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  1. #1
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    Default First Pack

    My wife and I were looking at packs at REI for the AT. I like the Traverse 85 for me and the 65 for her, but I can't find alot of reviews. Anyone care to chime in?... it had a ton of room and sat well on my hips... but of course it was empty

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    I don't know anything about the Traverse...but I will say that 85 and even potentially 65 will be way too big with too much room that you will be tempted to fill up with extra stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DuneElliot View Post
    I don't know anything about the Traverse...but I will say that 85 and even potentially 65 will be way too big with too much room that you will be tempted to fill up with extra stuff.
    Yeah +1 on th5.

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    Yeah plus I on this

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    Quote Originally Posted by SobelX2 View Post
    My wife and I were looking at packs at REI for the AT. I like the Traverse 85 for me and the 65 for her, but I can't find alot of reviews. Anyone care to chime in?... it had a ton of room and sat well on my hips... but of course it was empty
    Nail down your gear list first, then buy an appropriately-sized pack. Or at least, save your receipt. Very few carry that large of a pack on the AT. However, if you're going in winter and are 6'6" and three spins on the spring scale, well, maybe it's not such an unreasonable choice.

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    Thank you much!

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    The medium Traverse 85 weighs 5 lbs. 4 oz. That pack is way too big and heavy. The first pack I had was an Osprey Atmos 65. The thing weighed over 4 lbs. Today, I have a Zpack Arc Haul. It has a 62 liter capacity, which I believed I needed for the future since bear cans will eventually be required on the AT, and it is big enough for moderately cold weather hiking where you carry more clothes. The pack itself weighs 24 ounces. I've been using it for several years now and it's worked out great.
    Trail Name - Slapshot
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    Those are pretty big (and heavy) packs as others have noted. A lot depends on your other gear and also your hiking style. Using thru-hiking as an example, where weight and volume carried tends to be a priority, they are bigger than needed for what most thru-hikers typically carry. As Time Zone suggested, nail down your other gear first, then find a pack to carry it all. There are so many variables to consider. Synthetic bag vs down - synthetic weighs more and is less compressible. Time of year and location - for a thru-hike, an early March start means carrying more clothing, warmer sleeping bag, etc. than a mid-April start. If used, a bear canister has to be factored in. Then there's the "hiking style" element. How much cooking gear, type of sleep pad, additional clothing, "luxury items" like electronics, books, etc. It all adds up to weight AND volume.
    That said, a pack that has no additional room can be an issue if you need to resupply with bulkier food at some point, or switch out to a warmer, bulkier sleeping bag and extra clothing if you wind up in northern New England after August. And the lightest pack for a given volume isn't necessarily the best either. A pack that weighs a pound or even two more but that has good suspension that fits you properly and carries well will make for a much more comfortable hike than an overloaded pack designed for lighter loads. Given today's material engineering, there's really no reason for a suitable thru-hike pack with full suspension to weigh more than 3 to 4 pounds. And as noted in another post, there are lighter packs with frames available in the 2 lb or slightly less range. Typical pack volumes for a thru-hike are more in the 40 to 60 liter range, although some very experienced hikers do get by with less.

    What holds for thru-hiking (which is mostly a long string of section hikes with 3 to 5 day resupply stops) pretty much holds for section and weekend hiking as well. There are some exceptions. True winter hiking requires lots more gear and larger packs, as does going for longer periods without resupply. There are also many section and weekend hikers who place the camp experience, comfort, food, etc. above hiking miles.

    REI stores usually have weighted bags to load up a pack so you can carry it around with some weight in it. Not the best as real gear carries a bit differently than bags of sand or water bladders and such, but it's better than nothing. I would suggest 30 to 35 lbs or so to get a feel. AT thru-hikers surveyed at Backpacking light reported averaging around 19 lbs base weight without food, fuel and water, but they tend to be pretty experienced hikers. Then figure 2 lbs per liter of water carried (typically 1 to 2 liters depending upon distance between sources), and 1.5 to 2 lbs per person per day food. You'll find that hikers with really light base weights typically have lots of experience and are better able to fine tune their gear with their more minimalist hiking styles.

    As you don't seem to have a pack already, I'll throw out a couple of other general suggestions for someone who might be somewhat new to hiking:

    1) For a couple, get a three person tent. The difference between a two person and three person tent is only a few ounces, and almost all two person tents are too small for two people, especially once any gear is brought in. This really can't be overstated. Two person tents usually suck even for friendly couples.
    2) Your most important piece of gear is your sleeping bag. Buy the best quality down bag you can afford and error on the side of too much warmth, not too little. Unless it is a summer only bag, a 20F rating is pretty much a minimum. Many thru-hikers start with a 10 to 20 bag in late winter/early spring (March), and then switch out to roughly a 40 bag or light quilt for the summer months once into Virginia, then back to the warmer setup once reaching the White Mountains in NH. Most manufacturers bags can be mated together for couples by buying a left zip and right zip model. Make sure your sleeping pads can be coupled together - Big Agnes and others offer kits.
    3) Line your pack with a trash compactor bag. Having a dry sleeping bag and dry base layer (including socks) is about more than just comfort - it's your last line of defense against hypothermia after a cold and wet day on the trail.

    Then there's the oldest rule of all: Put all your gear in one pile, and put all your money in another. Then take half the gear and twice the money.
    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 12-21-2019 at 16:48.

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    1) For a couple, get a three person tent. The difference between a two person and three person tent is only a few ounces, and almost all two person tents are too small for two people, especially once any gear is brought in. This really can't be overstated. Two person tents usually suck even for friendly couples.
    2) Your most important piece of gear is your sleeping bag. Buy the best quality down bag you can afford and error on the side of too much warmth, not too little. Unless it is a summer only bag, a 20F rating is pretty much a minimum. Many thru-hikers start with a 10 to 20 bag in late winter/early spring (March), and then switch out to roughly a 40 bag or light quilt for the summer months once into Virginia, then back to the warmer setup once reaching the White Mountains in NH. Most manufacturers bags can be mated together for couples by buying a left zip and right zip model. Make sure your sleeping pads can be coupled together - Big Agnes and others offer kits.
    3) Line your pack with a trash compactor bag. Having a dry sleeping bag and dry base layer (including socks) is about more than just comfort - it's your last line of defense against hypothermia after a cold and wet day on the trail.

    Then there's the oldest rule of all: Put all your gear in one pile, and put all your money in another. Then take half the gear and twice the money.[/QUOTE]

    We are definitely loving the 3 person tent idea. I'm former Army and I forget I'm not leaving all my crap in the HMMWV...so yes, gear is a huge consideration.

    We also LOVE the Big Agnes bag/pad combo. The fact that the pad actually ties into the bottom of the bag is a great idea.

    Craigslist has become my best friend to sell stuff to feed the new habit! Thanks for all the useful info!

  10. #10

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    Packs pick you more than you pick a pack. How a pack feels and fits is very important, so get a bunch on your back loaded and see what works for you. Something around 60-70 litres should be ample for pretty much anything

  11. #11
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    Thanks for all your responses...alot of great and useful info. Since making this decision, we've lived on WhiteBlaze and Trek!
    All we have near us that could supply us with the right gear is an REI and I won't buy a pack online. If I can't put it on and play with it, I won't buy it. We are now looking at the Flash 55 made by REI. I like how it fits (without gear in it), but what I really like are the pockets on the hip pad and where the bottle pockets are located. I have a bad shoulder and it doesn't hurt to reach back for a bottle. I thought about asking REI if we can add some weight to the pack and walk around with it on. We can jam anything in the pack to go on day hikes without having "all the right gear" in there. Hence why we want to buy that first.

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