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  1. #1
    Registered User SunnyWalker's Avatar
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    Default Rucksack over External/Internal

    I have a Kelty External pack but when I hit the AT for a thru-hike I would like to pair down the weight. This Kelty weighs about 8 lbs., empty. I have read lots of threads and comments about packs. It seems to me that the ideal would be a ruck sack. And use one's pad to line it. This is simple, inexpensive(?), lighter (no frame). That said, would all of you please comment on brands and types, etc. BTW, the Kelty I have is at about 5500 ci. I never fill it up and am very disciplined on what I take. Thanks one and all. Also, in your opinion feel that a rucksack would be a drastic mistake, let me know that also-and why. What would the acceptable weight of a rucksack, empty? etc., etc. -SunnyWalker
    "Something hidden. Go and find it. Go, and look behind the Ranges. Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you . . . Go!" (Rudyard Kipling)
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  2. #2
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    I'm not a UL hiker and have no desire to live/hike lean enough to get rid of a good suspension system. A 3 to 4 lb pack with a good suspension that can comfortably carry a 25 to 30 lb load is more my speed.

    Go Lite, Gossamer Gear, and Granite Gear come to mind for UL packs, but there are others, almost everyone is getting into this niche market. You might want to consider a compromise though to something intermediate like a lightweight Osprey or Gregory or other. If you've never used a frameless pack before and don't have the experience with UL backpacking techniques, a thru-hike might not be be the best place to jump in and start learning.

    Remember you'll often be carrying 4 days food or more @ 2lb/day + 2L water, thats 12 lbs+ right there. Add pack, pad, bag, cookset +fuel, clothes, shelter, hygiene, first aid/emergency, optional gear like phone, camera, etc. That's going to be 20 lbs with a closed cell pad, expensive UL bag(like a WM), alcohol stove and fuel, minimal safe clothing, small tarp, etc. It is real hard to stay under the weight a frameless pack will comfortably carry and still be safe from a shelter and clothing insulation layer standpoint. I'm shooting for a base weight of 17 - 18 lbs. in warmer months(40F) and 20 lbs. in fall (20F) without food and water. Hiking here in NH requires certain minimum clothing even in the summer though, so my perspective of what is required in clothing, sleeping bag, etc is going to weigh more than someone who hikes in warmer areas and/or lower elevations in the South or Mid-Atlantic.

    I'm sure you'll get lots of other answers and comments here though. Just my 2 cents.

  3. #3
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    In my experience a frameless rucksack works pretty well for base loads around 10-12 pounds or lighter. That's all your gear and clothing -- everything except food and water. The total pack weight with a liter of water and 3 or 4 days of food will be around 20 pounds or less. When my load got over 22 pounds, I found it got a lot less comfortable on my shoulders.

    So yes, it's cheaper, lighter, and less complicated. But it requires a pretty serious commitment to ultralight hiking. What else are you carrying?
    Ken B
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  4. #4
    Registered User SunnyWalker's Avatar
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    4eyedbuzzard: thanks for the input. Somethings I had not thought of. Also, I thought weight did not matter (weight capacity of the pack) if one purchased a rucksack that could simply handle the weight??
    "Something hidden. Go and find it. Go, and look behind the Ranges. Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you . . . Go!" (Rudyard Kipling)
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  5. #5
    Registered User SunnyWalker's Avatar
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    Bigcranky: I see. Now I am thinking that this wont work. Base load-sorry I have not weighed it yet. I see that is what I need to do. As they say, get it all together (equipment, clothes etc.) and then go pack shopping.
    -That said, could not one make a rucksack that could handle say, 40 lbs., or 45 lbs? Do you think that would be uncomfortable? I guess any other pack I had felt "good" but never "comfortable". I think I know what you are saying though.
    "Something hidden. Go and find it. Go, and look behind the Ranges. Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you . . . Go!" (Rudyard Kipling)
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  6. #6
    Registered User SunnyWalker's Avatar
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    BigCranky: I cannot list all the stuff I take right now but here is some of the biggees I can remember: HH, 3 lb down sbag, Esbitt stove with 7-10 tabs; sweetwater filter system, one small pot, plastic cup, one lexan type spoon, bsdies clothes I am wearing (shorts, shirt, socks, shoes, hat): thermal type underwear, four pairs of socks, 1 pair shower thongs, poncho, lightweight nylon windbreaker, blaclava, one extra shirt. Also foodbag (2 lbs a day max); water bladder, lighter/matches, lightweight rope for bear bagging, plastic bag for sbag, sleepig pad (closed cell), tolitries bag, first aid kit (very small lightweight), small pad of paper or some paper, water bottle, etc., not much more. What do you think?
    "Something hidden. Go and find it. Go, and look behind the Ranges. Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you . . . Go!" (Rudyard Kipling)
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    Default Rucksack

    I own the GVP Gossamer G4 pack and have not used anything else since I bought it in 2001. Weight is 13 oz. and I have carried up to 30 lbs. for a 6 day trip. If you pack it right it works well even with 30 lbs. in it; however, it is best to keep it in the 20 - 25 lbs. range. To make it comfortable at 30 lbs. I take a full length sleeping pad and cut off enough to fit in the pad holder on the outside of the pack. The rest goes inside the pack. If you pack you sleeping bag loosely and then pack everything else in and keep it tight and compressed it will stay balanced and comfortable. The other thing I do is use 1 Liter water bottles (walmart flavored water) and use two, one in each side pocket to help keep the pack balanced. You have to be kind of a gram counter with this pack, but I would not give mine up. Lots of miles on mine and besides a little run in one of the mesh pockets, it's still in great shape. Just keep those platypus bags out of the mesh pockets, or be real careful putting them in and taking them out.

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    I had done two 500 miles sections and a lot of weekend trips on the AT before my thru. I started with a Gregory (6 pounds empty) and ditched it for my GOlIte Jam 30 at HF and was so glad to have less weight. By sending the colder weather gear home too I cut nearly 11 pounds off my total and hiked much happier after that. TRY some different ones for weekends and see what works for you. I think I read that here before, dejavu again............

  9. #9
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    If you wish to lighten up, but also wish to get a more traditional pack in terms of suspension/support, check out the ULA gear:


    http://www.ula-equipment.com/circuit.htm

    the Catalyst is similar, but a bit larger.
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  10. #10
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    A simple frameless ruck might be able to handle 40-45 pounds in the sense that it won't fall apart.

    But -- realize that even with your pad unrolled inside, almost all the weight will be on your shoulders. 40-45 pounds is too much for that, IMHO.

    You can get a very nice light pack with a suspension system. The SMD Starlite is under two pounds. Several ULA packs are 2-3 pounds. Heck, even REI has a couple of good packs in the 2-3 pound range.
    Ken B
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  11. #11
    Registered User jesse's Avatar
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    I use a ray-way pack, 9.5oz, no frame, no hip belt, for weekend backpacking. Works good for me. I think if you go this way you have to be committed to ul, keep total weight under 20#. Pack, tarp/ground cloth/stakes, quilt and pad right at 6lbs.
    One bit of advice I hear over and over on this site is pick your pack last. Cramming heavy stuff in a lite pack will not work.
    It took me about a year to get my gear down to where it is because I sewed almost everything. The backpack was the last thing I did, because my old sleeping bag, and tent wouldn't come close to fitting in it.

  12. #12
    Registered User neo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SunnyWalker View Post
    I have a Kelty External pack but when I hit the AT for a thru-hike I would like to pair down the weight. This Kelty weighs about 8 lbs., empty. I have read lots of threads and comments about packs. It seems to me that the ideal would be a ruck sack. And use one's pad to line it. This is simple, inexpensive(?), lighter (no frame). That said, would all of you please comment on brands and types, etc. BTW, the Kelty I have is at about 5500 ci. I never fill it up and am very disciplined on what I take. Thanks one and all. Also, in your opinion feel that a rucksack would be a drastic mistake, let me know that also-and why. What would the acceptable weight of a rucksack, empty? etc., etc. -SunnyWalker

    my frameless ruck is less than 11 oz empty
    my 0 degree 900 fill down quilt is 24 oz.
    my 9 x9 sinylon tarp wieghs 12 oz
    my hammock with netting 16 oz.
    my pad 12 oz.my main gear all less than 5 lbs
    and i can camp more comfortablly toneo

  13. #13
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SunnyWalker View Post
    BigCranky: I cannot list all the stuff I take right now but here is some of the biggees I can remember: HH, 3 lb down sbag, Esbitt stove with 7-10 tabs; sweetwater filter system, one small pot, plastic cup, one lexan type spoon, bsdies clothes I am wearing (shorts, shirt, socks, shoes, hat): thermal type underwear, four pairs of socks, 1 pair shower thongs, poncho, lightweight nylon windbreaker, blaclava, one extra shirt. Also foodbag (2 lbs a day max); water bladder, lighter/matches, lightweight rope for bear bagging, plastic bag for sbag, sleepig pad (closed cell), tolitries bag, first aid kit (very small lightweight), small pad of paper or some paper, water bottle, etc., not much more. What do you think?

    What do I think? Well, you have a fairly light kit there, though you'll find that all the little things that get tossed in at the last minute weigh more than you think. (At least I do, every single time I pack.) I'd guess your base weight is certainly under 20 pounds.

    I think that a frameless ruck is something that a hiker should evolve into, rather than start with. There are two reasons for this:

    1. Comfort. Plenty of hikers see a 12-ounce rucksack, look at their own 7-pound behemoth pack, and say, "Aha! I can save over six pounds of weight by switching to this pack!" Then they proceed to cram 40 pounds of gear into a 12 ounce pack, and find that it rides like an angry monkey.

    2. Safety. Other hikers climb on the Ultralight bandwagon from the very beginning, and head out with a 6 pound base load on their first trip into the wilderness. This can be quite comfortable with a 12-ounce rucksack, BUT without plenty of experience and top-notch backcountry skills, this is a good way to get killed. That 7-ounce poncho tarp shelter doesn't provide any room for error or misjudgment in a storm.

    I don't know anything about your backcountry skills and experience. You seem to be heading in the right direction in terms of gear weight, though IMHO your list isn't quite ready for the frameless ruck. The good news is that they aren't that expensive, so you could try a ruck for a weekend without too much trouble. Just be careful about what you carry and where you go, and have plenty of bailout options if need be.

    Happy trails.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  14. #14
    Registered User SunnyWalker's Avatar
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    Thanks BigaCranky. I weighed my Kelty and it is all of six lbs. I was going to try this just on AT. So no wilderness really. IMHO. :-) Lots of input here from everyone. I appreciate it. Keep it coming. I will switch to a lighter pack. May not be a rucksack, in the end.
    "Something hidden. Go and find it. Go, and look behind the Ranges. Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you . . . Go!" (Rudyard Kipling)
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  15. #15

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    I've been using a Golite Dawn (basically a stuff sack with shoulder and waist straps) since 2004. I haven't had more than 25 lbs. in it (for a 5 day hike), and use a closed cell foam pad to line it, then stuff everything else inside. I use the pad to sit on, as I almost always hammock lately. It carries fine. It's very important to get the right size (torso length) when purchasing a frameless rucksack - more so than an internal frame, since load lifter straps barely work on frameless packs (mine doesn't have them), and if the pack is too short for you all the weight will hang from your shoulders. When my pack wears out I plan on replacing it with a Fanatic Fringe Thompson Peak pack with waist belt. It looks like a good design. I still have my 5+ pound Gregory Shasta if I do any multiday winter trips (fewer every year as I get older).
    As I live, declares the Lord God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn back from his way and live. Ezekiel 33:11

  16. #16
    Registered User SunnyWalker's Avatar
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    I have saved weight by ditching the top part of this Kelty that is the "lid". It is also a fanny pack. I have never used it on the pack as it is "extra weight" to me. I could also save some weight by removing the side straps that are quite extensive. They run up and down the side of the pack. Anyway, when one talks of 25 lbs., well, I don't think I will get it all down to that. And then when one talks of getting a new pack that only weighs save 5 or 4 lbs., well that is only one or two lbs saved. So I'm still figuring. You will be surprised, I still need to get my stuff together and weigh it minus the pack.
    "Something hidden. Go and find it. Go, and look behind the Ranges. Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you . . . Go!" (Rudyard Kipling)
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  17. #17

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    When you say rucksack, are you referring to a hipbelt-less pack? You made no mention of whether you're looking for something like a large daypack that will hang off the shoulders or a small backpack with hipbelt, etc. I've backpacked many trips using a frameless ALICE pack and let me tell you, with 40-50 pounds hanging off my shoulders it became dead weight and I felt it with swollen hands and headaches radiating up from the neck.

    In the old days most backpackers used frameless Yucca packs and even earlier canvas packs w/o hipbelts(except for the wooden-framed Trapper Nelson packs and the earlier native american basket packs), and a lot of weight could be carried(some used the forehead trump-line). There's always an initial interest in carrying a beltless pack as mobility is improved as is ease in putting on and adjusting, but when push comes to shove and a week-long winter trip is offered, the small light pack becomes a near behemoth with gear lashed everywhere and as soon as you reach for the shoulder strap to hoist the engorged tick you'll ask yourself, "Dangit! Why does it feel like two cinder blocks!!" And all that weight is hanging off of 2 thin straps.

    There's alot of truth to the saying that the heavier the pack, the better the support. So, 40 pounds in a light pack could feel heavier than 40 pounds in a beefier, heavier pack. One option I tried was to take an external frame pack(like the Kelty), remove the pack and attach a small frameless pack of your choice to the frame. I tried this with the ALICE pack and with several mid-size daypacks and it can save money. A frame by itself is pretty dang light, even with the harness system attached.

  18. #18
    Registered User SunnyWalker's Avatar
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    I am sure that would be right, removing the pack and the fram would then be light. However, i am not financially able to do this type of thing. Let me go see if I can find the top of the pack and see what model of Kelty it is . . . . Ok, it is a "Contenintal Divide 5300. I have enjoyed using this pack and the support and all, IS nice. I hear what you say about two think straps and all. Well, I really appreciate all of your input. Pleae know that I read each entry and really think them all over. SunnyWalker
    "Something hidden. Go and find it. Go, and look behind the Ranges. Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you . . . Go!" (Rudyard Kipling)
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  19. #19
    Registered User SunnyWalker's Avatar
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    I have re-read this all again. Don't think I'll go rucksack route unless I can go UL.
    As i do so like my Kelty with all it's support and all I will continue to try to get my weight down. Then like you mentioned JAK, more comfortable with lighter load in a "heavier" pack.
    "Something hidden. Go and find it. Go, and look behind the Ranges. Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you . . . Go!" (Rudyard Kipling)
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinker View Post
    I've been using a Golite Dawn (basically a stuff sack with shoulder and waist straps) since 2004. I haven't had more than 25 lbs. in it (for a 5 day hike), and use a closed cell foam pad to line it, then stuff everything else inside. I use the pad to sit on, as I almost always hammock lately. It carries fine. It's very important to get the right size (torso length) when purchasing a frameless rucksack - more so than an internal frame, since load lifter straps barely work on frameless packs (mine doesn't have them), and if the pack is too short for you all the weight will hang from your shoulders. When my pack wears out I plan on replacing it with a Fanatic Fringe Thompson Peak pack with waist belt. It looks like a good design. I still have my 5+ pound Gregory Shasta if I do any multiday winter trips (fewer every year as I get older).
    UPDATE:
    I carried over 35# in the above pack through the Hundred Mile Wilderness last fall with no discomfort, packed as above. The pack was so full I couldn't close the cord lock on the top and had about 6" of the food sack sticking out, held in by the top strap only. Three days later I was able to tuck it inside.
    As stated wisely, practice before you run off for a week or more.
    As I live, declares the Lord God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn back from his way and live. Ezekiel 33:11

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