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Internal Frame vs Frameless Pack


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  • #1282540
    Jay Klustner
    Spectator

    @jklustner-2

    I can't decide if I want to move to a frameless pack. I currently have the Kelty Coyote. It's not a bad pack, but is very heavy and doesn't have some features that are on a lot of frameless packs like outer mesh pockets, etc. I took my coyote on my first trek to Philmont, this summer. My pack was 45 pounds with food and water( I didn't have any interest in ultralight backpacking then)I had a great time, but it could have been a lot better had I had a lighter pack. I plan on going back in 2013. We go backpacking about twice a month on places like the AT and Jacks River. Before going on one of these trips, I counted up all of the weights of everything I had and discovered that my pack was one of the heaviest things I had. So I looked around and have found many frameless backpacks that I like, but don't know how they will carry larger loads when I need it to. Like I said, I am planning on going back in a few years and I don't want to have to get a new backpack after I purchase this one. I have never had the oppurtunity to speak to someone with a frameless pack, so can someone give me some advice.

    Thanks in advance,
    Jay

    #1806862
    Joe Clement
    BPL Member

    @skinewmexico

    Locale: Southwest

    ULA Circuit is a great pack, that excels at carrying a heavier load when you need to. And it saves you a couple of pounds. Not so sure you can do that with a frameless pack.

    #1806869
    James holden
    BPL Member

    @bearbreeder-2

    my suggestion would be to take yr current gear and go to REI and see what size pack you need … and how the gear fits and carries

    or consider lightening up everything else except for the pack last …

    fit as always is everything … frameless is not recommended at 45 lbs … i suspect even some lighter framed packs would have issues at that weight

    #1806872
    Jay Klustner
    Spectator

    @jklustner-2

    Do you think it will hold up to some abuse? It seems pretty light for an internal frame pack. Thanks for your response.

    #1806874
    Luke Schmidt
    BPL Member

    @cameron

    Locale: Alaska

    Jay this issue gets debated a lot around here so there's not perfect answer, here are my thoughts.

    Frameless packs should be packed in such a way that they are stiff. The normal way it to fold a foam sleeping matt or roll it into a cylander and place it inside. Gear is than put in and you tighten the compression straps to make a nice tight pack. If you do this right the pack will be stiff enough that the hipbelt will transfer weight to your hips and off your shoulders up to about 25-30 pounds depending on the specific pack. After that the pack collapses under the weight and puts too much on your shoulers. Frameless packs have to be packed more carefully to fit right, so theres a learning curve.

    Because I usually go really light I've used frameless packs a lot. But for heavier loads I prefer an internal frame pack. Technically frameless packs can work up to 25-30 pounds before they collapse. But I think theres more to it that that. Above 20 pounds I feel like the more sophisticated fit of my interna frame pack distrubes the weight a lot better.

    So the short answer is. If you'll never, ever carry more than 30 pounds and normally less than 20 you can us a frameless pack. If you expect to carry more thatn 30 pounds or more that 20 a lot of the time than get an internal frame pack.

    #1806876
    Bob Gross
    BPL Member

    @b-g-2-2

    Locale: Silicon Valley

    "frameless is not recommended at 45 lbs"

    I carried a 45-pound load one time in a frameless Golite pack. That's the last time that I will ever do that.

    –B.G.–

    #1806877
    Luke Schmidt
    BPL Member

    @cameron

    Locale: Alaska

    Jay the fabric of the Circuit is pretty durable stuff. I think I heard that in some ULA packs the frame could wear through the fabric over time. That was a while ago so I suspect they've fixed it since they've been updating their packs. Lots of happy Circuit users here.

    #1806880
    Jay Klustner
    Spectator

    @jklustner-2

    Sorry, I was unclear about how much I will be carrying. 45 pounds was when I didn't have ultralight gear. I am planning to drop at least 10 pound off of that. I usually carry about 20-25, with my current pack.

    Luke- so if I went with a frameless pack, I would need to pack it in a certain way for it to transfer the load properly?

    Does anyone else have any thoughts?

    #1806882
    Nick Gatel
    BPL Member

    @ngatel

    Locale: Southern California

    With a frameless pack there is nowhere to transfer the weight… except maybe a little bit to a flimsy web belt, so the weight is going to hang on your shoulders. I take these off my UL packs; extra weight. Some people state they can handle ~15 lbs in a frameless pack. I find anything over 10 lbs for an extended period uncomfortable.

    Along with reading stuff here on BPL, maybe purchasing the following books would be helpful:

    Trail Life: Ray Jardine's Lightweight Backpacking, by Ray Jardine

    Lightweight Backpacking and Camping, by Ryan Jordan

    Ultralight Backpackin' Tips: 153 Amazing & Inexpensive Tips for Extremely Lightweight Camping, by Mike Clelland

    And there are others that BPL members might choose to add to this list.

    #1806888
    Jay Klustner
    Spectator

    @jklustner-2

    Thanks, Nick. I'll have to look into those books. It is nice to here from peoples' own opinions.

    Thanks again,
    Jay

    #1806892
    M B
    BPL Member

    @livingontheroad

    Forget about frameless, get some form of light framed pack with load lifters. You will be much happier. You can always remove the stays or framesheet if you want to save 4-6oz, and you have a hipbelt that can actually transfer the wt to hips.

    But first, get everything else down to UL range , about 8 lb base wt for 3 season conditions, excluding the pack.

    If you can do that, there isnt really much reason to even change packs to save 3 lbs.

    #1806895
    Brad Rogers
    BPL Member

    @mocs123

    Locale: Southeast Tennessee

    What kind of sleeping pad do you use? If it is an inflatable, like a neo-air, it makes it harder with a frameless pack, than with a CC Foam pad such as a ridgerest. I am not saying it can't be done with an inflatable pad, it just isn't as easy.

    I will echo what others have said about 25-30 pounds being the max you would want to carry in a frameless pack, I have found that the mid twenties are my max, but luckily, I am almost always under 20.

    Many frameless packs, like the MLD packs, ULA packs, and SMD packs are pretty durable, so I wouldn't worry about that.

    #1806901
    Turley
    BPL Member

    @turley

    Locale: So Cal

    "I find anything over 10 lbs for an extended period uncomfortable."

    I agree that I prefer some sort of frame with weights exceeding 10-15lbs and when weight exceeds this weight, in my opinion, an additional 4oz of pack weight for the frame will be worth it by transferring weight to your hips and decreasing shoulder fatigue.
    A pack with a removable frame like the Gossamer Gorilla or Elemental Designs Aquilo might serve you well. Remove it for UL lights, replace it when loads warrant it. The Aquilo also has load lifters which some prefer.

    As Eric so eloquently puts it fit is everything….it needs to fit you. I also second pairing down your other items first and purchase the pack after this is accomplished.

    #1806907
    Jay Klustner
    Spectator

    @jklustner-2

    Thanks guys! Sounds like I'm going to need to get an internal frame pack. You guys have mentioned the ULA Circuit, Elemental Designs Aquilo,and the Gossamer Gorilla. (Last 2 having removable stays) Does anyone know of any other packs I can look into?

    Thanks again, I'll be sure to get my gear lighter and get some measurements.
    Jay

    #1806908
    Luke Schmidt
    BPL Member

    @cameron

    Locale: Alaska

    I'd say if you're looking at 20-25 pounds get an internal frame pack no question. Packs I would consider would be…
    ULA Circuit
    Osprey Exos 46 or 58 depending on how much space you need.
    REI Venturi
    Granite Gear Blaze 60
    Granite Gear Meridian

    There are others but those are some ideas off the top of my head. They're all less than 3 pounds and all should carry up to about 35 pounds (I think the Osprey might be more like 30).

    If you're going to Philemont just make sure you don't get loaded up with an extra 20 pounds of group gear and overload a lighter pack.

    Edit – I forgot about the Gorilla but it might be a bit on the small side. Its basically a frameless pack with a frame added so its not going to be a solid as a pack that was designed from the bottom up as an internal frame pack. If these packs look a bit pricey there are cheaper options out there that will do the same thign at the cost of being a bit heavier.

    If you find one the discontinued BPL Absaroka pack is an amazing pack. I think it could handle 40 pounds just fine. My only complaint is its not super rugged so I think you wear it out over time if you put 40 pounds in it all the time.

    #1806917
    Nick Gatel
    BPL Member

    @ngatel

    Locale: Southern California

    One other thing…

    The pack should be the LAST thing you buy after you have dialed in all your other gear. So it might not be best to even start looking at packs too closely at this time, although it helps to see what is out there and to determine budget requirements.

    #1806918
    David Ure
    Member

    @familyguy

    Another potential candidate: The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter and Porter Expedition packs with stays. Stiffer stays than the Windrider, thicker paddking all around, wider belt, and rear stabilizer (like Mchale). 26 oz.

    #1806924
    Jay Klustner
    Spectator

    @jklustner-2

    Luke-Thanks for the suggestions!

    Nick- Great tip. I think the main thing I need to do is to plan what I am going to bring before I just jam everything in my pack. Thanks.

    David- Thanks, I may need a little more capacity, though.

    #1806927
    David Ure
    Member

    @familyguy

    Jay, the Porter is 3400 cubes in the main bag – much, much larger than say, the ULA Circuit or even the ULA Catalyst, which measure all available pockets. There will be additional pockets available shortly to make the pack modular.

    But that is the regular Porter. The Expedition is:

    "Like our Porter Pack, but need more room? The Expedition size offers all of the same features as the Porter Pack but its larger circumference gives you an extra 1000 cu/in for larger trips and longer distances. 27.0 oz, 4400 cu/in.
    $300"

    4400 cubes is really large for just the main bag. Food for thought.

    #1806935
    Turley
    BPL Member

    @turley

    Locale: So Cal

    With the weight and volume you suggest I'd also recommend the now discontinued Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone. This was the pack I used for a few years when I started lightening up. If memory serves, it is roughly 3600cu/in with a nice frame system and incredibly comfortable (around 3lbs I think).
    Keep an eye on the gear swap as every now and then they pop up.

    The elemental horizons aquilo was highly recommended by Will R. in the State of the Market Report. Total volume including pockets is over 3000cu/in. It is a good read but requires a BPL membership.

    I have a custom made aquilo jr (possibly to be released in Spring) that is much smaller than the currently offered aquilo with the main compartment at 2000cu/in but uses the same support and hipbelt and proven very comfortable.

    http://elementalhorizons.com/aquilo-pack.aspx

    Again….pack should be one of if not the last purchase after the pairing of other gear.

    #1806936
    Jay Klustner
    Spectator

    @jklustner-2

    My bad, I just saw the 3400. You're right 4400 is a lot. Looks very nice, but I do like the large outer mesh pocket on say, the Circuit.

    Edit: Christoper- Ya, I can only find the short torso length online. Seems like the perfect size, though, thanks. To lighten my load, I'll need a lighter, 3 season sleeping bag. Any suggestions? Don't want it to be too expensive.

    #1806949
    Luke Schmidt
    BPL Member

    @cameron

    Locale: Alaska

    I really like having some pockets but this is partl solvable on the Porter pack. You can rig up a simple mesh pocket and attach it to the pack by the daisy chains.

    Oh sleeping bags thats another big topic.

    1. Quilts vs. Mummy bags
    Quilts are basically sleeping bags with some of the bottom insulation taken off (since that area should be insulated by your sleeping matt) and no hood. My current favorite is the Backpackinglight 240 Quilt (discontinued). You might see one on Gear Swap here but currently available options are quilts by Enlightened Equipment and Mountain Laurel Designs, Nunatuk and other companies. Quilts aren't for everyone because they can be a bit more drafty especially if you move around. I always sleep in a bivy so that solves the problem for me. If you're in a tent a bivy in kinda rudundant and a quilt and bivy will probably be about equal in weight to a good mummy bag (one exception would be a synthetic quilt and bivy are lighter than any comparably warm synthetic mummy bag that I'm aware of but not by enough to be a huge deal to most people). If you use a quilt make sure you have a very warm hat so wear to bed.

    2. Down vs. Synthetic Insulation
    Down is lighter and more effecient and it lasts a lot longer. The downside is that its more expensive and more senstive to moisture.
    Synthetic is heavier and bulkier and it doesn't last as long. On the other hand its cheaper. My favorite thing with synthetic is that it is warmer when wet and it dries faster. When I was on a long hike I really liked not having to worry about my snythetic quilt. This is more of a long term concern, if most of your trips are short down should be fine as long as you take good care of it.

    Figure out your sleeping bag before the pack because this may influence the size of your pack. Some bags are a lot bulkier than others. Also it might influence your budget because sleeping bags aren't cheap.

    #1806951
    David Ure
    Member

    @familyguy

    Jay – I would contact HMG directly. See the two vertical strips of fabric down each corner of the main bag? Those will permit attaching a front net pocket and side water bottle pockets as well as other accessories. They should be available soon.

    #1806955
    Jay Klustner
    Spectator

    @jklustner-2

    David- Ok, now I get it. You can attach accesories to the loops that they will be providing soon. That sounds like a great idea. I guess I'll have to hold off on purchasing my pack.

    Luke- Thanks for the rundown. I'll have to look into some bags.

    #1807613
    Ken Bennett
    Spectator

    @ken_bennett

    Locale: southeastern usa

    I found a frameless pack quite uncomfortable over 22 pounds total weight. But I have shoulder problems, so maybe that's part of it.

    The Circuit is a great pack, you might also look at the Six Moons Designs Starlite. It's somewhat larger and can handle 35 pounds if needed. Get the optional stays if you get the Starlite.

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