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Mar 2, 2007 at 10:36 am #1222132Adrian StingaciuMember
@astingaciuLocale: So. Cal.
I had a chance to try the Zilch pack (2.72 oz) yesterday on a 36 mile dayhike in San Mateo Wilderness. I love this pack !!! The side pockets came in very handy, as did the large rear pocket, and the padded shoulder straps. There is nothing bad I can say about this pack !!! I didn’t even know I had it on for the most part until I had to carry 2.5 liters of water. It fit really well and I found it to be very functional, complete with side pockets, padded shoulder straps and a large outside pocket in the back. The pack carries up to 1700 cu in. It’s rated for 15 to 20 lb loads but comfort seems to diminish linearly above 10 lbs of load. What it doesn’t have is a waist belt, though I wouldn’t want one since it only encourages me to bring more stuff. With less than 10 lbs I didn't even miss the waist belt. The side pockets are exceptionally nice as I didn't have to take the pack off to get to camera, food or water. There was a minimal amount of sweating on the back but that was fixed by removing layers. The padded shoulder straps are more comfortable than the 3.7 oz Gossamer Gear Whisper Uberlight
pack. Of the 14 hours I used the Zilch pack on this trial hike it suffered not a single abrasion, even though I went thru a lot of dry overgrown trails.Mar 27, 2007 at 6:01 pm #1383782mark jerniganMember
this bag is cool i love it the price is right good customer service my friend tim owns the heaver pack 5.2 oz and loves itAug 13, 2007 at 8:56 am #1398409David NeumannBPL Member
@idahomtmanLocale: Southern Oregon Coast
I just had a chance to use my new Zilch from ZPacks and found it to be a great value and I would give it a five if the closure held a little better. With a pad stuffed into the back pocket, I was not able to tie off the drawstring to the bottom loop. I'm sure I could add some length and that would help to keep the toggle from slipping.
My base weight was 5.5 pounds with total weight of slightly less than ten pounds for the weekend. There was plenty of room for my quilt, BMW torso pad which I used partially inflated to give the pack some rigidity, my clothes, food, fuel, water and another GG 1/8 inch full length pad in the back pocket.
Very comfortable with the light load but I can see that anything approaching fifteen pounds would be a stretch.
January 23 – I'm changing my rating to a 5 due to the excellent service from Joe. I decided to add a waist belt and sternum strap so I mailed the pack back after contacting Joe. He received the pack, attached the new items and had it back in the mail the next day. Quick turn around, quality and friendly service. My initial concern with the closure remains a minor issue but was most likely caused by carrying the GG thinlite pad in the back pocket. Joe sells an option that would have allowed the pad to be attached beneath the pack which would be another good option to consider.Feb 7, 2008 at 6:24 pm #1419638Jesse SquiresMember
Super light, excellent craftsmanship, an overall great pack. Customer service is excellent.Apr 13, 2008 at 8:40 pm #1428456Steven BergeronSpectator
@theturk-2Locale: SF Bay Area
I was looking for a weekend pack and the price and the weight of the Zilch made it a pack I just couldn't pass up.
I purchased a customized Zilch from ZPacks about a year ago (4/2007). In addition to some standard options I also had the pack made out of SpinnTex. (The SpinnTex fabric was a customization that was available at the time – this was before the Cuben Fiber Blast packs were available. You will need to contact Joe at ZPacks to see if this customization currently supported.)
In addition to the custom fabric, I also purchased some of the standard options.
Options and weights are listed below.
The workmanship is great (I still stop to admire the clean, double stitching), the color is exactly what I wanted, and – of course – it's amazingly light (it's been great seeing the look on the faces of other hikers, disbelief pretty much sums it up). The SpinnTex has gotten quite a bit quieter and all of the closure systems have been a real pleasure to work with – I find them both ingenious and efficient in operation.
The exterior pockets have been pretty much all that I want for in a pack. The front pocket has plenty of room for wet gear and closes securely. The 2 side pockets are an ideal size and also very securely hold their contents. (I sometimes wish that the side pockets had a slant opening to make it easier to retrieve my water bottle. At least I think a slant opening would make it easier. But I don't think the pocket should be made any smaller, the volume is pretty darn handy as it is.) All pockets have drain holes.
The compression system works well and is elegant in its simplicity and in how it also serves to close the front pocket.
Top closure is also quite elegant. I originally thought that it should have 2 cord locks: 1 to keep the top cinched and 1 to anchor the cord in the "button" loop. But the design is correct, only 1 is needed. The "button" loop captures the cord lock very securely and the pack remains closed. (The "button" loop is not needed when the pack is fully loaded. Just chinch the pack closed and tuck the cord into the pack or the front pocket.)
Removable Webbing Waist Belt
Removable Sternum Strap
Daisy Chain on Shoulder Straps
Base Webbing traps (ZPacks now offers lighter shock cord loops instead)
I purchased both the removable waist belt and sternum strap. I wasn't sure which would work better for the pack and, since both would be removable, I decided to try out both options. The intent, of either, was to keep the pack stable while scrambling
I have ended up using the waist belt but not the sternum strap – that's just what works for me. My advice is to pick one (if any). You'll save a few grams and the implementation is cleaner.
Note that the optional waist belt is no longer offered in a removable version. (I do wish I had ordered my pack this way.)
The daisy chains on the shoulder straps have been useful for attaching a shoulder pouch (see below) and for securing the hose of my hydration bladder.
I use the base straps to secure a 1/8 inch Gossamer Gear ThinLight pad. (I sleep cold so the extra insulation can make or break a good night's sleep. It also provides a non-slip surface for my pad and bag.) Yes, these straps are a bit of a luxury addition but it's worked out well for me.
SpinnTex Fabric (Grey)
Honestly, this started out as a color modification. The fact that it was lighter than the standard silnylon was a real bonus. But had the Cuben Fiber been available, I probably would have chosen that instead.
Basic Pack as Purchased: 3.4 oz.
Removable Waist Belt: 1.2 oz.
Removable Sternum Strap: 0.5 oz.
Total Weight as Purchased: 5.1 oz.
Total Weight as Used: 4.6 oz. (no Sternum Strap)
A back injury has limited me to mostly day hikes but I have been able to recently get back to weekend hikes (2 – 3 days, 1 – 2 nights).
As a day pack it's been great. I always carry the "10 Essentials"; add a water bottle or two and a light jacket for late Fall to early Spring and I still forget that I'm carrying anything. The side pockets securely hold a 1 pint bottle but will accommodate up to a 1 liter container. The elastic at the top of the pockets also secure small items that I want close at hand. The side pockets are sized and placed so that retrieving items from them is trivial. The large front pocket is perfect for rain wear.
It's the perfect size (for me) for weekend hikes. I deflate my Therm-a-Rest ProLite 3 Short, roll it loosely, and place it in the pack to form the frame. Sleeping bag and clothes go on the bottom. Tarp, cook kit, first aide kit, repair kit, and food go in afterwards. I will inflate the pad – to remove any unused space – if that's necessary. Stakes, ground cover, rain gear, and toiletries go into the front pocket.
I have a UL load (8.5 lb. base weight) so that limits the pack to weekend trips – since there's only room for 3 days of food. Going cookless or SUL should allow me to extend trips to at least 5 days, particularly in the Summer. It's really something to get so many days out of an 1,800 cubic inch pack (at least for me).
Note that these are weekend trips in the California coastal ranges within 50 miles of the San Francisco Bay Area. No bear canister is needed and clothing and shelter requirements are minimal.
After a year of use there are no issues with either the material or workmanship. I'm easy on my gear but it's clear that I'll be using this pack for years.
Working with Joe was great! He very patiently answered my questions and was happy to work with me on the customization. The pack was delivered on schedule and follow up emails have also been quickly answered.
I have also placed other orders with him. All were delivered on time and without issue.
I highly recommend buying from ZPacks.
Addition (Purchased Later)
Shoulder Strap Pouch: 0.3 oz.
Not, strictly speaking, part of the pack and it was purchased some time later. But I *REALLY* like the shoulder strap pouch. The size is excellent, not too large to invite stupid loads but large enough for me to easily store and retrieve my camera (Pentax Optio W30) quickly. The outer mesh pocket, with elastic closure, is where my clip-on sunglasses live – safely – when on the trail. The whole thing just works!Apr 17, 2008 at 9:27 am #1428938Joe DeLossMember
@goinggrindelLocale: Sunny Central Ohio
Purchased the Zilch several weeks ago and took it for a maiden voyage this past weekend. Total pack weight for the weekender was just less than 10lbs. Previously I was carrying a Virga with a weekend pack weight of around 15lbs but consistently had discomfort in my shoulders and around my neck (trap muscles I believe). While the Virga gets decent reviews, I couldn't see much benefit of having a pack that was uncomfortable to me and was a bit overkill for my weight needs.
I opted for a Zilch with waist belt and sternum strap, weighing in at 4.6 ounces. After hiking with the pack, I could comfortably hike without either additional straps; however, the stability is well worth the extra ounce or so.
Pack-ability-For support I dropped in a GG Thin Light 1/8 and then added the TorsoLite inside the roll against my back. I stored the a GG polycro and 99 cent e-poncho in the outside wet gear pocket. The side pockets were adequate for a full 1L on each side.
Strength-my bag did suffer one abrasion on the trail, I set the bag down on a thorn and one of the side pockets got an eraser-sized hole. I plan on getting Joe's (zpack owner) recommendation for a quick fix. Otherwise, the bag held up to some light bushwhacking and trail blazing. The compact size of the bag keeps it fairly well protected behind your torso. Plus Joe offers a one year warranty on the bag – something that’s pretty unusual to the other cottage bag makers out there with similar products.
Comfort- With a similar load, I think this bag is miles more comfortable than the Virga on my shoulders. The shoulder straps are wide and can comfortably rest on the outside ends of your shoulders. I opted for the extra thick shoulder padding but don't think the slightly thinner padding would be significantly different. Again, the compact size gives you a huge feeling of mobility.
Customer Service- As the other reviews have mentioned, Joe Valesko is incredibly responsive. I think I ordered the bag on Wednesday (w/ customizations) and was notified it shipped out on Saturday. The price is right and his commitment to happy customers is apparent.
Great bag- highly recommended.Nov 1, 2008 at 10:58 am #1457189Art SandtMember
I got a Zpack's Zilch earlier this year with the following options: winged waistbelt with pockets, extra padding on shoulder straps, and sternum strap. I feel that each of these options really help to make the backpack more comfortable to use, even though they bring the total weight up to 5.6 ounces.
With a foam pad rolled up inside the backpack body for structure, I'm able to use this backpack like a traditional backpack, meaning the winged waistbelt fits right on my hip bones and allows weight transfer there. I've used the pack with loads up to about 12-14 pounds for overnighters, but feel it could be OK up to about 20. I was able to fit in a surprising amount of gear and feel that I could take this on 2-3 day trips if it's used in conjunction with a poncho tarp. The extra weight and bulk of a separate tarp, rain jacket, and pack liner I feel would be pushing the limits of the carry capacity for anything longer than a 2-day trip.
I like this backpack. The side pockets can be reached while hiking, the hipbelt pockets are plenty big for several snack bars each + a mini camera + a map, but things don't bounce while walking like you'd expect, the drawstrong/top compression closure is simple and effective, and the outside front pocket is the perfect size for a rain jacket and a tarp. I used to be skeptical about silnylon as pack fabric, but now I am a believer. It's of course fully waterproof (except at the seams), and is not really all that fragile in practice. I'm be careful with it around thorns, but I would be careful with my skin and hiking clothing in the same situations.
I've used the Zilch with the following gear and still had ample space leftover inside: homemade 40 degree climashield quilt, golite poncho tarp, possumdown vest, silk base layer, ultralight bivy bag, polycro groundcloth, stakes, camelbak bladder, 1 day of food, titanium mug and alcohol stove, 8"x4"x6" ditty bag, Gossamer Gear 3/8" thinlight pad cut down to about 2/3 its original length. Swapping out the poncho tarp for a pyramid shelter + Driducks and the climashield quilt for a 20 degree down quilt, and adding in a light vest, the backpack fills up a little more, but still has space left over.Oct 15, 2010 at 4:57 pm #1654991Brian SenezBPL Member
I have an XL Zilch with a center pocket and padded waistbelt all in white cuben. The weight of this is 160g (5.6oz). I recently used this pack for a nine day hike from Gorham NH to Hanover VT on the Appalachian Trail. I had a base weight of 8.2lbs and carried between 2-4 days of food at a time. This pack worked out perfectly for me and I am very happy with it. I like the minimalist appearance and don't mind not having side pockets. I used a 1/4" ccf pad rolled up as a framesheet. My favorite way to close the pack is to roll up the extension and tuck it into the side straps. I was concerned about this at first but the pack never opened up even when I fell and bounced around a little. The pack has a double layer of 1.5oz cuben on bottom. This is the high wear area where the packs touches the ground usually.
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