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  1. #1
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    Default lightest frame pack

    I need a framed pack because of back problems. Need to make sure pack weight falls on my hips and not my shoulders.
    What's the best (lightest) framed pack for 3 to 4 days gear ?

  2. #2
    Registered User Siestita's Avatar
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    Your question suggests that if a pack simply has a frame (and presumably also a hip belt) then you will inevitably find it comfortable, completely compensating for your back problems. But, framed packs vary in weight for good reason; individuals' fit and idiosyncratic physical needs vary. There tends to be a trade-off between how comfortable a pack is to use and how much it weighs by itself.

    So, given your back issues, the very lightest frame pack that you find somewhere might not be your best choice.


    "What's the best (lightest) framed pack for 3 to 4 days gear ?" How much will your total load (excluding the pack itself) weigh? In other words, what will the total weight be of your other equipment, the water that you'll carry during the day, and your dried food? (I need just 1 1/2 lbs food weight per night out, but some others carry more, say 2 lbs. of food per day.) Manufacturers sometimes make recommendations concerning how much weight a particular pack can or should carry. But, in practice individuals' experiences concerning this vary. You can't know how well a particular pack will work for you until you've used it.

    Last edited by Siestita; 09-07-2020 at 22:31.

  3. #3
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    Seek outside makes a nice light framed pack. https://sectionhiker.com/seek-outsid...ckpack-review/

  4. #4
    I plan, therefore I am Strategic's Avatar
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    There are a lot of variations in how framed packs are set up. I'm partial to the more structured ULA packs, especially the Circuit (my go-to pack for sections of up to a week.) It uses a combination frame with an aluminum stay and a carbon fiber/Delrin hoop that makes for good transfer of weight to the hip belt. At 41oz, it's a pretty light pack for the support it provides. But this is a YMMV situation and what works for me (an late-middle-aged arthritic) may not be the right solution for you.
    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
    Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

  5. #5
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    As mentioned above you need to know your gear weight. I would hazzard to guess that a typical 3 day weekend warrier carries more than a typical 2000 mile thru hiker, but that is the opposite of what pack retailers would lead you to believe. As an old fart with back problems, I find being aggressive about cutting gear weight is more important than pack choice. But FWIW, I have an Elemental Horizons Kalais, which has a stay similar to the ULA packs. More support than a frameless pack but weighs less than a full frame.

  6. #6
    Registered User Siestita's Avatar
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    I like the approach ULA takes to pack design. I am very satisfied with the Catalyst that I purchased from them. It's designed to carry a bit more volume and weight than their slightly lighter (and more popular) Circuit, the pack that Strategic has mentioned favorably.

  7. #7

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    The "best" would be the one that fits you most comfortably, and has enough room for your gear. And that could be anything. Other people can't tell you that; you'll have to go pack shopping-preferably with your own gear in a tote, so you can see how the packs fit that, along with your body. Even packs of the same volume, and that carry similarly, won't fit your gear or pack up the same if one is taller and skinnier while the other is shorter and wider, things like that.

    The overall weight of your gear is going to be a determining factor on the lightest choices, too-if and how they can comfortably carry it. The pack should be the last place you minimize weight, particularly with back problems. Fit, fit, fit.

    That said, with lightweight to UL gear, even the lightest framed packs may be perfectly adequate. I've got 4 trashed discs, 2 that are bulging, bone spurs, and a cracked vertebrae. I have my own preferences, but any pack that effectively transfers the weight to the hipbelt is really fine, as far as my back is concerned. I didn't have to change packs or anything due to increasing back problems over the last several years, because the packs I already had were well chosen to begin with.

    "3 to 4 days gear" is the same to me as 2 or 7 days' gear, so that's the part of your post that jumped out at me. Beyond insulation needs, the required volume is mainly a matter of how much food has to be carried.
    Don't want to forget that when pack shopping, particularly if you may need a bear canister at times.

  8. #8
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    With two fusions and 5 more bad disks, I went with the Zpacks arc blast.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmax View Post
    With two fusions and 5 more bad disks, I went with the Zpacks arc blast.
    +1 Zpacks Arc series (Blast/Haul)

    these are technically external frame packs, and carry loads under 35 lbs very nicely.

  10. #10
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    Please forgive the thread drift............

    You may want to read this essay from a former mountaineer and outdoor gear CEO.

    https://www.patagonia.com/stories/on...ory-18753.html

    He no longer sells this item but it is simple enough to make.

  11. #11
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    This is one of those times when I wonder if a Gregory Pack would be the best thing...
    When ever I've looked at a Gregory in the past, the specifications seemed to indicate they were a little on the heavier side when empty, but they also seem to consistently get listed as being very comfortable.

    In any case, I too would have to pile on with the suggestion to go and try some packs on at an outfitter. The REI stores I've visited have various weights you can put in the pack to simulate a load.
    REI's One Year "100% Satisfaction Guaranteed" policy seems tailor made for an equipment purchase you're not sure yourself is going to work for your situation.

  12. #12
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    The problem with the conventional wisdom "go to a store to have it fitted" is that many of the most popular packs are made by small companies that are generally not available in stores to try on. If you limit your options to only those at your local outfitter, you will probably have only a couple to choose from (assuming you even have a local outfitter to shop at) and you will have eliminated from consideration what may be your best option.

  13. #13
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    Do take a good look at the options available with the ULA Circuit , sort of 60l , good for me up to around 30LBS, or the Catalyst if you need something a bit larger that can carry (comfortably) another 10 LBS or so.
    You can chose the torso and hipbelt size as well as the shoulder straps shape.
    BTW, at 30 LBS or less I can have all of the weight on the hipbelt. (but I could transfer that to the shoulder if I wanted to...)
    https://www.ula-equipment.com/product/circuit/
    (look at the sizing section)

  14. #14

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    Find an old alpenlite pack if you can.

  15. #15
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    As many have said, lightest is not always best, and finding a pack that fits you well is the ticket. REI stores around me carry the Flash which can be set up around 35oz, and the Levity/Lumina at 28oz. Some stores have the HMG packs in stock as well, representing the cottage industry type offerings around 32oz. None of these packs are going to be great above 25ish lbs as the frames and structure are minimal. There are many small producers (like me) making ultralight packs with frame stays that usually some in around 20-25oz.

    Going ultralight with my gear has changed hiking for me, I love feeling like I'm hardly carrying anything. You have to start with the other gear before the pack IMO

  16. #16

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    For the weight and the ventilation, zpacks haul or blast are definitely worth looking at. I personally don't have one but they're very popular

    I have a ULA circuit that I have really liked. Durable, light, comfortable. Great pack with light loads and I have also found it performed quite well with around 30-35 lbs on some canoeing and winter trips. I like the hip help belt on it; looks basic compared to some heavier packs, but does the trick

    One downside is it runs hot in the summer. I sweat a lot, and having this thing on my back in the summer definitely gets to me at times

  17. #17

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    While you're at it,don't discount the ULA Ohm2.0 or even the ULA CDT.I have a Circuit and a custom made CDT with removable hip belt and load lifters.Only a couple oz lighter than an Ohm2.0 with a little less volume capacity but it seems to fit my torso more comfortably than the Circuit.ULA makes some really great value packs for the money.

  18. #18
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    Default

    Vargo external frame backpacks, cool, different, 3 models, and their reputation is valid, and under 3 pounds.

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