Packs

3:12 a.m. on January 22, 2012 (EST)
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Hey guys, I'm new to backpacking (been on a few overnight trips) and I'm really digging it. I have a Kelty 50L bag but I'm afraid that that won't be large enough for the multi-day trips that my friends and I are planning. What size bag would you suggest for a trip lasting no more than a week?

I am a broke 18 year old college student so price is always an issue. I bought my Kelty bag from REI so when the times comes for me to purchase a new pack, I will have store credit (about $110). I also need a new sleeping bag because the one I am currently using is an old car sleeping bag that is so bulky I have to strap it to the outside of my bag with bungee chords (what a joke, right?).  Any suggestions on that? Where to find cheap bags, what brands to buy, etc.

I was looking online and I found an Everest bag for fairly cheap.  I can't find any consumer reviews for Everest bags so I was wondering if you could tell me whether or not they are good quality and whatnot.  

Thanks in advance!

7:42 a.m. on January 22, 2012 (EST)
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I recently found the Kelty Coyote 80 (replacement for the 4750) for $99.95 + shipping

8:09 a.m. on January 22, 2012 (EST)
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This is a hard question to answer as it really depends on all the other gear you own. I would highly recommend taking all of your gear to an outfitter and see what packs are comfortable and hold all of your gear. but as a rough estimate I would say more than likely a 70+L pack. the Kelty coyote is a good budget pack and are frequently on sale.

11:45 a.m. on January 22, 2012 (EST)
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Like TheRambler said it depends on how much gear you are hauling.  Usually you don't carry that much more gear on longer hikes unless you are changing climates.  You mainly carry more food, fuel and possibly more clothes if you are just taking a longer hike in the same climate.  How many more days are your hikes going to be?  If it's just 3 nights you can get away with the pack you have with some smart packing. 

How much extra space do you have in your pack right now?  Lay out the gear you are going to use and take it all to the store. Pack it in there so you have an idea about how your fits in it and how comfortable when you wear it. I like side pockets to put stuff in for quick access. Some people don't. Some of the ultra light guys would think you have a multi-day pack.

 

2:32 p.m. on January 22, 2012 (EST)
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Hey Woodrow, welcome to Trailspace. 

I personally have different packs for different trips and seasons. My typical trips are a week(or more) in length solo. 

I also have a daypack as well... I'm not much into day hiking but I did take a few trips last year and have over the years taken trips here and there. 

I am going to get into the day hike thing a little more(or at least I am planning on doing so.)

My go-to pack for multi-day use is now an Osprey Argon 85. I can compress the pack down to around 55L with the compression straps.

You can always carry 55L of gear in an 85L pack but cannot fit 85L of gear in a 55L pack. 

My winter kit is heavier than what I would typically carry during the summer season. 

The big thing is fit. Different manufacturers have different pack geometry and they all feel a bit different on your back under load. I could say "hey Ospreys are the bomb!!!" but at the same time an Osprey may not fit you well due to the design of the pack, the bend of the stays, etc.

Go try on a bunch of packs and see what fits you the best then as a suggestion look into the used market. 

I know for a fact that there are companies that honor their lifetime warranty even if ya bought the pack at a yard sale. 

This is a good way to save yourself some major coin and still get a great pack. 

For the type of trip you are describing I would think a 70L pack would do the trick but then again that is all dependent on what you carry. My kit for this type of trip would be different than say what TheRambler, or ocala, would carry. We all have our own individual preferences on what we carry into the great outdoors.

As stated above get all of your gear together and take it with you to an outfitter to get better dialed into your needs as far as volume goes. 

Load up the pack and take a trip through the shop. If they have an area that simulates terrain use it. Go up and down steps, etc. 

You are the one that will be carrying the pack and only you know what will feel great on your back. 

On a side note there are alot of sites that carry stellar deals on packs. Right now Left Lane Sports is running a special on a Gregory Z-65 out the door for $159...

Here is a link:

http://www.leftlanesports.com/Event.aspx?l=00050056000000000000&et=lls

You could also watch Steep and Cheap:

http://www.steepandcheap.com/

The Clymb(now thats a link):

http://www.theclymb.com/great-value-on-outdoor-apparel/Save%20on%20Cycling%20Gear%20and%20Apparel/88?jt=1&jp=&jadid=10799868013&js=1&jk=the%20clymb&jsid=27301&jkId=gc:a8a8ae4cd3427151401342cdaba7a7fb0:t1_b_:k_the%20clymb:pl_&gclid=CIvti62v5K0CFUfd4AodDAngtA

Also watch Ebay and Craigslist....

Hope this helps a bit. 

Happy hiking...

5:17 p.m. on January 22, 2012 (EST)
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Cheap sleeping bags are a bad value. The basic rule is this: cheap, warm, light-pick two. Anyone who claims otherwise has no idea what they are talking about. Your bag is a very important part of your kit, so it pays to spend a bit to get a good one for your needs.

Other basic rules:

synthetic bags are heavier than a comparable down bag;

synthetic bags are cheaper than a comparable down bag.

The Everest is a cheap, Chinese made bag sold at Wal-Mart. There are hundreds of reviews on Wal-Mart's site. I wouldn't trust any of them except the ones that say the bag is poorly made and highly overrated. That I believe. Read the reviews carefully; the people who love this bag aren't using it in really cold weather.

Look at bags on REI's website (www.rei.com). There are some decent bags for under $150. I have an old The North Face Cat's Meow. That's what I would recommend to you. Rated at +20F, probably realistically good to +30F, well made and while not the lightest or smallest, reasonable for the price. By comparison, my down bag rated to +23F would cost around $300 to replace.

Sierra Trading Post also has some decent synthetic bags on sale-I saw a couple of Marmot and Mountain Hardwear bags for around $130 or so.

 

 

7:39 p.m. on January 22, 2012 (EST)
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I do not recommend price as a significant criteria for either pack or sleeping bag.  A poor fitting pack will leave you sore the entire trip.  A poorly made pack will fail, usually at the least opportune moment, like the top of a pass in the cold rain.  If you can’t afford to get what you want, rent or borrow for now, and buy later, That is what I did back in the day.  Make sure you test drive whatever choice you make, this is one item you need to touch, and feel the fit to make a sound choice.

Sleeping bags are also fundamental to your camping comfort.  A bag that has a chronically snagging zipper is a hassle, but a bag that is too short or harks of shoddy craftsmanship is gain your hatred.

Save and invest; both these items can last decades if chosen wisely.

Ed

3:59 a.m. on January 23, 2012 (EST)
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First off, thank you guys for the quick and thorough feedback. You guys answered everything I was curious about and more.  This website is awesome and I've already learned more then I previously knew just by reading past threads. I'm going to take a look into the packs you guys suggested and take into consideration all of your guys' feedback.  When I have more questions (which should be soon) I'll know where to come!  Thanks again!

8:20 a.m. on January 23, 2012 (EST)
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I too had the same issue with my sleeping bag. i use a kelty 3100 and a slumberjack 0 degree sleeping bag. the bag was taking up 3/4 of my pack. I only do weekend trips and its always in the winter so i didn't want to change either item. i found a compression sack like this at academy sports for $7.99, and i'm able to get my bag to less than half what it originally was.


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12:23 p.m. on January 23, 2012 (EST)
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Woodrow said:

First off, thank you guys for the quick and thorough feedback. You guys answered everything I was curious about and more.  This website is awesome and I've already learned more then I previously knew just by reading past threads. I'm going to take a look into the packs you guys suggested and take into consideration all of your guys' feedback.  When I have more questions (which should be soon) I'll know where to come!  Thanks again!

 Good deal. Glad ya found the info helpful. There are many knowledgeable individuals here with alot of experience in various conditions/settings. 

By all means; if ya have anymore questions please feel free to fire away. 

Oh on a side note on the Everest bag... I would steer clear of that bag if it were me. There are too many other options out there that can be snagged up with a search fairly cheap that will work out alot better and alot longer for ya. 

2:13 p.m. on January 23, 2012 (EST)
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Welcome to Trailspace, Woodrow! All the advice above is good, I only have a little to add. Saving up and buying quality gear is definitely the best plan, but don't think you have to buy the very best and most expensive either. 

For general backpacking there are a number of good options for packs and bags that will not kill your bank account for the next four years. One of my current packs is a High Sierra Appalachian 75, that I picked up from Amazon for $95. I has served me well, though it is definitely the lowest quality pack I would recommend anyone spending money on. One of my current sleeping bags is a relatively inexpensive option, and a surprisingly good bag for the price. It is also the only bag that I would recommend that you could buy for $50 or under. Usually that means you are getting a true piece of junk. The bag is the Ledge Featherlite 0F. Though it is rated to 0F, I would not take it out in those temps without finding out for yourself in your back yard if it is goingt o provide that level of warmth. I personally only find it comfortable down to about 15 or 10F.

Remember that a sleeping pad with an adequate R-Value is crucial if you are going to go backpacking in winter.   

7:13 p.m. on January 23, 2012 (EST)
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Glad to have you here, Woodrow. I think that a 50L pack ought to serve you well for 90% of your trips. My week-long trips are handled nicely by a similarly-sized pack.

If you're looking for a good, budget bag, I've heard really good things about the Kelty Light Year bags, though I've not used one. You can find the down 20-degree model online for around $80 at times...

The Trailspace classifieds, Ebays and Steapandcheap.com are where to go. Check reviews on Trailspace regarding gear you think might fit your needs, and then look for that stuff used. As Ed said, price should be your last consideration. Save all your pennies, eat ramen every day, whatever you must do...don't get stuck 5 miles out from your car with a woefully inadequate sleeping bag. Go by the EN ratings, as they are currently the most reliable standard for comparing similar sleeping bags...otherwise, look at the weights/ratings of manufacturers like Western Mountaineering, Marmot, and Feathered Friends, and then go off that.

Also, I'll second Gonzan's suggestion above...a good sleeping pad is just as important as a good sleeping bag. For temps below 20 degrees, shoot for an R-value of 5 or more. I reach this number by combining a full-length $12, 3/8"-thick closed-cell foam pad with a self-inflating Thermarest. Really good deals on older self-inflating pads can be found on the Ebays. I like using this combo because even if I get an unrepairable hole in the inflatable pad, I have the closed cell foam to keep me at least somewhat insulated. The newer Neo-Air Xlite/Xtherm, as well as down air mats like those offered by Exped and Kooka Bay, are really nice for winter camping, beating all other comers in the insulation-for-weight category, but they are very pricey for their single purpose, and require a certain level of consideration/care to be used successfully in the field without worry. That's another of the nice things about the two pad combo: one can simply re-purpose the pads one would use for camping in other seasons...Take your summer-use, torso-length self-inflatable pad, put it on top of your shoulder-season full-length closed cell pad, put your empty pack under your legs, and get more use out of less $h!t...

9:37 p.m. on January 23, 2012 (EST)
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I think what these guys are saying is buy the best you can.  

Here are some suggestions I've found on www.geartrade.com.

Alps Mountaineering is not top of the line. It's not bottom of the line either.  They make their products more durable.  Things like heavier fabrics and bigger zippers. The man who started/owns it used to run the Kelty brand. 

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Clearwater Sleeping Bag: 35 Degree Synthetic Blue $36-$42

Clearwater Sleeping Bag: 20 Degree Synthetic Blue $42.85

I have the 20 degree Clearwater. Great 3-season bag.  Comes with a compression stuff sack. 

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Crescent Lake Sleeping Bag: 20 Degree Synthetic $40-$43

The Crescent Lake might be a little warmer, it because it has a chest baffle. But it is a little heavier.

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Denali Backpack - 4500 cu in Blue, One Size - Excellent $80.74

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ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 1 1Person 3Season Tent $100

Bit on the small side. Wait awhile, another Zephyr 2 or maybe a Chaos 2 will come up. Much roomier. I got my Chaos 3 for $88 on here.

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Comfort Series Air Pad Moss, Long - Excellent $34.71

Good price, decent pad.  Yes there are lighter pads that fold smaller but not that much lighter and definitely not this cheap. 

 13881957664f01d1c097fa3thumb.jpgCamelback Insulated Hydration Reservoir

  • Size: 100 oz.
  • Condition: Excellent
  • 44% off of Retail

$25

Big Agnes.  Well know maker of fine lightweight tents.

5159445564ee1f10fd77f0thumb.jpgParkview 2 Tent 2-Person 3-Season $129.44 

Not positive but I think Gonzan has a Denali and an Alps sleeping bag. 

If you've got time to get your gear you can use www.steepandcheap.com. They have an excellent return policy.  You don't like it even if it's been opened. You can use www.sacalerts.com to send you alerts. The email alerts are reliable the SMS alerts are not.  I use a gmail address to forward the emails to my phone's email to sms address.

9:47 p.m. on January 23, 2012 (EST)
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I do have an Alps Bag, the SlickRock 20F, with primaloft fill. It is a good bag. 

I don't have a Denali, though I almost got one awhile back. The pack I use most now is the Revival 65 by Sierra Designs. It is a far superior pack to my High Sierra, but I still use and like both. 

9:02 a.m. on January 24, 2012 (EST)
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Welcome to trailspace Woodrow.  All these are great suggestions.  Try before you buy.  Everyone's shape is different.  While the Osprey Argon may fit me like a glove, it may be torture to you.  Even if you don't buy, go try on different equipment and see what works for you.  Try it with the weight you intend to hike with.  Go up  down the stairs.  Wear it for at least 30 to 40 minutes: longer it you can.  

Find a hiking group near you.  Most hikers are happy to loan equipment once they get to know you.  Wear that gear on some hikes.  Give it a good trial before you buy it.  Good gear lasts a long time.

I'm somewhat the minimalist, and this is my bias.  But I would take a notebook with me and track what you use, don't use and how much you don't use.  You'll be amazed at the weight & space you can gain from dumping stuff you don't use.  Read all of the old threads that zero in on using or repackaging to smaller amounts.  I like a small dropper of Dr. Bronner's soap instead of a toothpaste tube, a bar of soap, hand cleaner or detergent to wash socks or clothing with.  Small things add up.  Examine all your gear.  Do you need that much?  

Enjoy and get out there.  Do small weekends & overnights to test gear & equipment.  Camp out in the backyard.  Lotsa bad experiences can be avoided when you get to go 20 ft to the house and spend the gear failure in your bed.  Its a lot easier to laugh about that, "why did I do that?"  when you are comfortably tucked in your own bed.

2:14 p.m. on January 28, 2012 (EST)
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If possible trial it with weight for some time in the store if you can.

8:06 a.m. on February 1, 2012 (EST)
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i had a jansport big bear that i really liked.  it was affordable, i think i got it for about $75.  as far as sleeping bags go, i've always been pretty lucky with the slumberjack brand.

5:00 p.m. on February 1, 2012 (EST)
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Lots of great advice already mentioned here. There are a few things that you just do not want to skimp on and Pack and sleeping bag are two big items that you want to spend as much as you can afford on. Both sleeping bag and packs though are highly dependent on the person. For instance I can do an ultralight backpack for 5 days with my 43l Ospery Exos if I pack right, but im planning a trip to the desert for 7-8days in the backcountry and I need to carry like 70pds of water so im using my external frame pack.

SLeeping bags are the same thing, if im going ultralight Ill carry the Marmot Plasma 30 with 900fill at 630 grams of weight and take my +25degree Sea to summit reactor liner. That system becomes very light an versatile becasue you can use the liner alone in warmer temps and the bag alone at moderate temps and both at lower temps. I do recomend comming up with a modular system for your sleep system too.

BUT the one thing I really wanted to say is that those are all things you cant skimp on because sometimes your life may depend on the quality of your gear. Stuff like you stuff sacks and little things and ammenties can be purchased from walmart and academy like stores.

-MG

5:19 p.m. on February 1, 2012 (EST)
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Mumblefords said:

Stuff like you stuff sacks and little things and ammenties can be purchased from walmart and academy like stores.

-MG

 I agree to an extent. This is also dependent upon whether or not ya like replacing things regularly. If you take this into consideration you may end up spending quite a bit more purchasing replacements than buying the higher end item in the 1st place.

I always tell people that its the initial cost that is hard to swallow but over time these higher end items will probably save ya money being they will outlast gear from Wally World, etc by a long shot. Yeah, you can go the cheap route and I do not knock anyone for doing so. 

Get the best you can afford... or save up til ya can. 

At the same time if you can drop the dough on a higher end product its typically a smarter buy. 

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