- Jan 13, 2018 at 4:18 pm #3512193
Our troop finally committed to Philmont for 2019. We’ve mostly been a car camping troop and I’m looking forward to doing some real backpacking to prepare for this.
I bought a heavy Gregory pack before realizing heavy = bad. That will be on eBay as I look at lighter options.
I’ve been acquiring lightweight gear in prep for this. Zpacks Duplex, Zpacks down bag, etc. I know a lightweight pack is the last thing to buy, so I think I’m ready for that.
Philmont as many of you know, is not a minimalist, lightweight conducive trip. I’ve read the article on this site from an adult leader who did go very light and learned a lot. Our troop is young, so I need to be prepared (I’ve heard that phrase somewhere) to be a pack mule IF some scouts struggle.
Having said all of that, my internet research has me down to the Zpacks Arc Haul and SWD Long Haul 50.
They’re close in capacity and weight. The Arc Haul is lighter. The SWD is less expensive, I believe a more durable material, costs less and comes with belt pouches (a feature I very much want) that cost even more on the Arc Haul. The cost really has me leaning toward the SWD.
I’d appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks!!Jan 13, 2018 at 4:44 pm #3512199
Don HBPL Member
Our troop is in a similar situation – our first Philmont this upcoming summer. We are also transitioning from trailer camping to high adventure (so newbies). Couple of thoughts to consider based on what we’ve learned:
- Recommend checking with Philmont as to what you can bring. I wanted to bring my Duplex but heard we must use their MSR tents.
- When considering weight remember the crew may have to distribute gear should a crew member need to come off trail due to an emergency. As such, you may need more volume and weight bearing capacity than otherwise (this happened to one of our dads).
Just for your consideration.
DonJan 13, 2018 at 5:33 pm #3512208
Everything I’ve read about Philmont allows you to bring your own tent and there are many adults who have used a Duplex. They just don’t allow tarps.Jan 13, 2018 at 6:25 pm #3512215
Don HBPL Member
Thanks! I’d much rather have my duplex. May be a Troop plan – will check.Jan 14, 2018 at 5:01 am #3512339
Bob ShuffBPL Member
At the Philmont workshop the Rangers encouraged me as an advisor to go as lightweight as I can. Advisors should not be carrying extra crew gear. That being said, you know your scouts, and over 7-12 days gear will be redistributed as needed for the good of the crew.
I picked up a used Seek Outside Divide for our trek next summer. That may be overkill, but I thought my Ohm 2.0 might be too small, and I do plan to take a chair.
About the tents, they suggested we use their tents because this is a tough trek and why not use their gear and save yours for future trips. If I share a tent I’ll use theirs. If I’m odd man out I’ll take my Notch. I would take a duplex if I could justify the cost. I’m saving for a new mountain bike first.
Jan 14, 2018 at 4:26 pm #3512385
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by Bob Shuff.
I’m a fan of Zpacks as a company. The Arc Haul starts out $25 more, but then their accessories really add up.
I want hip belt pockets for snacks, camera and other items I want handy without having to take off the pack. They’re included on the SWD and another $45 on the Arc.
My initial thought was a mesh pocket is best for wet items to dry. I’m reading more about people saying mesh pockets tend to snag on things and get torn. The SWD option for a lycra pocket with no weight penalty at a cost of only $2 sounds wise since the cording on the pack allows for hanging stuff to dry.
The $3 bottom sleeping pad straps look perfect for my Chair Zero.
Here’s my theoretical packing list that I’m 100% certain is incomplete. I believe it could fit well in either of these packs plus my share of crew gear and food.
Zpacks Duplex tent
Sleep system including required separate clothes:
Zpacks 20 degree bag.
NeoAir Xtherm Regular.
Gossamer Gear 1/8″ Thinlight pad (maybe).
Sea to Summit Aeros pillow.
Darn Tough socks
Required extra wicking shirt
Uniqlo ultralight down jacket
Houdini wind jacket
Ex Officio boxer briefs
1-2 spare Darn Tough socks
1 spare Injini liner socks
Lightweight shorts for laundry days
Lightweight rain mittens (maybe)
Required Rain Gear:
Helium Hybrid rain jacket
Rain pants (specifics TBD)
Rain/sun hat TBD.
titanium coffee mug
Possibly my own lightweight gas stove for coffee on the trail
Small personal First Aid and hygiene items
New point and shoot camera (or my Sony A6000) plus spare batteries.
Deuce of spades
Injini liner socks
Darn Tough socks
Dirty Girl Gaiters (maybe)
Convertible pants (I have a couple different weights)
Ex Officio boxer briefs
UA compression shorts (chafing prevention)
Fishing type shirt TBD
Sunglasses if I take disposable contacts or my prescription transitions lenses
REI carbon fiber trekking polesJan 15, 2018 at 2:49 pm #3512517
Anyone with either of these packs have any thoughts on how well they’d work?Jan 15, 2018 at 3:38 pm #3512529
I have been trying an Arc Haul, and though I havent used it enough to give a full review or anything, I will give you some initial thoughts.
The design, like most Z-Packs products, is well thought out. The frame is attached to the hipbelt, which is a good thing, and also goes up to the load lifters, which is another good thing. The shoulder straps are nice and wide and very comfortable. The hipbelt is pretty wide and pretty comfortable as well.
The frame is novel, sort of a UL incarnation of the trampoline backpanel Osprey uses, and while it is reasonably stiff, I don’t think it would be comfortable with over 30 pounds for me (If I am carrying 30# or more I would use something with Seek Outside’s frame).
The hipbelt pockets work well. They perhaps aren’t the best I have ever used, but far from the worst (I am looking at you HMG). The kicker for me, and it is probably unique for me, is the water bottle pockets, which I am admittedly very picky about. The pockets themselves are fine, but the elastic around the top is tight enough where I can’t get a bottle back into the pocket easily, so if I keep it, I will probably cut the elastic on one of the water bottle pockets.
I assume you have used a Dyneema X pack before, but the material is old school, but durable (more so than hybrid cuben 50d or 150d, or VX21). It isn’t generally thought of as a waterproof fabric, at least long term, though the Arc Haul is seam taped and the PU coating on the Dyneema X looks pretty good. I would, as with any pack, even so called “waterproof” packs, use a trash compactor bag if going into a really wet environment.
The mesh on the front pocket doesn’t seem very durable, but at least it isn’t that super strechy stuff I dislike. I really perfer a pack with eiter no front pocket, or one made out of pack fabric for durabilty off trail, but for on trail the mesh pocket should be fine.
Z-Packs uses really small webbing and hardware, which is good as it saves weight, but can be a little harder to use. The webbing Z Packs uses is a looser weave and perhaps a different material than most pack makers use. It’s a little harder to use (It doesn’t slide through hardware as smoothly) and I am not sure how it will hold up over time.
The sewing, typical to Z-Packs is so-so, certainly not perfect, but fully functional.
Overall, I think it is a pretty good pack, but probably shouldn’t be rated to 40#. With a couple of modifications, it would really work well for me, but they don’t do any customization anymore.
Therefore, I am thinking of having a custom SWD Long Haul 50 pack built, as they seem really promising, but I haven’t been able to find out a lot about their packs. I am hoping some owners will chime in on this thread.Jan 15, 2018 at 4:45 pm #3512541
Thanks, Brad. That’s the kind of thing I was looking for.Jan 15, 2018 at 5:04 pm #3512547
BTW – If you think you may become a “pack mule” you may give the Seek Outside Divide a look. It’s probably a little overkill for a normal week long trip if you are really going UL, but for a trip where you may be carrying some heavier stuff, it is a nice option.
I used a Seek Outside pack on an 11 day backpacking/packrafting trip in Alaska in 2015 and a 14 day backpacking trip in Alaska in 2017 and it performed great. It really will carry more weight and transfer it to the hips than your legs can carry; I think they rate the suspension at 110lbs (The frame was designed for hunters carrying elk quarters out of the backcountry) yet it still carries lighter loads well.
It’s a nearly 3# pack though so it is heavier than either of those other options, but if you are going to carry 30# or above, I think it would be worth it.Jan 15, 2018 at 7:43 pm #3512573
Well, I was hoping to stay lightweight. The Seek Outside packs get good reviews, but at that weight, I’d probably just stick with my Gregory.Jan 18, 2018 at 4:01 pm #3513067
Rob PBPL Member
@rwparker35Locale: Columbus, OH
I was a Ranger out at Philmont in 1996 and now get to go back each summer for a week through the Philmont Staff Association. My son is only 8 (cub scouts), so I have a few more years until I get to go with him. I did do a full 12-day Philmont trek back in 2014 with my old council in Illinois, as they needed another adult, but primarily I have been doing the week treks each summer with other former staff.
As you already know, the lighter your pack, the easier (and better) time you are going to have. Plus, it is easier on your back and knees, which I have found to be VERY important the older I get. That said, Philmont does present a unique challenge as you can’t really go “true” ultralight. Philmont has thousands of people a year go through their doors and out into one of the most amazing pieces of property in the world. Philmont has to make sure it is done safely and minimizes, or at least focuses, the impact. This is why they have very specific rules in regards to things like no hammocks, how you cook and store your food, etc.
I am also a huge fan of Zpacks and use a Zpacks Triplex, 20 degree bag, poncho/groundcloth, dry bags, warm hat, gloves, etc. on my trips to Philmont. Sometimes I feel like a walking advertisement for Zpacks. I personally picked the Triplex because it is still light enough for me to carry by myself, but big enough to comfortably sleep two grown adults without having to touch. This is helpful as I don’t always know who my tent-mate is going to be until the very last minute.
In regards to the pack, I personally would avoid getting a Zpacks pack. I like them. They are great. However, they don’t do so well when you get to the upper limits of their weight capacity. I tried many different packs until I settled on the Six Moon Designs Fusion 65:
It weighs 52 ounces, so it is heavier than the Zpacks, but it carries weight really well. I have used this pack on my last two Philmont treks and will be using it again this summer.
Prior to my purchase of the Six Moon Designs Fusion 65, I was seriously considering getting a Zpacks Arc Zip for my Philmont trek. If you look on the webpage linked above, you will actually see my review which compares the two. I’ll also post it here:
“I have now had the chance to take this pack on a couple of prep hikes and I have been very happy with it. I have the pack right at 40 pounds for my prep hikes. This is probably about 5 pounds more than my max weight will ever be during my trek, but I want to prep for worst case scenario. This pack is very comfortable, even when carrying 40 pounds. The updates for 2015 (overall capacity, color options, larger side pockets, etc.) are all great. They addressed all the issues I had with the original version. When empty, the pack weighs exactly 51 oz. (standard yoke/medium belt/hydration pocket). While this is not an ultralight pack, it is one of the few that are this light and can still carry a heavy load. The ZPacks Arc Zip (27 ounces configured how I would want it) and Gossamer Mariposa 60 (36 ounces) are both lighter. Both of those are great packs, but they really drop off in comfort when you get above 25 pounds. For what I am doing, a max weight of 25 pounds is just not feasible. The Arc Zip is also much more expensive ($455 configured the way I would want it). Overall, I am very happy with the 2015 Fusion 65. It is a comfortable, lightweight pack that can handle a heavier load with no problems.”
That review was done in April 2016, before I had actually done my Philmont hikes with it in the summer of 2016 and again in the summer of 2017. Once I did those, I was even more pleased that I had picked the Six Moon Designs over the Zpacks.
My base weight (no food, water, or crew gear) for Philmont is 19 pounds. Not true ultralight, but still pretty light for what Philmont makes you take.
I have a full spreadsheet that details out every item I carry and the weight. I am happy to share that with you if you like. You can use it as a guide. Just let me know.
One other thing that I would mention is: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE GOOD RAINGEAR!!!!!!
Can’t stress that enough. It does depend on the time of year you go (rainy season starts in late July to early August) and where your trek takes you (more rain in north country and less rain in south country), but having a good set of raingear is sooooooo important. Maybe you won’t need it at all (if you are lucky), but when you do need it, you will be glad you have a good set. You being dry will allow you to assist those scouts that didn’t plan as well (this will happen).
Congrats on getting to head out to Philmont in 2019. It is one of the most amazing places to get to go and I always love spending time out there each summer. :)
Let me know if you want a copy of that gear spreadsheet.
Jan 18, 2018 at 4:16 pm #3513070
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by Rob P.
Rob, I appreciate your reply. Lots of great info there. I’m trying to accumulate as much knowledge and wisdom as possible that I can pass along to our troop. We won’t have anyone, scout or adult, who has been to Philmont going on this trek. We do have a few soon-to-age-out scouts who have and a committee member who will soon move on who have.
Your packing list would be very valuable, not just for me, but for others who are planning. If you prefer to keep it private, you can send it to me via PM (exchange email addresses). However, if you’re willing to post it over in the Philmont section of this web site, then many could benefit.
If you have the time to say what worked well for you and what you’d like to improve, that would be great, too.
Thank you!Jan 18, 2018 at 4:36 pm #3513072
Rob PBPL Member
@rwparker35Locale: Columbus, OH
Sent you a PM.
-RobJan 18, 2018 at 7:31 pm #3513103
I own a SWD Long Haul 50 since may last year and have used it on 2 long-distance hikes in the European Alps and other trips.
I’m very pleased with it, would be glad to help out with questions if you have them.Jan 18, 2018 at 7:40 pm #3513104
Arne, how comfortable is it up to 40 pounds? Is it durable?
I’m thinking the 4 way stretch front pocket might be more durable than mesh for no change in weight. Your thoughts?
Which options did you get? I’m thinking about the following
Load lifters for comfort
Upper side pocket on 1 side for more accessible storage
Bottom sleeping pad straps for a Helinox Chair Zero
Dual hip belt for adjustability
Lycra shoulder mesh pouch for easy water bottle access
Hip belt pockets for snacks, camera, etc.Jan 18, 2018 at 8:08 pm #3513107
– Personally I’ve never used it at 40 lbs. I think 33-35 lbs was the most I put in there and it felt comfortable. Didn’t have to pay too much attention to it and my body didn’t feel sore at the end of the day.
– Durability is still out there off course but so far so good. I chose VX07 for the main pack, VX21 for the bottom and Dyneema X for shoulder straps, hipbelt (& pockets) & side-pockets. So far not a single sign of wear. The only annoying thing I’ve found is that the stays tend to pop out of their sleeves on the inside of the pack due to the velcro not being strong enough, but that was easily solved.
FWIW, I mostly follow trails but I’m not the most careful guy with gear, especially my pack.
– IMO 4-way stretch isn’t as durable as regular strong mesh (I have strong mesh on my Long Haul).
– My Long Haul was pretty standard but I asked for an external sit pad holder out of 3D-mesh & a draw-string closure. Two options that aren’t listed on their site but you can ask them pretty much anything.
I also went for the dual hip belt, it works very well for a perfect hipbelt-fit.
I have lycra shoulder mesh pouches on my other SWD-pack but don’t really miss them on my Long Haul. Hipbelt-pockets are big enough for my camera and/or phone and it’s the first pack I own where I can easily grab a water bottle.
If I recall correctly load lifters & hipbelt-pockets are standard on the Long Haul and are included in the price.
I actually own two SWD packs: a Long Haul 50 for long hikes in remote and/or high areas and a frameless Superiour 35 for short & light trips, overnighters or dayhikes.
Workmanship is pretty stellar on both of them and they’re a delight to work with. They’re really nice people and they will do everything to help out.
I’m taking my Long Haul again on a (to be planned) summer trip in the French Alps and on the (in)famous Scottish Cape Wrath Trail late september.
Other trips I’ll be fine with my Superiour 35.
I’m a pretty big pack geek (have used too much packs in too few years) but since using the SWD’s I haven’t noticed anything that’s more interesting. Probably has everything to do with the fact that everything can be customized.
If you any other questions I’ll be very glad to help out but I can also advice you to drop them a mail. Just do them my regards ;)Jan 18, 2018 at 8:15 pm #3513110
Arne, I appreciate that very much. I’m glad to hear such a positive review. I’m still in the research phase. I have acquired some quality, lightweight, compact equipment so this is sounding like a good option.
Factoring in cost, including options, it’s a good deal, too. I see the load lifters and hipbelt pockets are included. The Zpacks accessories really cause the price to shoot upward.Jan 18, 2018 at 9:10 pm #3513129
Not a problem. There isn’t a lot of info about SWD out there, so glad to help out!
I was planning to write a full review last year but decided to wait another year, as I’m sure the Cape Wrath Trail will teach me a thing or two about the Long Haul.
If you want durability btw you could also opt for VX21 for the body and VX42 for the bottom. I think the weight difference will be fairly minimal.Jan 18, 2018 at 10:39 pm #3513140
Or Dyneema X which is the same weight as VX07 but more durable than VX21
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