View Full Version : Narrowed it down to 3 packs for my PCT hike...

Time Traveler
10-09-2009, 08:50
I'm retiring my Nimbus Latitude Ki for a smaller lighter one, either:

GoLite Jam 2
REI Flash Pack
Granite Gear Vapor Ki

My concerns:
1) Will the GoLite pack fall apart?! I've heard they can be sort of flimsy and if I'm carrying tons of water through the Mojave I'm worried about straps busting.
2) Is the GoLite even compfortable without a frame? I've never backpacked with a frameless pack before.

The Vapor Ki I have a good idea about being a long time Granite Gear user...

3) Have any of you ever hiked with the Flash Pack50? I've been looking all over for reviews and it's just a ton of weekend warriors and people using the pack for luggage.

For some reason I am almost sold on this new Flash Pack 50 because of all those nifty features, butttt.......... I AM SO INDECISIVE!:eek:

10-09-2009, 10:07
How could you not look at ULA, the pack born on the PCT?

And I have a Jam2, and with identical loads, it was substantially more comfortable than my Osprey Exos 46. But not nearly as comfortable as my Gossamer Gear Mariposa. The Jam just needs to be filled with really light gear, because it goes from comfortable to awful in the blink of a.........pound. And I wouldn't worry about a Jam2 breaking, they're pretty tough.

10-09-2009, 10:17
I'm going to reopen that closed door on your pack choices. I started out with a new tricked out GoLite Jam 2 2008/09 model on the PCT last yr. Thought I had my PCT go-to pack figured out. Within a few hundred miles it, well, to put it bluntly, disintegrated. Don't know if I got a defective Jam 2 or some other factor(s) were involved that I'm not aware of but I'm going to have to disagree with you on the Jam 2's durability skinewmexico. I'm aware of how to give UL gear the TLC it deserves.

Had a ULA Conduit, which has comparable cubes, cost, and features, but IMO better value because the 08 version had included integrated hip belt pockets, which the GoLite didn't, shipped to me. The 09 Conduit version has optional removable hipbelt pockets and I have not seen it yet. I can not attest to the 09 Conduit version. I also think the Conduit carried wt more efficiently and comfortably because it had a more padded shoulder harness, more substantial waist belt, and different overall design. I also preferred the roll down top of the 08 Conduit, since changed to the less preferable but gram saving lighter draw string closure. The Jam 2 had a draw string pack closure. I also felt the Jam 2 rode a tiny bit higher than the Conduit when fully loaded, which made it feel a little bit top heavy(unstable). I don't know what your plans are when you hit the Sierras, but most PCTers tend to carry a bit extra wt. and volume then because the heavier gear sometimes needed and the longer distance between resupplies.

I like the 08 Conduit so much better that I have a couple of extras in storage.

Just some thoughts.

BTW, the Conduit was with me for the rest of the PCT, about 2300 miles, and has an additional 2000 miles or so on it from this yr.'s hiking adventures. It's not in new condition but it still is a usable pack. Can't say the same for the long deceased Jam 2!

10-09-2009, 11:06
I agree, in the thru community on the PCT last year ULA was perhaps the most common brand, and I never met anyone that didn't like theirs. I was quite happy with my Gossamer Gear pack.

I do suggest that you not plan to go too-o-o far over the suggested weight limits for a given pack for too much time. I never stressed my packs limit in the first 700 miles from carrying water --- it was entering the Sierras with more gear and clothing that pushed me over for a while, and the pack straps showed some alarming thread-loosening where the straps joined the pack body as a result. Never came off, probably would have been fine throughout, but even so ... it's not hard to calculate your base weight, then factor in food and max water weight.

For me, at least, the areas I carried the most water were when I didn't yet have thru-hiker hunger, so not only a lower base weight (than the Sierras) but also lower daily food weight helped to offset the water weight (and 2008 wasn't a particularly dry year).

Best of luck whatever choice you make!

10-09-2009, 11:17
Dogwood, I have to admit I haven't given my Jam the kind of workout you did, so I may have been speaking out of turn. I did just buy a used one day, 2009 Conduit, and I wish it had a roll down top, and hip belt pockets. But the price was right. Do you think the frame on the Ohm would be better for more water carrying? To tell you the truth, I'd probably use my Circuit. unless it ended up about half empty.

10-09-2009, 11:18
I'd have to echo the words of Dogwood and BrianLe

I would hold off on the Jam/1 pound or less framless pack until Lake Tahoe. Between the desert water carries and the extra weight needed for the Sierra, I wouldn't try pushing the capacity/weight limit of a pack here. Once you have cleared the Sierra you really don't need to carry more than 3-4 days of food anywhere and won't have to carry much water.

I used a Catalyst on the PCT and found it to handle the weight brilliantly. I coulda probably used a slightly smaller pack, but I was happy with it. Vapor Ki would work well for the PCT.

10-09-2009, 11:24
I agree with the ULA suggestion, at least they are a well made pack.
Pay attention to the suggested weight limit tho. My Ohm is rated at 30 Lbs Max (12 Lbs "base") & at 28 lbs, the most I ever carried, I was noticing a difference in the way it carried, enough that I feel the 30 lb limit is a real good guide & I wouldn't want to go over that for very long. I suspect that IF I HAD TO, I could carry a extra liter of water (So around 32 Lbs) a mile or less to camp, but wouldn't want to do that very often. In fact, I was carrying an extra 2 Ltrs of water to bring my pack up to the 28 Lbs.

Time Traveler
10-09-2009, 17:04
See, I have looked at ULA bags but they dont have any women specific models. I'm a small person, only 5'4, and their smallest lenght is too big... : (

10-09-2009, 18:26
So what torso length do you need? Under 15"? Well, Gossamer Gear makes a Mariposa Plus down to 13". And a lot of women specific models are just hype and colors. You should call and complain to ULA, Brian might answer the phone.......

OK, you lost me. The REI packs come in the same sizes as the ULA

10-10-2009, 02:12
OK, I thought about it during the 5 hour drive to San Antonio. I would imagine that when you tell Brian at ULA that you want a pack for yourself, he sets it up for a woman. But if you really like something, you should measure the shoulder strap spacing, and i bet he customizes how you want.

10-10-2009, 06:51
I am a short female with a short torso. I like all of your choices. I have personal experience with granite gear packs and love them. I think you would be very pleased with the Vapor Ki. I do not think you would have a duribility or comfort problem with it.

10-10-2009, 06:56
DUH... I just realized that you already have a Granite Gear pack... HA... I need coffee.:D

10-10-2009, 13:03
W.r.t. woman-specific models:

My wife was happy with an older ULA when I got the same pack a few years ago (a P2), and she's been happy with a GG Mariposa Plus (when I moved to that pack she got one too) --- just one size down in each case, I think.

IMO as the overall weight that you're carrying goes down, having a perfectly fitted and maximally "comfortable" pack becomes less important --- less weight is its own comfort.

But indeed, try calling Brian Frankle at ULA or Glen Van Pelski at GG (or whoever you can talk to on the phone at whichever you're inclined to). I don't believe that I've ever spoken to Glen, but I do remember that Brian was very friendly when I called about something, ditto when I met him at a backpacking event last year.

And the GG site is pretty clear on how to measure yourself to pick the right size, and FWIW that seemed to work fine for my wife --- maybe the ULA site is super clear about sizing too (I don't recall).

10-10-2009, 14:20
My buddy had a difficult time getting his now fiance' into backpacking. How to get a light back that had support and was comfortable for her short (5'1") frame to carry.

Volia! They bought a ULA pack. She was quite happy and I believe they took 6+ weekend trips together this past year. Not too shabby...

I took the following photo of them this summer and submitted it to Brian with the caption below. He LOVED the photo/caption and I believe it is viewable o the website. :)


"Thanks to my new ULA pack I can now hike with my Triple Crowner boyfriend! Thanks Brian! You saved our relationship!"

Of course, she did have some very strong words to say about what kind of bachelor party I'm allowed to throw the groom ..but that's another discussion. :sun

Time Traveler
10-11-2009, 16:04
Well you guys have almost talked me into it... I'm checkin out that ULA Conduit, though the shorest one is 17 inches and I really need 15. I'll be makin that phone call after the holiday.
I deffinitally recall two speedy hikers, Garlic and Pickle, using some nifty Gossamer packs on my AT thru-hike last year and they seemed really well made/designed.

Jeez just when I thought I had it figured out, THAKNKS!

10-11-2009, 17:37
Granite gear has worked. Why change ?
Cancel the Internet.

10-11-2009, 18:05
I have a question? What are you going to do with the Nimbus Latitude Ki? I have sort of been wanting to pick one up for my wife.

10-13-2009, 23:09
Great review on the Gossamer Gear Gorilla on BPL today.

10-15-2009, 16:23
And ULA re-opened early, give Brian a call, he'll build what you need.

10-15-2009, 19:23
The Flash pack seems to be designed to hold and carry the amount of weight that can fit inside the pack. There are no significant attachments to carry anything additional securely on the outside. At higher loads the suspension is not robust enough. If you carry a folded lightweight sleeping pad - the staps on the bottom to hold the pad are too widely spaced and you will need a carabiner or something to hold them closer - but it still falls out on the trail!

If you want to carry weight you could talk me out of a McHale Alpineer....

10-16-2009, 07:28
i ordered a ula conduit yesterday. i received an email saying they will not start production and shiping till dec 1st. it kinda sucks. i went to the website and it says they are back. if your looking to get the pack rite away your out of luck.it seems the earliest will be 1st or 2nd week of december. i paid extra for the shiping now i have to wait almost two months.....not good.....i may recind my order...

10-16-2009, 08:39
Did you call and ask when it would ship? Sounds like maybe the web page ordering procedure hasn't been updated.

You know, I think we lost the OP somewhere in this thread.

12-07-2009, 17:01
i plan to use my 3 year old Jam2 for my PCT hike in 2011. It has been very durable and i put about 1500 miles on it.. the only wear is a few small holes in the pockets on the side of the pack for water bottles that do not effect the usage of the pack. the new golite Jam packs that have a mesh back panel look a little less durable but they have hipbelt pockets. if your worried about the durability of the packs you might want to look into some ULA-equipment packs; they are very nicely made and everyone says they are bombproof. The upside to many ULA Packs is that they have no zipper pockets to get sand into the zipper components to damage them excluding the hipbelt pockets..

Raul Perez
12-07-2009, 18:31
I have the Flash 65 and Ill be taking it to bear mountain for a quick overnight trip this weekend to do some winter gear testing. I'll post video Sunday if you are interested.

12-07-2009, 18:37
I have the Flash 65 and Ill be taking it to bear mountain for a quick overnight trip this weekend to do some winter gear testing. I'll post video Sunday if you are interested.

Please do I am looking at this pack as one of my options for a thru as well.

Raul Perez
12-12-2009, 10:24
i ended up getting bronchitis and had to cancel my overnight hike that video will have to wait sorry!

12-12-2009, 10:29
stay away from the jam. the weight rides too much on the shoulders. i know this because i wasted 75$ on one and the moment i put it on i realized the pack is no good.......go with the granite gear.......

12-16-2009, 12:07
stay away from the jam. the weight rides too much on the shoulders. i know this because i wasted 75$ on one and the moment i put it on i realized the pack is no good.......go with the granite gear.......

How much weight did you have in it? What did you do to create a virtual frame? What size did you get and what torso size are you?

12-17-2009, 00:30
stay away from the jam. the weight rides too much on the shoulders. i know this because i wasted 75$ on one and the moment i put it on i realized the pack is no good.......go with the granite gear.......

I bought a Jam II dirt cheap via a warehouse sale.

It has been my "go to" pack for day hikes, hut trips (which means a heavy, food laden pack! ), ski tours, and backpacks when I am carrying more gear vs. my thru-hiking backpack (those 3 liter boxes of wine add up ya know! :D)

I am not enamored with Golite the way some people are around here (the HQ is in town)...but, I have to say, I have found the Jam II to be a great pack.

The pack is simple, has a large front pocket useful for stowing gear that need easy access and has taken a beating.

As I said, it is my all purpose pack and one I have logged some miles on. I like it quite a bit.

Just my opinion anyway...

Raul Perez
12-23-2009, 22:31
Got over my illness and went on a day hike to test out the REI Flash 65 with my winter gear. Great pack. Here's the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0Qrq1PYRPk (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0Qrq1PYRPk)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgZLM1UUALM (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgZLM1UUALM)

12-26-2009, 01:20
Got over my illness and went on a day hike to test out the REI Flash 65 with my winter gear. Great pack. Here's the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0Qrq1PYRPk (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0Qrq1PYRPk)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgZLM1UUALM (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgZLM1UUALM)


Great vid..Very thougt out..Thanks