- Oct 13, 2018 at 12:46 pm #3559584
I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of reading reviews of LW and UL packs with the intent of getting a new pack. My current pack is clearly the heaviest thing on my gear list at 6lb 10 ounces (49 liters) with burly external frame; frankly it was made for hunting not hiking. The rest of my kit is pretty lean from some bike packing trips.
Time and time again, I see reviews stating “good for xxx miles” or “I used this for two full seasons” or “not suitable for routine exposure to rocks” when describing the durability of some of the lighter-weight packs from reputable brands. I understand there’s price to be paid for LW construction but….are these products meant to be consumable and replaced after a certain period?
I’m asking because I want to know whether I need to adjust my entire outlook on gear purchases (particularly with tent and pack), shifting from buy it once keep it forever, to buy it and be happy if I get two years out of it. Other than food I rarely purchase something expecting it will be gone in two years!
On the other hand, I’ve really had enough with carrying un-needed weight. Just checking my mental model of what is expected from some of these LW materials. Thanks.Oct 13, 2018 at 1:20 pm #3559585
DCF shelters are usually good for 200-250 nights. That doesn’t sound like a lot but even when I was able to get out a lot that was 4-5 years. Now with kids playing sports year round and a career it’s closer to 8-10 years.
If a pack is good for 2000 miles that’s probably 3-4 years for most people – sometimes more.
I hike with a guy that has triple crowned with an HMG pack and I think Packs like ULA are more durable. Of course it’s all in how you use it. On trail UL Packs can last for years. In a slot canyon or dragging over granite, they can wear out quickly.
210d Dyneema Grid is a very durable pack fabric and is used on most ULA Packs and MLD packs. It’s also an option at SMD and on one or two ZPacks packs.
The ultimate in durability is full woven Dyneema. It’s offered as an option at HMG, Cilogear, and McHale. It’s expensive but will outlast even 1000d nylon. Don’t get this confused with Dyneema Grid (as discussed above) or the Dyneema Composite Fabric Hybids that HMG and ZPacks use a lot of.Oct 13, 2018 at 1:59 pm #3559588
I understand that a lot depends on use, but the theme seems to be that you’ll eventually wear the fabrics out, like a pair of shoes. Maybe I just don’t use my stuff often or hard enough to have had to deal with the notion of one of the big 3 ever needing to be replaced due to wear and tear.Oct 13, 2018 at 2:15 pm #3559591
I’ve realized the difference between the various Cuben/Dyneema Composite materials only after seeing and feeling them. The HMG packs seem super thick, stiff and durable, whereas my ZPacks hammock tarp is whisper thin. I know the websites talk about the different materials, and one of the early BPL podcasts discussed it at length, but you have to geek out pretty hard to realize this is more than just nuance, since the names all seem pretty similar.
Even my Zpacks Solplex, if I understand it correctly uses multiple cuben fabrics, with the floor more puncture resistant than the upper. I had a Seek Outside Divide in X-pac (I think VX42), and now have a Hanchor Marl that uses I think VX21 and VX42. These aren’t as light as the Zpacks Arc Blast, much less a frameless pack. UL backpacks don’t user Cordura, but many other high end products due for better durability. I have an HMG pack, but haven’t seen the Zpacks DCF packs – my understanding is they are different in durability.
Pack makers (they can speak for themselves) seem to be picking and choosing the materials for main body, bottom, straps, pockets, etc. Each is making decisions on the tradeoffs and balance between lightweight and durability. Within a brand, it’s pretty clear how the options compare (DCF vs Dyneema Grid). Between brands I think it gets more difficult.
Also, I used to think weight = durability, but lately I’m just as worried about how water resistant they are. Others can correct me, but a nylon that is relying on DWR is not going to be as water resistant, especially over time, as a Dyneema Composite or X-Pac. I’m looking at a custom bicycle framebag, which are mostly X-Pac lately, but I’m considering a Liteskin that may be even more durable and hydro-phobic, but is not seam-sealable. Everything is a tradeoff, even if you get over the cost deltas it’s a tradeoff.
I would like to see one of those Dyneema Woven packs.Oct 13, 2018 at 2:43 pm #3559595
Daryl and DarylBPL Member
@lyrad1Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Saving 5 or 6 pounds on the weight of a pack trumps all other considerations in my opinion.
My wife’s Make Your Own Gear frame pack, for example weighs less than a pound. Mine weighs about 1 pound.
Give your current pack to a hunter who needs to pack out an elk.Oct 13, 2018 at 3:00 pm #3559600
@bob-kerner – It’s true that pretty much any pack will wear out. I know a guy who has a Mystery Ranch pack (maybe a G-5000) that is about as burly as they come that is 10 years old and is certainly nearing the end of its life. He’s out 150+ nights a year in some pretty nasty conditions. That pack would last most of us a lifetime – of course it weighs 7 pounds empty.
Here is a full woven Dyneema HMG Pack. They don’t show any of their larger packs in full Dyneema but will do any of their packs in the material as a custom order.
Here is a Cilogear
McHale will make any of his packs in full woven Dyneema. He also has a way to dye the fabric, unlike everyone else. Of course his packs are starting to get out of the Ultralight relm.
I think for most normal people, you are unlikely to wear through a less exotic pack fabric like 210d Dyneema grid anytime soon. It’s a pretty durable fabric.Oct 13, 2018 at 3:02 pm #3559602
Greg MihalikBPL Member
“Maybe I just don’t use my stuff often or hard enough to have had to deal with the notion of one of the big 3 ever needing to be replaced due to wear and tear.”
Depending on how old you are, that may be true.
Given the rate at which “fabric” has evolved in the last 5 years I assume that something better will supersede my shelter and pack. I can’t imagine how that could be possible, but 10 years ago I couldn’t imagine any waterproof fabric lighter than 1.3 oz/yd.
I appreciate light weight stuff, need all the advantages I can get, and assume in 5 years gear will be lighter, waterproof, and durable enough to warrant an “upgrade”. Until then I’ll try to wear out what I have.Oct 13, 2018 at 3:37 pm #3559606
Brad PBPL Member
You trade less weight for shorter longevity. Different tools for different purposes. There’s nothing wrong with that and they’re advertised as such.Oct 13, 2018 at 4:27 pm #3559613
Full respect to the MYOG wizards.
Also for the marginally employed who make hiking a nearly full time career.
For the rest of us muggkes, especially those of us with full-time jobs and families that don’t want to backpack as much as we do, we probably won’t wear out a well made pack. I also agree also that equipment is evolving fast.
The trips I’m doing today with Boy Scouts are not too tough on gear. Scouts are tough on their gear, but I’m not. I’m trying to evolve towards UL so I can keep up with them in my 50s and 60s. I just donated a 20 year old 6lb + Gregory pack that I stored for years for sentimental reasons – I feel bad for the person that uses it, but it could last someone another 20 years even with more regular use. I’m sure I’ll get rid of the ULA Ohm and HMG Windrider eventually and get something lighter. They will look good for their age and be a bargain for someone. I sold the SO Divide to the Elk guy – thx.
I’d love to do more canyon trips, which might justify a new pack, or at least a new pack when one wears out. That’s the benefit of the full-time job!Oct 13, 2018 at 4:35 pm #3559615
With deference to the OP, how many nights are you out in a year, and how many miles, over what kind of terrain?
It’s definitely been a rabbit hole for me, but a ton of fun too. BPL folks have steered me right, even if they don’t always agree with each other.Oct 13, 2018 at 4:36 pm #3559616
Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
You trade less weight for shorter longevity. Different tools for different purposes. There’s nothing wrong with that and they’re advertised as such.
That pretty much sums it up.
We’ve had reports here of people “wearing out” a Cuben Fiber shelter in a year due to the repeated abrasion of pushing and pulling it out of a stuff sack. I’ve “worn out” many pieces of Cuben gear over the years and some have lasted well (shelters & poncho).
The problem of trading “less weight for shorter longevity” is that some of the materials, such as Cuben Fiber, come at a premium price. After shredding a couple UL packs in less than a year, I decided to get a fully woven Dyneema pack — longevity became more important than less weight (I could save weight in many other places anyway) and this “expensive” pack would actually be cheaper in the long term.
It’s a balancing act between durability, being careful with gear, weight, and cost. Even with my full Dyneema pack, my base weight is usually well under 10lbs, but that is, IMO, a faulty metric that people on BPL love; the important metric is total weight of you kit including food, fuel, and water — how well and comfortably your pack carries the total load — again, another balancing act.Oct 13, 2018 at 5:14 pm #3559623
For all practical purposes, “zero” recent nights on the trail with a pack. My last overnighter with a pack on my back was 10+ years ago before kids. I have some overnight time with the bicycle (can bang out more miles on a Friday-into-Saturday overnighter and get back to the kids), so lightweight in that arena is relative since the bike weighs a bit.So in terms of sleeping bags and tents, I’m pretty squared away in terms of knowledge and experience. Lots of day hiking.
I’m in NY. Harriman, Fahnestock, Catskills etc. Rocks on the trail but really not much legitimate reason to be scraping the pack against rocks. Not uncommon to have to scrunch through some brush on occasion.
I probably have not evolved, at least not with the backpacking side of my gear closet. I’ve been weighing my stuff lately. Never seemed to matter because I never really paid attention to weight back when I carried it on my back and I was ten years younger. I have a sleeping bag from the early nineties that’s nearly 5 pounds for a 20 degree bag!!
Ok. I shouldn’t expect this stuff to last forever :)Oct 13, 2018 at 5:31 pm #3559624
Late to the game and it’s been said already but I’d like to reinforce the idea that 210 Dyneema Grid hits a really nice sweet spot of durability/weight/cost. That might be a good place to start if you want to drop a bunch of pounds off your pack.
ULA’s Robic Grid (looks similar but doesn’t have Dyneema content afaik) has a reputation for excellent durability while being reasonably light and affordable.Oct 13, 2018 at 5:50 pm #3559627
It sounds like a pack made out of 210d Dyneema Grid, X21, VX21, X42 or VX42 X-Pac, or even the 150d DCF Hybrid should last quite a long time for your uses. Brush won’t phase any of those fabrics much.
You’re right, ULA doesn’t use 210d Dyneema Grid anymore (even though the fabric they use looks like Dyneema Grid). They use a Robic fabric they claim is more durable. Either way, you should be fine.Oct 13, 2018 at 6:26 pm #3559635
I’m getting back into bike touring (or hope to) myself.
Pack fit is really important, and not always easy to get right on a new pack. Even if you try it on in a store. I’ve had the best luck with ULA. They can help by phone or email beforehand and will work with you to make it right. The Ohm 2.0 is right around 2 lbs and if you do keep it and decide later to buy something different you can sell it here.Oct 13, 2018 at 8:29 pm #3559653
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
Even well regarded DCF hybrid packs wear out with use (on top) according to some thru hikers I’ve talked to who use the things everyday for months. Maybe take out everything needed for the day and try to only unroll/roll the top at camp when unpacking or packing, respectively. Another reason I like DCF hybrid packs is no liner or packcover needed if the fabric is still good. Just 2 less things to fiddle with; would like to be able to compete a waterproof repair on the top later in its lifecycle and extend its life out a bit more.
Unless some new gear is on the horizon…
Just to add, trying out DCF tarps which I’ve heard different things about, but I buy sil-nylon inners which I tend to use by themselves for most nights (semi-cowboy camping).Oct 14, 2018 at 1:58 am #3559705
Todd TBPL Member
@texasbbLocale: Pacific Northwest
DCF is certainly going to give out sooner than heavier alternatives, how much sooner depending on the particular use/abuse you give it. The good news is you can cut the weight of your current pack in half with gear that’s tough as nails. When I can’t fit my ULA pack in the truck, I just tie a rope on it and drag it to the trailhead.Oct 14, 2018 at 12:16 pm #3559742
J RBPL Member
are these products meant to be consumable and replaced after a certain period?
Your question presupposes that anything that has to be replaced is a “consumable”, that’s just not the case. DCF lasts a good long while, just not forever.Oct 14, 2018 at 1:36 pm #3559745
Erica RBPL Member
DCF is very repairable. The tape really sticks to it, and is waterproof. I know, as I have carried my tent on the outside of the pack, in a stuff sack. If you are concerned about durability I suggest you keep the tent in the pack.Oct 15, 2018 at 5:07 am #3559867
Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
Only 1 poster seemed to put a premium on waterproofness, as I do. Obtained some of the 210 D gridstop several years ago, but gave it away because the coating was visibly not as waterproof as that on some white widow nylon with spectra gridstop already bought from Seattle Fabrics and used on a pack that remained waterproof for years-sealed of course (yes, I know Seattle F are not very customer friendly).
Have also tried the Dimension Poly fabrics several times and did not like them for a number of reasons, including leakage. Note there was a recent sale here of a custom DP material that when age-tested for water resistance came up short. Have 6 yds of that to unload.
All of the above also run at or close to 5 oz per sq/yd, so until something better comes along am still making packs with a quality double ripstop nylon a bit over 3 oz/sq/yd including the coating that has yet to leak. The robic sounds interesting-will keep an eye out for details and suppliers.Oct 15, 2018 at 3:11 pm #3559896
Although I didn’t specify in my original question, waterproofness is important to me. I’d much rather contend with replacing a waterproof pack in 5 years than having to deal with compactor bags and stuff sacks. I spent the weekend inventorying and weighing my kit and it’s clear to me that stuff sacks reproduce much like rabbits!!
Having come from a Scouting background, everything had to be in a sack. Lately I’ve been ditching the sacks and just carefully packing things and letting weight do the compression. I find I get better space utilization without everything being football shaped. And all those sacks add up. So I’d much rather have a pack where i don’t have to worry about rain.
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