May 22, 2011 at 8:05 am #1274214
@dgpostonLocale: Texas / Colorado
I've been out of the backpacking circuit for the last couple of years due to my wife giving birth to our first child. I'm now revisiting ways to lighten up my load. My standby pack is a Gregory Z55 from about 2007 vintage which has served me well. It weighs in around 3 lbs, 3 oz (in a small), and has just about the right capacity for the typical 3-4 day trip me and my wife typically do. My only complaint with it is its design: the cooling mesh feature shifts the load away from your center of gravity. What I'd much prefer is a pack that sits closer to your torso for better load distribution.
I also have a Gregory G pack that has been sitting in my closet unused for the last 3 years (got it at an REI sale) which only weighs in around 2 lb, 10 oz (size small) but doesn't distribute weight quite as well as my trusty Z55, hence is about to get sold.
My question is: What alternatives are out there to my old Z55, or my Gregory G pack for that matter? I just checked Gregory's website, and the new Z55 packs have gone up significantly in weight. This is disappointing, as I've been generally happy with the design features of the Gregory packs.
My ideal pack would be something under 3 pounds with an internal frame and plenty of cushioning. Like I said before, my Z55 fits the bill well except for the way it sits away from my torso. I'm not looking to go SUL, just maybe lightweight or UL.
Suggestions? I should mention that I did try quite a few alternatives back when I started backpacking in 2007, including some of the Granite Gear series, which I found too floppy (I prefer an internal frame), and the Osprey series, which didn't quite fit me right (I was between a small and a medium), and I found lacking in comfort.May 22, 2011 at 8:51 am #1739599
Picking a lightweight pack with or without frame is completely predicated on the load you will be carrying. Lightweight packs carry best with lightweight loads. I don't think arbitrarily posting some recommendations without seeing or weighing your base amount of gear would provide you with as much benefit as knowing what your base weight is. Can you weigh it?May 22, 2011 at 9:43 am #1739611
@danmomiiLocale: Santa Cruz County, CA
I just purchased a Gossamer Gear Gorilla and am happy with it so far. It weighs about a pound and half including one hipbelt pocket. It carries 20 lbs. very well, because it has a very well designed curved aluminum stay and comfy hip belt with 1.5 inch webbing. It reminds me a lot of the Z-55 and Osprey Exos 46, yet it weighs less, cost about the same, and you can remove the stay and hip for a minimalist pack. It carries a little more gear than both the Z-55 and Exos, mainly because the aluminum stays do not really get in your way and take up needed volume. It also can carry a BV-solo and Berikade Weekender, that is why I chose it for my go to pack for the Sierras, where bear canisters are mandatory. Anyway good luck!May 22, 2011 at 9:59 am #1739618May 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm #1739657
@patientwolfLocale: South Western Oklahoma
As David said above it is somewhat difficult to recommend a pack without knowing something about the gear you will be carrying and what your base weight is. The Gregory site says the Z55 is a 3100cu.in/51L pack that carries up to approx 40lbs comfortably. So something like the Six Moon Design Starlite at 30oz with the optional aluminum frame might work for you.
You can check out the following links and get an idea about what types of lightweight packs are out there and you can make a better decision on what is appropriate given the gear you will be carrying.May 30, 2011 at 10:13 pm #1743004
@dgpostonLocale: Texas / Colorado
Sorry, I should have mentioned my pack weights. My base weight is somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 lbs (including pack)–I'm working on reducing that. Typical initial pack weights for a 3-4 day trip (including pack) usually run me (or did) around 23-24 lbs, maybe even less. I would very rarely, if ever, plan to carry more than 25 lbs total. Hope that helps.
I do have lower back issues so comfort and good support is important to me.
I will take a look at the options you guys have mentioned.May 30, 2011 at 11:28 pm #1743016
Have you checked out the Osprey Exos series? When I got into backpacking, I inherited one of their older model packs. They don't make the series anymore, but it's 5lbs and definitely doesn't feel like that. Suspension helps a lot, and my Exos 46 is under 3lbs. They even make a lighter pack now, the Hornet.
It's true, there are lighter and cheaper packs, but frameless packs are not that great for back problems.May 30, 2011 at 11:53 pm #1743020
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
I wouldn't look only at base weight. Total weight is more important.May 31, 2011 at 8:59 am #1743103
@babymattyLocale: Western/Central PA, Adirondacks
I also previously used a Z55 and as my load lightened, I felt the need for a lighter pack to match it. I ended up going with a 2009 ULA Ohm that I picked up off of the gear swap here, and and extremely happy with it. From what I've read, the new model has an improved hipbelt (although I don't have any complaints with the one on my pack). I have carried loads up to 30 lbs in all day comfort. I will actually be overloading it probably to around 35 lbs for a 5-day trip I'm going on leaving for tomorrow, and I also plan on camping at a couple dry ridge-top campsites, which will mean hauling 3L of water at the end of my day. I will definitely report back as to how the pack fared.
My only concern with the pack is that so far, I've only used it in winter and cold spring conditions, and even then I had a super-sweaty back (and I'm a fairly mild sweater). Not that I didn't get sweaty at the contact points of the Z55, but it was less because there was a large dry area in between upper and lower sweaty spots at the shoulders and lower back, as opposed to an entire sweaty back with the Ohm. Again, I will report back as to how that affects warm-weather hiking. It's looking to be in the 70s-80s my entire hike, with only one day of possible isolated t-storms.
In terms of volume, I'd say the main pack bags are similar in size. It's a bit easier to pack the Ohm, though, because there's no aluminum frame protruding into the pack bag. Although you can't carry as many things on the outside of the pack, the side pockets are by far the best I've ever used. I have heard many others attest to this. It's the only non-daypack I've ever used that allows me to EASILY pull out and put away a water bottle. This is huge to me, because I always carried a hydration system before getting this pack, as I like to avoid taking the whole pack off just to get a drink. Couldn't do that without a hose in the Z55.May 31, 2011 at 9:38 am #1743115
@detroittigerfanLocale: Ann Arbor
For 25lb loads and about 50 liter volume requirements, definitely look at the ULA Circuit. Enough suspension to not be at all "floppy", cushy hipbelt, simple and lightweight, carries 20-25lb loads extremely well and handles those sometimes-30lb very well.
I had similar criteria and couldn't be happier with my Circuit.May 31, 2011 at 10:17 am #1743128
@troutLocale: Long Beach
So this is more like "what should you get if you get your base weight for gear under 12lb", but I love my Ohm, http://www.ula-equipment.com/ohm.asp.
It holds up to about 30lb, is big relative to other UL packs, simple, and very lightMay 31, 2011 at 10:40 am #1743143
@chumlandLocale: Pacific Crest Trail, mostly
Chek out the Granite Gear Vapore Trail. I have a ULA Ohm and find that it doesn't carry heavier loads as well as my GGVT. It is on sale now here;
Hike well, hike safe, hike long,
Carl in San Diego
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