- Jul 5, 2017 at 1:49 pm #3477107
I am curious what UL Packs are considered personal favorites, why, and if you haven’t found/built your personal fav what would that pack look like? Also, if you are at the beginning of a MYOG/DIY Pack build do you need any help? -I would love to give back as much as I absorb here.
FYI: I am a boutique pack builder, and as a small(er) brand I am always looking for advice for future packs (or adjustments to current models).
Cheers, and thanks for your thoughts. -ZJul 5, 2017 at 2:24 pm #3477113
Lester MooreBPL Member
@satoriLocale: Olympic Peninsula, WA
Favorite UL packs – it’s a short list as there are only three LW or UL packs that I’ve owned. Of three packs total, the MLD Burn (UL) and GG Gorilla (LW) are favorites, each filling a different need. However, here’s a list of a few favorite features that I find helpful and why:
Jul 5, 2017 at 2:27 pm #3477114
- Side pockets with solid bottom and sides, and correctly angled top opening, and drawstring closure on top. Way easier than packing water inside or carrying water on shoulder straps IMHO. The solid bottom/sides protect side pockets while climbing over/under deadfall on the trail. The top opening with just the right amount of angle for good security of contents while also allowing bottle accessibility while hiking. GG gorilla does a good job with this. The draw string (like MLD Burn) is great for securing stuff like gear, but can be left loose for water bottles.
- Front pocket with solid bottom. A convenience that’s worth the weight for drying wet stuff or having easy access to thing throughout the day. The solid bottom to protect the mesh during accidental slips landing on your butt (snow, loose steep trails, climbing over/under deadfall, etc.).
- Mild “S” shaped shoulder straps, like on MLD Burn. Fits well on shoulders with more even area distribution against the body.
- Daisy chain webbing on shoulder straps and several attachment points for accessories on the sides and front. For some trips you need to attach stuff like satellite communicators, GPS, gear pouches, ice axes, microspikes, crampons, rope, gravity water filters and other stuff to your pack. On day hikes it’s nice to use the attachment points to greatly compress the pack’s volume to make a very shallow but tall pack.
- For a LW pack, an aluminum frame that can be bent to conform to the back
- For a LW pack, a contoured hip belt would be nice (who makes these?) to fit the shape of wide hips better (larger circumference on bottom than on top when the hip belt is worn).
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
If I’m going UL, I don’t need or want a hip belt. I do want accessible-while-you-hike pockets, but that can be addressed on the shoulder straps for sunscreen, snack bar, compass and in pack side pockets for a water bottle.
The saving grace of a trad frame pack is a little ventilation on my back. I’d accept a few ounces for CF or aluminum stays, likely in an “X” to tension some mesh bands to keep the pack bag itself off my back. Or they could run horizontally in two pairs: an upper pair above and below my shoulder blades to tension a mesh band there, and another pair, ideally angled to rest on the top of my butt.
I like the big, deep, stretchy mesh pockets on my Jam 70 for keeping a water bottle handy and for that last layer that I take off and put on repeatedly through the day for sun/clouds, up/down/level differences in my temperature.
I like to able to put dense things (food and fuel, followed by tarp) high and near my back so I don’t have to lean forward as much to balance the load. I can mostly do that with careful loading and/or putting an un-stuffed sleeping quilt and pad at the bottom.
The other way to keep weight close to my body is to have a lace-up system, just like a shoelaces and using small cordage to do so. Every day last week I was going out with 6-9 pounds of pack and minimal gear and returning with 40-50 pounds of gear and meat – all off-trail – after a ridiculously successful caribou hunt in the Aleutians. Lacing up the pack let me keep the weight close to me (meat is dense!!) and that also helps while bush-whacking or while sliding down a grassy, wet volcano.
I have debated how light could one make a Kelty-style pack frame. Out of thinner-walled aluminum or CF or foam-core FG and lightweight straps and mesh back bands but with the clevis pin attach points at the same spots. Then on a meat haul, I could attach a standard pack bag, but on the heavy end of UL (lots of food and fuel), I could attach a cuben or sailcloth pack bag. Or just lash stuff onto the pack frame.Jul 5, 2017 at 6:51 pm #3477165
I feel you on the mold-able hip-belt, last I heard Osprey was one of the biggest proponents of the mold-able foam. Many companies have offered said hip-belts in the past but with the push to ‘lighter-and-faster’ many companies have gone with thinner hip-belts which would tend to flex too much for the mold-able foam to do much good. I have been kicking around the idea of a compound foam that uses a thin sheet of high-density mold-able foam on the outside (Think low heat) mated to a softer HD foam on the inside. The problem arises when you have to order a large quantity and you really just want to try a handful ;)
For the modularity you are seeking I would go with a pack from Kuiu, they use a CF frame that can be swapped from pack to pack and they offer a number of very comfortable hipbelts (Or none at all); think a more techno-version of Dana Designs or Mystery Ranch. -Please note I do not work for these guys, but I have played with their products at various trade shows and talked with the owner on a number of occasions -solid product(s) and well thought out. But the idea of Cuben on a Kelty frame sounds like genius! Just be sure to use a patch of 500D Cordura over the clovis-pin holes to reinforce the Cuben.Jul 5, 2017 at 7:28 pm #3477175
jeffrey armbrusterBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
David: ever worry about bears when you’re hauling that reindeer?
A Luxury Lite frame combined with a frameless lightweight pack hauls heavy loads–any load actually–quite comfortably and leaves space between the pack and your back. The hipbelt and frame keep all the weight on the hips. This is a lighter and more comfortable option to a Kelty style frame pack. Oh, and it’s arguably the best design for carrying a bear canister–it has a ‘shelf’ on the bottom that holds the canister perfectly.Jul 6, 2017 at 6:59 am #3477263
Andrew StevensBPL Member
I made this pack because I thought it was everything I wanted in a pack.Jul 6, 2017 at 7:05 am #3477264
Bob MoulderBPL Member
@bobmny10562Locale: Westchester County, NY
Zpacks Arc Blast, old style.
Roll top, perfect water bottle holders, big mesh panel pocket, back ventilation, zero foof, 17 oz.Jul 6, 2017 at 7:11 am #3477265
Andrew StevensBPL Member
…this is really going to be my favorite pack. Should weigh about 9 ounces and have sealed seams so very water resistant. Doesn’t have a frame which I don’t need carrying 10-11 pounds on most trips.
I’m going to make more under this name; Eastern Sierra Ultralight
Jul 6, 2017 at 7:17 am #3477267
- This reply was modified 5 months, 1 week ago by Andrew Stevens.
I’m interested in the following feature: two narrow sleeves running vertically from outside the shoulder blade down to the corner where the hip belt joins. The sleeves would accept cf pole segments. I don’t use trekking poles, but I’d like to reuse my tarp poles as a simple pack frame. I’m trying to work out the best design now for a myog pack. I’ve toyed with putting them on the exterior or interior. And it will be important to make the sleeve’s top closure well designed both for easy access and frame rigidity. Grateful for any tips others might have.Jul 6, 2017 at 7:42 am #3477269
I like a frameless pack with a removable 1.5″ wide waistbelt. I remove it for many trips but when I want a belt I think a 1.5″ belt is wide enough to distribute the lod much more comfortably than a .75–1″ belt.
My 2016 Kumo and 2015 Kumo both have this feature however there is a major difference how they attach to the bottom corners of the pack. The 2016 has Triglides but the 2015 had Ladderlocks. The Ladderlocks are dramatically superior in my opinion because they allow you to tighten by pulling forward on the straps.Jul 6, 2017 at 4:05 pm #3477387
Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
My favorite pack of all time is probably the 16.2oz frameless 2010 SMD Swift, but it doesn’t get used much anymore for several reasons, first being that one of the seams along the hipbelt is coming undone, second because I have moved on from the CC foam pads I used as a frame, and thirdly I find myself doing fewer shorter trips and more longer trips with a week or two between re-supply, thus needing more load carrying ability.
My favorite pack the past two years has been the Seek Outside Unaweep 4800. The pack bag isn’t exactly what I would like, and I had to do the surgery to lighten it a bit and make it work better without the Talon, but the frame and suspension are truly amazing. If I was a little shorter torso and I didn’t need the 26″ frame, the Divide on the 24″ frame would probably be my choice, but I am not sure that packbag is 100% perfect either. The good thing is that Seek Outside are continually refining and improving their products and are getting better all the time.
I also have a McHale LBP 36 that I really like alot of things about, but it’s only good for trips up to a week for me size wise and at 3/4 of a pound less weight, the Seek Outside is larger and carries 40 pounds better. I will say that McHale does a lot of things right, and his construction quality and details are un matched by any other pack company.
My last pack sees use nowadays is a ULA Conduit (CDT) that I use for weekend trips (when I am not carrying a heavy load training for a longer hike) but it isn’t perfect by any stretch. Although the water bottle pockets work fine, I despise the stretchy material. I am not wild about the hip-belt either, the large wide unpadded SMD Swift belt felt so much better to me than the short stubby padded wing belt on the Conduit. Luckily, at the weights I carry in the pack, it doesn’t matter that much. It also irks me that though it is a smaller pack than the Swift, it weighs more at 17.6oz.
The past 15 years I have tried packs from Jansport, Mountainsmith, Gregory, Osprey, Golite, Gossamer Gear, MLD, SMD, HMG, Zimmerbuilt, ULA, McHale, and Seek Outside.Jul 9, 2017 at 9:09 am #3477957
Peter HBPL Member
Zimmerbuilt quickstep. I had a hipbelt added for added stability. Simple, light and comfy. Big pockets, but I’m not a huge fan of the mesh. In the same turn, the mesh has never caused a problem or snagged, so I don’t know why, exactly, I don’t like it.Jul 10, 2017 at 6:15 pm #3478257
Rene RavenelBPL Member
Scroll near the bottom or search this page for ‘frame set’: http://www.ks-ultralightgear.com/p/je-vous-propose-un-modele-de-sac-dos.html
Exactly what you’re describing. I did the same thing on a bare-bones 8oz pack, but on the inside, to protect the carbon tent poles. Instead of a full sleeve, I did something more like KS Ultralight. I suppose full sleeves will make it possible to insert the poles in to a full pack.
First use will be this weekend. Photos here, half way down: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/sewing-help-skipping-stitches/#post-3449372
Edit: adding these to an existing pack would be an easy mod.
Jul 11, 2017 at 7:41 am #3478314
- This reply was modified 5 months ago by Rene Ravenel.
Rene – thanks for the link. and i like your orange pack in the other thread! -agJul 11, 2017 at 4:53 pm #3478442
Eric BlancheBPL Member
@eblancheLocale: Northeast US
his is the pack I think I like best. Recently made to my specs but I would simply expand the pocket size and not pleat the stretch mesh.
Being able to add a frame would be cool with some added sleeves ala previously Rene and KS ultralight and how ULA does the upside down U-shaped frame connection points.Jul 12, 2017 at 10:18 pm #3478651
Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
Dream pack has been under continual revision for several years, but I feel close.
– Sturdy and highly waterproof fabric under 3 oz/sq/yd. Looking at Dutchware now. DW & RBTR offerings are both polyester. Would have preferred nylon for strength + abrasion resistance.
– Butterfly carbon fiber frame using Fibra-Plex elbows, but with Easton elbows at high stress points (Oh, for some of those DAC-Toy frame elbows)
– Top shelf to carry food outside pack, along with items that need or will need drying. Why? To keep food odors and bears away from pack.
– Front zip-down 3/4 panel opening under the shelf
– Stephenson’s Jack-Pack design hip-belt with side arms and no buckle needed. This is the only medium to narrow belt design, I’ve found with zero slippage.
– Large suspended mesh backband built into pack – plenty of flex
– Water bottle space under top shelf just behind head to keep center of gravity forward
– Small but not flat item spaces on each side of bottle space (for camera, PLB, ditty
– Raingear and flat items (maps, notebook etc) pockets built into front drop panel
– Small volume to match small weight. Sizes of all gear minimized to fit low volume pack
If you are unfamliar with Jack-Pack suspension, it looked like this:
An early prototype – an attempt at use of lighter materials to cut weight:
Another protoype, looking through the mesh backband:
Have since decided that side arms must be sturdier, using the tapered ends of X-C ski poles for tubing for the side arms. Also, the hubbed carbon frame has been replaced as noted above by a butterfly or hourglass-shaped design. No pix of that yet.
Plenty of work ahead this coming winter. Wish me luck!
Edit: Also have a pic of the front of the prototype, and should disclose that the hub frame was also dropped because it did not have the sideways rigidity to hold the sidearms and the belt tight over the hipbone crest and around the waist:Jul 16, 2017 at 9:40 pm #3479287
Firstly, I would just like to point out that you all have some excellent taste in packs and pack builds! Heck I even thought I knew most of the brands out there and I have found a few more b/c of ya’lls collections, apparently not everyone thats someone turns out to OR ;) I have been a little pack obsessed since I was in the Boy Scouts and I purchased my first Lowe Alpine that weighed about 6lbs+/- Since then I have really gotten into mountaineering and rock climbing and my own pack development stems from those experiences; I love Cubin, but didn’t appreciate how rock climbing put the abrasion resistance to the test, 1000D is great if you want to carry extra weight, and thus far my favorites are the VX and Gridstop Fabrics and combinations of some of the aforementioned fabrics.
Most of my business is with custom packs, each being totally unique to the next and I have tried everything from no frames, Pads for frames and padding, Aluminum stays, and heat-moldable frame sheets. My personal favorite is still some sort of stay with a remove-able ‘sit-pad.’ My personal packs usually require some sort of frame as I tend to carry cams, ropes, harness, and climbing shoes ontop of my ultra light gear. Beyond my own packs, which I am always tweaking, I feel companies such as Cilo, MH, Hyperlite, and even Patagonia with some of their climbing/alpine packs are excellent choices. I particularly like Cilo b/c of Graham’s ability to mix and match fabrics that optimize their placement so as to create lighter-weight and durable packs.Personally I am some where in between, and would rather find one fabric that ‘best’ suits my purpose. I have included a couple of packs that I have built in the past either for myself or for customers/friends below. Feel free to hit me with some feed back, just remember I am a sensitive guy and might cry on somebody’s custom pack… Customers apparently don’t like tear-marks.
These are just a couple of my finished packs showing 1000D Cordura, Gridstop, and Cuben. I’ve even tried some custom 3-layer WPB micro-ripstop that I use for rain jackets…That didn’t work so well.
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