View Full Version : Review and info on SMD Starlite pack please
Could someone please review the six moon designs Starlite pack. I'm looking more on information about it's durability and if my pad, a thermarest prolite plus regular length, would work in the pad pocket. I would also like to know some more info about what exactly the pad pocket does, and if it does work. Is this
Also I'm the type guy who takes his stuff to the store and walks around with a full pack for an hour or so shopping before he decides on buying it. Does anyone have any idea how I could try out a SMD Starlite without having to buy it first? I just want to throw my stuff in it and walk around the house. Any ideas on what to do on a pack like this and any other not easily found in stores?
Correction to end of first paragraph. Is this...pack pretty waterproof without a pack cover? Some people have remarked it is around the web.
...I need to proofread. I posted the other day I was starting in Springer and hiking SOBO to Maine...
I would never go on an extended hike without a pack cover, claims of waterproofed backpack or not.
I have been using the Starlite since 2004. After 5 years of use, I sent it back to have some of the stitching reinforced, and now it is as good as new. Given that it's a light pack, five years of solid use is pretty good durability in my book.
I use a Prolite 4 in size Regular in the pad pocket (which I think is the same as the Prolite Plus now) -- the 20 inch wide pad fits fine, the 25-inch wide pad will not fit. I have room for a closed cell foam sit pad and my "office" (maps, guidebook pages, journal pages) inside the pad pocket, which makes for great easy access on the trail.
Yes, the pad pocket "works" to provide some support, but use the aluminum stays. Seriously, they don't weight much and they make a big difference.
The fabric is waterproof, and the roll top closure is nice, but I use a pack cover anyway. For one thing, I have lots of stuff in the outside pockets that I'd like to keep dry-ish.
The current model Starlite is slightly different from mine -- the pad pocket is more inset into the pack. I haven't tried it, so I can't say how much difference there is in capacity, but my Starlite will carry my winter sleeping bag, and all my winter gear. In fact the only thing I don't like about it is that it's a little too big for a summer load. It compresses okay, but it's still a little big. (I just recently bought a ULA Ohm for warm weather hiking.)
Overall I would say the Starlite is one of the better long distance hiking packs that I've tried. It's light, but still supports 30-35 pounds in comfort. The pad pocket and the three big mesh pockets make for easy access to things I need on the trail.
I think SMD is pretty good about letting you buy a pack to test at home and return if it doesn't fit. I know they'll do that with tents. I haven't used the Starlite, but I'd agree with BigCranky about the stays. I know on my Gossamer Gear packs the benefits of the aluminum stay far outweighs the cost in additional weight. Pretty good discussion on the Starlite going on on the Backpacker mag forum now.
Yeah I agree with you about the stays. Im just looking to cut down weight from my 5+ pound Kelty Trekker 3950 for a more enjoyable experience. But I'm too indecisive to make a move on any of these ultralight packs. I guess as soon as I get some extra money saved up maybe I'll give them a call and see what they can do for me.
How is the suspension system on this pack? I have a problem with internal frame packs hurting my back and mainly my shoulders because the straps are set to narrow around my neck. This causes them to sit awkwardly at an angle on my shoulders and neck muscles. This is why I like my Kelty because I can set the shoulder straps wider.
How is the suspension system on this pack? I have a problem with internal frame packs hurting my back and mainly my shoulders because the straps are set to narrow around my neck.
Not sure, never noticed this as an issue with any pack. In general, you can buy and return cottage gear stuff if it doesn't work.
I wouldn't wager too much on years of use as one might only be using it a couple of weeks a year. My last pack went 13 years and over 17k w/o repair. :-?
IMHO- I'd go w/ a ULA. :)
Then again, you may want something that has been returned who knows how many times.:confused:
ive been looking at the ULA catalyst also, i think ill be deciding between those two packs, but i didnt want to start another debate on which is better
ULA circuit too
Catalyst is way too big.
yeah ive thought about that, A LOT, and it might be, but my clothing is extra bulky. So is my food. I know they have ULA's down at Mount Rogers Outfitters in Damascus, which is 20 minutes away. So if I go with ULA I'll just stuff my gear in a pack and see which one I really need.
I thru hiked with the Starlyte last year. I love this pack and it worked perfectly for me. I did have some stitching coming loose around the load lifter strap on one side and I sent the pack back to be restitched in this spot. They also added a small reinforcing patch in this area. I had no other issues. In the meantime, they sent me a loaner so that I was able to continue hiking while I awaited the repair. Customer service was perfect all around. If I were to begin another thru hike tomorrow, I would load up the same pack and hit the trail again. It definitely has another 2200 miles in it ... and then some.
Definitely use a pack cover. In heavy, continuous rain, the inside of this pack will definitely be wet without a pack cover.
I used a Thermarest Neoair and it fit the pad pocket perfectly. I used the aluminum stays. For a full 30# plus load, I believe they add needed stability.
If you are in Marion, VA, you should be able to get down to Damascus and try out both the Six Moon Designs and ULA packs. I saw both brands in one or more of the outfitters there last year. Otherwise, you can order the packs, load them up at home and then send back the one you decide against. This is what I did when I bought my Starlyte. However, it was Starlyte vs. Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus for me. I loved both packs but thought the Starlyte would be more durable for a long distance hike.
I didn't try out the ULA pack because they were traveling and not taking orders on their website at the time that I was purchasing my pack. The Starlyte and Circuit have the same capacity, 4200ci. The Catalyst is a bit larger, 4600ci. So, the Circuit provides a more direct comparison to the Starlyte than does the Catalyst.
I just saw Ron Moak(nice guy, very encouraging), owner of Six Moon Designs, on the CDT. He was hiking with a friend using a Starlyte with a Prolite Reg length pad as his virtual framesheet. Thermarest recently renamed some of their pads, making the Pro Lite 4 now the ProLite Plus. It seemed it was working well for him. IMO, the pack fit the man's body well. Not sure of the load he was hauling or if he also had stays in the pack.
SMD is quite good at customer service. If you ask them questions they can best inform you about how their packs will work. Ask them about the width between their shoulder straps on the Starlyte which may be an issue for you on narrow width shouder harnbesses.
Yes, as Wcgornto said it's a fairer to compare the equally volumed SMD Starlyte and ULA Circuit.
Copperjohn, you may also want to tinker with the Starlyte's adjustable torso length(good idea), load lifter straps, and fit to get a better feel on your neck and shoulders. This pack is designed to hold the load close to the body. This might be the issue with the discomfort in your shoulders. If the pack/load is held away from the back, even by just a small amount, it might be pulling on your shoulders/neck too much. With heavier loads this can possibly lead to even more discomfort. Also, make sure when you start cinching down all the straps most of the load is on your hips. When putting on your loaded pack, and after all straps are loosened, start by tigthening your hip belt first. I can relieve the strain on my shoulders by placing the pack on with all straps loosened, then shrug my shoulders high with the wt now all on my shoulders, and THEN tighteneing/adjusting my hip belt rather high on my hips. When I unshrug my shoulders almost ALL the load is now on my hips. Very little of it is on my shoulders. After the hipbelt is cinched like that I then adjust all the other straps.
Since the Starlyte has a somewhat unusual outside side mesh pocket configuration(two high pockets on one side not accessible with pack on, one low and accessible with pack on) I would think about how you hike and how you would incorporate that feature.
thanks for all the help. I'll continue to play around with packs and varying different aspect of the pack to make it more comfortable. I run into these problems quite often when dealing with anything around my shoulders.
I've had my packs adjusted to me in some different outfitters and none really could get everything adjusted right until I tried on the Kelty Trekker and was able to set the shoulder straps in its outer most setting because it is an external frame.
I think the final decision between the starlite and the circuit will come down to the size of the main compartment and how I'm choosing to pack my gear at the time. The starlite has a much larger main compartment which would suit me more right now. I don't like stashing things in pockets everywhere around the pack.