Lightweight Backpacks 2008: Current Favorites and New Introductions (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008)
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Sep 16, 2008 at 2:12 pm #1231192Addie BedfordBPL Member
Companion forum thread to:Sep 16, 2008 at 5:33 pm #1451333Ashley BrownMember
Another good roundup — thanks Will!
Will, how would you rate the comfort of the new Osprey Exos compared to the ULA Catalyst or Granite Gear Vapor Trail? In the photo the hipbelt looks it might be a little thin on padding….?Sep 16, 2008 at 5:50 pm #1451334Ashley BrownMember
Also… how well does the trampoline back on the Exos work? Does it help keep your back noticeably drier?Sep 16, 2008 at 6:25 pm #1451339John S.BPL Member
Huge oversight to leave out http://www.zpacks.com. They are the lightest weight and best value on the cottage market.Sep 17, 2008 at 4:04 am #1451367mark coleBPL Member
I agree. Z packs should have been included. That is unless Will tried them and didn't think them worthy?Sep 17, 2008 at 4:57 am #1451371John S.BPL Member
I'm not blaming anyone in BPL specifically on the zpacks issue. While the packs are not new for 2008 (some features are new), BPL has never once (that I can find) done anything with their packs except adding the Z1 to the gearguide. Hikers have thru-hiked several trails (PCT, Sierra high route) with these packs so they are definitely worthy.
Zpacks should not be excluded just because they didn't make a pack for BPL (gossamergear) or because their owners (MLDgear, sixmoondesigns) are not peer reviewers for BPL.Sep 17, 2008 at 8:37 am #1451390
My big problem is finding a high volume but lightweight pack for winter camping in NH. Since the temps can get well below 0F I need plenty of insulation, but the total weight is very little, considering. Last March I did an overnight in Vermont with 12 pounds of gear, although I had just enough insulation for the 10F conditions.
Most large volume packs are designed for heavy weight loads, and lightweight packs don't have the carrying capacity to handle my gear volume. I tried modifying a Golite Trek pack, adding some extra padding in the waist belt and a crude internal frame, but I'm not totally satisfied with its sturdiness or how well it carries.
I've ordered an Osprey Aether 85 pack, which I'll use over the winter. Anyone have an alternate suggestion?Sep 17, 2008 at 8:39 am #1451391Christopher PleskoMember
@pivvayLocale: Rocky Mountains
Cilogear 45-60L. Maybe 75L but that is REALLY big.Sep 17, 2008 at 9:17 am #1451392Will RietveldBPL Member
@williwabbitLocale: Southwest Colorado
You guys and gals are so perceptive and catch all the details that I often miss! Our Outdoor Retailer roundup articles are meant to highlight new products of interest so readers can keep up to date on new products hitting the market or in the pipeline. Its hard to be comprehensive under the constraints of limited time and sleep depredation at Outdoor Retailer. That said, here are some responses to your questions:
Osprey Exos Packs: When one first looks at them, a first reaction is that the suspension system is not padded enough. But after using them it turns out not to be a problem. The frame wraps around your hips and the padding is sufficient to carry a moderate load comfortably. The trampoline backpanel on the Exos gets it just right. I can feel it press against my back, and it ventilates very well. Previous designs had too much space behind the mesh, which reduced usable pack volume and pushed the center of gravity outward too far. The Exos 58 and GG Vapor Trail are about the same weight and volume, and I would personally choose the Exos because I like all the pockets and convenience. The Vapor Trail has GG's cushy suspension system but lacks most of the features of the Exos. Both packs are most comfortable with moderate loads (<30 pounds), but are capable of carrying heavier loads for a few days when needed.
Z-Packs: You caught me on this one; Z-Packs was off my radar screen because the business was on hold last year while Joe hiked the PCT. His new Blast packs, available in 3 sizes and made of Cuben Fiber, are indeed remarkably light, and the only Cuben packs currently available. Joe Valesko at Z-Packs is a great guy who makes great gear at reasonable prices in support of thru hikers and I highly recommend him.
WillSep 17, 2008 at 9:26 am #1451394Carter HuntMember
@thechampLocale: Portland, OR
That Terra Nova Laser 35 looks pretty nice and priced right. Looks like a lot of nice features for the weight. I would love to see some more information or reviews on these when they become available.Sep 17, 2008 at 9:45 am #1451398Rick DreherBPL Member
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
Great report, Will, and thanks for the followup.
An Osprey fan myself, I'm excited by the possibilities of the Exos series (which I've not seen) as they seem to be a mashup of the Atmos and Talon series, especially WRT combining suspension elements.
You're spot on about the Atmos packs being difficult to load up, due to the big scoop the trampoline frame takes out of the main compartment. I have an A35 that loads more like a 25 or 30L pack. It's basically a big day pack, and is also not exactly light. I love my Talon 44–it's my mainstay backpack–but definitely miss the airspace the Atmos provides at my back, with the Talon being much sweatier. The Talon water bladder compartment is also a challenge to load with a full pack.
If they've provided Atmos comfort with Talon weight and load management prowess, these new packs will be great.Sep 17, 2008 at 10:21 am #1451404Michael DavisMember
@mad777Locale: South Florida
I reference to your question regarding winter packs for NH.
I am very happy with my Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone. It's seen several winter trips in the White Mountains and has served me well.
It weighs in at 3.0 lbs once you cut off some the excesively long straps. It has an much beefier frame than their Vapor Trail pack but save weight by using silnylon, which has to be taken care of (stay on the trails). Also it has minimum features.
The volume is 3800 c.i. (62L) with the collar extended, plus side water bottle pockets.
But it sure is comfortable and it will carry more weight than I ever will.Sep 17, 2008 at 10:36 am #1451407te – waBPL Member
"His new Blast packs, available in 3 sizes and made of Cuben Fiber, are indeed remarkably light, and the only Cuben packs currently available. Joe Valesko at Z-Packs is a great guy who makes great gear at reasonable prices in support of thru hikers and I highly recommend him."
sounds like the need for an independent review. I have the Blast 16 and it has seen considerable use, to my delight.Sep 17, 2008 at 2:46 pm #1451432
"The volume is 3800 c.i. (62L) with the collar extended, plus side water bottle pockets."
My problem is I typically need around 5000 cubic inches of pack to haul everything, so a 3800 ci pack wouldn't do it. If I take synthetic insulated clothes I don't like to overcompress them, so I'm stuck with most of my 5000 ci pack used up by the sleeping bag, parka, and middle layer.Sep 17, 2008 at 6:19 pm #1451455Frank DelandMember
@ramblerLocale: On the AT in VA
I reference to your question regarding winter packs for NH.
I am very happy with my Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone. It's seen several winter trips in the White Mountains and has served me well." (Mike Davis)
I switched from the GG Nimbus Ozone to the Golite Odyssey to fit a sub zero bag and the Golite tent. (the pyramid style – forgot the name Looks like the Shangri-La 3)Sep 17, 2008 at 6:24 pm #1451456donald bucknerSpectator
@toomanyarrowsLocale: Southeast U.S.
I can see why Z-packs were off the radar screen for this Market update. I'm glad to see you giving them recognition in the discussion. I have a Zilch pack that I love and I appreciate Joe and his attention to his customers. I even take my pack to work as if it were show and tell like in grade school. Everyone is fascinated that there are lightweight backpacks like this out there. Keep up the great Market updates, Will. You are one of my favorite evaluators on this site, and you have been a great help to me, a new light weight recruit.Sep 17, 2008 at 8:38 pm #1451466Steven EvansBPL Member
"hard time finding a high volume but lightweight pack for winter camping"
Did you look at the other backpack article released? It features many lightweight high volume packs.Sep 18, 2008 at 9:27 am #1451495Huzefa @ Blue Bolt GearBPL Member
>The side compression straps will (finally) mate across the front of the pack to stabilize the load or attach larger items to the front of the pack.
I dont see this feature in the pic. Or am I missing something?Sep 18, 2008 at 1:42 pm #1451510
"Did you look at the other backpack article released? It features many lightweight high volume packs."
Except for the Golite Oddessy, all the packs are well under 5000 ci. The article also talked about light packs for heavy loads, but I don't really carry heavy loads, just large ones.
I'll take a look at the Oddessy, though.Sep 18, 2008 at 3:31 pm #1451518Lynn TramperMember
@retropumpLocale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
>>The side compression straps will (finally) mate across the front of the pack to stabilize the load or attach larger items to the front of the pack.
I dont see this feature in the pic. Or am I missing something?
It just means that you can unlatch the side compression straps and mate them across the fron of the pack. IE they can be used as either side compression straps OR for loading for a gear across the front of the pack.Sep 18, 2008 at 7:02 pm #1451537Lewis MartinBPL Member
@mrtymrtnLocale: Sierra Nevadas Golden Trout W
ULA should be included in the review as well. Very comfortable back. Lots of features.Sep 19, 2008 at 1:41 am #1451549Huzefa @ Blue Bolt GearBPL Member
Got it. Thanks, Allison.Sep 19, 2008 at 3:50 am #1451552Woubeir (from Europe)BPL Member
I've noticed a remark about the Osprey Atmos series being difficult to load because of the trampoline frame. I seem to remember that Osprey has revamped these packs to address this problem (or at least part of it).
Another pack which hasn't been mentioned is the new Granite Gear Vapor Flash (and Vapor Flash Ki). It looks like a Meridian Vapor but simpler in design. For some reason it's heavier than the Meridian Vapor with a weigt of 49 oz. Perhaps the most interesting part is the fact that the lower compression strap can be configured to go inside or over the side pocket.Sep 19, 2008 at 5:56 am #1451555Michael DavisMember
@mad777Locale: South Florida
I have a REI Venturi 30 that has the same trampoline type frame. These type frames do present chalenging packing obstacles but I do appreciate the breathability on hot, humid summertime trips. Bottom line, these type packs are a compromise; look before you buy.Sep 19, 2008 at 10:59 am #1451578Clifford L Deal JrSpectator
I bought an Osprey Aether 85 for some of the reasons you mentioned. So far I have used it on one several day backpack trip and it worked fine carrying loads up to 40 lbs, and can probably go more if required. The volume seems to be true to 85L. I think it is the best & lightest high volume pack. I would prefer it to be top entry only and a little lighter, but I think you will be happy with it.
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