View Full Version : New pack advice

06-11-2010, 18:42
Looking for a new pack for multiday trips. Been to a few local outfitters trying on some different ones to see what fits and what is out there, but there isn't a lot of selection locally.

My torso is 23-24" so I need a bigger or adjustable frame. Driving to REI tomorrow to hopefully find a better variety. Looking in the $150 range or hopefully less used for a beginner pack.

What do you think?

06-11-2010, 22:44
Make sure that you have someone measure you at rei. I have found Gregory Z packs to fit longer in the torso than what I feel comfortable with. The Z65 is on sale on the rei outlet for 160 or so--might work for you.

06-11-2010, 23:35
You might also check out the REI Flash 50 (http://www.rei.com/product/778469)or 65 (http://www.rei.com/product/778468) ($149 or $169, respectively), which is a surprisingly nice setup, especially given the weight of the pack (about 3 pounds).

06-11-2010, 23:56
I really like my Kelty 3100 and got it for less than $100.00.

06-12-2010, 15:16
You might also check out the REI Flash 50 (http://www.rei.com/product/778469)or 65 (http://www.rei.com/product/778468) ($149 or $169, respectively), which is a surprisingly nice setup, especially given the weight of the pack (about 3 pounds).

Good recommendation...the Flash 65 fit like a glove. Wore it around the store for about half an hour with 30lbs in it and almost forgot it was there. Great price too.

06-14-2010, 12:57
That is good to know. I was just looking online at packs, as I want to buy something that is large enough to do an overnighter or 3-4 day trip, while not being too huge and bulky for daypack use. I was actually eying the Flash 50. I too have a very long back...there is an REI that is about 30-45 minute drive from my house, I will likely pay them a visit in the near future.

I'm doing a 4-day hike in Shenandoah in September, so I'll need something suitable by then. I'm actually going to be staying at the lodges for this one, so I won't need a full spread of gear just yet, although I want to start doing "real" backpacking trips after that.

06-15-2010, 00:20
24"!!!?? Are you sure you are measuring correctly. That would be very rare.

06-15-2010, 04:55
BadAndy...You do not have a torso that's 23-24 inches, well not unless you are around the 7ft mark.

I fit packs professionally for almost 10 years and learned first hand from Wayne Gregory and Dana Gleason, and without question, it's extremely rare to find anyone with a torso length longer than about 20 inches, this includes people who are 6'6" or taller. There are some adult males who exceed 20 inches, and in a few thousand fits I've run into about 10 of them, and twice had to step on a stool to fit them properly because they were so tall, and I'm 5'10''

What's far more common, and this is almost exclusively a male problem, is the point at which someone "thinks" is the crest of the hip bone, and men usually think it's lower than it is...lower by 3-4 inches in many cases.

As a general rule...you cannot measure your own torso, as a second common rule...either can your friend because they won't know how, and as a third, many 'pack fitters' are fairly clueless as well.

Some iron clad rules of pack fitting as follows, this may help you:

1. Forget the measuring tape, get in a shop and get some packs on your back, loaded with atleast 25lbs, think about shoes...do you trust a measurement or would you prefer to try them on and walk around? All packs fit differently, even when choosing different series of packs by the same company.

2. The location of the hipbelt is critical and another thing a measuring tape won't show you. The top edge of the hipbelt should be anywhere from 1/2 inch to 1 inch above the top crest of the hipbone. What this means is that you should be able to sit down without any interference from your legs on the hipbelt, and this also means the top edge of the belt should be fairly close to the bottom of your ribcage. Try sitting down with the pack...if this is painful the hipbelt is too low. Packs are based on the skeletical structure, not love handles...if you have a few extra pounds on you remember you should be wearing the pack considerably higher than you might wear your pants. It might seem uncomfortable at first, but it's also correct and it will become natural within a few miles.

3. A correct sized pack will require nothing more than a slight adjustment on the shoulder straps to get the hipbelt in the right location. If you are bending over, or hiking up the pack by the hipbelt - the pack is too big for you in most circumstances and you need a smaller size (or you need to loosen your shoulder harness stabilizer straps). At the most, a slight shoulder shrug will get the belt at the right location (which also thins you out and gives the belt a better grab), if anything more is needed - wrong size.

4. Many serious long distance hikers have little clue on how to put a pack on correctly, so needles to say, this problem is more common with less experienced hikers (driving a car for 100,000 miles doesn't mean you know how to change brake pads, driving 300,000 won't teach you this either!). Not knowing how to 'apply' a pack will often result in choosing the wrong frame size - this is where salespeople can make or break a fit. There is a process to putting on a pack and it's really not very subjective, most high end manufacturers will post this on their website and catalogs.

5. When fit properly, the shoulder harness should connect to the pack at a point approximately 1-2 inches below the highest point of the shoulder. Most frame sizes are in 2 inch increments (for high end packs) so if the straps wrap 3 inches then you move up in size, if they go straight back then the pack is too big. The obvious exception here is when you have a half-inch of wrap, then many people find that is better than 2.5 inches of wrap which can get heavy in the shoulders.

6. Always, always loosen your stabilizer straps, they are the straps that run off your hipbelt and shoulder harness to the pack bag. If they are left tight, the fit and performance of the pack will be greatly compromised. On very ultralight packs these straps may not exist fyi.

As for recommendations - I would start with Osprey and Gregory, if you seek lighter then I would recommend Granite Gear and ULA. Personally speaking, everything is covered by those 4 manufacturers, fit, suspension, multiple shoulder harnesses and hipbelts, hipbelt cants, womens fits, you will find it all with those 4. And yes...there are other decent packs out there.

And always go with feel...assuming you are fit properly, what feels good on your back is what's good for you!

06-15-2010, 08:00
Stranger, thanks for the great info. After spending an hour at a local REI, and learing pretty much everything you mentioned there from a fantastic salesman, I know for sure that the experience at my local outfitter was a joke.

06-15-2010, 08:23
That's great news mate, glad to hear you got sorted out! REI has always been a favorite of mine as well.