Apr 25, 2012 at 8:12 pm #1289179
@nathanmLocale: Bay Area
Since 2004, my primary pack has been a Jam. It's still a great pack, but it carries most of the weight on my shoulders. This wasn't a problem for most of its career with loads of less than 25 lbs, but because of a shoulder injury I'm now looking to move more weight to my hips. I'm sure this question has been answered before, but I'm looking for recommendations. I'm interested in packs that don't add any features other than a "real" hip belt (my 2004 jam just has webbing) and a stiffer frame. I also need something tall–I'm 6'6" with a 21+" torso, so some packs are so short that even if they have a good hip belt and frame, I can't get the hip belt on my hips while properly adjusting the shoulder straps.
The only other feature I'm looking for is durability. For a few years I wasn't getting out as much as I liked, but my Jam has been on a lot of trips and, despite a few patches, is holding up well. I already feel bad replacing it before it's completely worn out, so whatever my next pack is needs to last a while as well.Apr 25, 2012 at 8:42 pm #1871295
I am extremely happy with the MLD Exodus FS. Particularly with load transfer to the hips. They do have a model listed with a 21.25 torso as the large model. However, it is listed only for users up to 6 feet 3 inches.Apr 25, 2012 at 9:20 pm #1871305
Of your budget allows, McHale is worth a look. A better suspension would be hard to find, and you can be sure of a proper fit :)Apr 25, 2012 at 9:20 pm #1871306
My ULA Catalyst and Ohm 2 both do very well with weight transfer. I've got some back issues, which prevents me from even thinking about a pack that doesn't put nearly all the weight on my hips. I went through a bunch of packs, and the ULA packs did the best job. I am very happy with them! (I did not try the MLD Exodus – just saying!)Apr 25, 2012 at 9:23 pm #1871307
I have a long torso as well and have found the offerings available from ULA to be long enough with good load transfer. I have had both the Circuit and currently use an Ohm. Both transfer the load quite effectively, especially at 25 pounds.Apr 25, 2012 at 9:51 pm #1871318
+1 on the ULA Ohm. No weight on my shoulders. The shoulder straps simply keep the pack from falling away from your back. All the weight is transferred to your hips.Apr 25, 2012 at 10:13 pm #1871320
Hyperlite Mountain Gear makes an XL size called large/tall.Apr 25, 2012 at 11:52 pm #1871353
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Try a loaded Osprey EXOS 58 and see what you think.
That pack will, if necessary, carry 40 lbs. comfortably B/C it's designed ON a frame, not with a frame as an afterthought. The comfort is worth the slight extra weight.Apr 26, 2012 at 4:35 am #1871395
@sim1ozLocale: Melbourne, Australia
I use a Jam for short walks but I love my Aarn Featherlite Freedom and am sometimes tempted to take it even when I don't need so much carry space because it is just so incredibly comfortable and convenient.
I just used the Aarn FF for an 8 day walk in Tasmania. I'd never carried that much food before and the adjustability of the pack allowed me to move the weight around easily. Most of the time I carried the weight on my hips but I could pop a bit on my shoulders if I felt like it.
The Aarn body packs have front pouches (if you pack properly they counterbalance with the back pouch) and lots of adjustment straps which could drive some people nuts. But now that I know how to use it, I sure miss its features when I walk with anything else. Those front pouches are amazing, I never need to take my pack off. Everything I need for the day is right before my eyes.
Now that I think about it, I think I will get a second smaller 36L Aarn pack for weekenders and give the Jam to my kids!
One word of warning, I wouldn’t buy one for the first time without being able to try it on and play with it because it is really different from anything you will have seen before. Also, a good salesperson should be able to help you choose the right size and adjust all the fittings to fit you. (I never let anyone else use my FF – it’s all mine!).
It is not widely stocked in Australia, and the same is probably true in the USA, so for more details see: http://www.aarnusa.com/Apr 26, 2012 at 6:51 am #1871425
@tylerdLocale: SE US
Nathan, I wonder if it is an issue with an older model Jam? I have a 2010/11 Pinnacle and if I pack it right I can put the hip belt on and have no weight on my shoulders. When packed right and put on correctly (for me) I can have the shoulder straps completly loose and the pack stays put it is just hanging too far from my back. I only use the shoulder straps to bring the pack up against my back. I have heard that the hip belts have gotten better over time on the GoLite packs so maybe that is the issue. (I have no experience with the older packs myself, this is my first GoLite pack).Apr 26, 2012 at 7:58 am #1871444
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter.
Carries extremely well, has been functionally very durable, is under 2lbs, and can carry 30 lbs in absolute comfort.
Alternative to that would be the ULA OHM, although I have limited experience with the 1.0 version.Apr 26, 2012 at 11:59 am #1871549
I'm in my 40's, can't stand up straight and have serious shoulder problems…..I feel your pain. I've tried REI stuff, ultralight stuff and modifying or making things. I now use either a beefy aarn pack, filled with light gear, or an aether 60 with argon belt and straps plus hardware store aluminum bars attached the the hip belt and bolted thru the framesheet of the pack. For any load more than 10lbs it's one of these. Even day hikes. 99% of the wieght is on the hips, it helps a ton.
I think, if your loads light enough, you could modify any internal frame pack to add direct and sturdy load tranfer between the belt and pack. If you want to buy a pack, Aarn is the way to go, Dana at Aarn USA was very helpful, just tell him what you want to acomplish. the other thing I noticed was that I needed to pack differently, keeping the heavier items closer to my back.
Happy trailsApr 26, 2012 at 12:48 pm #1871563
I used to use granite gear packs (nimbus, vapor trail, etc) since they had so much squishiness to them.
But a while back I went out on a limb and got a ULA Catalyst. Despite the lack of squishiness, the pack is at least twice as comfortable due to the amazing suspension. The only thing I miss is the stretchiness of the side pockets on the granite gears. Oh well.Apr 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm #1871687
@nathanmLocale: Bay Area
Thanks everybody for the thorough and prompt responses.
McHale is out of my league. Aarn doesn't look like what I'm looking for either. Here are a couple questions about the other packs folks have mentioned, but really, if anybody in the bay area has a tall Exodus, Porter, or Circuit I could see in person, that'd be great–PM me.
The new Jams look to have much more going for them than my old one, both in terms of a stiffer hipbelt and with it apparently being placed inside from the edges of the pack. On the original Jam the hipbelt wings are sewn into the seams at the very edges of the backpanel. This is fine when the bottom of the pack contains a mostly-lofted sleeping bag and the whole pack can wrap around me, but works less well with a fuller, more rigid pack. I'm a little worried, though, about whether that change would be enough to bump it up to carrying 25-30 lbs comfortably.
Relatedly, for the MLD packs, I'm worried that the hipbelt, although more than webbing, has the same issue as my old Jam. Although maybe with the extra rigidity being attached at the outside edges isn't such a big deal. I have an MLD bivy and love the quality of Ron's work.
On the HMG pack, since Cuben is new to me, I'm worried about it's longevity. Also, how is the construction quality on these packs? I haven't seen any HMG gear, but some of the BPL review pictures have what looks to be pretty irregular stitching. https://dpcr19kltm61a.cloudfront.net/backpackinglight/images/hyperlite-mountain-gear-porter-pack-review-4.jpg
I don't know anything about the ULA packs. As I said, if anybody has one nearby me, I'd love to see it.
Thanks again everyone.Apr 26, 2012 at 6:32 pm #1871700
Nearby to what???Apr 26, 2012 at 10:31 pm #1871761
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
The only suspension I know of that comfortably takes nearly all the load off the shoulders is the Jackpack design. I have posted pix of one on MYOG, and hope to have another much lighter one posted there by sometime in July. Unfortunately, as far as I know, the design is not currently available anywhere commercially.Apr 28, 2012 at 11:38 am #1872197
@lopezLocale: San Gabriel Valley
If you're 6'6" then most likely your torso is 24" or more. I think your primary consideration should be an internal framed pack made long enough for your torso. The only one i have found (my torso is 24" also) is the ULA Circuit with XL torso size, which is a very popular, internal framed pack. It's not the lightest, but weight should be secondary to fit in my opinion. I am considering finding an internal framed pack as well for carrying large amounts of water on my desert hikes. I'm in Socal, probably too far for me to let you try my ULA CDT unless you end up this way some time. One other consideration comes to mind which might seem farfetched but… http://www.thecleanestline.com/2011/08/on-tumplines.html.
Good Luck!Apr 28, 2012 at 11:48 am #1872199
You can try some ULA packs at Down Works in Santa Cruz.Apr 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm #1872289
@anthonywestonLocale: Southern CA
I have an injured spine and I can't take any weight on my shoulders.
I've been using the Zpacks Exo, it's the lightest pack at 12.8 oz that carries
25 lbs comfortably with the weight where I want it on my hips.
this is the Zpacks Exo on the right, along side the Nimbus Ozone.
The Exo is wide and narrow and this also helps keep the load close to your back.Apr 28, 2012 at 8:37 pm #1872316
@carlbeckerLocale: Northern Virginia
You should not dismiss Aarn packs. Even if they have extras on them the pack itself probably has the best load transfer ability made today. I have tried many different packs and types from old Kelty framed to Six Moons ultralite's. Not sure about your size as I am only 6'1".Apr 28, 2012 at 9:03 pm #1872317
@cameronLocale: The WOODS
If you have a bad shoulder I would avoid all frameless packs. I'd also avoid some of the lighter internal frame packs unless your weight will always be under 30 pounds.
Since you are also taller this will limit your options a bit. If you don't like the ULA packs check out Chris Zimmer's custom built packs. He could make one with any torso length you want.
I'd ask for the following things.
1. A sturdy hipbelt that is firmly anchored to the frame. All other things being equal a pack with a better hipbelt is going to carry better. This is not a place to skimp on ounces.
2. Load lifters might be good for you. They can fine tune fit and helpt take a bit of extra weight off your shoulders.
Edit – I just remembered someone saying the new Jams have a better hipbelt. I agree they probably do. I just made two packs with similar hipbelts. Its better but there are still two problems with frameless packs for you.
1. No matter how I pack, the pack is still more flexible than a pack with an internal frame. This means as you move it will occassionally put more weight on your shoulders.
2. Packing with a pad as a "virtual frame" works but the fit is not as precise. So the pack will probably move around more and again it will probably put weight where you don't want it. I'd stay away from all frameless packs in your sitution.Apr 28, 2012 at 9:12 pm #1872321
ULA just makes sense(I'm repeating if I say more). Buy a Circuit, be happy, see the earth.May 2, 2012 at 8:40 pm #1873812
I'm not sure about the Exos 58 carrying 40lbs comfortably comment.
Sure, you can pack that much weight in it, but once you pass 30 lbs, there's nothing comfortable about it. The frame my be made for it, but the narrow shoulder straps with little padding certainly aren't nor is the hip belt.May 3, 2012 at 3:08 am #1873872
+1 on the new Jams or the 2011 Jam or Pinnacle.
I have the 2011 Jam and Pinnacle, the only difference is really the size. Both have good hip belts that carry the load very well. I routinely back off my shoulder straps to shift to change things up and give my shoulder adn upper back a break. Both also carry 30 lbs comfortably when needed. Especially the Pinnacle.
The 2012 Jam looks similar as 2011. It come sin differnt sizes, wiht the 50L size being the same as the old Pinnacle.May 3, 2012 at 7:34 am #1873909
Unfortunately, in adding things like load lifters and a wider belt yet trying to keep the pack weigh down they minimized the padding on the shoulder straps. It is abysmal.
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