Stupid question

7:39 a.m. on January 13, 2010 (EST)
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Okay, I know you will probably laugh at me and tell me never to come back here again, but oh well. Alright, my question is when a pack says (example) 60+10 what are they saying? I know it's 60 liters + another 10 liters, but where does that extra 10 liters come in at? I know, stupid question, but I gotta know.


9:53 a.m. on January 13, 2010 (EST)
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Not a stupid question, 'cause I'm not exactly sure either. I always assumed that packs that have an expandable top are listed as + "something". I have a small pack that is called a 25+. It looks like a regular 25 Liter, but it has an extra sleeve w/ a draw cord around it, tucked down inside. When needed, the sleeve can be pulled up to create extra volume in the pack.

10:22 a.m. on January 13, 2010 (EST)
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A packmaker told me the large number is the estimate (or bald face lie) of the internal 'main' pack. The other number represents the other accumulated storage volumes such as external pockets and primarily a sometimes detachable lid/top that might be used as an 'assault' or a day pack.

Many times the tops of packs can not be fully filled with anything until they are detached and used as an accessory pack. Something to check, to see if the manufacturer is saying how much you COULD put in there when needed.

12:57 p.m. on January 13, 2010 (EST)
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"The only stupid question is the question that is not asked." I preface all the courses I direct or am one of the staff members with that statement (stolen from someone I took a course from long long ago - don't remember whether it was in school or an outdoor course).

Anyway, as speacock said, the number is basically meaningless except as a rough comparison. There is no standard way of measuring pack volume among the various manufacturers. One method is putting pingpong balls into the pack. Another is taking the dimensions and multiplying them together (sometimes it is the full length x the full width x the full depth, measured at the longest points - very few packs are exactly rectangular, so this gives an optimistic capacity, to say the least). There are other variations on this approach. None are exact (you never see a 58, 59, 61 or 62 liter pack, or a 3620 cu in or a 3599 cu in pack - unlike prices that are always $XX.99 or $XXX.95, which a lot of people will say "I got this pack for 59 bucks" when it was actually $59.99, or sometimes even say 50 bucks for the same 59.99). Somehow it seems the numbers always get rounded up.

And, as said above, sometimes the side pockets and top pocket (which may or may not be removeable) is included in the single main compartment number, and sometimes they are separate (as in your 60+10).

Best thing to do is to narrow down your choices to the general range, then take the gear you plan to carry to the store and try packing it in. The gear never exactly matches the shape of the pack, in any case - the old square peg in a round hole that is too small problem.

1:46 p.m. on January 13, 2010 (EST)
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See, even a moderator can learn something on here!

6:07 p.m. on January 13, 2010 (EST)
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No no, the first number is the advertised weight and the second number you add to the first to get the real weight. No actually the second number is the number of months you will have to wait to hear from their customer service when you complain.

Jim S

11:18 a.m. on January 14, 2010 (EST)
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Getting the right pack is akin to dating and looking for a mate. It takes a lot of effort; can be expensive; you won't always know the entire truth; you will always wonder if it is really the one; and you keep looking at the other packs you could have after you settled on the 'perfect' one.

Unless you are uncommonly lucky, you will get close to the pack you had in your dreams and it will treat you pretty much the way you wanted.

2:36 p.m. on January 15, 2010 (EST)
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I have found that unless I get the gear that I really want, I end up getting two or three others and then finally getting the one I originally wanted. When I saw my future wife sitting in a bar (no she doesn't drink it was a company party) I new in an instant that she was the correct model.

Anyway besides the wife, I have done other things right. I finally bought a large Kelty spectra backpack thats so light I use it for everything, a Bibler ElDorado tent made of fuzzy goretex material, a Western Mountaineering goretex sleeping bag, a Marmot goretex deep winter down coat, Marmot climbing bibs, and a Ruger super blackhawk.

Get the best, it lasts...

Jim S

5:02 p.m. on January 15, 2010 (EST)
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Remember, the purpose of a pack is to carry your gear. Buy a pack after you know how much stuff you plan to carry regularly. Some people will actually cart their gear to the store and see what fits. Buying a pack first is like buying a shipping box without knowing what you plan to put in it.

Also keep in mind that those numbers don't mean all that much if much of it is in small, unusable pockets. Pockets seem like a good idea until you actually use them for something. I have two big, removeable side pockets on my pack and one on top. That is plenty. I'd much rather put stuff in a bag or stuff sack inside the main pack than in side pockets, unless it's something I want to get at while hiking, like a water bottle.

8:02 p.m. on January 15, 2010 (EST)
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Welcome bcolley85,

I'm going to assume you are still shopping around for a pack.....

As Bill & Tom points out, taking your gear (clothing & all) to the store is the best way to pick a pack, so acquire the gear first. You can't go backpacking without it anyway. Picking a pack that fits you well, and one that will be durable is very important, but it must also be functional. The pack should hold all your gear, and should be functional for your type of activity.

The pack I have is a top loading single compartment with two zippered side pockets, a zippered front compartment, and a top zippered compartment / lid that detaches to become a fanny pack with it's own belt. The pack also has an extension collar on the main compartment that increases the capacity of the pack which is great for carrying those extra winter clothes, or extra food for longer trips.

Many people do not use or need three pockets, I prefer them, it helps me stay organized. I use the detachable lid as a place to keep my essential or emergency gear. I carry the lid as a fanny pack any time I wander from camp for safety reasons. So the pack I picked is functional for me, your needs may be different.

You also want to try out the compression system (with your stuff inside) on the pack you are trying, on my packs this is a strap system that crosses & tightens around the pack to close off any unused space inside the pack and keep the contents secured in place.

Have the sales person help you measure your torso length and show you how to adjust the backpack for proper fit.

I would also highly suggest you walk around looking at stuff in the store for about 30 minutes while wearing the loaded pack, lean to the left, lean to the right, look up, look down, do the hokey pokey or whatever it takes to get a good feel of how that pack is going to work for you while out on the trail.

Fit and functionality will be way more important to you 12 miles down the trail than the packs color or advertising you read in the store or on the web.

So give the pack a good tryout in the store with your gear before you find out the hard way it isn't comfortable for you.

Maybe even try out a pair of trekking poles while you walk around and see how you like them too.

Good luck!

12:35 p.m. on January 16, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks for all the responses. It's helped me out a lot. I haven't bought that perfect bag yet, but I am still looking and here in a few weeks hopefully I'll have it.

I do have another question. Where in the world do you put your tent at on a internal frame bag? It's a three man tent. I guess you could hook it to the bottom of your bag, but I would think you would want your heavier items as high as possible so it doesn't feel like your being dragged to the ground. But then again, I am still farely new to overnight hikes and have a lot of learning to do, lol.

3:39 p.m. on January 16, 2010 (EST)
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3-person tent implies you are going with one or two others. So you divide the tent 2 or 3 ways - main tent, fly, poles, stakes. Each person takes roughly 1/2 (or 1/3) the weight. Main tent, fly, and stakes will fit inside the pack. The folded poles will strap on the side of the pack with their bottoms in the "pole pocket (you wondered what those little pockets at the bottom on the sides of the pack were for? Now you know!).

If you are by yourself, you can put the tent under the top flap/pocket of your pack. Keep an eye out on narrow trails or bushwhacking - all that extent to each side can catch on things, but it works.

11:47 p.m. on January 17, 2010 (EST)
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That is perfect, less weight I have to carry! Thanks Bill!!

11:16 p.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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I work for a outdoor retailer, I love when someone brings there gear in and loads up. Use this as an opportunity to learn insights about your gear. The last thing you want is to buy a pack that someone told you is great!! fit is everything load that pack up walk around the store get a good feel for it. by the way you may know more than the sales person in the store be careful who you get information from.

Learn from other peoples mistakes in gear, I never new white gas was a bad thing until my wife stated "if I have to light the stove on fire to make it work you make the tea" I've had canister stoves for over twenty years and they work. How do you make tea ?? use what works for you, use good ok or used gear find out what you like and don't like about it then buy something nice.

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