backpacks

12:29 a.m. on July 10, 2008 (EDT)
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Im trying to find a good pack for up to a weeks worth of backpacking, and cant decide wether to get an external or an internal pack. So far ive narrowed it down to the Jansport Klamath 85 (Internal 5200cu in.) and the Kelty Yukon (External 2900cu in.). Which one would be most ideal for that amount of time? If I strap the sleeping bag to the outside of the external frame pack, would it give me the same amount of room iside as in the internal frame pack?

7:44 p.m. on July 12, 2008 (EDT)
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CShamrock, 2900 cu in is not enough for a week, and I would not recommend having your sleeping bag outside your pack if at all possible. Have you looked at the Kelty Red Cloud?
Here is a link:
http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___88033

9:07 p.m. on July 12, 2008 (EDT)
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My son has a Klamath, and I use the Jansport Carson, which is, in my opinion, the best external frame pack on the market. I use it for 8-day trips and it holds everything I need. I strap my sleeping bag with my air mattress under the pack bag at the bottom of the frame, in a waterproof bag.

I prefer the external frame for the better back ventilation.

External frame packs are better for trail hiking, while internal frame packs are better for rough off-trail routes because they are closer to your body. Pound for pound, if you compare feature-equivalent packs, you will find that there is not a significant difference in weight between internal frame and external frame. It seems that everyone has jumped on the internal bandwagon, so the selection is not very good for external frame packs. But I really like the Carson. It carries the load well, and weighs less than most feature-equivalent internal frame packs.

A lot of the ultralight internal frame packs shave weight by sacrificing things like pockets, compartments, zippers, suspension, load carrying capability, etc. So if you are tempted by an ultralight pack, try carrying 30-40 pounds in it for a while to decide if it is worth the weight difference, and if you can live without pockets and compartments.

11:34 p.m. on July 12, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks lambertiana but what about the Jansport Klamath? Im not the talllest person around so im afraid that the Carson might be to big. How does your son like the Klamath?

And thank you trouthunter for the info, although i like the kelty red cloud, its a little bit out of my price range:(

1:59 a.m. on July 13, 2008 (EDT)
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An 85 liter pack is really big. The reason people are going to smaller, lighter packs and gear is because carrying a lot of weight just isn't all that good for you. I am too small to carry 50 lbs and get very far so I have no use for a huge pack. I do a bit of winter camping where I take bulky clothes, extra gear and a fairly heavy tent, even for just a couple of days. I tow all this stuff on a sled, instead of carrying it on my back.

You sound like you are a fairly small person. If so, consider lightening your gear load before choosing a pack. Think a lot about what you really need and what you can do without. It all adds up quicker than you think. A few ounces here and there and soon you've gotten more pounds than you thought. You may find 50 or 60 liters is large enough for a week, depending on where you are going, weather, etc. once you take a closer look at what you plan to take.

Remember-don't buy a pack just based on its size-buy your pack to hold the gear you intend to take. Extra space usually gets filled up because, well, because you can. Not such a good idea.

2:16 a.m. on July 13, 2008 (EDT)
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My son likes the Klamath. He tried on a bunch of different packs before choosing it. He is 5'8" tall.

I am 5'7" tall, and the Carson carries well for me. I like some comfort when backpacking, so I don't skimp on things. I use a full coverage tent and a full length insulated air mattress. My starting weight for 8-day trips, including food and 3L water, is usually around 45-47 pounds. And that includes the 2.5 pound bear canister that is required in many of the places I go (Sierras). A lot of packs don't fit the bear canister very well, so that in itself limits the packs that I can use.

After all is said and done, the most important thing is for the pack to carry what you want to carry comfortably. Then you can look at features and decide how many or how few you want.

Right now Campmor has a good deal on the Carson

http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___99803

5:05 p.m. on July 13, 2008 (EDT)
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I have a Kelty Coyote Classic 3850 cu in backpack.
It fits me good, I'm 5' 6" & about 155 lbs. So I'm not a big person. I don't like to carry more than 35-40 lbs.
I go out for 3-5 days at a time and it holds all my gear. Barely. But that is a good thing as Tom D. pointed out.
Like lambertiana, I carry a "full on" tent because I don't like being wet or worrying about being wet.
I like packs with lots of pockets/ compartments, it helps me stay organized and keeps me from digging every time I want something. I can keep a first aid kit and nav. gear in the bigger front compartment, rain gear in one of the side pockets, and so on.
I prefer an internal frame because I do a fair amount of bushwacks and the undergrowth can get really tight, so the smaller profile helps. But lambertiana is correct, an external frame does have better ventilation.
Also packs whose lid converts to a lumbar pack are a real plus for me. They are great for dayhikes away from your main camp, and I use mine to carry fishing gear and snacks instead of a fishing vest. I personally prefer the smallest pack that will get the job done without compromising on features.
I agree with Tom D. and lambertiana, a pack that is comfortable and works well for you in terms of meeting your needs (everyones are different) is the right pack.

Just a disclaimer here, I have, and USE, a large dog to carry some of my food and my tent fly because I do a lot of solos and he is good company. He has a Mountainsmith pack and can carry 20 lbs. easy. He loves to go packing and it's only fair that he carry some stuff. Yah mule!

One liter = 61.04 cubic inches, in case anyone needs to know. Just some info that came with my pack.

7:50 p.m. on July 13, 2008 (EDT)
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Well I'm only 5'3" 100 lbs, and growing still, so I am starting to think that the Klamath might be to big. If I pack smart enough I can probably get away with a weeks worth of gear in a smaller pack. After all, all you really need to add is food and fuel for a longer trip, right?

8:10 p.m. on July 13, 2008 (EDT)
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That's right. My base weight - all of my gear plus pack - is around 25-30 lb, depending on the trip. All the rest of the weight is food, water, and fuel. For an overnight trip, I only need a pound or two of food. The longer trips (I have a 6-day trip in two weeks, and an 8-day trip not long after that) the food weight goes up accordingly. For fuel, I don't need a lot. I use an MSR Windpro stove with a Jetboil GCS pot, and it is very efficient. One 8-oz canister will last two people for six days (I cook oatmeal for breakfast, freeze-dried dinners, occasional lunches such as easy mac plus tuna, plus cleanup water).

Once you figure out just how much or how little you need to bring, find a comfortable pack that will carry it plus the food and fuel.

9:31 p.m. on July 13, 2008 (EDT)
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Hey CShamrock, A good rule of thumb is to carry no more than 25% of your body weight. We all probably break that rule sometimes, It really depends on your level of fitness.
Following that rule my pack weight should not exceed 38.5 lbs.
it often does on longer trips but my personal limit is 40 lbs. anymore. It took me a while to fine tune my pack so I have only what I need, and still be prepared for emergencies, or an extra day out. You can learn a lot on this site (me too) and see if you can get a book on hiking/backpacking at your library. A good one is: The Complete Walker.

Also if you ever need to slow down the "bigger hikers" that can carry more weight than you, wait till they are not looking and put rocks in their packs, just a few at a time.
Only joking, a lot at one time!
Good luck

11:54 p.m. on July 13, 2008 (EDT)
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CShamrock -
Contrary to the current fashion, external frame packs work just fine. There is no problem carrying your sleeping bag on the outside of the pack and keeping it dry and clean - just put a garbage bag inside your sleeping bag's stuff sack and stuff the sleeping bag inside it (turns out to be easier to get the bag stuffed when you do that, too). The capacity ratings on external frame packs are often about half what you would need for carrying the same stuff inside an internal frame pack. I have often carried 1-2 weeks worth of gear, food, and fuel in my Kelty Backpacker (the Yukon is basically the same pack, just a much later version). However, for most of my trips in the past decade or so, the time has been more like 3-6 weeks and the activity has involved high altitude, glaciers, and cold weather, plus techincal climbing gear. So both the packs you mention would be too small (the trips also preclude sticking with the 25% of body-weight rule, since the load is more like 60-70 pounds at the start of the trip).

But as others have mentioned, figure out what you really need on the trip, adding 2 pounds of food per day and 1.5-2 ounces of fuel per day (14 pounds of food and 10-15 ounces of fuel for your week-long trip). The gear weight will depend heavily on the season, location, and activities. Summer in most places in the lower 48 can be done with 15 pounds or less (per person) in clothing, stove, cook gear, tent, sleeping bag and pad. If you are an avid photographer, you could easily go up to 15-20 pounds for the camera gear (I do this too often), or you could get good "memory" shots with a 4 ounce digicam.

Really depends on what you consider "essential" gear. Couple folks mentioned having an absolute requirement for a heavy tent, but you can get a good, weather-proof, insect-proof tent for 2-3 pounds per person (share common gear when possible).

12:13 a.m. on July 14, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks guys for all the info, I'll take it consideration. After all, ive never backpacked before, so this is really helpful. Especially putting the rocks in your buddys backpack idea, I gotta remember that when my buddy is driving me crazy!
And since Im new to all of this, any helpful hints are welcome!!!

8:41 a.m. on July 14, 2008 (EDT)
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I will have to concede the point about having your sleeping bag outside your pack, Bill S. is right about the trash bag, I too do this as a precaution.
I have found that I can not easily carry by bag outside my pack since it is an internal frame pack and has no frame to strap the bag to,the bag seems to get hung on rocks and brush when I'm in tight quarters.
If on an open trail it should be no problem.

Just curious CShamrock, where are you planning on going?
I mostly pack in the Smokey Mountains.

10:41 a.m. on July 14, 2008 (EDT)
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Trout,

In my experience hiking with friends, the new Klamath is nothing like the old jansport... its gone with cheaper materials and the suspension system isn't the same. I wore the Carson for a day and didn't like the way it sways, and Kelty's just felt better. But the Yukon just won't pack enough for you in the GSMNP.

Also, in the GSMNP I'm more apt to use an internal versus external.. some trails don't see much useage and almost wished I had brought a chainsaw with me a few times... took us 30 minutes to get thru and around some fallen trees back in March. I also destroyed some gear, so the folks at the Happy Hiker in Gatlinburg just LOVED me (as I missed REI..)

... and I also do a lot in the GSMNP... nothing beats a run down the Ocoee after a week on the trails!

12:34 p.m. on July 14, 2008 (EDT)
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As trouthunter and travelnate point out, one of the places where an internal has an advantage over and external is overgrown trails and off trail through heavy undergrowth. But a lot of the current internals have all sorts of pockets and straps that stick out and seem to hook on everything (and in this area, that means a lot of poison oak leaves and sticks - one of the few benefits of the current firestorms throughout the state, clearing out the poison oak). There are indeed lots of places where I would like to have a good machete with me to clear neglected trails, like the one up Partington Ridge above Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur (there are a couple places where you have to literally get down on hands and knees to crawl through tunnels through the bushes - might be cleared out now, since it looks like the Basin Fire Complex has burned through that area, though they don't expect full containment until the end of the month).

So if you plan on off-trail excursions, either get an internal with essentially no straps or pockets on the outside, or cut all the extraneous stuff off.

7:16 p.m. on July 14, 2008 (EDT)
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Trouthunter,
I will be backpacking around the three sisters mountains (cascades) here in central oregon. Theres a trail that circles the mountains and apparently lasts up to 4 days, (a.k.a three sisters wildernness trail). 43.3 miles to be exact. And Ive been dreaming about hiking this trail for years now! And although Ive looked around on the internet, I cant seem to find if there is a bear problem or not.

I plan in the future to hike the PCT.

12:00 p.m. on July 15, 2008 (EDT)
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If you handle your food correctly, there is no bear problem around the Sisters. Hopefully, Jim S will hop in here, since he lives not far from the Sisters area.

In the Sisters (and Cascades generally), bear bagging works just fine. You don't even have to do counterbalance. Keep the food and cooking area about 100 yards from your sleeping area, and put all smellables in the bear bag (that includes toothpaste and such along with the food). Cook a bit away from your sleeping area as well. Don't camp in or near berry bushes or on the bear trails (you will learn to spot them quickly if you don't know already). LNT principles prescribe camping 100-200 feet off trails and away from water sources anyway. Don't leave the extra food out while cooking and eating (stick it in the bear bag and haul it up). No food in the tent or at your sleeping area.

6:35 p.m. on July 23, 2008 (EDT)
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Back to the backpack issue, I just checked out the klamath in person and tried it on. Ive kinda,once again, decided that the klamath might be the one for me.The reason? Well with an internal I can do more stuff with it, such as putting it in a kayak, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, or taking it trailer camping (which I do), unlike what I would be able to do with an external. Half the stuff I do would not accomodate an external very well, and I want my pack to be versatile.
And I know that 5200 cu in is pretty big, but thats what it can hold at MAX capacity, right? I dont need to fill the whole thing up. I just think it would be smarter to HAVE the room then WISH you had the room.

Quick question about fitting a pack, my torso is 16" and the klamaths smallest size is 17.5", is it alright to be alittle bit smaller? After all, I am still growing :)

9:31 a.m. on July 28, 2008 (EDT)
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you'll be fine as long as you keep the bag a little on the light side. With that type of suspension, you can just tighten the sternum strap a bit to keep the bag at a decent position on your back. Just do your best to weigh the bag down a bit, and have the hipbelt actually fit on your hip and not your butt.... so do whatever adjustments are needed to get the fitting correct.

when doing the fitting, weigh your bag down with 20 to 30 pounds of weight, so you get a more realistic feel of where everything sits on your body.

5:40 p.m. on July 28, 2008 (EDT)
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Three of my friends threw away their external-frame packs after trying on my Gregory Shasta (which sadly isn't manufactured anymore). It's a large pack, but very adjustable for smaller loads. To me, it's better to have versatility than a strict limit on capacity.

Keep in mind that anything you strap to the outside will pull the pack's center of gravity away from your body, reducing your stability. You'll be more comfortable if all your bulky items (such as your sleeping bag) are close to your body. The only things I attach to the outside of my pack are my sleeping pad and my compass.

11:46 p.m. on July 28, 2008 (EDT)
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CShamrock – Hello and welcome to the site.

So you are looking at buying a backpack. Just a couple of thoughts, experiences to think about. Just to help out.

If you can, rent a number of packs before you buy one. It’s cheaper in the long run. You also find out which ones you like or don’t like. Which can be important when it comes time to spend your dollars. If you are active in a number of different activities you may need to buy a few different packs

The smaller the pack the less you have to carry even if it is group stuff. This means less weight for you. In the past some of my hikes have been with my stuff as well as some other stuff people have had to have but could not carry themselves. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE THE GROUP SHERPA! (Your smaller pack can hold less rocks if your buddies try to do this to you!!!)

If you have never done this before try to link up with a few hiking groups, and or experienced hikers, and go on a few trips with them. Look, listen, and ask questions while outdoors. This forum can be a great resource for information but you need to be outdoors to experience and understand sometimes. Go with a group the first few times it can be a lot safer for you and everyone else.

This can be an enjoyable pastime, or it can be some of your worst times ever. Be patient there is a lot to learn about a lot of stuff. Take your time and enjoy.

Maybe some time we will hike the same area as I am not too far north of you up here in Canada.

And remember if you see trouthunter put some rocks in his pack, I hear he likes it.

August 2, 2014
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