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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just got from a hike in the Bitteroot range. I took a new and very cheap backpack I won as a safety award from work. The thing is alright for the first mile, but after that it like going to the dentist. I live in some greatest hiking country in the lower 48 and I want to do more packing. Problem is, I don't know squat about packs!

Dane. Didn't you do some packing or climbing, and also make gear?

Who else knows anything about packs?

How good are Mountainsmith packs?

Thanks in advance!

BTW. I got snowed out on my first hike of the year. What a bummer!
 

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Hi!

There are SO many packs...Could you describe what it is you need for the pack to do for you...and where you'll be using it, as well as how much gear of what type you'll be taking for how long?

LOL...just need to know a lil' more about the way you'll be usin' it...:wink:
 

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Look out Mountain Man, don't answer ol' Gyp_c's questions! He will recommend a an old dirty pillow case. I think he uses one as his lunch bag/range bag/holster/toolbox. :grin:



<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Shane Kropf on 2001-06-10 20:46 ]</font>
 

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"""--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Look out Mountain Man, don't answer ol' Gyp_c's questions! He will recommend a an old dirty pillow case. I think he uses one as his lunch bag/range bag/holster/toolbox.
"""






sssshhh...Back you Canadian Devil!

...Pay no attention to the cad...He is a plant for the ParkPatrol...

Now...Where were we?

:wink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Most of my outings last between two to five days. I tend to bring a lot of food, some dog food, fishing equipment, bivy shelter, sleeping bag, my ruger bisley, custom bowie, and leatherman. Oh yeah, binocs, camera, and rain gear.

My gear is pretty simple, and I need a pack which can handle a five day trek.

I visit areas in Idaho and Montana which recieve a lot of rain. At times much like a coastal climate. Northwest Montana and Central and North Idaho are often wet and unlike much of the rest of the drier Rocky Mtn. states. Rotting and moisture is a problem.

I want a really comfortable pack which has probably aroune 5000+ cu. inches. The Mountainsmith pack in the GORP site is highly recommended for comfort and value.

I've looked at others like Dana, Osprey, Gregor, Arc'tryx but they are pricey for what you get. Paying over 300 for a pack is not my idea of a good time! The Mountainsmith can be had for under $300 and is supposed to be good equipment.

What do you think? Is $280 too much for this type of equipment? What do you suggest?

BTW. I carry Bisleys because I had a bad encounter with a male black bear once. My Smith 5906 9mm definately is not a choice bear gun. It was really ugly and unfortunate, and I learned to carry a serious weapon when outdoors from then on. This is the only time I have ever had to defend myself from a wild animal. I'll probably never have to do it again, but if it happens again, I HAVE THE POWER! Leave the 9mm at home.
 

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Packs are much like 1911 pistols. Eventually you'll wind up owning half a dozen of them. :smile:

I've been doing at least two backpacking trips per year for the last 20 years. Each winter I go solo into the Smoky Mountains on a wild boar and black bear hunt.

My old college roommate is a jazz piano player in NYC now and the only time we see each other is when we block out time on our calendars for a summer trip which is coming up in a few weeks. We haven't missed a year in making this annual ritual in over two decades. We've learned a few things along the way.

STAY THE HECK AWAY FROM THE MILITARY PACKS!
The ALICE pack is the most uncomfortable pack I've ever worn. Lots of guys humped these things in the service and if you ask their advice, they'll steer you down this path. I can't believe that they've ever carried a good commercial pack if they still think that an ALICE compares in any way.

I started out with an ALICE. I got over it.

When I was younger I tended to carry too much stuff. I bought another military pack, the CFP-90 which was a behemoth monstrocity. I ended up feeling like a pack animal. As I planned each trip I'd tell myself, "I'm going lighter this time." But each time I'd use the capacity of the pack to add just "one more thing" until it was stuffed and about to pop the seams.

I finally realized that the only way I was going to carry a lighter load was if I got a smaller pack which limited my available volume.

I chose a DANA DESIGN "Bomb Pack" which is great. DANA packs are expensive but I think they're worth it. Extremely well designed, well made, comfortable, etc.
One of my pet peeves: Makers who only offer gear in purple or red!
Dana packs come in some pretty cool colors such as black and GREEN! :smile:

As my kids got older, they wanted to make the trip but are not quite big enough to carry their fair share of gear. "Daddy can carry it." :wink:

So, I needed a pack which could carry more than the Bomb Pack. I again chose Dana. The Arclight "Terraplane." It's a great medium/large pack.

After I gave up the macho young stud buck pack mule impersonation and went to smaller packs I found that I enjoyed the trails much more. I was bitten by the "ultralight bug."
I bought a Lowe Alpine "Contour Runner 30" lightweight "daypack" not much bigger than a kid's bookbag. I've done a week with it. Of course this requires specialized lightweight and minimal gear.

Oh, I almost forgot....
One military style pack which I DO like is the "Becker Patrol Pack" by Eagle. http://www.eagleindustries.com/mainprod.asp?scv=0 This has become my carry-on bag when I fly commercial airlines. Lots of external pockets for convenient access to goodies. Really tough and well made but not as comfortable as a Dana. http://www.danadesign.com/packs/index.htm

My old roommate likes the Gregory line. They have some features of convenience: more zipper openings, external pockets and the like, but aren't as well made or as comfortable as the Dana.

_________________
Randy Cain
http://www.guntactics.com



<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Randy Cain on 2001-06-11 00:47 ]</font>
 

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Randy has a good comment, "packs are like 1911s" or Harleys for that matter.

I still climb. Which involves a lot of walking in some cases with a heavy pack. Walks like up and over Mt. Rainier or Mt McKinley.

I have used most of the packs out there or seen them in use. My preverenece is for light packs. I have used Wild Things for years now as my main pack. Climb High and Sun Dog are two of my favorite small packs, 3600 c.i. or smaller. But I have half a dozen other. Gregory, Mountain Smith, Dana Designs are all good packs. The current issue mil spec packs are made by Lowe which is as good as anything out there and lighter than most.

The majority of guys I do things with have similar needs so we have similar packs.

Realise that a good estimate of what is easily carried by most is only 25% of their body weight over the long haul. Pack accordingly and find a pack that will carry it easily.

I suggest a cruise through REI, Mountain Gear (both in Spokane) or Marmot or any of the other climbing back packing web sights. Any of them can hook you up with the newest and the best.
 

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mountain man,

The 1911 analogy IS a good one. As such, you will find many conflicting opinions and many brand loyalists defending their choices. Just like the 1911, some of the choices you make are strictly personal preference. There is NO one universally perfect pack. There is only what works well for you and what fits your buying parameters (i.e. cost and capacity).

What is optimum then becomes something of evolutionary journey. You will often find some great deals on used equipment (try eBay) as a result of others going through this process. The Dana Design packs are quality products, although the namesake has now sold out to a major sporting goods company and (I believe) they are now produced in Mexico. The Bombpack is a good size (3,200 c.i.) pack that is not too big for fast hiking, yet is still big enough to carry a fair amount of stuff. However, at 4 lb. 10 oz., it is IMO kinda heavy for the cubes. Generally, I would prefer no more than 1 pound for every 1,000 c.i. of pack space. Closer to this goal, is the Dana Design Bridger. I would take this over its sibbling Bombpack design, as the back two outside pockets add 800 c.i. of handy carrying space, for very little extra weight. The Dana Design Terraplane and Astraplane packs are excellent choices for those having to play family Sherpa.

Lowe, Gregory and Arc'Teryx all have solid offerings in their product lines. I would suggest you go to a store that actually has the packs you are interested in and try them on -- fully loaded. The good outdoor stores will be only to happy to accomodate this sort of request. For more info, try reading some of the pack reviews posted here.

The ultralightweight hiking craze has become a way of life for many. Do bear in mind, some of these folks go to extremes to lighten their loads (i.e. cutting handles off toothbrushes, etc.). As with most things in life, there are tradeoffs made in persuing that end. The ultralight packs have to give up something in order to reduce the weight. Some of the hardcore ultralight packs are nothing more than a sack with two straps. That is fine for some, but it does sacrifice most of the load distributing advantages of less stripped down pack designs. Do be aware, that often the tradeoff is durability for lightness. You will sometimes see Spectra cloth used ($pendy choice), in high end packs in an effort to make the pack ultralight, yet still remain durable.

I am not knocking the ultralight craze, as there have been a lot of gains that have trickled down to the rest of the hiking community. It has made me re-think my personal requirements a great deal. There are several good web sites to glean more info on the subject. For a good jumping off point, start here. Also check out this link.

Like the 1911, there are factory, semi-custom and full custom choices. Beyond such things as getting the colors you like, the custom packs generally offer better fit and load carrying ease. Now I realize you said you don't want to spend the money for an expensive pack -- let alone a custom one. However, others here may be interested to know more, and if your funds will permit this indulgence, then IMO you would do well to at least consider the advantages they offer -- if for no other reason than to better understand the design trafeoffs of lesser priced choices. The custom packs from McHale & Co. are often said to be the best avaialble. You can order a video from them that will better explain why their packs work so well. IMHO, their suspension and frame systems are superior designs. The down side of buying from McHale; is that unless you are in Seattle, you can't try one on. But they do offer a money back guarantee, should you decide you don't like what you ordered.


DD

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Desert Dog on 2001-06-11 12:54 ]</font>
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Bought my new backpack from mountain gear today. I tried them all and found only two which fit me correctly. One was a foreign made North Face brand and the other was an Osprey which is entirely made in Colorado. Both fit very well, but I took the Osprey because of the somewhat better suspension and also because it's supposed to made in the USA!

I cannot believe how different these internal packs are from the old external-boy scout specials I'm used to! Where have these things been all my life.

Now does anybody know much about sleeping bags?
 

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Bags?

How comfortable, how light and how cold?

Best tip is get one with a dark linner, navy blue or black, because the'll dry faster.

I have a Gortex and down, light weight, bag with a collar for climbing, Feathered Friends, special order. My "regular" bag is a Patagonia, synthetic, again dark liner but this one is synthetic and zips if needed with another one for my wife. I use it as a quilt if a cabin or good tent is an option.

If you're going to get wet get synthetics, if you can keep yourself dry a goose down bag is an amazing tool.

No one should be without a Therma Rest. The thick ones are very impressive and even the lightest is darn good if you spent any time on ensolite.
 

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MM, on sleeping bags I have been impressed with the bags I have from Wiggy's. Colorado operation. Put "Wiggy's" into a search engine and you will find his site. Ring him up if you like to talk.
 

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I have a Feathered Friends down bag. Since I mostly camp in the Pacific Northwet, I got the Gore DryLoft shell. While I have not had the bag itself get rained on, the tent has gotten pretty wet inside a few times, and the shell has kept the down dry.

My biggest problem was finding a good backpacking bag that was warm enough for the mountains (not expedition stuff), but was big enough in diameter to fit me comfortably...I don't like to sleep in a coffin, and I was willing to pay a small size and weight penalty for nightly comfort.
 

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Oh Now your talking my langauge. I have found Gregory Packs to be great. Gregory is owned by Bianchi holsters.
There is but one choice for sleeping bags:
WESTERN MOUNTAINEERING. Great bags. I use the Antelop SMF.
 

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There is but one choice for sleeping bags:
I'll remeber this quote from some guy in Florida, the next time I'm at 16,000 ft. and the sun is going down. :roll:


:grin:

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dane Burns on 2001-06-20 20:23 ]</font>
 
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Granted ,
That it seems you guys have a great deal more experience than an amateur like myslef but I have used a Wiggy's bag for the last several years and I really like it.

I am very curious to know who's 7-10 day packs you would recommend for cold weather use?
 
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