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  1. #1
    Registered User bert304's Avatar
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    Default Z-Packs Arc Air Pack?

    I currently use an Osprey Kestrel 48 liter. My question is, Is the Z-Packs Arc Air pack worth the cost. I am a weekender and vacation hiker. The weight reduction is from one pack to the other is a big bonus. I just wanted some honest opinions about Z-Packs quality, cost and the fit.
    Thank you

  2. #2
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    unfortunately no one can effectively answer that for "you"

    I have accumulated over 20 packs, of which I use maybe 8, one is an arc haul - effectively fills a slot but nothing magical about it

  3. #3
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    I'm a fan of the Arc series of packs, though I'm not "in love" with them. I do like my Arc Haul much better than a couple of previously owned Ospreys though (Exos, Atmos), the Arc Haul is lighter, more usable (love the large hip pockets and side pockets) and just as comfortable.

    I do not like, however, the dyneema fabric on packs, I believe it shows wear/tear much sooner than the standard nylon, so from that standpoint, I would not recommend the Arc Air (for thru-hiking), which I believe only comes in the Dyneema (right?). however, if only used for weekends/vacations, the Dyneema is probably just fine, and it is lighter.

  4. #4

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    Please don't call DCF by the shortend Dyneema. Dyneema can refer to many different fabrics and not just the renamed cuben fiber. It confuses some of us who remember when some people used to call some of their other fabrics just Dyneema so I'm never sure what they are talking about unless the context is completely clear.

    DCF hybrid packs are said to be good for maybe one thru-hike. For non-thruhikers that may last them many years. Just watch out for abrasion.

    For me, I'm happy with my non-DCF ULA and MLD packs which are a bit more durable so have no interest in owning a DCF one, but many do like them for their water proofness; at least when they haven't had a lot of wear and tear yet.

    My friend (a former PCT thru-hiker) owns the ZPacks Arc Blast and thinks its comfortable, but it is fragile in someways other than just the fabric. Last year, when we went on a multi-day hike together shortly after he got it, he had to replace the buckle on his hipbelt when it cracked; buckles are small UL ones. Though in his case, he has gained a lot of weight since the PCT so when he bends over there is a lot of mass pushing into the hipbelt. He doesn't use it that much anymore as he thinks he needs to loose more weight before it would be an appropriate design for him. He said he would use it for a thru-hike if his body size was smaller. I have seen other big guys using them, so maybe my friend is overly paranoid, but given his quick failure, his caution may be appropriate.
    Last edited by Miner; 12-28-2020 at 13:26.

  5. #5
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miner View Post
    Please don't call DCF by the shortend Dyneema. Dyneema can refer to many different fabrics and not just the renamed cuben fiber. It confuses some of us who remember when some people used to call some of their other fabrics just Dyneema so I'm never sure what they are talking about unless the context is completely clear..
    I will probably stick with "dyneema" because DCF or Cuben might be not be at all understood, and "dyneema" in context with a pack is probably well understood, and "dyneema composite fabric" is too much typing! :-)

  6. #6

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    I'm just going with DCF these days, although as Miner notes the Zpacks material is a hybrid (DCF/polyester) laminate.

    That said, I recently got the Arc Air, but in Robic. I like what I see so far but haven't taken it out for an actual hike yet, only a short walk in the local woods loaded with about 12lbs or so. I'm hoping to get out Wed-Thu for an overnighter... shoulder season type weather is forecast.

    So far the material seems like a good choice and the construction is excellent. The curved stays seem pretty tough. I do not like the way the roll top connects with 2 buckles on the side — which also acts as side compression — so I buckle it in the center just like the old style, and I set up cords with linelocs for side compression, which I prefer as a separate function anyway. However, I really don't use side compression much at all.

    ArcAir50_roll_top.jpg ArcAir50_side_compression.jpg ArcAir50_side_compression_02.jpg
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  7. #7
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    I can attest that zPacks quality has been superb for me. I think I've probably bought a dozen items from them over the years.

    If you're in a 48L pack already, then a 50L ArcBlast would be sweet. I was trying to come down from a 60L Granite Gear pack, but I couldn't figure out how to carry enough food in a bear canister to make the ArcBlast work for a planned JMT hike. I ended up selling the ArcBlast earlier this year to another Whiteblaze member and will be seriously considering the ArcHaul for several hikes I have planned in 2022 (after I recover from two knee replacements this year!).
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  8. #8
    Registered User bert304's Avatar
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    Thank you for the replies. I am looking at the pack to lower my base weight. I also switched to a Hammock from a tent and I have the top quilt and the under quilt plus the hammock and tarp. Even thou it is light weight and way more comfortable, it does take up more space. So I figure I can fit all of it into a 50L.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by bert304 View Post
    Thank you for the replies. I am looking at the pack to lower my base weight. I also switched to a Hammock from a tent and I have the top quilt and the under quilt plus the hammock and tarp. Even thou it is light weight and way more comfortable, it does take up more space. So I figure I can fit all of it into a 50L.
    I've been hammocking for a few years and have a pretty good feel for various quilts/tarps that are needed in different seasons.

    I did a quick overnighter yesterday (got back this morning) and carried kit for 30F ( it got down to 27F) and it all fit with GOBS of room to spare, so it would've been fine for a multi-day in similar conditions. It'd probably be okay for 20F-rated TQ and UQ, but not 0F kit and something like a HG Palace tarp. Plus you'd likely be carrying serious puffies and other bulkier winter gear. But there are probably some UL Zen Masters who could do it... but I ain't one of 'em.

    In the pics below, pack contains 30deg EE Enigma TQ, 20deg Revolt (65"), DH Darien 10'/Robic 1.7, HG 11' Hex DCF, Montbell Alpine light hooded puffy, Marmot Precip pants, Zpacks poncho, Helinox chair zero (OK, flog me for UL blasphemy) alky stove setup, food and the other normal stuff. I don't know the base weight, but trailhead TPW was 13.8lb on my digital luggage scale including food and 20oz water.

    My philosophy is to carry a pack large enough to contain all my stuff if at all possible. I absolutely abhor strapping a bunch of stuff to the outside just so I can say I'm carrying a smaller volume pack, with stuff clanging, jangling, scraping and snagging on rocks and vegetation.

    The pack carried extremely well for me, and I intentionally collected my evening water a little earlier so I could carry it at a heavier weight for a couple of miles. With the 1.5 liter Evernew bladder adding another 3.3lb or so it totaled about 17lbs and was still a dream.

    Too early to say yet, however I noticed that my back was practically dry where I usually have a very damp or wet area in the lumbar region, even though I am always very attentive when it comes to controlling overheating. Trampoline is good, but my first impression is that these curved stays are even better.

    Zpacks_Arc_Air_50_01.jpg Zpacks_Arc_Air_50_02.jpg
    Last edited by cmoulder; 12-31-2020 at 16:24.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  10. #10
    Leonidas
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    Good to hear on the back moisture! I am curious if the curved stays can potentially be retrofit into an Arc Blast. Then I could remove the mesh trampoline part and not have to spend $325 on a 5 litre smaller version of my pack. The robic is a nice option though, maybe when the DCF pack eventually dies I will swap.
    AT: 471 mi
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by JC13 View Post
    Good to hear on the back moisture! I am curious if the curved stays can potentially be retrofit into an Arc Blast. Then I could remove the mesh trampoline part and not have to spend $325 on a 5 litre smaller version of my pack. The robic is a nice option though, maybe when the DCF pack eventually dies I will swap.
    Hmm... not a bad idea but I'm kinda thinking they won't sell them separately... maybe source them elsewhere(?), but they don't seem to be common items. I didn't measure yet but they look a skosh too short for the Blast.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  12. #12
    Registered User bert304's Avatar
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    Cmoulder.
    My hammock set up is the following: Dutchware Gear Cameleon Wide Hammock With a wide Tarp. I do have a EE Enigma 20 degree top quilt. I am going to order a 20 degree EE Revolt2 under quilt. Should I go with the 80" or drop to 65"?
    Last edited by bert304; 12-31-2020 at 16:20.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by bert304 View Post
    Cmoulder.
    My hammock set up is the following: Dutchware Gear Cameleon Wide Hammock With a wide Tarp. I do have a EE Enigma 20 degree top quilt. I am going to order a 20 degree EE Revolt2 under quilt. Should I go with the 80" or drop to 65"?
    I think you'd be okay with both of those, but definitely spec both with 7d shell (in & out) and 950fp down for max compressibility.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  14. #14
    Registered User bert304's Avatar
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    I am going to order the new Z packs Arc air tonight. I went to REI and got measured, I have a 22 inch torso. That puts me in the 20 to 23 range. Anything else I should be aware of? I am ordering the top v strap, upper side pouch. and the FUPA pack.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by bert304 View Post
    I am going to order the new Z packs Arc air tonight. I went to REI and got measured, I have a 22 inch torso. That puts me in the 20 to 23 range. Anything else I should be aware of? I am ordering the top v strap, upper side pouch. and the FUPA pack.
    I think you're gonna be happy!

    The V strap is only needed for a bear canister (or the like) carried on top, but it isn't a bad idea to order one any way. It does come with the single strap across the top.

    One thing that I absolutely need with the Arc Haul is the accessory lumbar pad. When I first got the Arc Haul it was VERY uncomfortable without it. I've seen it go both ways, however, and some people I know (such as MikekiM) finding it very comfortable without the extra pad.

    With the Arc Air, I tried it for about 10 minutes without the lumbar pad and right away realized I'd also need it for this pack as well.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  16. #16
    Registered User bert304's Avatar
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    I figured with the rules for the Smokies and some parts of Georgia where they require a bear canister. I would have the easier option to carry a bear canister. I will look at the cost of the lumbar pad.

  17. #17

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    In that case I'd definitely get the V strap.

  18. #18
    Registered User bert304's Avatar
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    I ordered the pack this morning. I ordered it in Army green, with the upper pouch, V strap, Lumbar pad, Front pouch and water bottle holder. I did order the large belt which goes from 34 to 49 inches, because I have a 43 inch waist. I guess it will arrive in mid January. My other question would be how do you keep track of the small items, like pocket knife, lighter, toothbrush, currently I keep that stuff in the brain of the pack I use. I guess I will have to see how it all fits in.

  19. #19
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bert304 View Post
    My other question would be how do you keep track of the small items, like pocket knife, lighter, toothbrush, currently I keep that stuff in the brain of the pack I use. I guess I will have to see how it all fits in.
    For the last 10 years or so, ever since I went with "brainless" packs, I've been using this zip-sack:

    https://www.granitegear.com/air-zippsack.html

    The yellow version, I think it's about an ounce. I also have a larger purple one, 1.4 ounces IIRC, but most trips I use the yellow one. It's getting a bit long in the tooth after so many years, but it does have many thousands of trail miles on it, so these do last.

    Inside of these zip-pouches, I further divide some small things in small zip-locks, like one "toiletry" ziplock (toothbrush and paste, nail clippers, small little trail-suds container) and another zip-lock (quart sized) with all paperwork stuff, permits, maps, whatever, another for cords/ear buds, extra battery, etc, etc.

    what's really nice about doing it this way is say when you get to a town and go into a restaurant, most of the time they want you to leave your pack outside, just grab the zip-pouch which has all your valuables, electronics, etc and keep that with you.

  20. #20

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    I use one of these Eagle Creek Pack-it cubes (no, it isn't a cube ) and sub-divide inside with Ziploc bags for meds, first aid, repair, spare spoon (GSI collapsible), platypus and Gatorade caps, fire starter (PJCBs).

    For stuff I am more likely to need during the day or evening SAK, AquaTabs, headlamp, Tums, hand sanitizer, sunscreen I use one of the zpacks hipbelt packs, and for phone accessibility for photos and map check, I use a zpacks shoulder pouch.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

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