View Full Version : Lite but not ultra Lite packs

11-01-2012, 19:10
Im looking at packs for my upcoming thru hike and need some guidance. It looks like my base pack weight will be around 20lbs (or maybe a bit over if I decide to bring a rather unnecessary extraneous item) so Im going light, but not quite ultra lite. Will packs like the ULA Catalyst or Granite Gear Blaze be able to carry the weight of food and water needed on a thru hike? Or should I look at a bit more traditional packs? And finally, the Go-lite Quest looks interesting, has any one used the new one?

As a side note, is there any way to try on a ULA pack before I buy it?

Any suggestions about packs is welcome, the ones I mentioned above were just what I've initially been looking at.

kayak karl
11-01-2012, 19:44
i like (it's the best) Go-lite Pinnacle and Equinox Katahdin Pack

11-01-2012, 20:15
20 pound base, yikes...

11-01-2012, 20:49
You need a pack with a frame. The ULA Catalyst will probably work for a 20 pound base weight. Dunno about the Blaze. You can order from ULA and return it if the pack doesn't suit you. There are a couple of places that stock them, but the best one is on the Trail in Georgia and probably too far from CO for you.

Also, too, a 20 pound base weight quickly becomes a 40 pound walking-away-from-the-car weight. Have you really weighed *everything* that is going in your pack?

11-01-2012, 21:29
REI has a good return policy.

I have a similar pack weight with an Osprey Atmos 65 of 22 pounds including the pack. That means a total weight of 35 pounds with water and 5-6 days of food.

I have done Springer to Harper's Ferry with this setup and I have been very happy with it. IMHO with this much weight you need a pack with a frame. The Atmos 65 is light, but not UL. You really don't carry a pack. You wear it. I have tried UL packs with this weight and they do not work well.

After 1010 + miles my pack had some wear and tear. I sent it to Osprey and they sent me a brand new pack in keeping with their lifetime guarantee.

Yes, I know my pack could be lighter. I carry stuff like an e-reader, camera, journal etc. that I could leave behind.

You did the right thing by figuring the weight first and then looking for the pack. You might want to buy a food scale and weigh every single item.

I'll be doing the northern half in the summer. Good luck on your trip.

11-01-2012, 21:31
I have a Golite Quest and really like it. It's light but strong enough to everything I need. I'm not an ultralight backpacker. I carry about 20 to 22 lbs.

11-01-2012, 21:43
The GoLite Pinnacle is now called the Jam 70 and it's what I used for my AT almost-thru-hike. I think that it could handle a 20lb base weight ... my base was a little less but I was never exactly sure and it changed all the time, so I bet it was 20lb at one point or another. I also guess that you will downsize to some extent as your hike continues and the weather gets warmer, which will your pack weight right in what I think is the Pinnacle's sweet spot of 15-18lb.

There are plenty of internal-frame packs, especially from REI and Osprey, that have many satisfied users with about 20lb base weights on the AT. Despite what people will inevitably say in this thread, 20lb is a common and reasonable base weight on the AT. It's not the way I roll now, but it'll do just fine.

Kaptain Kangaroo
11-01-2012, 22:01
I am extremely happy with my Osprey Exos 58...nice & light but very comfortable (for me) & it still has some 'luxuries' like hipbelt pockets, top lid etc.
it is a rigid frame though & that may not fit everyone as comfortably as it does me, so try one on with some weight.

yeah, 20 pounds base is not a ridiculous weight to start out with. You will probably get it down as you hike, but as a starting weight you will see a lot worse !!

11-02-2012, 00:00
Go to the GoLite store in Boulder, CO and try on some different packs. Bring the gear you plan on carrying.

GoLite, esp with their price reductions in the past year, makes some good packs for the money.

20 lbs is not awful...but could perhaps be trimmed down a bit for a thru-hike.

11-02-2012, 08:38
Love love love my ULA Catalyst.

11-02-2012, 09:47
It's a ways off, like January or so, but I plan on trying out the ULA OHM2. I get to Golden often for CMC duties and I could bring it and you could try it on. I could also bring my suite of Osprey packs; I have an Atmos 50, Aether 70 (75?), Exos 46 and Hornet 46. With the exception of the Aether, I don't recommend any of these packs for your 20lb base setup (meaning around 30 lbs carried). I think my Exos is good to about 25 pounds. Above that and it starts getting uncomfortable. The Atmos 50 does a little better for 30 lbs. I betcha you can get your base down a tad easily.

I also have an old Mountainsmith Cascade pack, fairly large, about 65 liters I believe, very comfortable and I've "cut it" to right at 4 pounds. You could try that one as well. If I needed that much room, I'd actually consider carrying that one on my AT attempt next spring. since I don't need that much room and I never use this pack, I'd let it go fairly cheap if it met your needs.

~46 liters (like the Exos) is a perfect size for my kit, however, and I think the OHM2 is close to that, but hard to tell exactly the way they quote sizes including pockets, etc.

Anyway, again, I'm not doing anything until January, but I'd be glad to meet up and let you try some packs on then. You could buy me a beer at Woodys.

11-02-2012, 12:05
Maybe I'm missing some of the semantics of the base weight calculation, but if I disregard all of the consumables (toothpaste, extra batteries, ect.) and my trekking poles, which will be in my hands, the (non-exact and not measured) weight will be closer to 17-18 lbs, including an assumption of 4 lbs for a pack.

Thanks for all of the replies they have been helpful so far.

And CO_Rob, thanks for the offer, but I really have no idea where i will end up being in January, and was hoping to have all my gear ready by then.

11-02-2012, 21:11
My base weight starting this spring was 20 lbs, I used the Granite Gear Crown 60 which is a lighter version of the Blaze, loved it, had no problems carrying 6 days of supplies.

11-03-2012, 21:39
The ULA Catalyst carries 72 liters and 40 pounds, that's the heavy end of what I saw among thru hikers. Personally I'd recommend that you carry less and/or lighter gear if you need a Catalyst. But if you want to carry more than 40lbs I like Osprey and Granite gear.

11-03-2012, 22:48
I've loaded a ULA Catalyst with over 50 pounds while walking out from trail work. It was good, but not great. More weight was on my shoulders than usual, but it wasn't uncomfortable. I don't know the exact weight I was carrying. It's just an approximation based on weights we found while packing the panniers for the mules that packed us in. If the pack carried the weight poorly, I may not have noticed because I was carrying about 25 pounds worth of tent in my arms.

11-12-2012, 22:21
20 lbs base is a long way from ultralight, about 10 lbs.
Do yourself a favor and drop at least 5 lbs first.
You will eventually.

11-12-2012, 22:23
P.S. you can try out just about any pack for only the cost of return shipping. About $15.

11-12-2012, 23:32
If your base weight is 17lb and your pack weight is 4 then you have almost 25% of your weight in the pack alone. By contrast my base is about 8 lb and I have a 12 oz. pack, about 8% of total. I bring this up not to go naw naw naw but to illustrate that accepting a heavy pack like this isnt really necessary. You could easy cut out two lbs of pack weight and go a long way to getting a much more comfortable setup. Or don't, it will be you carrying the weight!

11-12-2012, 23:32
Since you are in Golden CO you could also try the GoLite outlets in Siverthorne and Denver. The one in Denver, which admitedly isn't a HUGE store(it's actually a tad smaller in size than the Boulder store), is a few doors down from Wilderness Exchange(they had about 25 pack models on display when I was there in mid Oct which were being sold at end of season clearance prices, I bought two sets of Montrails at 1/2 price off each), and the Denver REI flagship store one block away has a rather large selection of lite wt packs with professionally trained backpack fitters. You'll hit up three backpack stores in one block! And, like Mags stated, since GoLite has opened their own outlets rather than vending their gear through other companies they are offering steep, 50 % or more, discounts on their gear. Look for additional coupons for GoLite online to gain even steeper discounts at GoLite.

11-12-2012, 23:36
BTW, there are also Colorado GoLite outlets in Castle Rock, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, and Lakewood but haven't been to any of them yet.

11-13-2012, 00:08
Would the Gregory Z55 be in this same category? Seems similar with a weight of just under 4lbs (med) and a bearing capacity of ~40lbs

11-14-2012, 20:14
To me, a lightweight pack starts under 3 lbs, an ultralight pack under 1.5 lbs.

You can still be clearly ultralight, with a lightwt pack, but you will be in the 9-10 lb range at best usually.

You wont get there with a 4 lb pack

Does it matter? Not a bit. Whats in a name, or number?

I just know my own preferences, and I use my UL pack (ohm =22.5oz) up to 20lbs total wt, and my circuit (34 oz) above that.

11-19-2012, 16:29
I want to chime in and say I love my Granite Gear Blaze. EMS carries the Blaze and the VC 60 so if you have one nearby it's worth checking them out. While the VC 60 is lighter weight, the added support that the Blaze's frame gives seemed worth it to me; I'd guess you'd be fine carrying up to ~30lbs in it.

11-19-2012, 16:34
I recommend a ULA Catalyst or any ULA pack; I cannot say enough good things about my experience dealing with ULA. The quality of my catalyst is top notch, the pack wears very well and most importantly the service I received from Chris was incredible. ULA all the way! I am sure if you order a ULA pack and don't like it for whatever reason they will return it. Good Luck.