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The art of frames in ultralight backpacks (which is to say, backpacks which prioritize minimalism in function) is to have the least possible. Not only should fewer components weigh less, most frames provide load transfer between suspension components at the expense of flexibility and body-hugging performance. This may not be especially relevant for sauntering down the PCT, but is of enormous value for scrambling, bushwacking, skiing, and indeed most activities I do while wearing a backpack. I always try to use the least amount of suspension I can get away with.

Ideally, this does not require multiple packs. In reality I have a pile of packs in the bottom of my closet on any given day, slave to avarice and the learning process. In theory, I'd have at most three, with the mid-sized 40-50 L pack receiving the overwhelming majority of the multi-day use. The following design is the cleanest, lightest, and most adaptable system I've yet developed for a pack of that size. Properly executed, with good suspension components and appropriate torso length, this system will carry everything from 10 to 40 lbs with ideal efficiency.

The most intuitively obvious way to make a light pack is to use light fabrics and components. In the contemporary UL world, where weights much above 2 lbs require compelling justification, this easy approach does not get the job done. Longevity and function dictate a certain amount of material, and usually a certain number of features. The best way to make a light pack is to minimize extra layers, and make essential components do multiple tasks.


  • Introduction
  • Making the pack
  • The pack in use

# WORDS: 1310

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