View Full Version : What size pack is needed?

P Chang
12-29-2013, 21:57
Obviously the quick answer to the question would be, "Large enough to carry all your gear." But, I'm stumped at the moment because I don't have all the gear I plan on taking (don't have the proper sleeping bag, don't have the proper stove, etc). I have a Kelty Redwing 50, which I think may be large enough to hold everything, but if that's the case, I think it will be a tight fit.

I also have a Kelty Coyote 80. This pack would certainly be large enough, but it's two pounds heavier than the other pack. The big advantage to this pack is the external frame…it fits me so much better, which can certainly make the extra two pounds worth the weight. Yet, I'm wondering if I should this pack is so large that I'll just be humping a lot of empty air in the pack.

For those of you who have section hiked or thru hiked the AT, what pack did you use (make/model/size and internal or external frame)?

12-29-2013, 22:03
For most, the 50L should be enough, but it depends on what all you are planning to bring. You have two options that you already have, so I would suggest that you get the rest of your gear sorted and in hand, and see if one of the ones you have will work for you.

I think the 80 will be just too much empty space, and I personally wouldn't want to hump the extra two pounds, especially with dead space, but if the 50 is too small, and you don't want to get a new one (or can't), it may be your option.

P Chang
12-29-2013, 22:10
The 50L is actually a 52L, so I do believe it will be enough. Letting go of the bag that has the external frame is the issue, as that's quite comfortable. I don't like the idea of having to pony up the cash for a new bag, but perhaps there's an external frame pack in the 50-60L range.

12-29-2013, 22:13
Make your pack the last purchase you make. A 60 liter pack will be sufficient for most .

12-29-2013, 22:14
With all due respect..... What pack folks use will work with their gear, not yours. Load up your packs and take a hike. It's that simple.

Papa D
12-29-2013, 22:22
Kelty packs are very heavy and have a lot of "extra" pockets that long distance backpackers don't need - - you need simple and functional - - all those pockets are great ways to loose things.
My favorite backpacking packs are made by Osprey - - the ATMOS 50 is my go-to long distance hiking pack. With the exception of super cold winter hiking (when I might carry a little bigger pack
to accomodate extra fuel, a bigger sleeping bag, clothes, etc.) this bag is just perfect. You might also consider the Golite Jam 50 or go to Ray Jardine's website and just buy a kit and make your own.

P Chang
12-29-2013, 22:28
Yes, ideally, I would purchase everything, buy a pack large enough to fit it all into, and then go break in the gear while on some hikes. However, I'm not doing it like that because I'm not going to take a camp stove (for example) to Afghanistan with me, which is where I'm heading in two months. Not only is that not needed there, but even if I were to use it, where would I get the fuel refills from? Likewise, I'm not going to take whatever sleeping bag I decide to use on the AT because it would get destroyed in Afghanistan and I'd have to buy another one upon my return…why pay for something twice? And, I'm not going to take my hammock to Afghanistan because there'd be nowhere to hang it. Getting the picture?

However, I would like to take whatever pack I'll be using because I'm fortunate enough that I'll be able to hike two mountains on a regular basis while in Afghanistan, and I'd like to use whatever pack I decide to take on the AT.

Are there people hiking the AT with 80L packs? Are 50L packs more common? Maybe there are those using something in-between? I don't see that being a difficult question, yet perhaps others like to make it so.

P Chang
12-29-2013, 22:31
Thanks Papa D…that's the sort of answer I was looking for.

As you pointed out, Kelty has a lot of pockets, yet that's one of the things I like about them…I like being organized and those pockets help. Perhaps I'll try to get away from that…will see. I'll check out the packs you mentioned.

12-29-2013, 22:36
To expound on my earlier post, I'd go to a local outfitters ,bringing what gear you already have and start loading packs
Looking at the packs in person , asking questions regarding certain packs and shoudering the packs once packed will give you better insight on what size,make and model along with comfort is for your liking.

12-29-2013, 22:54
I have come to the conclusion that comfort is a much more important way to evaluate packs than weight. Since you have them both, get the rest of your stuff and try them both fully loaded with food and water. If the heavier pack is more comfortable, take it. 10 hours a day is a long time to carry the less comfortable pack.

kayak karl
12-29-2013, 23:07
the average pack on the trail weights between 2-3 lbs. (somebody correct me if im wrong). it ia also the LAST thing you should buy. you need to know your base weight and volume of your gear. we are not being difficult. i wouldn't take either one of those packs.

P Chang
12-30-2013, 00:21
Thanks for the additional answers…I better understand the approach to choosing a pack.

12-30-2013, 14:45
on my Thru-hike in 2012 i used a Mountain hardwear, Direttsima 46, internal frame, it was the perfect size it fit me like a glove, I loved it, best pack i have ever owned and i wouldn't trade it for anything, BUT on my 2006 thru i used a Kelty Tornado 48, Internal frame and this thing about killed me, then on my 97 Flip-Flop i had a North Face 50 internal frame and it was alright nothing to brag about. I noticed that all your packs are Kelty Just don't get the TORNADO and you're be just fine.

max patch
12-30-2013, 15:22
Thanks Papa D…that's the sort of answer I was looking for.

As you pointed out, Kelty has a lot of pockets, yet that's one of the things I like about them…I like being organized and those pockets help. Perhaps I'll try to get away from that…will see. I'll check out the packs you mentioned.

if ya'll are talking about those side pockets that are on the externals, then yes, those pockets are awesome and really allow you to organize your gear.

01-04-2014, 10:40
Hey PChang - Look at a Jansport Scout, or similar, pack. Seriously. This is a great pack. Cheap (<$100), pretty light (<4lbs), 5 external pockets (you'll love built in pockets), 2 large internal compartments, rugged, comfy, and old-school (like us). My sons use them. I still use one occasionally, cuz in some situations it's just better than my Gregory or Aarn. You will be very happy with a pack like this.

01-16-2014, 10:01
As mentioned, get all your gear together and then stuff in in a pillowcase, a dry sack, one of your current packs, etc, to figure the volume. As far as purchasing a new pack I think you need to load any new pack up with 30-40 lbs in the store and see if the belt deforms at all. If it does or you get torso collapse then move on to another one because that will cause you discomfort on the trail.

Regarding organization I think less is more. Give me a pack with a ton of pockets and I can't remember which pocket I put what in and I wind up spending time looking for stuff. Give me one or two bigger pockets and things are easier to find. Also, a pack in on your back and is not accessible while being worn, and they are meant to be worn - not rifled through looking for stuff. I think a more efficient design is to have just enough organization but not too much.