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HockeyGirl
12-30-2008, 07:49
Hello all

Can I just ask is there anyone out there who has or is hiking the AT using a pack that does not open from the top?
I ask simply that I have a 55litre pack that I used when backpacking abroad (not hiking!) and it has a double zip and opens out fully so I can see the contents of my bag.
I am keen not to fork out for another pack when mine is comfortable and a good size for me but I am wondering about the practicality of it on the trail.
In case anyone needs to know its a Berghaus Jalan.
Thanks for help in advance!

Captain
12-30-2008, 08:01
what make and model is it , i do not think the WAY it opens is important but if it has one long zipper going down the middle that isnt water proof it could be asking for trouble

Summit
12-30-2008, 08:05
The ultra-lite ones only open from the top because zippers add weight. There are several models (ex: Gregory Whitney and other Gregorys) that can be accessed/packed from the front as well, although you'll probably want to 'finalize' everything from the top, which extends when needed. Yes, I prefer the multi-access option in packs myself, even at the cost of a little heavier pack.

Captain
12-30-2008, 08:14
i really need to finish reading posts before i reply you already said what kind it was my bad

Captain
12-30-2008, 08:15
i would say get a decent pack cover (looks to be a small) and you should be fine

wcgornto
12-30-2008, 08:31
I would be more concerned about the weight (6 pounds 5 ounces) than how it loads. Therre are plenty of options to get to 3 pounds or less.

Marta
12-30-2008, 08:39
I've seen a few backpacks that open that way. Most of them are more designed as travel packs than as hiking packs. (I've got a couple of packs like this which are meant for hauling laptops and books.) As mentioned above, having a big, long, sturdy zipper will definitely increase the weight of the pack. The other huge drawback is that zipper failure while on a trip would be pretty catastrophic.

As an aside, organizing a top-entry pack is not all that challenging. Stuff sacks differentiated by their color and shape help. Cutting back on the amount of clothing and gear hauled along on the hike helps even more.

In answer to your specific question, I have never run into anyone attempting an AT thru-hike with a full-zipper pack. (Obviously I've only seen a tiny fraction of the people who have attempted thru-hikes.) Fifty-five liters is considerably larger than necessary for a conventional hike, and the pack is considerably heavier than necessary. But if it's your favorite pack, go for it!

Summit
12-30-2008, 12:04
If you're hauling 20 lbs or less, the ultra-lite packs (sylnylon stuff sack with straps attached! :) ) will give you the lightest solution. As Marta said, they are strictly top-load so you're best off to organize with smaller sylnylon stuff sacks (color variety helps).

If you don't mind a couple more lbs, you can get more functionality in a pack. Back to the one you have, if it carries well, and you like it, and want the organizing ability it offers, stick with it. Sounds like you need to trail test it vs. what you've used it for previously. It might ride comfortably under serious trail hiking conditions and it might not. Better to find that out on a 2-3 day trek rather than at the beginning of a 'thru.'

Johnny Thunder
12-30-2008, 12:13
I used a Golite Litespeed from Damascus to Maine this past summer. It was a bit of a challenge in the colder months since I couldn't just stuff the thing full to the brim like you can with top-loading packs (and their extension collars). When I went into the 100 miles my pack looked a bit odd. It was full and on the outside I had my tent, pad, all my rain gear and insulating jackets, two sleeves of bagels, my water bottle, my fuel bottle, fake crocs, and my whiskey bottle (also, a superhero cape...but that's another story altogether). As I ate down the load the things on the outside slowly made their way inside.

The model you have might be a bit challenging in this respect since it doesn't have any outside pockets or many straps. I mean, it's doable, but I think that you're going to have the pack make a lot of your choices for you. If it was just a weekend trip than use the pack you have. No worries. But, if you're going to be out for 6 months then you might want to consider something else. As someone else said; you could save 3 to 4 pounds by replacing the pack with another for about $100. There aren't that many gear choices that will lower your pack weight by that much for that little ($).

If you're coming from the UK you have the exchange rate on your side. You might want to find a friend in the US and use their address when ordering gear from American retailers. This should help you save some scratch.

Hope that helps.

Tinker
12-30-2008, 12:43
Hello all

Can I just ask is there anyone out there who has or is hiking the AT using a pack that does not open from the top?
I ask simply that I have a 55litre pack that I used when backpacking abroad (not hiking!) and it has a double zip and opens out fully so I can see the contents of my bag.
I am keen not to fork out for another pack when mine is comfortable and a good size for me but I am wondering about the practicality of it on the trail.
In case anyone needs to know its a Berghaus Jalan.
Thanks for help in advance!

The only real problem with zippers is possible failure. True, they add a bit of weight, and true, too, they admit water rather readily.
The weight is up to you.
A pack cover will cover the zippers.
If they fail, what will you do? I haven't had a pack with zippers (structural, at least) since my external frame days in the '70s to mid '80s.
If you have straps that go around the zippered opening and attach to the other side of the pack they will probably hold in your belongings in case of zipper failure.
After whittling down my carried goods to what I think I really need, I've basically organized my gear (kit) into five categories: 1) sleeping bag and sleep clothing. 2) Shelter (hammock, usually), 3) Insulated camp clothing, 4) Wind and rain wear, 5) cookware and food. I keep each of these categories in its own stuffsack in the main compartment of my pack (the sleeping pad lines the inside of the pack body, everything else goes in the middle of the previously rolled pad). Headlamp, first aid, snacks, etc. go into small pockets on my pack's waistbelt or into the outside side pockets or back pocket (depending upon which pack I'm carrying).
Some people carry more "comfort" gear than others. For the past 10 years I've been of the lightweight/ultralight mindset. I'm a section hiker and have been out for 10-12 days a few times in New England and Georgia, with a few short trips to Virginia and New York.
For a three day trip in January (down to about 32 degrees/0 celcius in New York last year my pack was 27 lbs, including water filter.
When I did the Hundred Mile Wilderness in Sept. I neglected to weigh my pack but estimate it to have been around 32-35 lbs for 10 days with a hammock, 10x12 silnylon tarp, bug net, alcohol stove, fuel, food, etc.
It's taken me many years to assemble the kit which I now carry (and way more money than I like to think about).
In my honest opinion, you would do well to spend the bulk of your gear money on your pack and shoes and a decent sleeping bag. Some folks do a thru just fine using a tarp for shelter, no fancy tent. Btw: My favorite pack (a Golite Dawn) weighs 14 oz. carries 2800 cu. in. of gear, and got me through the "Wilderness" just slightly overpacked for the first three days until my food bag got small enough to completely fit into the pack.
Also:
:welcome

Tinker
12-30-2008, 12:49
Hello all

Can I just ask is there anyone out there who has or is hiking the AT using a pack that does not open from the top?
I ask simply that I have a 55litre pack that I used when backpacking abroad (not hiking!) and it has a double zip and opens out fully so I can see the contents of my bag.
I am keen not to fork out for another pack when mine is comfortable and a good size for me but I am wondering about the practicality of it on the trail.
In case anyone needs to know its a Berghaus Jalan.
Thanks for help in advance!

The only real problem with zippers is possible failure. True, they add a bit of weight, and true, too, they admit water rather readily.
The weight is up to you.
A pack cover will cover the zippers.
If they fail, what will you do? I haven't had a pack with zippers (structural, at least) since my external frame days in the '70s to mid '80s.
If you have straps that go around the zippered opening and attach to the other side of the pack they will probably hold in your belongings in case of zipper failure.
After whittling down my carried goods to what I think I really need, I've basically organized my gear (kit) into five categories: 1) sleeping bag and sleep clothing. 2) Shelter (hammock, usually), 3) Insulated camp clothing, 4) Wind and rain wear, 5) cookware and food. I keep each of these categories in its own stuffsack in the main compartment of my pack (the sleeping pad lines the inside of the pack body, everything else goes in the middle of the previously rolled pad). Headlamp, first aid, snacks, etc. go into small pockets on my pack's waistbelt or into the outside side pockets or back pocket (depending upon which pack I'm carrying).
Some people carry more "comfort" gear than others. For the past 10 years I've been of the lightweight/ultralight mindset. I'm a section hiker and have been out for 10-12 days a few times in New England and Georgia, with a few short trips in Virginia and New York.
For a three day trip in January (down to about 32 degrees/0 celcius in New York last year my pack was 27 lbs, including water filter.
When I did the Hundred Mile Wilderness in Sept. I neglected to weigh my pack but estimate it to have been around 32-35 lbs for 10 days with a hammock, 10x12 silnylon tarp, bug net, alcohol stove, fuel, food, etc.
It's taken me many years to assemble the kit which I now carry (and way more money than I like to think about).
In my honest opinion, you would do well to spend the bulk of your gear money on your pack and shoes and a decent sleeping bag. Some folks do a thru just fine using a tarp for shelter, no fancy tent. Btw: My favorite pack (a Golite Dawn) weighs 14 oz. carries 2800 cu. in. of gear, and got me through the "Wilderness" just slightly overpacked for the first three days until my food bag got small enough to completely fit into the pack.
Also:
:welcome

Alligator
12-30-2008, 12:51
There's a UL pack by Six Moons Design, the Essence (http://www.sixmoondesigns.com/shop/shopexd.asp?id=44), that is a panel loader. I was interested in buying one, but have no experience with it. All my packs have been top loaders, but one has a side zip to access the main body, and some have had sleeping bag compartment zippers as well.

Lyle
12-30-2008, 12:55
Way back when, front loading packs were very popular. Jansport, Kelty, CampTrails and others all made front loading. The folks who used them loved them for the accessibility, but they did use beefy zippers, and even then they sometimes failed. Nothing a needle and dental floss couldn't fix temporarily, or even a series of safety pins. Was easier if the pack were both top and front loading. Several people I knew had to send their packs in for repair due to failed zippers.

As others have said, most of today's packs are top loading as weight concerns have become more up-front. Plus, simpler design means less chance of failure. If you have the pack and like the pack, then use the pack until you decide otherwise. It's a relatively new phenominon that people replace their gear and upgrade every couple of years.

Lone Wolf
12-30-2008, 13:12
did 3 thru-hikes with a jansport D-2 front loader similar to this http://www.jansport.com/js_product_detail.php?cid=31&pid=TFA7

verber
12-30-2008, 13:19
I have several friends that used the now discontinued Mountainsmith Ghost on an AT thru-hike, and know one person who used a Six Moon Designed Essence pack. I seem to recall talking to someone who used one of the "Latitude" packs from Granite Gear (don't remember which).

--Mark

BitBucket
12-30-2008, 13:31
I've got an REI Lookout (~2700 ci) that opens from the front, has a top pocket to hold glasses and misc items, two side zippered pockets, & expansion pockets. it will comfortably hold 25# or so.

Not as light or as comfortable as the newer UL packs out there today but a good, functional pack. Very easy to get to everything once you zip it open..

I paid $15 for it at the REI clearance sale a year or so ago...didn't look like it had ever been used...

Deadeye
12-30-2008, 13:55
I use a GG Latitude Vapor. Nice to be able to get to things via the zippers once packe, but fussy to pack in the first place. Whichever matters more to you.

hopefulhiker
12-30-2008, 13:59
Mountain Smith Ghost is not very big but you can strap stuff to it..
I used the Luxury Lite pack which consisted of three cylinders, each opening all the way across the side.
Another unconventional option is the Moonbow gearskin....

Summit
12-30-2008, 18:12
In 35 years, two Gregorys, a Kelty, a Jansport, and a cheap starter pack, I've never had a backpack zipper failure. So fear of zipper failure to me is a moot point.

big_muddy
12-30-2008, 18:24
Granite Gear has a number of packs that don't open at the top. The line is called the Latitude. They come in their Nimbus line (heavier loads up to 50#) and Vapor line. I have the Vapor Latitude for summer hiking, and love it. http://www.granitegear.com/products/backpacks/ultralight/latitudevapor.html

Mags
12-30-2008, 19:00
There's a UL pack by Six Moons Design, the Essence (http://www.sixmoondesigns.com/shop/shopexd.asp?id=44), that is a panel loader. I was interested in buying one, but have no experience with it. All my packs have been top loaders, but one has a side zip to access the main body, and some have had sleeping bag compartment zippers as well.

I was just going to mention this pack!

Here's what I wrote from http://www.pmags.com/joomla/index.php/Backpacking-and-Hiking-documents/mags_gear_cc.html

THE PA (http://www.sixmoondesigns.com/shop/shopexd.asp?id=44)CK - Six Moon Designs Essence (http://www.sixmoondesigns.com/shop/shopexd.asp?id=44)

I used the older version (below) on my CDT hike in 2006. It worked very well; if a bit fragile for my rough handling of it. :)
SMD has a new version that is slightly heavier, but a little more sturdy. I have had good luck using this pack on local backpacking trips here in Colorado.

If you pack light (below 10 lbs BPW) and like a hip belt, this pack is for you!http://www.pmags.com/gearpics/pack_front.JPG (http://www.pmags.com/gearpics/pack_front.JPG)

Front View of pack next to my very beat up (since retired) day pack. Gives and idea of the small size. Yeah..I sewed my patches on my day pack. The patches are my "wicked cool bumpah stickahs" out on hikes. :)

http://www.pmags.com/gearpics/pack_side.JPG

Side view of pack. Water bottle is indeed holding up my pack. The couch was free in my apt at the time. Doesn't it show? :)

View of the new version:


http://www.pmags.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=15286&g2_serialNumber=1&g2_GALLERYSID=f78a3e9fade375390b8197797125e37a


http://magnanti.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=18938&g2_serialNumber=1

Toolshed
12-30-2008, 19:52
The nice thing about those old Jansports and a few other what we used to call "Panel Loaders" was that you could lean them against a tree or rock and simply unzip to get at all the contents. You didn't have to remove your tent or shelter from the top of the frame to open the pack up like a typical top loader. Wonderful idea.

The downside is that there was no additional capacity from a floating top or spindrift collar.

I still have an old bright red EMS Panel Load 3K pack that I use when I travel abroad. No one will steal it and I can never confuse it with all the other luggage.

fiddlehead
12-30-2008, 21:10
Yeah, i had a front loader and loved it.
It was a camptrails pack.
Never could figure out why they don't make them like that anymore.

It is a great idea.
But, the pack i had probably weighed 4 or 5 lbs as it was back in the 70's.

I ended up selling it at a yardsale but if i still had it, i would take it to my seamstress and have her copy the design and make a similar pack.

Good thread. Maybe they'll make a comeback someday. It's always easier when you can see everything in your pack easily.

HockeyGirl
12-31-2008, 13:21
Wow.
Thank you for all of your views, I might look into a new pack after all, but mostly because I didn't realise how heavy it was compared to others out there.

Cheers!