Results 1 to 12 of 12
  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    07-27-2015
    Location
    Hallandale, Florida
    Age
    39
    Posts
    142

    Default Arc Blast Or Arch Haul For A Thru

    I'm concerned about weight and durability. Which bag would you choose for a thru?

  2. #2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Googan View Post
    I'm concerned about weight and durability. Which bag would you choose for a thru?
    I have used the Blast and managed to get 2700 miles out of it. It does not like +30lb weight.

    I will use the AH on my next thru.

  3. #3

    Default

    I have the AH on order, due to arrive in the next two weeks - give or take a few days. Went with the AH for the same concerns voiced by Firesign. Dyneema is a very small weight penalty.

  4. #4

    Default

    I would pick the ArcHaul. My current ArcBlast would work, but I was pushing the weight comfort limit a couple of times on my thru attempt.

  5. #5
    Registered User Vegan Packer's Avatar
    Join Date
    05-22-2015
    Location
    Miami Beach, Florida
    Age
    60
    Posts
    455

    Default

    I had the same concerns about both weight and durability. I ordered a Haul. Hope to receive in the next few weeks. I just don't want to have to worry too much about babying my gear.

  6. #6
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
    Join Date
    10-22-2002
    Location
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Age
    58
    Posts
    7,894
    Images
    296

    Default

    After my Circuit finally went to the great gear closet in the sky, I purchased an Arc Haul last summer to replace it. The Haul had just been announced, and it was still somewhat different in design from the Blast, though I understand at this point they are effectively the same pack with different fabric. So that actually makes the choice a little easier, I think -- add a couple of ounces for durability, or not? If I had to make that choice again, I would still choose the Haul, given how much stress I would put on a pack over 2000+ miles.

    I posted some reviews here on WB last summer if you want to search for them.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  7. #7
    GAME 06
    Join Date
    10-15-2004
    Location
    Prescott, Arizona
    Age
    65
    Posts
    724

    Default

    Below is a gear review for the Z-Pack Arc Blast which I thought might be useful information for readers contemplating it as an ultralight pack for thru hiking.

    Some background on me to provide information on my level of experience with backpacking gear. I have approximately 18,000 miles of backpacking to date. About 4000 miles on the AT to include 1 thru hike. I have also hiked the entire AZT as well as about 900 miles of the PCT and a few hundred of the CDT in addition to literally hundreds of shorter hiking trips. I am an older hiker and have experienced the full range of gear changes over the last 50 years.

    Experience with the Z-Pack Arc Blast: 1200 miles of backpacking to include the southern 300 miles of the AZT and the southern 750 miles of the PCT. The other 150 miles was in central Arizona where I live. Thus essentially all of my experience with the pack was in desert conditions with the exception of the high mountain crossings in AZ and CA where one ended up in the forests. These locations are dry and frequently hot. Substantial water carries are required in many locations on these trails and I made many in excess of 20 miles. Some of these trail sections also required substantial food carries as well - often at the same time as the large water carries. In essence I have used this pack at - and perhaps beyond - its design limits for weight.

    Evaluation:

    Pack design. I really like the design of the bag and frame. An essential feature for me are load lifter straps and most pack manufacturers either don't have them or they don't work as intended - this is they are actually supposed to lift the load off your shoulders not just suck the pack closer to your back. The straps on the Arc Blast really work. I love that. I added two shoulder strap pockets to my pack as well as two small belt pockets. I did this for two reasons; one is that the shoulder pockets are perfect size for holding 700ml Smartwater bottles and this give me ready access to water and counter balances the pack; two is that it gives me quick and easy access to energy bars as well as the smartphone/camera. These to me are a recommended addition - ymmv. The bag shape and volume is pretty much perfect as it will even hold a bear canister inside. One does have to keep track of making sure the cords which bend the frame into an arc are not slipping as if they do the vertical frame rods will slip out and the frame comes apart. This happened to me several times and also others mentioned it. The pack carries a load better with minimal bend in the frame, but the more bend in the frame the more ventilation and the cooler the pack on ones back - tradeoffs.

    Hip belt design: For the uses I put this pack to the hipbelt is a poor performer and is not at all comfortable. This opinion was also held by 100% of the other hikers I met on the AZT and PCT who were using this pack. The issue being that on the long water and food carries even an ultralight hiker cannot keep the total weight of the pack below 25 lbs. At about 25 lbs the belt becomes uncomfortable and above 30 lbs it hurts. At 35 lbs it hurts a lot after hours of hiking - yes I have hit this weight when doing a 6 liter water carry along with 5 days of food. An additional issue which will be somewhat rare is the hipbelt sizing. I originally ordered a small and found it was a little too small. I then ordered a medium belt and found it is a little too big. On the medium when the belt is tightened sufficiently to hold a heavy load on me it is a little too big. So I think the overlap required between sizes needs to be expanded by 1-2 inches.

    Durability: The pack is advertised as being durable enough to complete a long distance thru hike - which I interpret as either the AT, PCT or CDT. In other words it should make it near 3000 miles. If it does it will very likely be completely worn out in my estimation as my pack already has significant wear showing. I have had two holes worn in the pack (which I patched with the patch stickers Z-Packs sells) which were worn in the pack by the two pointy bones next to ones spine at the level of ones hip bones - in other words just above the hip belt. This area rubs the back of the pack when the pack load gets up above say 20 lbs. An additional place of significant wear so far is the mesh pocket on the back of the pack. This mesh is very fine and not at all durable. It is ready for a stitching job before my next trip as I have 3 holes in it already. One needs to be aware at all times how fragile this mesh is and take it into account when pushing thru overgrown trail or laying the pack on its back on the ground. The strapping on the pack is thin as one would expect in a ul pack and thus easy to abrade. I see some of this wear already and will have to watch one shoulder strap carefully if I want to get the full mileage out of the pack before having to replace a shoulder strap. The pack will clearly not be water proof for long as the cuben fiber will get micro holes in it.

    That is about it on evaluation.

    An additional item of note. I had heard that Z-Packs will make custom gear and thus contacted them to ask for a custom belt with double the padding be made. They refused to do this. What I have done to alleviate my belt issue is to take the small belt I have and cut all the straps and frame pocket from the belt until I have only the pad left. I then sewed this pad to the inside of the medium belt to double the padding. This is much better - though it adds weight of course. It has the added feature of making the medium belt have less slack also and now it tightens better without running out of buckle strapping.

    That is about it. Everyone's mileage varies and there is no perfect piece of gear of course. For me I would state that this pack is an excellent choice for a trail like the AT where there are no big water or food carries to end up with a heavily loaded pack. Perhaps it might not be the best choice for trails that have such requirements or at least not on the desert sections or for trying to carry winter gear.

    I hope this info is useful to all of you. Wyo

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Wyoming View Post

    Hip belt design: For the uses I put this pack to the hipbelt is a poor performer and is not at all comfortable. This opinion was also held by 100% of the other hikers I met on the AZT and PCT who were using this pack. The issue being that on the long water and food carries even an ultralight hiker cannot keep the total weight of the pack below 25 lbs. At about 25 lbs the belt becomes uncomfortable and above 30 lbs it hurts. At 35 lbs it hurts a lot after hours of hiking - yes I have hit this weight when doing a 6 liter water carry along with 5 days of food. An additional issue which will be somewhat rare is the hipbelt sizing. I originally ordered a small and found it was a little too small. I then ordered a medium belt and found it is a little too big. On the medium when the belt is tightened sufficiently to hold a heavy load on me it is a little too big. So I think the overlap required between sizes needs to be expanded by 1-2 inches.

    An additional item of note. I had heard that Z-Packs will make custom gear and thus contacted them to ask for a custom belt with double the padding be made. They refused to do this. What I have done to alleviate my belt issue is to take the small belt I have and cut all the straps and frame pocket from the belt until I have only the pad left. I then sewed this pad to the inside of the medium belt to double the padding. This is much better - though it adds weight of course. It has the added feature of making the medium belt have less slack also and now it tightens better without running out of buckle strapping.
    I also had issues with the hip belt because I am so boney so I modified in a manner similar to you but using sheepskin and a yoga mat. However, I have come across no other complaints from others if they use the extra lumbar pad. Did you ever try it with the lumbar pad ZPacks offers?

    As far as the custom belt, I also asked if they could do one, and the response was the same. The reason given is that their machine is only capable of sewing one layer of padding at the thickness they are getting to be too big of a company to be doing real custom work. I do agree that the hip belt design and padding could be improved for better weight carry and fit (wider, thicker at the back to increase structure and rigidity). I wonder if Zimmberbilt packs would be able to design and make a better belt for the Haul/Blast.

    I have had no issues with the mesh having holes or getting ripped and I have (accidentally) done some crazy bushwhacking through serious pine trees without so much as a thread or fuzz-ball coming loose or showing.

    It is an UL pack and thus more prone to wear and tear. All in all I think the pack was a good investment for me and works well.

  9. #9
    GAME 06
    Join Date
    10-15-2004
    Location
    Prescott, Arizona
    Age
    65
    Posts
    724

    Default

    Dune

    For me it was not the lumbar area which was where the major discomfort occurred. It was the pelvic bone area on ones sides - if I am describing that clearly. I eventually started to get sharp pains where the belt wrapped around/over them and on one side I eventually had an area about the size of my palm go numb. This numbness eventually lasted through the night and that spot would be numb when I put the pack on in the morning. This went away over a couple of weeks once my trip was over.

    Re the mesh. The brush in the desert is certainly rougher than other places I have hiked as most plants have thorns. I would still like it to be a bit heavier though.

    As to whether the pack was a good investment I guess that always depends on ones relative financial position. I consider the pack to be very expensive, but I also recognize that one pays for less weight on a somewhat exponential scale. The pack costs about 2 times what one would pay for a high quality pack which weights only about 8 oz more. And mine, of course, now weighs perhaps only 5-6 oz less as I have added padding to the pack.

    I will carry the pack until I wear it out as getting full use of what I buy is my way of doing things. But I highly doubt I would make the same choice again as I know that a pack weighing just 8 ozs more delivers a lot of extra value in performance terms.

    We all have our limits on what being UL means to us. I would not worry about a pack which weighs a half pound more where some would. And then I note that many of the UL guys I run into on the trail have long hair and big beards which are just useless weight and have no performance features I can think of. Or folks who are UL who carry all kinds of electronic gadgets which not only do not enhance hikes but rather do the opposite. It is all ymmv stuff.

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Wyoming View Post
    Dune

    For me it was not the lumbar area which was where the major discomfort occurred. It was the pelvic bone area on ones sides - if I am describing that clearly. I eventually started to get sharp pains where the belt wrapped around/over them and on one side I eventually had an area about the size of my palm go numb. This numbness eventually lasted through the night and that spot would be numb when I put the pack on in the morning. This went away over a couple of weeks once my trip was over.

    Re the mesh. The brush in the desert is certainly rougher than other places I have hiked as most plants have thorns. I would still like it to be a bit heavier though.

    As to whether the pack was a good investment I guess that always depends on ones relative financial position. I consider the pack to be very expensive, but I also recognize that one pays for less weight on a somewhat exponential scale. The pack costs about 2 times what one would pay for a high quality pack which weights only about 8 oz more. And mine, of course, now weighs perhaps only 5-6 oz less as I have added padding to the pack.

    I will carry the pack until I wear it out as getting full use of what I buy is my way of doing things. But I highly doubt I would make the same choice again as I know that a pack weighing just 8 ozs more delivers a lot of extra value in performance terms.

    We all have our limits on what being UL means to us. I would not worry about a pack which weighs a half pound more where some would. And then I note that many of the UL guys I run into on the trail have long hair and big beards which are just useless weight and have no performance features I can think of. Or folks who are UL who carry all kinds of electronic gadgets which not only do not enhance hikes but rather do the opposite. It is all ymmv stuff.
    Packs fit us all differently and so what works for one, doesn't work for another. I tried the ULA Circuit and just couldn't get it to carry right. For me the frame of the Haul is what made it the most comfortable and away from my back and I'll sacrifice a little durability for a good fit, but then I'm also fairly easy on gear. I do agree that the mesh could be made a little tougher/more durable for almost no weight difference.

  11. #11

    Join Date
    05-05-2011
    Location
    state of confusion
    Posts
    9,869
    Journal Entries
    1

    Default

    Despite the people that are flocking to it while carrying 10-15 lbs base weights and hoping for only 4 days food, the arc blast is a UL pack.
    It is less durable, it needs some care in handling, it really wont carry that much weight even with new belt design.

    Most problems come from ignoring this and trying to make it be what its not.
    Its NOT a load hauler.
    Part of the blame on Joe for exxagerating the weight capacity maybe? All cottage mfgs do by at least about 5-7 lbs consistently.

    I have first generation. 16.7 oz. 52L. Custom torso length. Simple foam rubber belt . No bottom bar.
    Stays have rubbed pinholes in pack. Gear has rubbed thru pack. Bumpy vehicle rides propped against hard items have cut thru pack.
    Its a dream between 16-24 lbs. Belt is extremely comfortable.
    Load lifters not needed. It rides upright and perfect against back without them. I have them, tightening them changes nothing.
    This is combination of correct torso length and good design.
    ~850 miles on it, very little signs of wear.
    Should not be pushed above 26 at all. Best with base wts 6-9 lbs IMO.

    I had no problems with 8 days food, bearcan, 2L water in my arc blast. Right at 26 lbs.

    No UL pack is going to carry a weeks food and 6L water.
    The most I had in my Circuit was 5 days food and 6.5L water once, about 31-32 lbs.
    It sucked. That was a lightwt pack, not a UL.

    But...mine is no longer available because Zpacks has gone mainstream and makes gear they think is more suitable for UL wannabees, and wont do custom stuff any longer.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 12-24-2016 at 12:46.

  12. #12

    Default

    But...mine is no longer available because Zpacks has gone mainstream and makes gear they think is more suitable for UL wannabees, and wont do custom stuff any longer.


    My impressions of the 52l Blast (old-style) match yours to a T. My favorite pack, and I have 2 of them because I picked up another one on gearswap here, realizing that they'd be difficult/impossible to get in the future. I might get another one just for the heck of it if one pops up for sale.

    I also have an Arc Haul for those times when I simply must carry a heavier load (winter, desert) and IMO it does handle more weight comfortably and is more durable. But I (and most people, it seems) really do need the extra lumbar pad to avoid lower back discomfort.



++ New Posts ++

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •