA
I love both of my Fanatic Fringe packs (Thompson Peak and Alpine Trail), but even the bigger of the two (the TP) can't carry more than twenty and certainly not thirty. I think they are great and very underappreciated packs, but not for what you are looking for from them.Feb 10, 2008 at 11:37 am #1419976
You didn't list it (probably because of weight), but the ULA Catalyst is gold simply owing to the fact that you can place a bear cannister horizontally into it. Add its impressively comfortable carrying ability, and it tops my personal list.Feb 10, 2008 at 12:56 pm #1419982
The Mariposa has a nice feature in that it can hold a bear canister horizontally at the top on the outside due to it's Y-strap.
I mentioned before that I own a Conduit (and absolutely love it), but I would like to know which bear canister you've found that will fit into it horizontally. I think you may be confusing the ULA models again :) Catalyst yes, Conduit no.Feb 10, 2008 at 1:31 pm #1419990Feb 10, 2008 at 3:43 pm #1420013
I was just looking at the Super Zip from MLD. I tad bigger than the Zip and a mighty fine pack IMO. Do you think that it would be big enough for my gear? I'm going to rent a Bearikade weekender MKII if the Ursack doesn't regain approval. It'll add 19 oz, but I should be able to lash it on top. Thoughts?Feb 10, 2008 at 4:08 pm #1420016
@vaporjourneyLocale: Greater Gila
I just purchased a MLD Zip myself a couple of weeks ago, and can't wait to try it out when it arrives in mid-March. I emailed Ron obsessively for weeks before finally deciding on the original Zip, over the Super Prophet, and Super Zip. Ron told me in the emails that a bear canister should fit vertically inside of the Zip, no problem. This is a concern for me as well since I'll be using the Zip on my PCT thru hike this year.
Ultimately I chose the Zip because it had all features I wanted (minus hip belt pockets that I'll add myself), really lightweight with solid material, it's NOT a gossamer gear pack with shady stitching, has a huge back mesh pocket which I fell in love with on my ULA Catalyst, and has tons of configurable compression options. Plus, the MLD products are a joy to look at, and are always reinforced with bar tacks wherever they are needed. I mean…the website lists over 50 bartacks. I wonder how many Gossamer Gear use? The shoulder straps are also thicker than those on Golite packs, and I've read great reviews about the comfort of the MLD suspension. Of course ULA packs ride great as well. The only problem I had with my ULA Catalyst last year on the AT was that I always wished that it was a bit taller of a pack. The Zip is a bit taller and slimmer, which I think will keep things nice and snug against the bag, not pull downward on the shoulders, and eliminate the need for load-lifters which I always needed tightened on my Catalyst.
The other packs I was considering were the ULA Conduit, GG Miniposa, and Golite Jam2. I've never used a frameless pack before, but I'm confident that I've made the right decision in chosing the best one.Feb 10, 2008 at 4:22 pm #1420021
Hey Eric, I researched the hell out of the GG packs and don't recall reading of any issues with shady stitching. Could you elaborate?Feb 10, 2008 at 4:33 pm #1420025
@vaporjourneyLocale: Greater Gila
Well, my research mainly turned up 2 different examples. One was a friend of mine on the AT said her shoulder strap stitching started to give way after she exceeded it's recommended weight once, although admittedly she said the pack was still usable. Got me worried though. Also, lots of GG flaws were mentioned here, http://www.filebox.vt.edu/users/lgrinter/Mariposa.htm . Admittedly this was after a lot of use, but still I wonder about that. Francis Tapon said that he had to replace his packs after a couple thousand miles of usage as well.
Now, I know that getting a couple thousand miles out of a pack is dang impressive. But after my experience with a ULA Catalyst, 2,000 mi plus on it, and still being flawless, I expect a lot! I don't buy the fact that they are using UL fabrics, because most of the issues seem to be with the stitching. Couple this with the so-so suspension and goofy straight stays, and I was turned off. It's really a shame too, because they really have a great feature set on their packs.Feb 10, 2008 at 6:03 pm #1420035
@vickrhinesLocale: Central Texas
I agree that fabric is not the issue. I've gotten over 2,000 miles out of homemade UL packs with no problem – and usually, using lightweight polyester thread even for high stress areas. The real problem IMHO is improper design or engineering that handles stress poorly or fails to anticipate how a particular fabric will behave under stress. For example, shoulder strap attachment seems to be a problem for several makers. The stress ends up on stitching or inadequately reinforced fabric and the designs sometimes fail to anticipate the direction of stress.Feb 10, 2008 at 6:33 pm #1420039
That's my post over at the other forum, regarding the Conduit and the Bear Vault/Ursack. Since some people don't care to register with PBF to read the post, I'll reiterate what I said there- I can say that Bear Vault Solo fits in the Conduit either vertically or horizontally. I also carried the Bear Vault lashed to the top with the pack's single top compression strap for a mile or two. I had to unload it from my wife's pack to make doubletime as we raced a wicked thunderstorm down from above the treeline. Carrying both a full Ursack and the BV Solo, both full to capacity, exceeded the pack's weight limit by at least 5 lbs so waistbelt sagged considerably. But, I was surprised the pack carried the bear can on top so well and didn't feel unbalanced (possibly because the pack isn't very tall). If it had a Y-Strap like the Mariposa does, I bet it would be a viable carry option for the Bear Vaults.Feb 11, 2008 at 9:12 am #1420112
You should look at McHale Packs. I have not heard of one coming apart. They don't cost much more – looks like they have some for $300.00. They are known for being able to carry lots of weight too.Feb 12, 2008 at 4:56 pm #1420367
Well, I decided to get the ULA Conduit. I emailed Ron at MLD about the Zip but have gotten no response thus far.
Brian was very responsive; he even sent me two packs so I could decide which one fit better, then ship back the other one. That's what I call first class customer service!
On top of that, he shipped the pack 2-day so I would have it for my Joshua Tree trip this weekend! Woohoo, I'm psyched!!!Feb 12, 2008 at 5:41 pm #1420378
Wow, that's really cool. I wish I would have thought of that, although now that I stuffed my Conduit, I know the AMP would have been too small for me.
Congrats on your pack choice!Feb 13, 2008 at 12:02 am #1420421
I think you'll be _very_ happy with the Conduit. Let us know what you think after you get back from Joshua Tree.Feb 13, 2008 at 3:37 pm #1420502
Just an update: Ron from MLD emailed me back after he saw this thread. I wish it were sooner, but I'm sure I'll be knocking on his virtual door before too long. I just have to get acquainted with tarp/bivy combos and shaving my pack weight a bit more!Feb 13, 2008 at 4:43 pm #1420507Feb 18, 2008 at 7:20 pm #1421076
Got home from Joshua Tree last night, thought I'd post a few thoughts about the Conduit after 2-days and 40-miles with it.
Mike will undoubtedly post a trip report, so I won't spoil the fun, but here's some notes.
– The conduit fit my Prolite 3 Short perfectly, and it felt more comfortable if I didn't blow it up and close off the valve. I just left the valve open and it would expand and compress with what I was doing. It also allowed it to conform to my back better.
– Carrying 8lbs of water my pack weight was 23 lbs at the start of the trail. The pack felt comfortable, but the weight was noticable. Once I got the weight below 21 lbs, it carried like a dream! IMHO, this pack is great when you are below 20lbs. As always, YMMV
– The mesh pockets are super bomber, and I was able to stuff my Lunar SoloE, fleece hat/gloves, windshell, and more into the front pocket. The side pockets carried my 1L platy on one side, and a 20 oz. Aquafina bottle+packcover and small essentials on the other. The Platy was difficult to remove and stuff back in due to the outer lip. It was hard to remove while wearing the pack, and impossible to put back if the pack was on.
– The roll top closure worked great, and the side compression did a good job of shoring up the pack.
– The shoulder straps felt good, not very much padding, but sufficient. My shoulders were sore after the two days, but that was probably due to being out of the game for awhile.
– Hipbelt pockets are a godsend! Worked great for camera and snacks.
Overall, very happy with my purchase, and I give the pack two thumbs up!Feb 19, 2008 at 10:03 am #1421136
Glad to hear your mostly happy with your pack. I love my Conduit so much I can't envision needing to switch packs. Its perfectly 'dialed in' to my backpacking needs.
I'd suggest playing around with the pad insert options. I've got a POE self-inflater that's very similar to the ProLite 3 and have used it in the pack's pad sleeve. However, I find that the rigidity closed cell pad provides a much better load transfer, ultimately making for a more comfortable carry. I think you'll find the pack will carry as well at 30 lbs as at 20 lbs with a closed cell pad in the sleeve. Try Gossamer Gear's Nightlight torso pad or a cut-down Thermarest Z-Lite pad. You'll only be adding 3-4 ounces to your packweight, but gaining much more support. You'll also have some additional ground insulation with you, of course.
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