Nov 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm #1296395
I recently bought a Boreas Buttermilk 40L, and I could go on for days with how thrilled I am with that bag. Will review upon request.
Anyways, the bag has a plastic sheet and a metal tubing frame system that is fully removable, as shown here. Note, there are two of them in this photo:
After taking the frame out, It's easy to pack the bag in such a way that the foam backpanel keeps it's shape, and the nature of that foam being so thick and substantial, I can't really detect a difference with or without the frame; if anything, the fit seems better without the frame!
My question is, am I going to damage my back if I were to hike extensively without the frame if my baseweight is around 13-15lbs? I don't know how large a role a frame has in redistributing weight to the right places, but I don't want to risk an injury.
-MNov 24, 2012 at 6:30 pm #1930794
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
As surely you know, there are tradeoff's between full frame vs. frameless packs — else everyone would have gravitated to frameless a long time ago!
The trick is to match your pack with your gear volume and weight. You just need a pack that will give you the comfort you need. Once you are at that point, you do NOT need a heavier pack with stouter frame and beefier padding for extra comfort. Why not? Because carrying a heavier/stouter pack to provide additional comfort that you don't require (for your gear weight) just means putting that much more poundage onto your hips, legs, ankles, and feet!
So, how do you know what gear weight matches frameless packs well? There's general rule of thumb for starting point — and then there's actual experimentation. And I would focus on your total pack weight — in terms of the type / duration of hikes you take. As a general rule, most people are perfectly OK using frameless packs to carry weights of up to 25lbs.
Given your base weight, you are a good candidate to try out frameless packs. Best way is to pack up and do a nearby hike — or even hike the neighborhood for an hour or three. If you feel no particular discomfort or stress points, then the pack is right for you. Remember, we are all different.
Hope this helps.Nov 24, 2012 at 6:52 pm #1930796
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
The issue isn't your back or injury, it's your shoulders. With heavier loads, you wont be able to put the load on your hips and most of it will be on your shoulders. They can get sore easily. You can condition your shoulders a bit to prevent soreness.Nov 24, 2012 at 7:29 pm #1930806
I've heard anecdotal war stories from people who hiked 200 miles with a bag, only to be taken off the trail for an injured back because they didn't realize the pack was relying on the wrong muscle groups. Any weight to these stories? (no pun intended)
Justin: the thicker foam padding near the bottom of the Boreas seems to allow load transfer to the hips. That particular issue may be remedied.Nov 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm #1930811
@glacierramblerLocale: NW Montana
What you have to keep in mind when choosing framed/frameless packs is not just base weight but total pack weight. I saw on another thread that you're considering a thru-hike of the Long Trail. Figure out not only what your base weight will be but the maximum load you will carry with food and water. That will make or break the difference in weight between carrying the frame or not.
Also, test it out extensively beforehand and see if the extra ounces are worth it on a long hike or totally unnecessary. Only you can decide.Nov 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm #1930813
For a 13-15 pound baseweight I would ALWAYS us an internal frame pack. You can carry 25 pounds (and occasionally more) in a frameless pack in tolerable comfort. But above 20 pounds I argue most people will feel a bit more comfortable with a frame. With a 13-15 pound baseweight you will probably top 20 pounds fairly often.
If you want to go frameless you should be using a sub 2 pound pack and savine 1 or 2 pounds over the weight of the Buttermilk. But if you carry the Buttermilk you are only adding a few ounces by keeping the frame. In my opinion 5-10 oz more for a frame is worth it.Nov 24, 2012 at 8:14 pm #1930815
I think, because of its minimalist construction, the only difference between my Buttermilk and an UL pack is some durability in the bottom section and the luxurious back foam panel. My Buttermilk is a hair under 2lbs without the frame sheet, so the 1lb tradeoff for the durability and the comfort seems like weight well spent. That is relevant, since a lot of frameless UL packs will feel very different than mine, and the associated issues will be different. Perhaps.
When I load it up with 13lbs as my baseweight and then add water, I can feel the weight on my shoulders but also on my hips, and the feel of the backpanel is no different from when I'm using the frame. One thing I forgot to consider, however, is the 5lbs of camera gear I have on my shoulders, resting in front of me on a chestpack. My backpack might weigh sub-20, but my shoulders are carrying that +5lbs.
Still, if the foam sheet redistributes to my hips, this seems possibly doable.
I think testing is my only surefire way to solve this, but I wondered if anyone had a similar experience worth sharing. I'm loving the feedback: THANK YOU!Nov 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm #1930825
Well if your Buttermilk is a bit under 2 pounds that must be a rather heavy framesheet. If I recall the specs said the Buttermilk with framesheet was right at 3 pounds. Saving that extra pound might be worth it but again it comes back to total pack weight and what your body can handle.
Everyone is different but my sweet spot is about 20 pounds. Up to about 18-20 a frameless pack is about the same as a framed pack. Over that limit I CAN carry a frameless pack without horrible pain, but I can tell its not as comfortable as a pack with a frame in it.
If you are feeling weight on your shoulders then comfort is basically going to boil down to your physiology. Some people are more comfortable with weight on their shoulders then others.
Remember saving a pound is great but it is still maybe 5% of your total pack weight. If carrying 5% more reasults in greater comfort then don't worry about it.Nov 24, 2012 at 9:18 pm #1930830
Thanks for noticing my numbers- I double checked it. My pack is 2lb 5oz without the framesheet, and the framesheet weighs 11oz.
I honestly don't know how I hold up physiologically compared to others. I have broad shoulders and a strong back and absolutely no pain while backpacking, but I also have a desperate fear of a 40 year old version of myself who has back/knee problems, so I try to take precautions.Nov 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm #1930832
@glacierramblerLocale: NW Montana
If your frame really weighs 11 oz. and there is still ample foam on the pack, look into some MYOG frames that will save you some weight. I wonder if you could easily integrate the Gossamer Gear U-stay into the pack somehow or add twin aluminum ones.
/*/Edited for above information/*/Nov 24, 2012 at 9:48 pm #1930838
Well I don't think you can do too much damage trying it out for short hikes. I had an overuse injury to my back at work but it built up for a long time. Listen to your body, if you are constantly sore or especially if the pain is concentrated in a certain area (as opposed to an overall soreness from a hard day's work), change something.
Now if you are planning a thru-hike I might keep the frame both becuase I think 10-11oz is worth it for the frame and because a framed pack is much more forgiving if you do kink your back somehow. I did 400 plus miles with my back only partially recovered and was fine with my internal frame pack. My frameless pack on the other hand was hugely uncomfortable even with a weekend load.Nov 25, 2012 at 5:58 am #1930871
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Generally, duration between resupply points, will dictate pack weight. Once you establish a base weight, such as yours at 15 pounds, then live loads will determine the actual totals. If you want a week's supply of food, that means about 14pounds for most people and a 29 pound pack weight plus fuel and water. Easily, you are topping 30 pounds.
At 30pounds you need some sort of frame.
At 15 pounds you do not.
So, these are the two end points for your weight parameters. I would go for a smaller pack, and reduce the base weight to about 8-10 pounds. Then reduce your weight for food by using high density foods. This will get you to 25pounds for a week. Add a CCF pad, mounted internally, an this will add the difference between needing a framed pack and not needing one.
For example: Cutting a CCF pad, fanfolded into next to your back makes a good frame and padding against tuff in there. It still doubles for sleeping.Nov 25, 2012 at 8:05 am #1930897
Load up your frameless version pack with the maximum you will carry, and go for a one or two night hike. See how it feels. Go on from there!Nov 25, 2012 at 9:38 am #1930914
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
+1 for just going out and trying it. I treat a lot of bad backs and knees in my clinic and honestly, if you don't have any trouble with your back or knees now, nothing is really going to "sneak" up on you on a thru-hike that you wouldn't have seen coming. And if it does, it most certainly was NOT because you took out the frame in your pack.
Honestly, load up with as much weight as you would maximally carry (even if you just carry a bunch of water to add to the overall poundage) and take some short and longer trips with it. You'll know right away if it's not carrying right, then you can make adjustments either to your overall weight or the frame.
No worries about your 40-year-old self sneaking up on you…unless you fall off a cliff and break your leg, none of these kinds of injuries are surprises. Even backs…
And speaking as a 40-something with a bad back, I just switched from my framed Exos 46 to a GG Gorilla and my back simply LOVES it. I've been backpacking for more than 20 years and this is the first time I realized that my shoulders didn't have to hurt. Which is exactly opposite of what you'd think from going frameless…..
So load up and go hike. It's the only way to answer your question.Nov 25, 2012 at 10:02 am #1930918
on the LT the furthest i went between resupply was 4.5 days 84mi from the Inn to Jonesville/Richmond. and from Smugglers notch to the end 4days 70mi
so worst case.. 5 days food 2L of water see what it feels like.Nov 25, 2012 at 9:38 pm #1931092
Jennifer, thank you. That's very much the answer I was looking for- assurance that I'm not going to hurt myself and that there are possible exceptions to general rules about weight. I was iffy since my pack weight was 25-30 and that's right at the threshold- I will test it!Nov 26, 2012 at 8:07 am #1931172
+1 on what Jennifer said except from a 65 yo who has been backpacking over 30 years. I also switched from an Exos and now carry a GG Gorilla also, and a GG Murmur and my shoulders and hips DO NOT hurt and my back also LOVES it.Nov 26, 2012 at 9:47 am #1931193
I would say give it a try. I was thinking of the finer points of "most comfortable" you seem more worried about possible injury. Trust me if you are healthy enough to be backpacking no pack with 20-25 pounds in it is going to actually hurt you.
If you feel comfortable with it frameless that opens up the possibility of buying (or making) a frameless pack that is even lighter then what you have now.Nov 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm #1931555
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
…you can have the comfort of transferring weight to your hips (and back to your shoulders for a while if desired).
Why anyone sould opt for a frameless pack to save maybe 2 to 4 ounces and sacrifice comfort has always been beyond me. As mentioned above, you also sacrifice load carrying ability with a frameless pack.
BTW, I have twice added 1" wide, pre-curved aluminum stays to packs to make them more comfortable. Loew's 1" aluminum strips and stainless bolts with washers and stainless Nylock nuts completes the setup. Melting bolt holes in the packcloth and framesheet is easy with a heated spike held in locked Vicegrips. But it must be done with great care.Nov 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm #1931574
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
You're right – it's not worth sacrificing comfort to save 4-5 ounces. But in my case I resisted the idea of a frameless (because that's what I kept reading…and so that's what I thought) for more than a year before I tried the Gorilla (for size, for saving a pound, and because one of my hiking friends raved about her frameless).
As I mentioned before, I have never, ever had a pack this comfortable. I've carried EMS, REI, Gregory and Osprey packs over the years and every last one of them hurt in some way. Granted, some of those early years were just really really heavy, but the Gorilla is the first pack that I've not felt the urge to take off at rest stops and that I don't need to put blister dressings on my collarbones.
Everyone has a pack that works better for him or her, and the only way to know is just to try it out. I certainly wish I'd NOT paid attention to all the talk about how difficult frameless packs can be…I'd have started carrying one 2 years ago.Nov 27, 2012 at 10:02 pm #1931654
@sierradougLocale: Bay Area, CA, USA
Jennifer–Sorry for the thread highjacking, but the GG Gorilla does have an internal frame, doesn't it?Nov 27, 2012 at 10:06 pm #1931655
Hey Doug, this is from the product page
A tough, smaller volume, Ultralight backpack with an internal frame and integrated hip belt pockets good for just about any kind of trip."Nov 28, 2012 at 4:56 am #1931678
@newtonLocale: Southeastern Louisiana
You've gotten many good responses and suggestions on this thread. One thing that I have not seen mentioned is what kind of sleeping pad you use and your method of packing it into your pack.
What is your pad style? Do you use an inflatable or a foam pad? Who is the manufacturer?
Do you fold or roll your pad? Is your packing method the "burrito style" or do you fold your pad and keep it close to your back?
I recently switched to an inflatable ProLite Plus pad and the folding pad method in my pack. I use a frameless MYOG pack without a hip belt and carry approximately 23 pounds in my fully loaded pack. This includes food, water and fuel for about a week or more.
If my pack had a hip belt I believe that I could carry a somewhat heavier load easily due to the folded inflatable pad's "stiffness" helping to transfer the weight.
+1 for the conditioning of the shoulders.
My MYOG pack has 3" wide shoulder straps made of 4mm spacer mesh and Xpac fabric only. There is no foam padding and as I mentioned there is no hip belt. On a recent outing I carried my full load quite comfortably. The trick is the wide straps distributing the load over a wider area and getting used to carrying the weight on your shoulders only.
I hope this helps rather than confuses the issue. ;-)
FWIW I am 58 years old.
NewtonNov 28, 2012 at 8:34 am #1931713
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Newton, On a summer backpacking trip, my daughter had nothing but problems with her pad folded. (She was using a Gossamer Gear G5 Sil.) In the pad pocket, it would continually bunch up. I finaly sugested she use the rolled methode inside the pack after the first day and it carried far better. I was using the Murmur with a 5 piece NightLite pad in the pad pocket that was carrying more weight (around 20 lbs) than hers and it carried easily. The inflatable seemed to fail for this use. We did not try it folded inside as you suggest, though. (She had about 17 pounds for 5 nights.)
I would suggest that the inflatable pads loose a good portion of their stiffness when only partially inflated. Inside, she was able to stuff her bag and gear, then inflate the thing pretty well. She *did* complain about it rocking on her back, though.Nov 28, 2012 at 11:30 am #1931751
@newtonLocale: Southeastern Louisiana
Does the G5 hold its pad in the same way as the G4 does in the picture below?
My MYOG pack has lycra pockets on its sides.
In one of them I carry my tent. I have noticed that the lycra tends to stretch and relax a bit after a period of time. I have also noticed a distinct tendency of anything in a lycra pocket to slip. My tent is stored in a silnylon stuff sack. On a recent hike it ejected itself from the pocket while the pack was lying down on a truck bed as I attempted to pick it up.
When my inflatable pad is folded it is purged of air and the valve closed. The pad is folded in as many sections as it takes to approximate the width of my pack. The deflated and folded pad is inserted into the interior of my pack next to my back. It is located by two elastic bands sewn into the seam allowances at about 8" from the top and 8" or so from the bottom. This hold my pad against to front panel of my pack and keeps it from shifting or moving around.
The rest of my gear is packed inside of a trash compactor bag inside of my pack. My pack is sized to my carried gear with a little extra space for "extras" but not much.
This probably helps in keeping the pad located as well.
I'm sorry that it didn't work in your daughter's case but it works well for me when done as described above. YMMV
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