Back pack recommendations

11:37 p.m. on August 27, 2012 (EDT)
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Hi folks:

I'm Jeff the new-guy.  

I am shopping for a new pack to replace the very very old external frame North Face bag that I bought just before college.  I think I have settled on the G5000 as my all-round bag, tho most of my friends are buying the Osprey 85's?.  I've read a couple of back-pack threads about different packs everyone recommends, but most of those threads were at least a year old.  Any recent intel on Mystery Ranch?  

In Feb I purchased one of their FireLight IA bags for work; while the quality is good I've struggled with their torso-adjustment system to get the thing to fit right.  They are wonderful folks on the phone and I even talked to the designer of the product to try to understand why my line-gear is smarter than I am.  

I am planning on simple overnights and three-day to two-week trips here in the midwest (okay, east to most of you), packing no more than 35-40 lbs if that.  What I really don't want is to have to lash a bunch of stuff on the outside of the bag (okay, OCD).  The G6000 is an awful lot of bag for my current needs until the zombie Apocalypse strikes.

4:36 a.m. on August 28, 2012 (EDT)
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Is there a reason why you are dropping the North Face bag?

Ed

8:26 a.m. on August 28, 2012 (EDT)
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Jeff42150 said:

Hi folks:

I'm Jeff the new-guy.  

Hey Jeff the new guy.:) Welcome to Trailspace. 

I am shopping for a new pack to replace the very very old external frame North Face bag that I bought just before college.  I think I have settled on the G5000 as my all-round bag, tho most of my friends are buying the Osprey 85's?.

MR makes a really nice well respected bag. I myself am in the Osprey camp(Argon 85 as well as a few of their other packs over the years.)

Many will tell you this pack is awesome or that pack is the bees knees. My thought is the best pack for you is the pack that fits you the best. You could have the highest quality pack on the market, if it doesn't fit you properly it isn't worth squat.

 I've read a couple of back-pack threads about different packs everyone recommends, but most of those threads were at least a year old.  Any recent intel on Mystery Ranch?

I am sure you will get some feedback on the MRs here. There are quite a few that use them and love them.  

The quality of the upper echelon packs nowadays is pretty good. So in regards to the durability factor you should be well off for the most part regardless with whatever ya go with(within reason of course.)

 

2:45 p.m. on August 28, 2012 (EDT)
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Ed:

This pack is now over 40 y/o and the inner lining is coming off and coming out.  Also, some of the connecting hardware needs replaced due to age.  Otherwise, it's still a workable pack.

4:00 p.m. on August 28, 2012 (EDT)
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Jeff42150 said:

Ed:

This pack is now over 40...

Nothing wrong with an old pack; that pack in my avatar is over 30.  The coating that you mention has long ago peeled away on my bag.  A pack cover or simply a plastic trash bag serves as my rain protection now.  Besides these covers preserve the pack from further UV damage while at camp.  I have replaced the straps and pads a number of times.  I keep it because it fits well, and it serves my purposes.  Just something to consider.  Try contacting TNF to see if they can set you up with suitable replacements for the worn out items.

Ed 

6:42 p.m. on August 28, 2012 (EDT)
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and I thought my pack was old!

anyway, it boils down to fit and comfort. thats why I keep my old kelty, because it carries comfortably and fits well. all the new packs are great, but if you cant find one that fits you properly, it doesnt matter. go to rei and try the ospry packs, in store you can get a good idea of the fit and comfort. I don't know where you can try a mystery ranch, but you should try the pack on with a load versus buying mail order imo.

9:06 p.m. on August 28, 2012 (EDT)
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Its all about what fits you. I have a mystery ranch pack that im on the fence about. I just replaced my gregory baltoro that was recently stolen. I will carry the baltoro over the mr almost every time. The best thing about the mr is its durability, it seems to be much more robust than all my other packs. If you are hard on packs get a mr in their hunting or tactical lines. They are rugged but heavy, I use mine on my wheeler or if im gonna be in some really dense brush. The only downfall to mr is that if your not in bozeman its kinda hard to try one on.

9:31 p.m. on August 28, 2012 (EDT)
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hotdogman said:

 The only downfall to mr is that if your not in bozeman its kinda hard to try one on.

 It's hard to try one on but it's not hard to get it fitted properly on your own at home.  The shoulder yoke system is 90% foolproof.

I like the G5000 and used it on several trips to haul weeks worth of supplies.  See pic below.  The G5000 is smaller than the G6000---smaller back pockets, smaller top lid (with a different config for carrying separately---the 6 becomes a daypack, the 5 is a buttpack).  The 5000 is a great pack for long trips and it's main selling point is comfort, then durability.


image.jpg

10:27 a.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Wildland fire packs are basically day packs designed to carry your fire shelter, food, water and med supplies for 3 days.  Most fire line packs are small, averaging 2000-2500 cu/in.  I use the MR Fire Lite pack for my fire line gear because it's well made, adaptable for my needs, but not the first bit comfortable.  When you are digging line or hiking for 14hrs/day, pack comfort is the first and last thing you need to have on your mind.  My worry is that the MR packs are expensive and would be my last pack that I buy.  If my Fire Lite pack doesn't fit well, in spite of their adjustable yoke system, what will the fit be on the G5000.  As you all said, ordering a pack through the mail isn't  a great plan when you can't check it's fit.  The folks at MR have been wonderful and even through we know each other over the phone on a first-name basis,  the Fire Lite pack  (also expensive) just doesn't fit well (literally a pain in my neck).  But, at the end of the day, the MR equipment is made to military specs and I know will survive summer after spring after autumns of future wildfires, prescribed fires, and training gigs.  Will the Osprey hold up to my recreational equipment abuse?  Does the G5000 fit like the Fire Lite pack (ouch!)?

10:56 a.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Jeff42150 said:

Will the Osprey hold up to my recreational equipment abuse?

Mine have been drug over rocks(rock slots here in Pa are tight.) I've never really had much trouble as far as durability goes(my Argon still looks new.) 

I know that there are those out there that will say the Osprey can't hold a candle to a MR or a McHale and while I appreciate their opinion it is just exactly that. 

Their opinion. 

Same goes with my love for my Osprey's. They are not the "end all be all" when it comes to packs. They just work very well for me. 

You ask 20 different people you might get 20 different answers. It is all about what fits you the best. You may go into an outfitter to look at Osprey packs and find that a Gregory fits you perfectly. 

Pack geometry and fit varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. In a way it is almost like boots. 

 

11:23 a.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
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I agree with what tipi and rick both said, everybody is different. I have the same problem with my mr pack, it hurts my neck. The plactic piece in the yoke pushes on the back of my neck. It has a little too much curve for me. If I could flatten it a little bit I think it would fit better. I would not buy another mr pack with a futura yoke. I cant say anything about their other systems except everyone else loves them. My gregory fits like it was made for me. I went to the store with the largest selection of packs and spent two hrs trying them on. Im a bigger guy, six feet tall and wear a 52 suit coat. I feel like the gregory packs fit me better across the board,except for ospreys kestrel series packs. Having a long torso it is hard to find a daypack, I hike with my kids a lot and like my comforts so I always have a bigger pack than most people and the kestrels seem to fit.

4:49 p.m. on August 31, 2012 (EDT)
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this thread shows how personal the various viewpoints are.  I have two mystery ranch backpacks, one small, one large (snapdragon, G6000).  have used both for a number of years.   they both fit me very well.  i have a gregory baltoro, falls in between the other two; it's a very good backpack and very comfortable, particularly adept at carrying more weight than most backpacks that size, but not in the same category of fit/comfort for me as the mystery ranch backpacks.  (the cost differential between the baltoro, which i found at a deep discount, and the mystery ranch of the same size was too wide for me to spend the extra $$ in good conscience).

but, you already have a mystery ranch backpack, albeit for a different purpose and using a rather different suspension, that is not very comfortable for you.   perhaps you just had more weight on your back than the pack was intended for, because that firelight looks to be more or less frameless.  the G5000 has a pretty robust suspension, shoulder harness, and hipbelt.  regardless, though, your discomfort at least suggests that the mystery ranch brand might not be the best fit for you, and that it may be worthwhile to consider alternatives.  particularly when the Osprey packs are widely available and easy to try on, which helps a lot.

ultimately, the backpack has to feel comfortable for you, and that criterion should be the most important factor in your decision-making.  beyond that, a mystery ranch G5000 and an Osprey Argon 85 can both easily handle 35-40 pounds, are both thoughtfully designed, and are both built like tanks - neither of these brands is prone to falling apart.  (i found that the Osprey Aether backpacks & their frame/suspension is equally well-designed and made, but that it isn't at its best when carrying over 40 pounds - my opinion). 

12:16 a.m. on September 1, 2012 (EDT)
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I agree with all of that. I got my mr pack at a yard sale for 35 bucks from the green beret it was issued to. Its the bridger assault pack, 60 liters I think. Its the right size for me and some of their hikin packs use the same futura yoke, but it isnt comfortable above 25 pounds. My baltoro fells like nothing with 25 in it. I wouldnt be able to pay 400 for the pack from mr right now but I couldnt pass it up for that price. I think it will be better with a coat as it only hurts me on the back of my lower neck. Me and the op are the only ones ive ever heard say anything negative about mr. its gonna be my go to pack during hunting season as it is absolutely bombproof. Way, way more robust than my baltoro or my buddies aether imho.

2:44 p.m. on September 3, 2012 (EDT)
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They keep building fire line gear larger to carry loads pushing 40lbs, which is a lot of junk to haul up the side of a mountain.  Most fire line packs carry up to 2100 cu/in plus the fire shelter and 4 quarts of water and fusees. 

Wolfpack Gear makes the most comfortable (and expensive) over-the-counter stuff.  MR makes a lot of  military packs and now fire line gear.  While I like MR's military specs to their rec packs; do they ride like the MR line gear?  I am very hesitant to drop that kind of money for a pack that rides no better than line gear; we're hiking into pretty places to camp, not suppressing Idaho at dawn.

What is the science behind the 'stays' (sp) that give the internal frame packs their support? 

9:10 p.m. on September 3, 2012 (EDT)
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i don't think there is much 'science' to backpack stays.  the point of carrying a backpack, internal or external frame, is to allow your hips to carry a significant portion of the weight.  external frames accomplish this by attaching the rigid frame to the hip belt.  internal frame packs do the same thing by using internal rigid pieces, the 'stays' (often attached to a hard plastic 'frame sheet') to transmit weight to the hip belt.  

internal stays can vary quite a bit in how rigid they are and in how they are deployed.  a more rigid stay/framesheet system should, in theory, more efficiently transmit weight to your hips.  if i'm looking at an internal frame backpack with aluminum stays & want to make sure it can carry weight most efficiently, i look for stays made out of stiffer 7075 series aluminum rather than more bendable 6000 series aluminum stays.  of course, the backpack still has to feel comfortable.

the mystery ranch backpacks that have stays use fiberglass rods rather than aluminum.  the lighter-weight packs arrange the rods in an X shape, attached to a plastic frame sheet.  the heavier-duty backpacks (the "guide frame") run the rods vertical, also attached to a plastic sheet.  i'm not sure but willing to bet the fiberglas stays for the G5000-7000 are thicker and more rigid than those used on the X frame backpacks.

i have never used Mystery Ranch's large hunting backpacks or the NICE frame, both of which are intended to carry massive amounts of weight (up to 120 pounds, they say).  the largest hunting models are available with an "overkill guide frame" that probably uses thicker/stiffer fiberglas rods; the nice frame uses a series of carbon/fiberglas bars arranged 3 vertical, 3 horizontal in a rectangle.  both of these solutions sound they they are a lot more than you need; the regular guide frame can comfortably carry a lot more than the 35-40 pounds you are thinking about...provided the pack fits  you comfortably, of course.  

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