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2Birds1Stone
01-08-2018, 11:00
Hello Folks,

I received this pack as a gift over the holidays. From my research it doesn't look like external frame packs are popular with thru-hikers on the AT.

Would it be stupid to attempt a thru with a pack such as this?

http://www.basspro.com/shop/en/ascend-ts4500-trail-backpack

More about me,

30 y/o
6'0"
210lbs

I will be attempting a thru in 2019 or 2020 with my fiance, I will be carrying about 60% of our combined load, as she is nearly 100lbs lighter than I.

lonehiker
01-08-2018, 11:07
Nothing stupid about attempting a thru-hike with that pack. Good luck on your 19/20 attempt.

illabelle
01-08-2018, 11:42
Here's a late :welcometo you. Two years is a long time to linger before making your first post.

If you've been reading stuff on WB for a while, you know that the "correct" answer is that you're doing it wrong unless you do it my way. Just keep that in mind as you read responses.

I have two packs, one of them weighs about 3 pounds, but is kinda small. If I wanna carry more food or insulation, it can be hard to get everything in it. The other pack weighs almost 6 pounds, and is adequate for whatever I wanna bring. Both packs are comfortable to wear.

Your pack weighs almost 6-and-a-half pounds. On the other hand, it's free. Free matters.

2Birds1Stone
01-08-2018, 11:52
Nothing stupid about attempting a thru-hike with that pack. Good luck on your 19/20 attempt.
Thank you for the response lonehiker.

I see a lot of discussion on weight and size of packs, especially in the Thru-hiker section of the forum. With such an emphasis on weight, I was worried that 6.6lbs was way too heavy.

Here's a late :welcometo you. Two years is a long time to linger before making your first post.

If you've been reading stuff on WB for a while, you know that the "correct" answer is that you're doing it wrong unless you do it my way. Just keep that in mind as you read responses.

I have two packs, one of them weighs about 3 pounds, but is kinda small. If I wanna carry more food or insulation, it can be hard to get everything in it. The other pack weighs almost 6 pounds, and is adequate for whatever I wanna bring. Both packs are comfortable to wear.

Your pack weighs almost 6-and-a-half pounds. On the other hand, it's free. Free matters.
Hello Illabelle,

Thank you for the warm welcome. I first became obsessed with the AT in 2015, after doing a few short day hikes in the Delaware Water Gap and Harriman State Park regions. In 2016 I began researching and planning more heavily, but a new career sidetracked my hiking aspirations. With things being iffy at work right now, I'm back to planning for when there inevitable layoff or career change happens.

The pack I linked is 73 liters, which is larger than the most popular packs I've seen from the "Class of 20XX" surveys that are done each year. I'm larger than the average hiker and will be carrying about 20-25% of my hiking partners load on our thru attempt. I just want to make sure I'm not setting myself up for failure from the get go by starting with a relatively heavy pack.

Free is good! From what I've read, the external frame packs make carrying a heavier load fairly comfortable, which is my main concern. We are leaning toward hammocks or tarptents for shelter, and still have a ton of research to do regarding the remaining gear.

Look forward to reading and contributing more to these boards now that I'm back in the planning and daydreaming phase.

DownEaster
01-08-2018, 13:18
If you're going to be carrying a heavy load, the go-to UL backpack solutions aren't going to work for you anyway. And as has been stated already, free matters. Years ago, I did a 200-mile stretch of the AT starting with 55 lbs. on my back (at Mt. Katahdin, so I had 100 miles before my first resupply stop). Pack weight didn't impact my enjoyment of those two weeks.

Slo-go'en
01-08-2018, 13:53
"Back in the day" we used to carry big, heavy frame packs, loaded with big and heavy gear. We also didn't hike very far in a day. 10 miles was a big day and 15 was a killer, resulting in taking the next day off to recuperate. Few were able complete a thru hike with that kind of load. The large percentage of people completing a thru hike these days is to a large degree the fact gear has gotten so much lighter and puts much less stress on the body.

To some degree, the weight of that pack is offset by the lower weight of the stuff you need to put in it, compared to what was common years ago. Once you collect the rest of your gear, you may find you don't need a pack that big.

DownEaster
01-08-2018, 21:31
The large percentage of people completing a thru hike these days is to a large degree the fact gear has gotten so much lighter and puts much less stress on the body.
This is news to me; I thought the AT completion rate had been fairly steady at about 25% for some time. Can you point me to any sources?

Starchild
01-08-2018, 21:39
It's heavier then most thru hiking packs, but it's heavier partly because its a external frame, and you also mention that you will be carrying some of yoru sweeties gear, and external is great for heavier loads. If the pack is comfy is another factor which you have not mention (if it's not comfy then it's a no-go on it).

Starchild
01-08-2018, 21:40
This is news to me; I thought the AT completion rate had been fairly steady at about 25% for some time. Can you point me to any sources?

Thought it used to be 10-20%, But recently 25% - last 5 years or so. would also like to see completion rates.

Burrhead
01-08-2018, 21:42
You have plenty of time to try it out. Just go on some overnight/ two night trips and see what you think.

nsherry61
01-08-2018, 22:38
To cut to the chase, in the end, you will most likely find another solution will be your preferred solution. You would not be the only external frame hiker on the trail or the only one to be trying a thru, but, you will be one of a very few rare birds on the verge of extinction. The the positive encouragement above is good and sound, but I also doubt any one of the above posters would choose to save the cost of the pack they want on their thru-hike attempt to save a couple hundred bucks of the several thousand the experience will be costing you. I've been surprisingly successful going cheap on all kinds of gear and still managing to be ultra-light, but a backpack isn't one of those things you can go cheap on and still have reliability for the 5 months of walking you'll be doing.

Yes you can do it. No, it's not foolish. Yes, it is probably something you don't want to do and something you will end up either not doing or regretting if you do. But then, martyrs have a place on the trail too.

DownEaster
01-09-2018, 04:49
Thought it used to be 10-20%, But recently 25% - last 5 years or so. would also like to see completion rates.
I haven't found any old finish percentages. The trend in the 2010s is a decreasing completion rate (30% down to 20%, fairly smooth) for NoBo hikers, and increasing completion rate (20% up to 25%, not smooth) for SoBo hikers, as you can see here (https://www.appalachiantrail.org/home/community/2000-milers).

DownEaster
01-09-2018, 04:52
Completion figures going back another 5 years are here (http://www.laughingdog.com/2012/02/appalachian-trail-completion-rates.html).

LIhikers
01-09-2018, 06:54
2Birds1Stone
Welcome from another Long Islander.
If your geared up for some cool/cold weather hiking, and want to meet a number of other Whiteblaze members, and are available this coming weekend then see this thread (https://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/127744-The-annual-leave-no-hiker-behind-winter-trek-open-to-all?p=2187630#post2187630)

Highland Goat
01-09-2018, 07:44
As internal frame packs have evolved the ability to carry heavy loads and promote air circulation, the few advantages of external frame packs have faded. I only use an external frame backpack or a pack frame for trail maintenance.

Ultimately you will have to decide if the pack is comfortable enough to wear every day for months. Usually with a backpack there is a bit of a trade-off between comfort/fit and weight, but I would be surprised if you found that to be the case with this pack. You may wish to try the pack out, but it would be easier to return/resell if it is new.

Also, don’t worry about what is popular with thru hikers, as that sometimes includes ill-advised practices, like sleeping with food.

egilbe
01-09-2018, 08:13
I use an external frame pack. All of Maine at least one, most of it two or three times, or more on some sections, half of New Hampshire, some of it two or three times, all with an external frame pack.

garlic08
01-09-2018, 09:31
Much depends on the condition of your joints. It was necessary for me to stop carrying a six+ pound pack with fifty pounds of marital gear in order to keep backpacking. By age forty, each 100 mile trip took months of recovery for the knees. When AT dreams surfaced, we learned how to lighten the load and it became not only possible but fun again. The cost of the pack is nothing compared to the lifestyle issue.

With your time frame, you'll have plenty of time for shake-down hikes. Try a 100 miler, see how you feel, see if you think you can do it twenty more times that year. Some can, I couldn't.

Shrewd
01-09-2018, 11:09
I think itís way too heavy, personally.

Hike your own hike and all that. I hiked with a buddy that had a similar pack; a red monster that was over 5 pounds. He called it the Devil and loathed it. Openly talked about burning it when he finished.

You canít beat free but youíre also not hitting the trail for maybe two years. Iíd suggest setting aside a bit of money now and again over that year or two and get yourself a better pack. You could save yourself up to four pounds with one purchase!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Shrewd
01-09-2018, 11:13
The cost of a new pack weighed against how much money youíre going to spend on a half year adventure isnít much, but the difference in comfort during your day to day toil would be quite significant.


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dudeijuststarted
01-09-2018, 11:44
Put the max load in it and go out for 2-3 nights. I had a $300 Gregory that fit perfectly but wrecked my lower back like no one's business, and it had some goofy sway bar that was supposed to do the opposite. I do find the ultralight packs, and ultralight loads, for me, save my back and hips. Your pack is a serious element to your thru hike. If you don't switch it out, add $200-$300 to your thru hike budget in case you need to switch it out along the way (you'll know by the Smokies.) This way your hike isn't ruined by something as simple as your backpack.

2Birds1Stone
01-09-2018, 15:02
2Birds1Stone
Welcome from another Long Islander.
If your geared up for some cool/cold weather hiking, and want to meet a number of other Whiteblaze members, and are available this coming weekend then see this thread (https://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/127744-The-annual-leave-no-hiker-behind-winter-trek-open-to-all?p=2187630#post2187630)

Oh man, that sounds like a really fun time! Unfortunately I am racing the 10 Mile Blue Point Brewery run on Saturday morning, so no hiking for me.

I've only done day hikes to this point, and my camping experience and gear is for car camping. large 3 person tent, 15lb sleeping bag, etc! I need to start gearing up and doing weekend trips asap. I need the fiance to make sure she enjoys this and can handle a few days of pooping in a dirt hole before we commit to a thru together.

To Everyone Else,

Thank you for the well thought out responses. I had a feeling that would be the general consensus. $$ for a new pack will not be a huge issue in 2 years, and I'll use this one on shorter hikes and maybe fore backpacking around europe next summer for a few weeks.

Would you say it's worth replacing the pack sooner and using it on 2-3 day hikes way in advance of a thru attempt?

Assuming I don't want to go UL, and will be carrying 60% of our combined load, could you folks recommend a solid pack that would be suitable for that? I know Osprey is very popular, but what size would you go for if you had to carry your own gear + a portion of your partners?

PS Sorry for all of the newbie questions =P

DownEaster
01-09-2018, 15:11
If you can get your (couple's) total load down, then most of the UL packs will work to carry your load plus some of your fiance's. Getting the total weight down is helped by shared gear (tent, stove, water filter, & c.) so that's not at all unreasonable. I'm happy with my Granite Gear Crown 2 with up to 30 lbs., and its capacity is 65 liters with the included lid (which weighs only an extra 2.6 ounces for that last 5 liters of useful storage). Since you've got time to wait for sales you can probably get that pack for $150.

garlic08
01-09-2018, 15:45
I now carry 60% or more of our gear in my Gossamer Gear G4 pack that weighs less than a pound. And I got it on sale for $80. I have no idea of the volume spec, since I've never come close to filling it up.

Feral Bill
01-09-2018, 16:09
Try it out. From Long Island, Harriman State Park is easily accessible. If it suits you, fine. If not, you will learn enough to make a wise replacement decision. My son uses my old 5 1/2 pound external frame pack on tough treks and likes it. Of course, free counts in that case, too.

SkeeterPee
01-09-2018, 16:31
I would say try it out. my older brother (65) has an antique external frame he is using. He has also made much of his gear so it is not light. He would definitely benefit from less weight. But my 25 year old son uses a similar old external frame that a neighbor gave him and has no trouble doing 15 mile days with it. His other gear is not all light, but better than my brother's. So at your age you may find it works fine for trips while you are learning and you can look at something else once you have some experience.

Shrewd
01-09-2018, 18:12
If youíre worried about weight capacity, check out the ULA Catalyst. Itís the bigger brother of the Circuit, a very popular pack for long distance hikes.

Give them a call, they are super helpful and will chat away about packs and fit and such.
You could also go to an REI and try on a few ospreys (exos if it fits, atoms otherwise).

Mountain Crossings, the famous outfitter at Neels Gap has a good selection of smaller brand lightweight packs like granite Gear and ULA; theyíre very used to thru hikers coming in need to replace packs and Gear.

Worst case you make it there and decide.




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Shrewd
01-09-2018, 18:13
I would also argue that doing a few 15 mile days in a pack isnít the same as doing 15 to 20 mile days back to back for weeks and months at a time. Thatís a whole Ďnother animal.

Itís worth it for you knees, man.

Wonít somebody think about the knees!!!!


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Siestita
01-09-2018, 22:26
"If youíre worried about weight capacity, check out the ULA Catalyst. Itís the bigger brother of the Circuit, a very popular pack for long distance hikes." Shrewd

I agree. Here's what my experiences have been.

I've done many short backpacking trips, over the years but with none exceeding two and half weeks duration. When I started backpacking in the early 1970s external frame backpacks weighing 5 to 5 1/2 lbs. were considered 'state of the art'. I still own several of those, including an orange Trailwise pack that was recommended by writer Colin Fletcher and also the Kelty pack (a Super Tioga perhaps) that my late father carried while sectioning the entire AT during the late 1980s. After his resupplies Dad typically carried total loads of about 30 lbs.using that pack. In other words he was a "light"" long distance hiker but not an "ultralight" one.

Partly for nostalgic reasons, I continued to use my ancient 5 1/2 lb. Trailways pack regularly until a year and half ago. At that point I decided to get a lighter pack as part of an ongoing weight reduction effort. I did so recognizing that as others have pointed out there is a trade off between a pack's weight and both its load carrying ability and its potential comfort. I anticipated that I would typically be using my pack on four day trips here in Kentucky carrying 22 to 24 lbs. total weight (base weight, including a 3 lb. pack; +food; +water). But, I also anticipated making some longer trips to places such as California, carrying food for up to six nights there along with my 2 1/2 lb. bear canister. (Bear canisters are required in the Sierra Nevada.) In other words, I wanted to get a lighter pack, but one that could enable my aging muscles to comfortably handle loads of up to about 32 lbs., when necessary.

During the fall of 2016 I purchased a ULA Catalyst and have subsequently taken about a half dozen trips with it. Weighing three pounds my Catalyst is is not the lightest pack available but it has nonetheless met my expectations very well.

Conventional wisdom is to first obtain all of your other gear and then shop for a pack. But, the best way learn what specific stuff you will want to carry is to experiment by taking some overnight hikes. That can't be done without using some sort of pack.

So, if you don't return your holiday gift pack for a refund, it could at least get you started backpacking. Closer to the date of your prospective multi-month hike you will have a better idea of exactly what gear you'll be carrying and also what your AT hike's starting 'base weight' and 'total pack weight' will be. Then purchase a Catalyst or some other pack that weighs considerably less than 6 1/2 lbs.

2Birds1Stone
01-09-2018, 22:41
"If you’re worried about weight capacity, check out the ULA Catalyst. It’s the bigger brother of the Circuit, a very popular pack for long distance hikes." Shrewd

I agree. Here's what my experiences have been.

I've done many short backpacking trips, over the years but with none exceeding two and half weeks duration. When I started backpacking in the early 1970s external frame backpacks weighing 5 to 5 1/2 lbs. were considered 'state of the art'. I still own several of those, including an orange Trailwise pack that was recommended by writer Colin Fletcher and also the Kelty pack (a Super Tioga perhaps) that my late father carried while sectioning the entire AT during the late 1980s. After his resupplies Dad typically carried total loads of about 30 lbs.using that pack. In other words he was a "light"" long distance hiker but not an "ultralight" one.

Partly for nostalgic reasons, I continued to use my ancient 5 1/2 lb. Trailways pack regularly until a year and half ago. At that point I decided to get a lighter pack as part of an ongoing weight reduction effort. I did so recognizing that as others have pointed out there is a trade off between a pack's weight and both its load carrying ability and its potential comfort. I anticipated that I would typically be using my pack on four day trips here in Kentucky carrying 22 to 24 lbs. total weight (base weight, including a 3 lb. pack; +food; +water). But, I also anticipated making some longer trips to places such as California, carrying food for up to six nights there along with my 2 1/2 lb. bear canister. (Bear canisters are required in the Sierra Nevada.) In other words, I wanted to get a lighter pack, but one that could enable my aging muscles to comfortably handle loads of up to about 32 lbs., when necessary.

During the fall of 2016 I purchased a ULA Catalyst and have subsequently taken about a half dozen trips with it. Weighing three pounds my Catalyst is is not the lightest pack available but it has nonetheless met my expectations very well.

Conventional wisdom is to first obtain all of your other gear and then shop for a pack. But, the best way learn what specific stuff you will want to carry is to experiment by taking some overnight hikes. That can't be done without using some sort of pack.

So, if you don't return your holiday gift pack for a refund, it could at least get you started backpacking. Closer to the date of your prospective multi-month hike you will have a better idea of exactly what gear you'll be carrying and also what your AT hike's starting 'base weight' and 'total pack weight' will be. Then purchase a Catalyst or some other pack that weighs considerably less than 6 1/2 lbs.


Great advice.

The pack while in new condition was acquired second hand by the person who gifted it to me, so I will be keeping it for now, as it's resale value is unlikely to depreciate at this point.