Backpack and Sleeping bag question

11:35 a.m. on July 17, 2006 (EDT)
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I'll try not to flood the list any more with my rookie questions - so maybe this is the last one for a while (although I have tons of others). I really am trying to do a lot of the searching on my own.

While doing my research on internal frame backpacks, I thought it best to stick with one brand at first to see how things varied within that line. One thing struck me as strange for the Keltys, (the brand I am considering):

It looks as though a sleeping bag compartment is not on any pack less than 5000 cubic inches. Is there a reason for this? I would think even an overnighter would require a sleeping bag, so why not a compartment?

And then, after glancing at sleeping bags, I see a large variance in "packed" sizes. What is a normal packed size for a bag and how big are these backpack sleeping bag compartments anyway?

I really don't think I want a Red Cloud 5600, as I probably would fall into the "use it if you got it" space habit, making the pack more heavy than I need. But the smaller ones, without the SB compartment: are the bags just strapped to the bottom of the pack?

I have a relatively nice sleeping bag now, but it's not a backpack bag. It's big when packed, and probably heavier than a true backpack bag. If the norm is to strap it on the pack someway, I could probably get by at first with this one using the smaller capacity pack, at least until my hikes get longer.


1:57 p.m. on July 17, 2006 (EDT)
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I use a Granite Gear drysack, and put my sleeping bag and extra clothes in it so that no matter what happens, they stay dry. It's amazing how much stuff you can fit into it, and you can compress everything down so that it will fit into your pack. Although it is not designed for this, I use it as a bear sack at night. Just place all of your good smelling goodies in it and string it up between 2 trees. If it rains at night, your food stays dry.

4:46 p.m. on July 18, 2006 (EDT)

I'm all about going with what you've got - it's the going that matters, after all.

When it comes to sleeping bags you can spend a lot of money. Most 'serious' backpackers would probably say that their sleeping bag is their most expensive piece of gear. There are some deals out there, though, especially for summer-weight bags that don't have to keep you alive in sub-zero temps. In your part of the world, I'd expect summertime lows to be in the 40s. If you look around you can find 2lb (or lighter) 45deg bag for under $100 - sometimes under $50.

As far as the pack and SB compartment go, I'd recommend against buying a really large pack. The tendency is to fill the available space, and a 60lb pack is no fun at all--regardless of your age.

Check out the packless pack system here for a lightweight, cheap and effective packing system:

For comparison, look here:

The similarities are spooky, but the packless system costs about 1/20th the Luxury Lite. Just FYI, I own a Luxury Lite and I love it--but I will probably buy the next $5 garage sale frame pack I see that's worthy of consideration for the packless system.

Internal frame packs are nice, I've owned one since about 1991, but they are sweat machines in hot weather. They're great for tricky terrain like stream crossings and steep trails. For pure carrying comfort, though, nothing beats a frame pack.

With regards to your old tent - use it if it's in workable condition, but keep in mind that you could be carrying a much lighter and weathertight shelter for a few bucks and that lots of folks make do with naught but a tarp and 50-100' of decent rope.

REI. Not the best pricing on the planet, but an excellent selection and one of the best return policies around. You get a 'dividend' at the end of the year that you can spend at REI. If you're good at using credit cards wisely, the REI card can provide you with lots of free gear. My uncle runs tens of thousands of dollars worth of business expenses through his REI card every year and buys almost all of his gear with the rewards from his REI card. I can't think of anything particularly bad about REI.

10:55 p.m. on July 18, 2006 (EDT)
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Don't worry about asking "newbie" questions. There are plenty of people here and elsewhere happy to share their knowledge. Having said that, be as specific as possible, like your tent question. Specific questions get specific answers, vague ones get, well, vague answers.

Also realize there are many different philosophies about backpacking. If you are just getting back into it, a good book or two will help, plus the net has hundreds of sites with info. One good book is The Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher. I think the latest edition is the 4th. Your library may have an earlier one, but that book is the place to start. Go to Amazon for a look at it. He will answer most any question you might have. You can spend hours looking at gear and asking questions, but a good foundation will help you focus on what you really want to know.

One thing to look at are gear lists, especially the one called The Ten Essentials, which is the minimum you need in terms of safety for even a day hike. A Yahoo search will turn up several similar lists of the basics- such as map and compass (or GPS these days), extra food, first aid, etc. Where you go and when will also dictate what you carry, but the Ten Essentials is a universal list applicable to every situation, almost all of the time-it needs a bit of adjustment for winter-more food and clothes, but the basics never really change.

Finally, remember that nothing you take will help you if you don't know how to use it. Try everything at home before wandering far afield. Don't go any further than you feel you can retreat in bad weather. Have fun.

5:28 a.m. on July 19, 2006 (EDT)
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To the two Toms:

I like your philosophy about using what you have. And "just do it" attitude. The equipment I have is mostly from the family trips to campgrounds. I have a really nice 3 room tent, but wouldn't dream of trying or wanting to take this. But my sleeping bag is OK, although bulky, but comfortable.

My copy of "Walker" is due to arrive Friday. So after getting into the chapters a bit, maybe the seemingly-unimportant questions will stop.

My concern on this thread, though, was mostly: is it practical to strap a sleeping bag to a pack that has a compartment for one instead of using the compartment due to size? I'm sure my family-trip bag does not compress down to size to fit the compartment. But I don't know because no one publishes sizes of the sleeping bag compartment; they only say whether one exists or not.

Seems like a simple, useless question, I know. But in deciding what equipment to buy, or to just use what I have, I sort of need to know more about little things. Until I can get to some sort of outfitter store, I thought I would just ask here first and see what pops up.

Thanks for all of the help and great suggestions.

11:34 a.m. on July 19, 2006 (EDT)

"My concern on this thread, though, was mostly: is it practical to strap a sleeping bag to a pack that has a compartment for one instead of using the compartment due to size? I'm sure my family-trip bag does not compress down to size to fit the compartment. But I don't know because no one publishes sizes of the sleeping bag compartment; they only say whether one exists or not."

Yes. Did you check out the packless pack system? Just strap the bag directly to the frame - wrap it in a garbage bag or something to protect it - or stuff it into themain compartment and use the SB compartment for clothing and other stuff. A stretchy strap like a bungee is probably not as good as a non-stretch adjustable nylon strap - but it'd work if it was tight enough.

Enjoy your trip!

5:27 p.m. on July 19, 2006 (EDT)
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One of the advantanges of an external frame pack is that the normal place for the sleeping bag is strapped directly to the frame (no bungies, use real straps). Your other gear goes inside the attached pack bag. Yes, you can get a bare frame. but an external frame with a pack bag attached is a bit more usable.

With the smaller internal frame packs, you can expect them to be either top-loaders in which you put everything in from the top or what are sometimes called "clamshell" designs - you unzip the whole pack. The top-loaders have the disadvantage that the item you desparately need is always somewhere near the bottom, necessitating a complete unpack. With the "clamshell", when you unzip it, everything falls out (especially if you forgot it was open when you picked up the pack to put it on after a stop). While the larger packs are compartmented and have pockets, this sometimes reduces the versatility.

One type works for some people and not for others, and vice versa. You will only find out by getting out there and hiking and backpacking.

10:41 p.m. on July 20, 2006 (EDT)
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Steve, You can usually strap a bag on the top of a pack-I'd put it in a garbage bag or something similar to keep it dry and clean. I've packed a big parka outside a pack in winter when it wouldn't fit in the bag along with the bear canister (required in Yosemite). You can usually strap a sleeping pad and tent on opposite sides. With the bag on top, you may find your head hitting it while walking. Some bags have straps on the bottom for just that purpose. Look through some of backpackers and you'll see either configuration quite often. Like everything else, try it and see what works.

5:11 a.m. on July 21, 2006 (EDT)
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Thanks for all the info from everyone.

As most of you can probably discern, I would like to do all of this, in the beginning, as cheaply as possible. That's why I've ask about my old backpack tent in another thread and my current sleeping bag in this one.

What can I say - I'm Scotch (thrifty) - a Campbell.

Weight should not be a problem in most cases. I just gave up my horses and used to carry 50 & 100 pound grain bags. I imagine it's not the same as a loaded pack all day, but at least I know what the weight feels like.

Thanks again - Steve

June 18, 2018
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