Arc'teryx Khard 30 or 45?

5:36 p.m. on July 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Hi all, I need some advice. Now, I know that this topic has been beaten to death, and I have already found and read hundreds of threads regarding the perfect pack size for an aspiring ultra-lighter, but I would still like to take part in a discussion about it with seasoned veterans instead of just reading whatever I can find.

I made the mistake of buying a large Maxpedition Vulture II day pack, and found that they are build for shorter fellows. The idea of playing with molle packs and organizing everything sounded like a fun hobby. I'm six foot, with a long torso, and the belt was above my belly button. I really wanted to like the pack and have taken it on dozens of hikes in an effort to accept the pack with no hip belt, but it isn't going to work out.

Currently I'm drooling over the new Arc'teryx Khard packs. They come in 30 and 45 liter versions, and I am leaning towards the 45. This pack weighs 4.5 pounds, and I know that is REALLY heavy, but I like the idea of laying it flat and playing around with the pocket inserts inside. My plan is to make up for it's weight by going crazy ultralight on the tent and bag, as well as pretty much everything else...unless you folks end up talking me out of it.

My goal is to have one quality pack that is:

1. Durable and "cool enough" that I am happy with it. 

2. Fun to play around with.

3. Large enough for a long day hike with activities such as fishing, woods bumming, etc.

4. Large enough for light 3 season overnight trips.

5. Large enough to be a safe winter day pack.

I would like to have room to carry: (weights are approximate)

A. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo II tent @ 1.8 lbs

B. a full length Neo Air (1 pound)

C. a Z-Packs quilt (less than 2 pounds)

D. the bare minimum of food and safety equipment for two days or less, with no more than 2 liters of water at any one time. I can do water in either bottles or a bladder.

From what I have been reading, my take is that 45 liters would be the bare minimum for my goals. As much as this pack costs, I would like to hear what you good folks have to say on the subject prior to buying. If I am right, I should be able to fit most everything inside the pack...most of the time. That being said, I am ok with strapping stuff to the outside for the rare 3 day trip or whatever. By and large I do day hikes only that are never more than 15 miles. I like the idea of getting the 30, and picking up the 45 later for winter, but that's too much dough to justify for both packs. 

Finally, since 96% of my hikes are day hikes, maybe I should just get the 30 and buy a "real pack" for winter stuff. If most think that 30 liters is big enough for 3 season day hiking, perhaps this is what I will do. 

Any intelligent, polite, and helpful discussion pertaining to my dilemma would be greatly appreciated!

8:31 a.m. on July 22, 2013 (EDT)
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If you're only out for a maximum of 3 days, a 45L pack should be all you ever need.

Having said that, 4.5lbs is ridiculously heavy for that size pack. REI's Flash 45 in the Large size holds 50L and weighs 2lbs. 4oz.

Also, you say you are an "aspiring ultralight hiker." Respectfully, if you're looking at a 4.5lbs pack, you're not aspiring to UL. There is no way you can get to the UL standard of a 10lb. base weight, if you've already devoted half of it to the bag that carries your stuff. The notion that you're going to "make up for it" in other areas of your pack doesn't make sense to me. A UL sleeping bag is going to come in at around 2lbs. You're lightest pad is still at 1lb. You said you have a 1lb 8oz tent. Does that include stakes? You're talking 10+lbs on the "Big 3" before you start adding clothing, cooking, and etc.

I'm not an UL hiker, but I am carrying a baseweight of 11-14lbs, depending on the season (and I'm still working on lowering it further). The first thing I learned as I began moving to UL was to jettison everything that wasn't absolutely essential to backpacking. I came to realize how much redundancy I carried and how many items I carried trip-after-trip that I never used. I'm not talking emergency stuff, like a first aid kit or extra bootlace. I'm talking about the cute little thermometer that use to hang on my pack or my 10oz multitool (with all the attachments) or my 4oz tube of sunscreen that I have NEVER opened in any season.

Regarding my pack, I took my Flash 65, weighing 3lbs. 2oz, and I gutted it. I removed the internal frame. Took off the floating lid. Cut off every non-essential strap, tag, & part (got rid of the hydration sleeve, too). When I was done with it, I had it down to 1lbs. 13oz. There is more I could have done to it, but a few modifications were just to painful to make until I've taken this out on a full 7-10 day shakedown in the winter, and proven to myself that I don't need them.

The reason I'll never truly get to UL is my hammock. I could jettison 1.5lbs (plus another pound for my underquilt) if I was willing to just sleep under my tarp on the ground. I don't see the trade off as worth it.

What IS worth it is that as I've grabbed the UL mindset, I've started saving money. I don't need MORE gear. I need less gear. And a lot of what I use is cheaper than what suppliers sell (a used Gatorade bottle is free and weighs less than a Nalgene).

Also, I just spent 3-days of hiking with a 20lb pack (base + consumables), and my shoulders & back never protested once. I never gave out the traditional "groan" as I shouldered the pack in the morning or after a break. I could even take a rest break and keep the pack on.

So wipe the drool away! Arc'teryx is not the pack for an aspiring UL hiker. Just walk away and look for something under 2lbs. (Or something you can modify to under 2lbs.)

11:06 a.m. on July 22, 2013 (EDT)
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+1 on the flash 45 - it's probably cheaper than the arcteryx, too. I have a long way to go to get to UL - my pack weighs five pounds. I have relegated myself to car camping since my husbands knee injury, but hope to get back on the trail with some new gear in the future.

12:12 p.m. on July 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks for the reply Jeffrey, that is the kind of information I'm looking for. I keep telling myself that I'm going to be a hard-core backpacker, but in real life I will most likely never go out for more than one night. What do you think about 30 liters? The arcteryx 30 liter model is 3 lbs, which is still heavy, but less so than the 45. Would a fellow be likely to regret a 30...space-wise? 

Your post also made me realize that perhaps I am not aiming at true UL. I have been thinking that if I can comfortably do overnight with less than 25 lbs total I can handle it. I'm not crazy about bugs, so some sort of covered sleeping arrangement with room for a big dog (or the wife) is a must for me. I'm figuring that with stakes the tent will be slightly over 2 lbs.

So, pack (3), tent (2), bag (1.5), pad (1) and lets say about 3 lbs for misc. necessities (this may be optimistic, and feel free to tell me if so) would put me at 11 plus consumables. If my grand total is 20 lbs or less, I would feel good about starting there. I do, however, have a feeling that I am overlooking something huge.

I will say, that other than a penchant for shiny toys (like expensive packs) I also have no desire to pack frilly luxuries. I think a couple of nights in the bush will help to educate me as to which needs are frilly, and which aren't. :) From the start, I have wanted to buy the 30L Arcteryx, but I'm a bit scared that I will regret the lack of space. 

12:13 p.m. on July 22, 2013 (EDT)
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45 liters will do what you want it to for a three day or four day trip. I understand you wanting to DIY parts of this pack to get it more UL, Most ultralighters play around with preexisting packs to see what they can takeaway to drop the weight more..I dont know how lower you could go on your sleeping bag and tent unless you went cuben fiber.I am surprised you haven't invested in a Zpacks cuben Fiber pack? Unless you bushwack alot..I use a ULA for my pack.Just a thought for you..

12:36 p.m. on July 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Hi Denis, the tent is Cuben, and I have been seriously studying the Arc Blast from Zpacks, but I'm a bit OCD and the whole "velcro-pocket organization" aspect of the Arcteryx Khard is what is mesmerizing me about it. Oddly enough, I can't even find a review that will say if it carries well or not. I'm pretty much going to buy one on faith to try it out.

7:19 p.m. on July 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Jacob Conroy said:

Thanks for the reply Jeffrey, that is the kind of information I'm looking for. I keep telling myself that I'm going to be a hard-core backpacker, but in real life I will most likely never go out for more than one night. What do you think about 30 liters? The arcteryx 30 liter model is 3 lbs, which is still heavy, but less so than the 45. Would a fellow be likely to regret a 30...space-wise? 

Your post also made me realize that perhaps I am not aiming at true UL. I have been thinking that if I can comfortably do overnight with less than 25 lbs total I can handle it. I'm not crazy about bugs, so some sort of covered sleeping arrangement with room for a big dog (or the wife) is a must for me. I'm figuring that with stakes the tent will be slightly over 2 lbs.

So, pack (3), tent (2), bag (1.5), pad (1) and lets say about 3 lbs for misc. necessities (this may be optimistic, and feel free to tell me if so) would put me at 11 plus consumables. If my grand total is 20 lbs or less, I would feel good about starting there. I do, however, have a feeling that I am overlooking something huge.

I will say, that other than a penchant for shiny toys (like expensive packs) I also have no desire to pack frilly luxuries. I think a couple of nights in the bush will help to educate me as to which needs are frilly, and which aren't. :) From the start, I have wanted to buy the 30L Arcteryx, but I'm a bit scared that I will regret the lack of space. 

 30L would be a bit small for me. If you're only doing 1 night trips, then you could probably make it work. But again, the REI Flash series is going to beat the weight. (I'm not devoted to REI, I'm just pointing out lighter options.)

There is NOTHING wrong with not pursuing an UL approach. I moved towards it when I thought arthritis in both my knees was going to end my goal to hike the AT in 2023.

Your approach should be what really makes you happy to be outdoors. I use to hike with a guy who lugged an 8lb tent with him, but he wanted the ample space. He didn't mind the extra weight.

I've found that by getting my baseweight down to a fraction of what it use to be, I enjoy hiking more. I'm not groaning at the end of a long day. I'm not stiff and sore in my hammock. I sleep better and wake up refreshed. In fact, on my last trip I felt I could have easily done a few more hours of hiking each day.

But, I don't like sitting around a fire telling stories. I'd rather be moving. That's my style. My buddy with the 8lb tent wanted to hike 4-5 hours and then settle in for the evening. That was his style.

If you find happiness with a 5lb pack, then use it and don't feel guilty because you didn't go the UL route. Like I said in my last post, my hammock will prevent me from ever reaching the true title of "ultralightist." I don't care.

Hike your own hike!

9:18 p.m. on July 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Very few people getting started in backpacking can do an overnight trip, much less a 3 day trip with a 45L pack and definitely not a 30L.

It takes some true dedication to leaving stuff behind to get that small. And you need a pretty small and packable tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad.

Don't get me wrong , it definitely is doable. It's just not the best place to start IMO.

Best advice I can offer is to forget about the pack. Purhase all of your gear, and then take every single item including food and water and clothing to an outfitter and start loading up packs. This will allow you to find a pack that fits you well , is comfortable, and holds all your gear.

If you just blindly buy packs, you will probably never be happy.

10:14 p.m. on July 22, 2013 (EDT)
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TheRambler said:

Very few people getting started in backpacking can do an overnight trip, much less a 3 day trip with a 45L pack and definitely not a 30L.

 For kicks & giggles, I once got a week's supply of gear into my 35L day pack. But I wouldn't have headed out with it...I was afraid I was going to bust a seam because I had everything shoved in so tight.

10:26 a.m. on July 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Hardcore ULers remind me of anorexics; a bit scary and a bit sad.  I just can't see being a slave to a scale though I do own one. Heck I've lugged an 18 oz paperback of the collected works of Frost on more than a few trips and considered it well worth the effort.  That being said my last trip I had a 14lb base weight with a 65lt 4lb pack.

My advice would be to find what works for you and not worry too much about weight in terms of numbers. TheRambler has good  advice about getting your other gear settled first and then finding a pack for it that fits your body and Jeffery Gosnell quoted something that should be tattooed on the inside of every backpackers eyelids; Hike your own hike!

11:12 a.m. on August 2, 2013 (EDT)
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Well, I bought the 30, and took it for a 9 mile hike in the rain yesterday. I really love this pack, and it is just barely big enough for my day hiking gear. The top pocket wetted through, but everything else stayed dry. It is not going to be big enough for snow shoeing though. I know that it is heavy, but I haven't had a framed pack before...so comfortable. Now I am trying to decide if I'm going to pick up the 45 too for winter games. I think the Arc'teryx Arrakis 50 would probably be a better choice though. They both weigh and cost the same, but packing shoes and/or skis might be easier with the Arrakis, which is also water proof. Anyone have experience with the Arrakis?

1:02 p.m. on August 2, 2013 (EDT)
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Jacob, i may be totally wrong on this. But I get the vibe that you are trying to convince yourself that you like this pack. If your not happy with it then return it and get a pack that fits your needs better. Arc'teryx isn't what it used to be, IMO there are plenty of better and cheaper options out there.

7:58 p.m. on August 2, 2013 (EDT)
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TheRambler, lol, you are right, I was trying to convince myself. Tactical Distributors are selling both Khards for about 30% off this weekend, if anyone is interested.

September 18, 2014
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