Feb 11, 2021 at 11:19 am #3698778
Thanks, I was just curious – never heard of Alpine Luddites before.
I’ve long thought about getting a McHale pack, but I rarely carry more than 30lbs, and what backpack I want has evolved over the years. It’s always interesting to see what people end up with McHale.
Ive heard of them, I think they have really cool gear. I also agree with the sentiment of the personality match. Luckily Dan and myself seem to get along swimmingly lol
AL makes stuff more for the mountains, but my particular habits – beyond shoulder-seasons, tight trails, stupidity – make a narrow, tight, durable pack more desirable to me than a lighter-weight model. I also have to use a pack with a full suspension system. And yeah, when you get along with a gear-maker, good things come of it.Feb 11, 2021 at 2:25 pm #3698811Steven ThompsonBPL Member
I have a Sarc Chasm purchased in 2005. Has a few worn spots and I’ve replaced a couple buckles after stepping on them but otherwise it is no worse for the wear. The main custom feature was to size the pack circumference to hold a bearikade weekender horizontally.
This is my only overnight pack, it replaced a McHale Super Inex purchased in the mid 90’s that got used from when I was the family Sherpa through my duties as an Asst Scoutmaster. As soon as I didn’t need to carry a lot of stuff I downsized.
The Sarc Chasm works well with my 20lb weekend load, and with my 60lb 3 gallons water desert treks and anything in between. I did get the bayonets, used only once when I needed 2 bear cannisters for a 2 week no resupply trek. The packs works because the suspension works. And the suspension works because it is strong and it is dialed in.
Dan was good to work with. He’ll make sure the pack fits and will exercise you on your bag choice and any options you think you want to make sure everything serves your exact needs.
Without the bayonets and the top pocket (which is how it use it 99% of the time) in weighs in less than 4lbs. Not ultralight, but light enough. Can’t say enough good things about it.Feb 11, 2021 at 3:15 pm #3698824
@stevet This is great info! He is sending me a LBP 40 to test out. I was thinking I may go for the sarc-casm. Really excited about itFeb 11, 2021 at 5:09 pm #3698845Todd HeinBPL Member
@todd1960Locale: Pike's Peak Region
I have two, an LBP and a Bump. I also have MANY other packs. I do on and off trail, day and multi-day hikes, and mountaineering in the Sierra, Rockies, etc. McHale packs are without doubt, better made, stronger, and more comfortable than any of my other packs. 30 pounds feels like 10 due to the fit and suspension. They are expensive, but, if I had to start buying gear again, I would seriously consider McHale. I, for one, wouldn’t buy one used – The custom fit and Dan’s advice are worth buying new.Feb 11, 2021 at 5:13 pm #3698850
@todd1960 “30 pounds feels like 10 due to the fit and suspension. They are expensive, but, if I had to start buying gear again, I would seriously consider McHale.”
That is one of the main reasons why I am really attracted to his packs, is from hearing similar stories to this. Plus I love the way his packs look. They do have sort of a vintage vibe but I absolutely love it.Feb 11, 2021 at 5:50 pm #3698862
Someone hurry up and post some pictures! I want to see some pack porn!Feb 11, 2021 at 7:00 pm #3698872Feb 12, 2021 at 1:23 am #3698901
I’m a fan of McHale packs. I wrote the review in the 2nd post of this thread.
Dean F. did a nice summary on the first page of this thread. I suggest you carefully read the thread he linked to, where there are a lot of discussions about “futurability” and pack options. Dean is an experienced hiker, knew what he wanted, but still had some lingering questions on configuring his own best pack. That thread is a worthwhile read.
I’ll close by sharing that last year Dan made my 3rd McHale pack. A nice Dyneema grid LBP 34. No P&G system as I already have that on my LBP 36 and will never carry a load with the 34 requiring the system. I did get the large water bottle pockets. They are a requirement for my desert trips. No hipbelt pockets or shoulder strap pockets either. But, should I want them for a specific trip the ones from my LBP 36 or Bump 32 fit perfectly on the LBP 34. I can transfer them.Feb 12, 2021 at 9:45 am #3698968
@ngatel Good call on Dean’s article. Also I love the article you wrote! Ive read through this about 5 times! That was extremely informative. I keep being surprised by the amount of options Dan has. For instance, I was not aware that their were multiple water bottle size options. I love the modularity of his packs.
Can you comment on your preference between grid fabric and the fully woven spectra? Im on the fence with what to get.Feb 12, 2021 at 10:17 am #3698978
Woven Dyneema or Spectra is amazing stuff. Over time it develops a softer feel with use, but remains virtually indestructible. I love the stuff.
When Dan built my Bump, he talked me out of full Dyneema. The pack is so small and wouldn’t be carrying much load, he felt it would be overkill and would add unnecessary weight.
As for the last pack, I’m 70 years young. This pack will outlive me. No need for Spectra. However the back bottom, hip belts, and should straps are made from full Spectra at the normal wear points; same for my Bump.Feb 12, 2021 at 10:25 am #3698981
I tend to hold on to gear/ clothing forever. I am 32 and have some clothes from when I was 15 haha! Dan was saying he is trying to move away from the White Woven spectra for whole packs. He is mostly using the new black spectra. But he did say ” If you want a white spectra pack I can probably be talked into it”. I figure with the length of time I keep my gear it may behove me to go with a full spectra pack. But I am also open to suggestions.Feb 12, 2021 at 10:28 am #3698983
If you can afford it, go full Spectra. You won’t regret it. Just get the right volume and accessories you need. Dan is my age and won’t be making packs forever. Get one while you can.Feb 12, 2021 at 10:40 am #3698988Todd HeinBPL Member
@todd1960Locale: Pike's Peak Region
Nick is right. If you have the dough, go for full spectra. This is one of those purchases for mortals like me who want to own “the best” of something…I can’t afford a hyper car or a racing yacht but I can allocate the funds for a McHale pack.Feb 12, 2021 at 11:08 am #3698999
I’m not entirely convinced of the longevity of Spectra in certain situations…but I’m also a philistine, so don’t listen to me. For those of you that have them, how’s the Spectra holding up?Feb 12, 2021 at 11:08 am #3699000Feb 12, 2021 at 11:09 am #3699001Feb 12, 2021 at 8:05 pm #3699118Al GBPL Member
My opinion, trust Dan. Get spectra where it matters, high abrasion areas. His non Spectra packs will also last a lifetime and carry just as well. It’s the design that matters.Feb 12, 2021 at 8:10 pm #3699120
The biggest mistake I made in a lifetime of backpacking is not getting a McHale pack 40 years ago.
I went thru the whole Dan experience several years ago and he sent me a Demo pack in blue which I used for 80 days worth of trips—until the final pack was built. Here’s some pics of the Demo at around 5,000 cu inches.
This pic shows the Demo on a creek trail which has 11 crossings so I stow my boots under the pack lid. Big pack for a 24 day trip.Feb 12, 2021 at 8:18 pm #3699123
Then in August 2018 I receive the finished pack in red cordura and yellow spectra—as I like to be seen by hunters. So far I’ve pulled 366 days of backpacking with the thing—
Crossing Conasauga Creek in Cohutta wilderness.
Clear pic showing back panel and hipbelt.
Top lid is detachable and is used to haul water when distant from camp—as either a butt pack or over-the-shoulder bag.
My buddy Hoppin John decided to get a McHale and opted for one in full spectra.
Hoppin John’s pack.Feb 12, 2021 at 8:21 pm #3699125
Hoppin John stuffing his pack on a winter trip.
The ordering process can at time be arduous as mentioned in previous posts—and if Dan tells you to put the pack on standing upside down DO IT cuz you’ll get the pack faster if you don’t whine or bicker.Feb 12, 2021 at 8:25 pm #3699126
Spectra dye and wear patterns after 366 days of hard use—Feb 12, 2021 at 9:28 pm #3699144
I’m not entirely convinced of the longevity of Spectra in certain situations…but I’m also a philistine, so don’t listen to me. For those of you that have them, how’s the Spectra holding up?
Read this story.
My go-to pack is full Dyneema. Pretty much the same thing as spectra. The bottom of the pack, water bottle holders, and backs of the hip belts and shoulder straps are heavier Spectra. I’ve had it for 10 years. I mostly hike off-trail . . . cat-claw, cacti, sliding down canyons, shimming through slot canyons, and dragging myself across granite and volcanic boulder fields is common. Zero damage anywhere at all. A couple spots where the colored dye has been scratched.
As a comparison I shredded two Gossamer Gear Murmurs in two years. I mean shredded beyond repair.
These are the kinds of place I spend most of my backpacking time:
McHale pack resting before the climb and (below) the summit. Sharp rocks. It is the remnants of an exploded volcano. The summit is inside the crater on an edge of the bowl.
There were a couple of tight squeezes through this slot.
My McHale’s favorite boulder canyon. We go there at least once a year. On this trip I took my friend Ojas (in the picture).
Chad smiling as we descend a knarley canyon in Joshua Tree National Park. This is in the Eagle Mountains where few people venture. It was difficult for a 63 year old guy. Lots of sitting down and sliding over boulders to get down without breaking a leg. My Patagonia Baggies and my butt were shredded after this. The McHale didn’t whimper once.Feb 12, 2021 at 9:45 pm #3699154Feb 13, 2021 at 7:37 am #3699180
Love these pack guys, I appreciate so many of you sharing your experiences! You are actually getting my thinking up a lot with options I want. I am oscillating between a two layer summit flat , and the standard Brain/fanny top. I do have a HMG versa fanny pack which I love. Another option I have seen that one folks do which is awesome is having the kangaroo pouch, as well as an expedition shovel pouch they can strap over that. I suppose it is easy to get decision fatigue with all of the great options he has!
Anyone have experience with the standard water bottle pockets vs the larger size? I am kind of strange with my water carrying. I usually carry one nalgene bottle and one smart water bottle. I only use steri pens ( I hate squeeze filters) so i have a smart water bottle bottle for filling up in streams, then use the nalgene to sterilize and drink fromFeb 13, 2021 at 7:59 am #3699183bradmacmtBPL Member
I’m one that believes chasing grams downward with a pack’s suspension can turn rapidly into a fools errand. At the end of the day, a pack with a comfortable suspension (ie, heavier) will be “lighter” at the end of a long day than a lighter pack without.
Dan McHale is one of the few pack makers out there that understands a “real” comfy suspension takes additional ounces. He understands the importance of load lifters, shape-able stays, etc. All the stuff good pack makers figured out in the 70’s and 80’s and which some current makers seem to have forgotten (or never knew).
I definitely will own one of his creations at some point…
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