Sep 7, 2010 at 8:56 am #1263042
I would like an informed experienced opinion regarding a pack and I consider this the best place to get that. I have briefly used a Mystery Ranch Deep, Trance, 2 years ago, that seems to do a good job but I need the best load transfer to my hips possible. Is my best bet to just go to an external frame and chop it up to lighten it or are there other alternatives that will get me the weight transfer. I am looking for the best transfer, not just ok.
Following is some history to explain my needs.
Bio: Previously my gear consisted of a beltless homemade pack and most gear, base weight summer 7.5 pounds plus food and water. No hiking last 2 years due to 30 year back issues that came to a peak. I resorted to back surgery 6 months ago L3,L4,L5 fused from the front "ALIF surgery.
Currently, my 6 month review shows good bone growth and no physical restrictions, except the understanding that I am almost 60, not almost 20 and need to be a tad bit more careful. I have started hiking again and have my eye on backpacking as soon as conditioning and strenght etc. is appropriate.
With all that said, The doctors recommend a pack that has a hip belt and transfers almost all of the load directly to the hip bones. I understand this is a lightweight forum and such packs are heavier but I now consider myself a hybrid. The gear I put into the pack will be scrutinized even more for lightness and function.
I do not want to go out and test a myriad of packs to narrow down the field as the wear and tear on me doing that is not acceptable at this point.
Thanks!!!Sep 7, 2010 at 9:10 am #1643624
@rbeardLocale: ATL, Southern Appalachia
check out the ULA site. or six moon design's 2010 swift getting great reviews for comfort. but if you want true weight transfer with a real frame, my choice would be to go with ULA circuit.Sep 7, 2010 at 9:16 am #1643628
Do you not want to carry the Deep Trance because of its weight?
The Circuit is a great pack but based on my experience, there aren't any lightweight packs (short of going custom to a Mchale – http://www.mchalepacks.com) that are going to provide the type of load transfer to the hips that you would get with the Dana Designs / Mystery Ranch pack.Sep 7, 2010 at 9:51 am #1643636
Given the condition you described, methinks you should look at BOTH weight reduction and weight transfer — in that order.
I highly recommend that you first look at all your existing gear pieces — and see what can be left out, substituted for, or replaced by lighter and more compact equivalents.
After doing the above, then you can shop for a lighter weight, framed backpack that will transfer weight properly to your hips.Sep 7, 2010 at 10:00 am #1643641
Regarding the Mystery Ranch, it is a great pack. I want to figure out if there is a better alternative for maximum transfer before I settle in with it. I definately do not want to hurt myself due to cutting a pound or two off of a pack structure.
Over time even partial loads on my remaining discs may tend to overstress them. The discs above and below the fusion do extra duty for the discs that are now gone. I am good with additional weight for the pack to get the transfer. I understand the lighter loads and pads for a frame do work for good transfer. I am after the maximum.Sep 7, 2010 at 10:09 am #1643643
I wouldn't worry too much about searching out the "maximum" load transfer. Most all quality, framed packs this day and age will do an excellent job. Despite what some of the fancy-schmancy gear catalogs will have you believe — it's not rocket science.
The trick is simply to try out some packs — because getting the right "fit" is critical — and wholly personal.
But again, if I were you, I would focus first on cutting down load volume and weight — then shop for an appropriate pack. Arcteryx, Granite Gear, Gregory and Osprey make some of the most popular internal frame packs. All come in different sizes and weights, of course, so again, by first lightening your gear load — you can then shop for an appropriately small and light pack that will still do the job of carrying your gear comfortably. Anything bigger/beefier than what you really need will simply translate into extra burden for your legs and feet — every single step of the way. More is not better.
Finally, if you like, feel free to describe the type(s) of hikes you do — then list out your gear pieces. Bet some of us can give you good feedback — which you can then pick and choose.Sep 7, 2010 at 10:21 am #1643649
1. as stated figure out your mean and max weights for your equipment/food/water
2. bring that much weight to the stores
3. try on a pack with that much weight … pack it just like you would with your equipment … if you can just use yr equipment … most stores will let you do this
4. walk around the store for a minimum of 1-2 hours non stop … up and down stairs, etc ….
5. get what feels best … then worry about weight … a light pack isn't useful if it doesnt fit you and aint at least somewhat comfortable
6. if you're going to buy online repeat the same process with the pack you ordered … just make sure there's a good return policy and you will lose out on shipping
get what works for YOU and is reasonably light … not what others tell you
packs are like shoes … it fits everyone differently … and everyone has different ideas of comfortSep 7, 2010 at 10:29 am #1643652
@davecLocale: Crown of the Continent
Yes lightening your load would be beneficial, but the OP didn't ask about that. A 7.5 lb base weight is already pretty darn good.
Fred, I'd go for the Mystery Ranch pack if I were you. More mainstream packs (Osprey, Arcteryx) still don't come close to the Dana system. The main problem I had with my old Dana pack was that it transfered too much weight, and my bony hips would get bruised.
Good luck with continued backpacking.Sep 7, 2010 at 10:34 am #1643655
Thanks, David — and sorry, Fred, I missed the part about 7.5lbs base weight. My bad.
This one is going to be subjective (as expected). For such a light load, a "Dana system" may or may not be needed for OP. I would recommend trying some of the lighter weight framed packs ('mainstream') and comparing them to Mystery Ranch — and pick the lighter option that will do the job comfortably. After all, no matter how comfy, one's legs and feet will still have to bear the burden every step of the way.Sep 7, 2010 at 11:13 am #1643670
All great information and advice.
I specifically note that so far no one has mentioned an external frame. Is that just overkill or is it that most folks here do not use them for the weight etc. etc.
I am gleaning information and will most likely use the Trance and then experiment around.
FredSep 7, 2010 at 11:19 am #1643674
Can someone explain the Dana system, and how it compares to "regular" packs of the Osprey, Arcteryx, Gregory, etc. lines?
I saw a little diagram on Marmot's website of their system, but it didn't explain much.Sep 7, 2010 at 11:44 am #1643677
No diagram, but although Marmot bough Dana years ago, Dana is still making packs here: http://www.mysteryranch.com.
There is no similarity between the way Marmot designs their suspension and that of Mystery Ranch…you need to consult mystery ranch to see the updated version of the Trance pack.Sep 7, 2010 at 11:47 am #1643680
The OP needs to get the weight off the shoulders. Because MR has the ability to custom fit to a degree, he should be able to get the weight almost completely off and all the weight on the hips. The suspension is that stiff and that good.
Have you considered Mchale?
Yes on the External comment – just not many produced anymore.Sep 7, 2010 at 12:26 pm #1643688
@bookLocale: Northern California
Here's a vote for an external. I too need to keep weight off of my spine and on my hips. I've just not found an internal that will do this sufficiently. Instead, I chopped down a Kelty Trekker to just under four pounds; it works great–given my needs. Same would be true of a Tioga etc. But I just got a Luxurylite 2 lb external and it is much better; just as sweet as can be, no load on my shoulders or spine whatsoever. It's pricey new but you might get lucky and score a used version.Sep 7, 2010 at 7:27 pm #1643806
several of the Osprey packs considered internal frame are probably more accurately described as external packs- the Exos series being one
the Exos series does a good job of transferring weight, it does so at a pretty decent weight point as well- 39 oz for my Exos 46 size Large w/ all the bells and whistles still attachedSep 7, 2010 at 8:08 pm #1643811
Probably way overkill for your base weight, but the ULA Circuit is a really good lightweight option that does what you need.
So far, I have tried numerous packs in recent months. Read; Osprey Exos, ULA P2, ULA Catalyst, ULA OHM, ULA CDT, Golite JAM2, Gossamer Gear G4, G5, Miniposa, Gorilla, & SMD Comet and I still find myself going back to my ULA Circuit just because of the weight distribution and overall comfort. It just feels right and my base is right around 15lbs with a hammock or 12lbs for ground dwelling (3-seaon).
YMMVSep 7, 2010 at 8:18 pm #1643812
Hey guys, he needs a lightweight pack that gets the weight completely off the shoulders – he doesn't need a listing of every UL pack out there.Sep 7, 2010 at 8:49 pm #1643821
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
You have some very specific needs, probably outside of most folks' expertise here on BPL.
Here is what I would do… contact Dan McHale at McHale Alpine Packs (www.mchalepacks.com). Dan is your age (and mine). He has an excellent reputation, and he sometimes posts here on BPL. From what he has posted in the past, he has earned my respect.
Fortunately, I do not have to deal with what you are going through. And kudos for your determination. Call Dan, it won't cost anything, and talk to him. Yes, his packs may not be the cheapest alternative, but if he can meet your needs, I am sure it will be worth every penny (or dollar).
Good luck!!Sep 7, 2010 at 9:10 pm #1643824
I would still suggest a different route — although I am by no means discounting Mystery Ranch or McHale.
To me, I would want to try some of the quality, but lighter weight packs out there. Fred, your 7.5 lbs. base weight is pretty darn light, and I don't think you should automatically assume that you need a heavily-built pack to achieve load transfer. Not at all.
Try out some of the lighter weight Osprey, Granite Gear or ULA packs first. I think there's a very good chance that you will be very happy with them. If you are dissatisfied — then take the next step of shelling out the big bucks and carrying the extra pounds of a Mystery Ranch or McHale. In other words, there are simpler/lighter but potentially very effective solutions out there. I would try those first.Sep 7, 2010 at 9:23 pm #1643828
I found the load transfer to the hips excellent on the ULA Circuit. Especially with the light load you are carrying.Sep 8, 2010 at 6:13 am #1643862
I agree w/ ben's recommendation- you have a nice light base weight, give some of the lighter framed packs a go first- if they don't work out you can send them back (if still in resalable condition) or sell them here where you can recoup most of your $- then move to the heavier packs if need be
would be a shame if one of the lighter framed ones would do the trick and you never get a chance to try themSep 8, 2010 at 2:26 pm #1643985
Another thanks to everyone, I will take it all in. I still have a god bit of day hiking to do before I have to make a decision. I'll do some more trying on and research the McHale and ULA.Sep 8, 2010 at 3:53 pm #1644013
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Wow, 7.5 lbs isn't very much. How would you even be able to tell the weight was on your hips and not on your back? Perhaps you could make your own pack that is like a giant fanny pack. I still have an old Jandd fanny pack that was supposed to go with a harness system that would keep the pack from bouncing too much. It's not big enough to carry sleeping bags and everything, but maybe a similar system could be created.Nov 23, 2010 at 5:51 am #1667208
…in my lower back so I can sympathize with the OP. I've tried several packs without much success. I do have a McHale pack and I stripped it down to achieve the lightest weight possible. Get the weight on my hips.
It didn't work for me which is why I'm now going to the other extreme. My back was least effected when I wore what was essentially a large summit stuff bag. No pockets, no frills and all weight carried by my shoulders and upper back.
I'm going back to that approach and getting the lightest pack I can get my hands on, a ZPacks. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't. The back is a finicky thing and, sometimes, it's the strangest movement, such as a twist one way or the other, that will throw it out.
The OP is doing the polar opposite of me. I hope it works out for both of us.Nov 23, 2010 at 9:29 am #1667255
@kneebyterLocale: the depths of Hiking Hell (Iowa)
My hiking partner had a lumbar discectomy last year and went through this same search. He settled on a Natural Balance from Aarn packs. He said it is able to transfer almost all the weight to his hips, and has the added benefit of balancing the weight between front and back so as to eliminate the forward lean required with most backpacks. I tried it on one of our trips and was pretty impressed with it- enough so that I am probably going to get a Featherlite Freedom for myself. That is the model that I would suggest you look at. Even though it is probably a little large for a 7.5# base weight, their smaller packs appear to have smaller and less effective hip belts. Featherlite Freedom
Good luck in your search.
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