View Full Version : Backpack Guidance
I will be doing a thru-hike of the AT this summer of undetermined length, depending on a myriad of variables. But I no longer have my old pack, which would have been about twelve years old anyway. I am trying to walk a balance between cost (as I am having to equip myself from basically scratch), utility (since I know the only chance I have to maximize my enjoyment is with the proper equipment) and comfort (I'm only going until my back, feet or knees wear out).
I'm looking at two packs that basically bookend what I think I can spend: A Gregory Shasta 5000 at $259 on the high end and a Kelty Red Cloud 5000 ct at $130 on the low end. All things being equal I obviously go with the Kelty, but all things aren't equal and I am sure some of the differences will not make themselves apparent in the showroom of an outfitter.
Does anyone have any comments on either these two packs or more importantly on packs in general in terms of good compromises between quality, features, comfort and cost? Any insight will be especially appreciated.
Comparing a Gregory and a Kelty is like comparing Lipton Noodles with a Steak Dinner. I would warn you against Kelty "internal" packs...I would strongly recommend spending some money on a pack, and in either case probably don't need a 5000cu in pack for a thru-hike.
If you wanna save some money don't buy an internal frame pack, you can get a solid external like the Kelty Trekker or Tioga for around $100-150. Kelty has always made a much better frame pack than internal. Kelty has been doing alot of wacky things lately so aviod the newer stuff.
I have the Shasta and love it. It's worth the price. Very comfortable.
I have a Shasta and the original size Reality...both beautiful packs that work great.
On an '02 model the Shasta still weighs 5lb 12oz for a small! Damn, I wish I could carry those kind of loads....please cosider a GVP-4, at 85$ its capacity is almost the same and the extra 4.5 pounds freed can be used for a 2liter bag of wine! And with the extra money you could get an HH ultralight A-sym.
All that matters is what feels best to you, that can hold the capacity and weight that you are going to carry. Try on, with weight, every one you can. I carry an old K2 external frame with a kayak bag as a pack. Think of a pack like a hiking shoe. Some fit great and others will make your hike a nightmare, price has little to do with it.
No **** Blue Jay! We agree on something.
If you are relatively new to backpacking, or long distance hiking more specifically, I would recommend you buy the cheapest, most basic pack you can find. Look at what is on sale at Sierra Trading Post and try to keep your purchase under $100.
Simva - Shaving almost 80% of the weight from a bag seems pretty drastic. Which gets to the comfort thing - is all of that support or padding? I ask because I obviously would not get to try a gpv4 on before ordering it. I would love to shave four pounds off of my load, but that doesn't seem like it could be much more than hiking around with a hefty bag slung to your back. Obviously you find it comfortable though.
Chris - I hear you on the inexpensive aspect. I'm all for low cost. I am not new to hiking, but I haven't done anything longer than a weekend in a decade and have lost all of my gear in the interim. The one thing I really want to avoid is getting a pack that feels great in the store but either has problems that appear after a few days of wearing it or that has durability issues.
I am taking this hike on very short notice, but then again it is the rare moment when you get to take weeks if not months and get away. Thx for the insights.
Don't overlook smaller Gregory Forrester (4300cu) and its lighter. Still expensive though. Smaller means less room for stuff you don't need.
I've said it before and I'll say it again... I love my Gregory Reality pack. It's the only pack that has ever fit me properly. It carries great. I like gregory so much that I just replaced my perfectly good, generic daypay with a gregory model, which I also love. I highly recommend the company.
I'd also suggest at least looking at the forrester. I think the shasta is huge... if you have that much space, you'll end up filling it.
Backpacks are very hard to shop for. I cannot tell how a backpack will carry without loading it up and going out for a trip. Of course, many places won't let you return a pack if you do this. There are a few companies with very good reps. Dana, Gregory, and Arc'teryx come to mind and you could be relatively safe buying them. But, if you buy an inexpensive pack and use it a lot, you might find a great deal and you will certainly learn what features you like and which you don't. In the end, for long hiking in moderate conditions, I've found I like just a bag with straps.
Mt. Rogers Outfitters in Damascus has a sale on some packs. They have some 2002 Gregory Realitys for $179.00 if anyone is interested. You may get free shipping too.
I spoke with Glen at GVP - Really nice guy. I think we determined that I will be carrying a bit more weight than that system is designed for.
My local outfitter has a Reality on sale for $159, so I may scarf that one up. It feels good with twenty five pounds of rice in it, but who knows.
Thanks for all of your insights!