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Unread 07-09-2010, 11:56 AM   #1
Timothy_90
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How big should my backpack be?

Get your mind out of the gutter, I'm shopping for a backpack.

I'm looking for a good weekend hiker, I'm an eagle scout and did a lot of backpacking with scouts but haven't owned a pack since the little Kelty that I outgrew when I was about 14 and donated to the troop. I always borrowed a pack from a friend of mine, it was a decent Jansport internal frame pack but it always seemed just a hair too small as far as fitting all my stuff in there went. But said friend is in China at the moment so I can't really contact him to ask what size his pack was.

How many cubic inches are recommended for a good weekend pack? And by weekend I'm thinking hike in saturday morning, stay in the woods saturday night hike out by sunday late afternoon/evening. And I always hike with another person.

What kind of packs do you fellow outdoorsy folks have? Any you would recommend?

I know I like internal frame packs, a few pockets are fine but an excessive number is annoying, sturdy buckles are a must, and it goes without saying that it must be comfortable.

If it helps I'm about 5'8 and a bit hefty at 185 pounds.

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Unread 07-09-2010, 12:00 PM   #2
jeepinhokie
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i have a lowe alpine backpack and it works well. my .02 is to keep it light, make sure there is a seperate sleeping bag zipper at the bottom of the pack and to make sure there is a rain fly.

i believe my pack is 65L

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Unread 07-09-2010, 12:42 PM   #3
Timothy_90
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeepinhokie View Post
i have a lowe alpine backpack and it works well. my .02 is to keep it light, make sure there is a seperate sleeping bag zipper at the bottom of the pack and to make sure there is a rain fly.

i believe my pack is 65L

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Yeah, The pack cover is always necessary, I've used garbage bags before in a pinch but it's always nice to have a real cover.

These are a couple that I've found so far.

REI Ridgeline 65 Pack at REI.com

REI Flash 65 Pack at REI.com

The North Face Terra 65 Pack at REI.com

Deuter ACT Lite 65 + 10 Pack at REI.com


My price limit is about $200, if it's a little more than that I can deal with it but much higher is out of my price range.
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Unread 07-09-2010, 12:47 PM   #4
Matt Gertsch
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Go big, just in case you decide to do long distances in the future. Most packs compress down if you don't fill them all the way.

I keep my clothes and bag and everything else in separate dry bags, so a rain cover has never been and issue. Also, because everything is in a separate dry bag, not having a separate bag compartment has never been an issue.
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Unread 07-09-2010, 01:04 PM   #5
Timothy_90
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Gertsch View Post
Go big, just in case you decide to do long distances in the future. Most packs compress down if you don't fill them all the way.

I keep my clothes and bag and everything else in separate dry bags, so a rain cover has never been and issue. Also, because everything is in a separate dry bag, not having a separate bag compartment has never been an issue.
Good advice, back in the day my scoutmaster would stress the whole separate bags thing pretty hard. I always packed my clothes in gallon ziplock bags- with a big baggie full of socks right on the top.

I agree with the logic of go big, but I do somewhat feel like if I have TOO much space I may be tempted to use it and bring things that I don't need for a shorter weekend hike. What size would you recommend? Bigger than the 65L packs I already found? 85L? 95L?
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Unread 07-09-2010, 01:08 PM   #6
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I have a 5200 cubic inch pack and I love it. I usually pack around 65 pounds or so because I am not a smart or lite packer, but hey, it works.
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Unread 07-09-2010, 01:18 PM   #7
Matt Gertsch
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy_90 View Post
Good advice, back in the day my scoutmaster would stress the whole separate bags thing pretty hard. I always packed my clothes in gallon ziplock bags- with a big baggie full of socks right on the top.

I agree with the logic of go big, but I do somewhat feel like if I have TOO much space I may be tempted to use it and bring things that I don't need for a shorter weekend hike. What size would you recommend? Bigger than the 65L packs I already found? 85L? 95L?
I always carried about 35 pounds worth of extra **** and half again the amount of food and that I actually needed. My dad did that when I was growing up and it sort of stuck.

The extra 35 pounds of crap, was stuff that I needed, but didn't have on a trip. Once I got home, that thing went into my pack and stayed.

As far as the liter measurement, you've got me. I could tell you how many cubic inches, but have no frame of reference for liter measurements. For what I do and what I carry, I'd look for something at least 6000 cubic inch. If you pack well, that will be enough to get you though a week or two.
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Unread 07-09-2010, 01:53 PM   #8
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I have the REI Flash 65 and love it. I have it setup for SAR right now so its only about 1/2 full. But with all of the adjustment that comes on the pack that's fine. I can cinch the adjustment straps down and it works great. It is VERY comfortable. We are often carrying 40-50 pounds and I've found that the smaller packs, although they fit all my gear, don't handle the weight as well as the larger packs.

The pack does fit A LOT of stuff though. The main compartment is huge and just keeps swallowing up whatever I put in there. I don't worry about water getting inside too much because all my gear is waterproof and the top and front pockets on the pack are waterproof so they tend to shed the water right off the pack. There are straps on the bottom so you can attach a tent or sleeping bag along with a bunch of lashing points all over the pack. Also I noticed you said you don't like a lot of pockets. Besides the one main section of the pack there are only 2 other zipper pockets. Overall I would rate it a 9/10, maybe higher.

Pic of how I have it setup now.


The other pack I have and use often is my Kelty Redwing 2650. This thing is one of my favorites. I use it for day hikes as well as searches where I don't have to bring as much gear. It holds a lot and is very comfortable and rugged. It has A LOT of pockets to store gear in though so you may not like that. I have found though that it does get a little uncomfortable when I start getting towards the 35-40lb mark. They make a larger version too that I think is 3100ci.

For what you are describing though I think the Flash 65 would be great. Versatile enough for an overnight stay but also large enough for you to be able to use on a 1-2 week trip.

My advice is to go to REI or another outdoors store and try them on. REI has weights that you can put in the pack too to really get a feel for the fit. Packs are like guns. One person may love a Glock because it fits their hand great and another may hate it because the grip is uncomfortable for them.
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Unread 07-10-2010, 11:54 AM   #9
Timothy_90
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CMARJEEP View Post
I have the REI Flash 65 and love it. I have it setup for SAR right now so its only about 1/2 full. But with all of the adjustment that comes on the pack that's fine. I can cinch the adjustment straps down and it works great. It is VERY comfortable. We are often carrying 40-50 pounds and I've found that the smaller packs, although they fit all my gear, don't handle the weight as well as the larger packs.

The pack does fit A LOT of stuff though. The main compartment is huge and just keeps swallowing up whatever I put in there. I don't worry about water getting inside too much because all my gear is waterproof and the top and front pockets on the pack are waterproof so they tend to shed the water right off the pack. There are straps on the bottom so you can attach a tent or sleeping bag along with a bunch of lashing points all over the pack. Also I noticed you said you don't like a lot of pockets. Besides the one main section of the pack there are only 2 other zipper pockets. Overall I would rate it a 9/10, maybe higher.

Pic of how I have it setup now.


The other pack I have and use often is my Kelty Redwing 2650. This thing is one of my favorites. I use it for day hikes as well as searches where I don't have to bring as much gear. It holds a lot and is very comfortable and rugged. It has A LOT of pockets to store gear in though so you may not like that. I have found though that it does get a little uncomfortable when I start getting towards the 35-40lb mark. They make a larger version too that I think is 3100ci.

For what you are describing though I think the Flash 65 would be great. Versatile enough for an overnight stay but also large enough for you to be able to use on a 1-2 week trip.

My advice is to go to REI or another outdoors store and try them on. REI has weights that you can put in the pack too to really get a feel for the fit. Packs are like guns. One person may love a Glock because it fits their hand great and another may hate it because the grip is uncomfortable for them.
It's not that I really hate pockets, I just dislike an excessive number of pockets. I don't like unzipping like 527 different compartments to look for my sunglasses (or anything else) because I can't remember which pocket they are in.

I'm glad to hear the Flash 65 is a good one, I tend to like REI products as they are usually pretty high quality. I agree that the best course of action would be to try on different ones, and I have tried on a few, but I'll be ordering whatever I get online (or rather my mom will because a new pack is my birthday present).
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Unread 07-10-2010, 12:46 PM   #10
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+1 for REI

and congrats on Eagle. By the time I got to First class I couldn't deal with the 2-3 year age difference between me and the incoming cub scouts, they're sooooo annoying lol, and I was starting marching band so that ate up all of my time.
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Unread 07-10-2010, 06:41 PM   #11
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What kind of gear are you trying to carry? Your pack should just be just big enough to hold your stuff, but there are so many variables. Down or synthetic bag, inflatable pad or roll up pad, tent or hammock, what season? It should weigh less than five pounds, and if you plan moderately well you should be carrying less than 35 pounds with food and water. It's possible to head out with a lot less weight. Have you checked out Appalachian Trail - Whiteblaze.net ? It's the Appalachian Trail hiking forum, and you can get a lot of very good advice there. Check out ULA packs and Go-lite packs. There are plenty of other good ones too. Kelty has a lot of very usable gear for a good price, but it seems to me that they are trying to please too many people. Their Lightyear down bags are a very good buy for the money.
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Unread 07-10-2010, 07:15 PM   #12
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"How big should my backpack be?"

Depends... how much does your GF eat? lol
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Unread 07-10-2010, 07:37 PM   #13
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I'll add a vote for the Flash 65. When I am going real lite, I remove the frame stay and insert a small sit pad cut from Wally World blue CCF pad. It adds some support and padding, plush drops some of the weight. But t he whole pack thing is all how it fits you and your gear. Best thing to do is get your gear together, go to REI or another outfitter and get a pack that hauls your stuff and fits good.
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Unread 07-10-2010, 07:41 PM   #14
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It all depends on your gear and how smart you pack. I have a 65L Osprey Atmos that will get me through 10 days, but I go very very light on clothing -- synthetic stuff only, as it packs down very small and can be washed and dried very quickly. This frees up a lot more room for food and gear for the long hauls.

Even if it's just a weekend trip, I'd recommend a 65L as a minimum requirement, especially if you don't have the dough to spend on super light/compressable gear. It's better to have too much room than not enough. Also, buying a pack without trying it on is a huge leap of blind faith. There's nothing more miserable than carrying 30-60 lbs of gear for miles on end on inclines in elevation if your pack doesn't fit just right. My Osprey fits so well it literally feels like the weight I'm carrying is cut in half because of the way it fits. Anything bigger than 85L is going to start jumping up in price and is superfluous for most people's needs.

The Atmos 65 is exactly $200 here, where I got mine. http://www.hermitshut.com/ospreyatmos65.html

It really is an amazing pack, and I'd recommend Osprey's brand to anyone. Tons of cool little features like the back vent and trekking pole holders have made this my favorite pack to date.
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Unread 07-10-2010, 08:49 PM   #15
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4,000 cubic inches is about right for an overnight stay, depending on what you intend to carry. If someone accompanying you has a similar or larger pack, then this size should be very adequate because the load can be divided between the two of you. I won't recommend certain packs or brands because there are too many choices and too many likes/dislikes among hikers.

To put the size in perspective, 3,200 cubic inches would be a minimalist overnight pack, probably not what you want unless you care to rough it. I carry this size on day hikes when bringing a jacket, DSLR equipment, and other things, such as water shoes for river crossing.

If you think that you might hike for more than one day at a time, then consider a pack larger than 4,000 cubic inches, especially if you are a hiker who likes to carry a lot of stuff. Ultimately, the only way to handle all types of hikes is to own a few packs in different sizes.

A major design recommendation: buy a pack that can hold at least one large water bottle (1 Liter) in an elastic pocket on the outside. This is a convenience I could not go without. Easy access and not having to hold the bottle while walking.
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