backpack comparison

2:13 p.m. on November 4, 2006 (EST)

I am goin to Philmont scout ranch for 10 days of backpacking next summer.

I need to buy a backpack just for this trip, so I dont want to spend an arm and leg.

What are the recommendations?

I was thinking about the Kelty Red cloud 5600 or the Jansport Kalmath II tall size, as I'm 6'3" 220lbs anyone have thoughts on those 2 packs or others?

11:51 p.m. on November 4, 2006 (EST)
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What aver you get make SURE it fits......very important.... In my view you shouldn't get a Kelty or Jan Sport, though they ought to be adequate.... Among no-brainer brands try uhm.... Granite Gear, Lowe or maybe even REI or EMS. Try Black Diamond also (not too bad prices ) and Arc D'Teryx. (very nice but expensive) I'm not personally a fan of Osprey..(too heavy and complex) ..I dunno what you want to spend.. For size, definitely don't go over four thousand cubic inches. Take less stuff. Mountain Equipment Co-Op in Vancouver has the best cheap packs in my opinion but you must pay extra for shipping and membership.

11:34 a.m. on November 6, 2006 (EST)
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If you're only using the pack for Philmont (and the shakedown / prep hikes you'll no doubt be taking in advance of the trip) - and don't plan to backpack much - if at all - afterwards, I'd suggest you search for used equipment.

Most good mountain equipment shops will have boards where folks will post stuff they've got for sale - and for most people it's rare that a backpack will really wear out (especially the external frame packs - where you can replace the shoulder straps, hip belt and back bits as they wear).

Also - you might check places like - they liquidate "last years stuff" - and places like - located in NJ - they tend to have low prices.

I went to Philmont back in the dark ages (1973) - carried a Kelty external pack - was about your height (but, then, a bit lighter) and it worked great - even when I got the "thrill" of playing pack-mule (being one of the larger guys on the crew) when - for example - hauling water to dry camps (like tooth-ridge - at the base of the tooth of time) - I still have that pack - in fact my son has been using it for some time. I have a 20+ year old EMS external frame pack that I got used at EMS (it had been a rental pack) - which is still going strong.


1:49 p.m. on November 6, 2006 (EST)
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As Steve indicated, for something like a Philmont expedition, you will find an external frame Kelty to perform much more satisfactorily than any internal frame. You are on good trails all the time, except for short side trips (you don't carry the pack on those, anyway).

Yeah, yeah, I know, internal frame packs are all the rage and THE fashion statement these days. But you want comfort, good ventilation (it gets hot on the trail in Philmont in the summer), and when you make the little side journeys to get the next food pickup, with the external, you just strap it onto the frame - none of the repacking nonsense, and no hard, odd-shaped object poking you in the back. Besides, externals are much cheaper for the same quality than internals (like half to 2/3 the price for the same capacity).

I have and use both internals and externals. Each has its place (as do frameless summit packs and daypacks). Having hiked Philmont trails a few times (I was there in Sept for a workshop that based at 'Cito), and having a son who was there as a Ranger, externals are most suitable for the trails and terrain you will encounter. Internals are better for off-trail, backcountry skiing and snowshoeing, climbing, that sort of thing. They are warmer (because they hug your back closely), and that means much hotter and sweatier in the hot conditions you will encounter in much of your expedition. So, for example, I used an internal (Dana Terraplane) on Denali, Ixtacihuatl, Orizaba, Rainier, and similar peaks, and for multiday ski traverses in the Sierra, Tetons, Rockies, and elsewhere. But I often use an external when humping a load of climbing gear to a basecamp in the Sierra or Rockies backcountry, where I am on trail, but have to haul 60-80 pounds of ropes and hardware. Once at the basecamp, I switch to a light summit pack for the climbs themselves.

As Steve said, you can also get used packs from many sources, including your neighborhood Goodwill.

On seward's list of favorite and unfavorite brands, packs are like shoes - it is vital to get a good fit, especially for something like a Philmont expedition, where you are hauling a load for 10 days for 55 (shortest treks) to 80 (longest, "Super Strenuous") miles. Like shoes and boots which are made on different lasts (that's what the model foot is called that footgear makers use for the footgear design), packs are made to fit some "ideal", "average" body, sometimes sized. If the boot last matches yours, the boot will be comfortable after 10 days of hiking. Same with the pack - if the maker's "ideal" body matches yours, the pack will be easy to carry for the weight. But if you don't match, you will suffer miserably for the whole trek, and maybe want to give up after only a couple days (major piece of advice - find a shop with an experienced pack fitter, which leaves out most REI's and EMS's, and makes mail order problematic). One of the other advantages of external frame packs is that they are adjustable for back fit much more than internals.

I find that I fit Dana and Osprey internals very well, but I have yet to find a Gregory that is comfortable. Friends of mine find the opposite. So while it's fine to take people's advice on quality of construction, you have to fit the pack personally, because my body shape, and seward's, and Tom D's, and Ed G's are all different, and probably don't match yours.

By the way, I have, and use, a Kelty Cloud, and find it an excellent pack. The Red Cloud is similar.

I would also suggest that you think hard about what you will be carrying at Philmont. Almost all crews take way too much gear. At your Ranger inspection the day before you set out on your trek, the Ranger will have you lay out all your gear, then review it for completeness on the one hand and excess on the other. Virtually everyone will be told to lose at least a quarter of their gear, and many up to half. Most people will also be told to head for the shop and pick up one or two vital items. It still will not be "light-packing" (and far from "Ultralight"). But, my advice here is think really hard about what you will really need.

And print this off and show it to your adult crew advisors. Point out that this commentary comes from someone who has been to Philmont as an advisor and has a son who was a Ranger there. So it is based on real-life experience with Philmont treks.

In picking your expedition, consider strongly picking one for the staffed camps (that is, the activities), and not to try to set Personal Records for distance and climb. The activities are what really make Philmont a unique experience. Everyone I know who has done one or more expeditions has remembered the activities as the number one thing. The troop I used to be SM of does Philmont every other year (except for a few Northern Tier treks), and I work at Council level in a council that has at least 4 or 5 Philmont treks every summer.

6:03 p.m. on November 6, 2006 (EST)
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1,902 forum posts

I never made it to Philmont when I was a scout, but I agree with what Bill and the others have said about packs. Like Bill said, it all depends on you and the pack, not the brand. I've had both expensive and cheap packs and price isn't always the best indicator of what will work for you.

Unless you're buying some no-name brand at a discount store, quality isn't much of an issue. I understand some brands and stores offer discounts to scouts, so I'd check on that. Spending $2-300 on a pack for one trip is not necessary. Spend what you save towards a good pair of boots-way more important.

Pack your pack like you would for any trip-lay out everything you plan to take, put half of it back in the closet and take what's left. Hiking in hot weather will wear you out quickly, so I'd really think about what I'm taking. Each item may not seem to weigh much, but it all adds up. I got curious and found several packing lists for Philmont trips online,so I imagine you've seen something similar already. If not, they recommend what size pack to get, what gear to take and what not to take.

11:19 p.m. on November 6, 2006 (EST)
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102 forum posts
You May own it for many years

So don't get an external frame pack because you want someething more versatile for travel and bushwacking as well as trail travel... An internal frame pack that you can throw in a car trunk easily, and make sure it's not too god-awful big. For Phimont, you can demonstrate how clever you are by leaving a lot of stuff at home and possibly tying stuff to exterior (watch out for thunder showers). You can get along with a 3000 cu inch pack there where your friends will all have 5-7000. You would do fine if you're smart and perhaps you would also find such a pack more practical and useful in longer term apart from this one trip.

April 19, 2018
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