Best 2-3 Day Backpack?

2:37 a.m. on March 24, 2009 (EDT)
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Hi guys,

I'm looking to get a good 2-3 day pack. I am undecided as to whether internal frame or external. First I will post a list of the gear I'm looking at taking, followed by the kind of specs I'm looking for. Following that I'll list off some of the packs I've already been looking at/considering.

About me/my trip:

I'm new to backpacking (but not to camping) so other gear suggestions are welcome also. My plans are to go to the west coast first, hitting Seattle. Then after a possible stop through to Portland, Oregon, go to Montana, and then from there to make my way down to the Grand Canyon in Colorado. I'm preparing for the trip (gear-wise) as best I can, but could use the extra suggestions if you think I've left anything out. But the main thing I'm looking for is a great backpack suggestion. Oh, and I'm a 150lbs 6ft 30 year old man, if that makes any difference.

Gear I'm planning on taking:

Big Agnes SL2 Tent (<4lbs), a Thermorest Prolite 4 (L) sleeping pad (1.4 lbs), a North Face Allegany (Extra Long) Sleeping Bag (2.8 pounds), a Cold Steel Trailmaster Bowie knife (1.2 lbs), Various Flashlights (LED Lenser H7 headlamp, a little Dorcy 1xAAA flashlight & either a LED Lenser X21 (3.7 pounds - 900+ lumens) or P14 (.8 lbs - 172 lumens) flashlight, at least 2 Water bottles (probably 1 Seychelle water purification/drinking bottle, the other simply as a container [undecided, but at least 550ml]), an alternative medicine kit (including cayenne pepper [stops bleeding instantly], band aids, various American Botanical Pharmacy products including anti-Infection tincture [kills germs and creates an air barrier over wounds], Echinecea Plus [immune boosting] & SuperTonic [anti-viral/paracitical/fungal/bacterial], Miracle II neutralizer [PH balancing liquid that's also good as eyewash], Stinge-Eze bug bite relief, Innovative Natural Products Coloidal Silver 500PPM, a CK toiletry bag (Campsoap, toothbrush and toothpaste, lotion, sunscreen, lip balm, hair brush, tweesers), polarized sunglasses, a hat (maybe Dr. Shade), Swedish Firesteel and some kind of warm jacket.

Specifications on the backpack to hold all this gear:

$200 or less

2-3 days worth storage capacity (so, probably 3700 - 5500 cubic inches)

torso length - 19 3/4 (or greater)

a place to hold a Thermorest Prolite 4 (large) sleeping pad (I'm thinking loop latch-on for this would be best, which is one of the reasons I've been looking at externals)

travels cool - Can't be black (absorbs too much heat) or sweat too much - I'm planning on using this in June/July in the US.

Travels fairly quiet - I don't think I could stand it if it sqeaked the whole time for a 5 hour+ trip. Think ninja (stealth and silence)

Needs easy access to water and tent

Packs I'm looking at/considering:

Kelty Red Cloud 5600 Internal - $111 w/shipping

http://www.bobwards.com/products2.cfm/ID/5144/c/internal-frame-backpacks-camping/brand/KELTY

Kelty Trekker 3950 External - $140

http://www.rei.com/product/780638

REI Flash 65 Pack Internal - $150

http://www.rei.com/product/778468

Deuter Act Lite 65 + 10 - $179

http://www.tahoemountainsports.com/store/deuter-actlite65.shtml

Also, (I wouldn't actually get this, but like the sleeping pad holding feature on the bottom) the Coleman Bozeman 60X looks very nice - $150. Albeit, I wouldn't get this because it's black (= way too hot for summer excursions). If you know of anything similar to this (sleeping pad holder/loops) in a lighter color, please let me know:

http://www.coleman.com/coleman/colemancom/detail.asp?product_id=8550-583&categoryid=25520&brand=

 

 

Thanks guys! Additional comments also welcomed.

4:28 a.m. on March 24, 2009 (EDT)
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Welcome to trailspace

 

Ok here goes being new to backpacking IMO before you go invest a bunch of $$ on a pack maybe you could find someone that has a used pack cheap or barrow a pack or two this way you can get the feel of the different styles internal & external frame's. Try them with about 25 - 35 lbs in it and walk around a bit and see what one you prefer.

If this helps try looking for packs at places like friends, craigslist, ebay, goodwill, garage sale, classifieds. You may even find a like new one you like for very cheap.

8:11 a.m. on March 24, 2009 (EDT)
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I agree with mike. Whenever i can i buy stuff used and been pretty lucky so far. You can get a VERY good pack for 100$. But the downside is you can't try the stuff before.

There's so many little things to look for when buying a pack, you might want to get to a big store and try a bunch, then work by elimination, narrowing down your search to a few brands.

In general, Osprey, Arcteryx, Gregory and others have an excellent reputation as far as quality and warranty. The Osprey's staright jacket compression would solve your thermarest problem.

Granite Gear and Golite make ultralight packs, from your gear list not really what you need.

Size and features wise it could pay off to look for a pack that can be used for more than one trip. For example if you think you might go traveling overseas or backcountry skiing, a few extra features on your new pack could mean more versatility in the future.

Personnally I'm sold to Osprey. Small company, awesome stuff, not a marketing box.

You might want to look HERE for a good cheap pack. That's where i buy most of my stuff.

Hope that helped...

8:19 a.m. on March 24, 2009 (EDT)
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Gear tip: Get rid of the bowie knife and save a pound. I've hiked the whole western states with a victorinox classic (the smallest one, blade is 2 inches long). Unless you want to use it as a machete (forbidden in all national parks), a bush knife should be as long as the width of your palm, no more. If it's too long you can't nest it in your palm and hold the tip to do intricate work, it defeats the purpose. Great knife for the jungle though.

8:19 a.m. on March 24, 2009 (EDT)
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A one pound knife? Are you butchering things? that's a lot of weight to devote to a knife. A swiss army knife or small multitool will do fine.

If you are going to be out walking that entire route, or even if you are driving and then hiking, better water purification is in order. Bottle filters are slow and I've not seen that brand in a lot of places - look for something you can pick up cartridges for easily, like Katadyn or MSR. Also use a stove you can get fuel anywhere - alcohol stoves are favorites for boil water only applications for this reason (you can find yellow HEET at gas stations), and also because they are light.

Clothes? June and July you can wear shorts in some locations but consider nylon zipoof pants - ticks and poison oak in some places.

Most packs have water bottle pockets. I prefer a bladder myself despite the pros and cons. My filter connects to the bladder for easy filling. A bladder is lighter and holds more than the bottles do. As I take Micropur tablets as a backup purification option, a really good idea by the way as filters have a way of clogging or breaking, those make good bladder cleaners for once in a while use. You may end up in locations where water is scarce, so may end up carrying more than a couple of bottles - something to think about.

Good luck with a noiseless pack. The quietest I have ever had is a Gossamer Gear pack - no frame to rub against itself. ULA packs are quite good and similarly built. You won't find either in a store to try, you order them online. If you will be going off trail and pushing through bushes and trees these are not what you want.

Black or white or whatever, I have noticed no discernable difference in temps with different colored packs. My current go-to pack is the Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone, 3800 - 4500 cu in with nice large side pockets. Sleeping pad goes vertically down the back. Carries well and holds everything I would ever want up to 40 lbs. You can find them for less than 200 if you look for them. Makes a decent 2-7 day pack.

Don't fuss too much about features. A good pack is one that fits well and carries your stuff without giving you sore shoulders or hips. That alone is worth every penny you spend. It's hard to find a good one. I went through three brands/models before I found my ideal pack. Lots of people go through more.

Food? Please don't tell me you are going to live off the land. You can't even do that anymore.

You will want a bear canister in some areas - or you will want a large envelope of money to pay the fines for being caught without one, and plan out restocking stops to replace the food bears take because you didn't have one.

You don't need ten lights. Pick one, and consider a keychain LED as backup.

11:20 a.m. on March 24, 2009 (EDT)
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Notquitethere is right about the lights. A small headlamp and a keychain led as a backup is all you'll ever need. Most of the time the stars or the moon is enough. I rarely use my headlamp for hiking, just for setting camp, and sometimes not at all.

A good combo is a headlamp and a small yellow or red single led to clip on it. That way you can use the small one to look for stuff around camp and still keep your night vision.

11:51 a.m. on March 24, 2009 (EDT)
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There's a deal on a 60L Osprey at Backcountry gear HERE.

1:32 p.m. on March 24, 2009 (EDT)
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Walker,

Another pack to look at and try out before you buy is a Gregory Z 65 pack. I picked one up new last year for $168 from Eastern Mountain Sports (www.ems.com though I didn't see it there today when I looked). For the weekend and ext. weekend trips that I have taken it has done right by me. I like the size and storage ability and the belt and straps had a comfortable fit on me.

Packs are something you should always try on and size in a store if you can. When I was looking for a pack last year, this pack feeled very comfortable to me and keep it in mind that it was sized correctly. I have tried on a pack my friend recommended and it just didn't feel "right" when I tried it on in the store but he loves his. But I wore around about 6 or 7 that had weight bags in them before I found the one the I liked. Then I started the online search for a good price from a good store...

10:32 p.m. on March 24, 2009 (EDT)
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I am completely baffled by your gear list. A really big knife, 4 pounds of lights and a lot of drugs. No clothes other than a jacket, no stove, no food. Maybe I don't want to know.

Take all your stuff to REI, load up a couple of packs on that list and pick one. Wear it around the store for about half an hour fully loaded. If you still like it after that, buy it.

12:20 a.m. on March 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Walker--welcome to the site--

No offense intended here, but I feel compelled to echo Tom D's comment regarding your gear list. Sounds like you've put more thought into a traveling homeopathic pharmacy than the rest of your gear and planning. I can't imagine why you'd need a knife such as you describe. Your flashlight list sounds as if you're considering lighting a Broadway show. 900+ lumens? You can blind people three states away with that sort of thing. One good light (a headlamp for many is the first choice) and a small backup are plenty.

Your only mention of clothing is a "warm jacket", but your sleeping bag is a 40-deg rectangular bag. A 40-deg bag is insufficient for trips into the mountains, unless you're car-camping. Maybe. I've been snowed on every month of the year except July, and that's only 'cause I've been lucky in that month. And clothing needs should be considered carefully as well. Raingear? Some fleece or thermal undies?

There's no mention of food or stove, but you're going to have along a firesteel. Okay. Matches, lighter? Have you ever actually started a fire with a firesteel? With proper knowledge, preparation, and practice, not a problem, but it's not gonna just flick up a bonfire for you out of a couple of sticks and a damp log. If you're only planning on using it to light a stove, great, but always have a backup in case you lose your steel. Not being able to start a fire in the backcountry is step #1 on many of the trails to Highly Unpleasant Things.

Then there's water. I'm not familiar with the Seychelle bottle/filter device, but I'd lay odds that it's not up to the task you'll encounter. A quality, dependable filter or consistent use of chemical treatment is a must, I believe, unless you're planning on boiling water all the time. And again, a backup system or plan is a really good idea.

Finally, there are several more items you should consider having on hand, such as repair kits, some cord, map/compass, etc. There are lots of lists of "ten essentials for hiking" and such--look at 'em.

Hope I've not offended you or made erroneous assumptions about plans, intentions, etc.

When it comes to pack choice, the suggestions above seem basically reasonable, so I'll leave you with those. Best of luck with your plans and trip.

1:31 a.m. on March 25, 2009 (EDT)
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I agree with mike. Whenever i can i buy stuff used and been pretty lucky so far. You can get a VERY good pack for 100$. But the downside is you can't try the stuff before.

There's so many little things to look for when buying a pack, you might want to get to a big store and try a bunch, then work by elimination, narrowing down your search to a few brands.

In general, Osprey, Arcteryx, Gregory and others have an excellent reputation as far as quality and warranty. The Osprey's staright jacket compression would solve your thermarest problem.

Granite Gear and Golite make ultralight packs, from your gear list not really what you need.

Size and features wise it could pay off to look for a pack that can be used for more than one trip. For example if you think you might go traveling overseas or backcountry skiing, a few extra features on your new pack could mean more versatility in the future.

Personnally I'm sold to Osprey. Small company, awesome stuff, not a marketing box.

You might want to look HERE for a good cheap pack. That's where i buy most of my stuff.

Hope that helped...

Thanks. I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

1:36 a.m. on March 25, 2009 (EDT)
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29 forum posts

Gear tip: Get rid of the bowie knife and save a pound. I've hiked the whole western states with a victorinox classic (the smallest one, blade is 2 inches long). Unless you want to use it as a machete (forbidden in all national parks), a bush knife should be as long as the width of your palm, no more. If it's too long you can't nest it in your palm and hold the tip to do intricate work, it defeats the purpose. Great knife for the jungle though.

Knife is more than just a knife. It's also my only defense. No guns. No pepper spray. Just a 9 3/4 in blade that can cut through an entire rack of bovine ribs in 5 swips (as demonstrated in Cold Steel video). And yes, it is also a tool to cut wood with (I didn't know cutting wood for camp fires in national parks was forbidden - I actually know very little about our national parks and their rules. Thanks for the tip!)

1:57 a.m. on March 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Black or white or whatever, I have noticed no discernable difference in temps with different colored packs. My current go-to pack is the Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone, 3800 - 4500 cu in with nice large side pockets. Sleeping pad goes vertically down the back. Carries well and holds everything I would ever want up to 40 lbs. You can find them for less than 200 if you look for them. Makes a decent 2-7 day pack.

Don't fuss too much about features. A good pack is one that fits well and carries your stuff without giving you sore shoulders or hips. That alone is worth every penny you spend. It's hard to find a good one. I went through three brands/models before I found my ideal pack. Lots of people go through more.

Thanks. I'll have to check out that Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone. Sounds like you really know what you're talking about. I'm not really counting on being away from my vehicle or some sort of civilized lodging for more than 3 days at a time. Hence the 2-3 day pack. I've survived in 130ºF+ in the Sudan living off 1.5 liters water a day mixed with Emergen-Cs (electrolyte balanced vitamin C powder mix) and mostly Cliff Bars for food. I plan to live similarly while on these excursions, cutting down on weight normally reserved for food. 2-3 days is nothing to go without food altogether (I've gone on nothing but water for 10).

With all the comments on the knife, it seems that maybe I should check out some of the State laws regarding knife carrying in the areas I plan on going. Being from Texas I just assume that it's my legal right to carry a knife of this size anywhere- I know that Constitutionally I'm entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and the knife helps me protect the first and last on that list. If I'm attacked by a small bear or a mountain lion, a swiss army knife isn't exactly going to help me. I am an avid knife collector and believe me, I know how to use them. I don't carry a gun and aside from a sword (I own many) this is the best defense that I have. I am also an avid flashlight collector which is why I want to take so many with me on the trip- it's fun for me.

Thanks for your help. I just wanted to explain where I was coming from on the knife and flashlights' side of things.

2:14 a.m. on March 25, 2009 (EDT)
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I am completely baffled by your gear list. A really big knife, 4 pounds of lights and a lot of drugs. No clothes other than a jacket, no stove, no food. Maybe I don't want to know.

( : Hillarious! Ya, I forewent the mention of clothes and food. Since the trips will be so litte (0-3 day), food's not really a big deal to me. I'm planning on taking a water purification bottle (that really works), Cliff Bars, Emergen-Cs (electrolyte balancing Vit C powder), some organic Beef Jerky (if I can find some) and possibly Dr. Richard Schulze's Superfood (contains practically every vitamin, mineral, phytonutrient, Amino Acid, Omega Fatty Acid you need, plus it's 40% protein). On the clothes side of things, I should be fine with a single change of clothes, some light shorts & T-shirt to sleep in, and was thinking about taking some multi-terrain sandals like the Sketchers Safari. I've had a pair (actually "Journey" but those are now discontinued, so Safari is the next closest thing) I've used in terrain all around the world (icy streams, thermally heated pools, desert, free climbing [buildings, cliff faces, boulders], beaches, forests & wooded areas, city streets, etc. If I encounter grass I simply use them with socks and jean slacks, spraying some bug repellent on my jean cuffs if necessary. I'm not a hippy- just an extremist with a particular love for knifes and flashlights. The medical kit is exactly that - for taking care of myself when no-one else is around and to be prepared for whatever might befall me. I am not a drug user and have never used an illegal drug in my life. I don't even (normally) take asprin.

8:43 a.m. on March 25, 2009 (EDT)
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A lot can be said about using a knife for defense in the backcountry, I'm sure Bill could expand on that. Statistically the most dangerous time is when you're driving your car to the trailhead and back. I can understand the need from reassurance in an unknown environment but beleive me, it's useless against bears even in the hands of Bruce Lee.

Hiking is more than just gear, there's also a philosophy behind it. IMHO and by your posts, i can feel that you see your treks almost like survival missions, going into a hostile environment and requiring protection. That's one way of seeing it.

You could also see them like a relax vacation, eating good food and enjoying the world around you.

Look at this gear list for example:

golite pack.....16oz

WM ultralight bag...27oz

Silnylon poncho.......10oz

clothes: sandals, shorts, light pants, fleece, windshirt, mittains, hat, balaclava, 3 pairs of wool socks

hammock...10oz

blue pad...6oz

a small swiss army knife..1oz

petzl headlamp..3oz

alcool stove, windscreen and alu pot...5oz

1L soda bottle...2oz

my 1st aid kit is duct tape and some ibuprofen.

total: 10 lbs without food or fuel.

Now this is definitly a hippy gear list! Picture a dude chilling in a hammock in mid-afternoon, reading a book maybe, hiking at night without using a flashlight, relying on the feel of his sandals on the trail. Making pancakes in the morning, eating fresh fruits instead of Emergen-Cs, carrying pizza for diner...I'm sure you get the idea.

8:53 a.m. on March 25, 2009 (EDT)
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I also enjoy and know how to use knives. So, I can't fault you there. But, as Franc stated, I don't think they would do you much good against a bear. A better choice might be a .454 Casull.

10:29 a.m. on March 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Even if one were to concede that it's possible for a hiker to fend off or even kill an attacking bear with a knife with a 9-3/4 inch blade that "can cut through an entire rack of bovine ribs in 5 swips"--something I'd grant only at the farthest margins of probability--the likelihood of success in attempting such is, I believe, almost certainly going to approximate zero.

The bear is immensely stronger, has multiple "blades" on each paw, a very tough hide covering indistinct anatomic features with few points offering access to a lethal strike, lots of experience being violent with other creatures, and absolutely no compunction against using all of its abilities to dispatch an enemy.

I think pepper spray is much more likely to be successful primarily because a bear is inexperienced in dealing with a noxious cloud of spray, whereas swipes from sharp "claws" are a common thing in the bear world. It's also disorienting, as opposed to focusing aggravation on the opponent. Finally, it's been shown to be at least moderately effective.

That all said, it's clear that the best, most effective tool for surviving a bear encounter is distance. Enough of that, and your survival--and the bear's--is pretty much guaranteed, at least through the encounter.

Pumas are another matter. Though not so dramatically outsizing a man, they are prone to attack by stealth, from behind, targeting the back of the neck/head. If one happens to have in hand a knife, it might prove useful, but the time available to access and deploy same is going to be minimal, I'd think. In those circumstances, however, fighting back with whatever is to hand is considered by most the best option. Pepper spray? I don't know of any data or "expert opinion", but I'd be willing to give it a shot, so to speak. Along with trekking poles, canteens, GPS units, tent poles, cook kits, compasses, and self-inflating sleeping pads. Yes, if I had the kitchen sink handy, I'd use it, too.

10:47 p.m. on March 27, 2009 (EDT)
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You can always try and wear a mask on the back of your head so there is no back of the head/neck area for the big cat to target. Locals in Asia/India where they have man eating big cats(tigers), wear masks to deter the cats from stalking and attacking when they are in the bush. Just a thought. Other than that, hold tight to faith, pray, and fight with whatever you can if you are ever in that situation.

5:45 a.m. on March 30, 2009 (EDT)
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Recently was able to try out the Coleman Chinkapin X 65 ($130). Really liked it. Also found it in black/white. Has almost all of the features I was looking for except it has a lot of black on it, which I'm pretty sure is going to get hot under the summer sun. I'm pretty much down to that or the Kelty Red Cloud 5600 now. Still looking and open to other options though.

5:45 a.m. on March 30, 2009 (EDT)
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A lot can be said about using a knife for defense in the backcountry, I'm sure Bill could expand on that. Statistically the most dangerous time is when you're driving your car to the trailhead and back. I can understand the need from reassurance in an unknown environment but beleive me, it's useless against bears even in the hands of Bruce Lee.

Hiking is more than just gear, there's also a philosophy behind it. IMHO and by your posts, i can feel that you see your treks almost like survival missions, going into a hostile environment and requiring protection. That's one way of seeing it.

You could also see them like a relax vacation, eating good food and enjoying the world around you.

Look at this gear list for example:

golite pack.....16oz

WM ultralight bag...27oz

Silnylon poncho.......10oz

clothes: sandals, shorts, light pants, fleece, windshirt, mittains, hat, balaclava, 3 pairs of wool socks

hammock...10oz

blue pad...6oz

a small swiss army knife..1oz

petzl headlamp..3oz

alcool stove, windscreen and alu pot...5oz

1L soda bottle...2oz

my 1st aid kit is duct tape and some ibuprofen.

total: 10 lbs without food or fuel.

Now this is definitly a hippy gear list! Picture a dude chilling in a hammock in mid-afternoon, reading a book maybe, hiking at night without using a flashlight, relying on the feel of his sandals on the trail. Making pancakes in the morning, eating fresh fruits instead of Emergen-Cs, carrying pizza for diner...I'm sure you get the idea.

Man! That is some lightweight setup! And I thought 20-25 lbs was travelling lightweight! Yes, I have been looking at this trip from a sort of survival standpoint. Never having done backpacking before (just done camping and travelled - A LOT) I want to be prepared for whatever might actually come my way. Obviously, by my posts, there is a whole lot I don't know, so I'm happy for the input even if it comes temporarily in the form of derogatory remarks and a bit of jeering.

Having spent some time with various individuals this past week and also from the comments here online I've come to learn more about the kind of places I would probably enjoy the most and also more of the kind of gear I would need. NOT regularly cold temperature places like Wyoming and Montana but states like Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, etc. Didn't even know that bear bags/cans were mandatory in some national parks, and that a person can be fined for not having one! Also found out about hanging high scented items like trash/food in a bag on a nearby tree at night to detract from wild animals trying to get into the tent.

Thanks for taking the time to respond and to share that lightweight gear list setup with me.

10:09 a.m. on March 30, 2009 (EDT)
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Hey--Don't sell yourself short!! You're the one with enough comfort in your abilities to turn a 3-day weekend into the kind of fasting/training most of us wouldn't even consider. Think about it that way...

But, really, we've all got much more to learn, and you hanging any smelly stuff FAR away (200 ft.) from your tent, not in a nearby tree, is a fine next step.

6:13 p.m. on March 30, 2009 (EDT)
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Hello,

I found you several. I am keeping your budget in mind: http://www.rei.com/outlet/product/782944

http://www.rei.com/outlet/product/782943

http://www.rei.com/outlet/product/782945

http://www.rei.com/outlet/product/782946

http://www.rei.com/outlet/product/782948

Check these packs out. I use ALPS Mountaineering brand internal frame packs myself. Judging from my experience, they are quite comfortable, adjust easy, very durable and affordable. Some models even have intergrated rain covers. Be sure you read the specs for each pack.

Hope this helps!

7:19 p.m. on March 30, 2009 (EDT)
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so I'm happy for the input even if it comes temporarily in the form of derogatory remarks and a bit of jeering.

You're right about that part! I think some people take backpacking a bit too seriously. When you've camped for many decades, i understand it can be easy to forget we all had to start somewhere. There's also a few "purists" out there who beleive their way is the only way. Kudos to you for staying positive!

To go back on topic, the more skills you have, the less gear you need, so you might want to start heavy and leave some things at home as you gain experience. A wilderness class or a good book (The complete walker IV, Beyond backpacking, etc..) might give you a head start and help shrink your gear list. There is also a fine balance between the comfort you gain with lightweight gear and the comfort you sacrifice by not bringing it.

Have fun on your hikes, that's the most important part!

9:35 p.m. on March 30, 2009 (EDT)
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If your worried about bears, forget the knife. I have friends that used pepper spray to stop two grizzly charges in Yellowstone last summer. Trying to "stick'em" would have just made them madder.

Franc is right about starting a little heavy and weed out items as you get more experience. Although I've been doing this for 30 years and still carry almost 40 lbs (I'm a slow weeder-outer)

9:51 a.m. on March 31, 2009 (EDT)
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I will have to admit I have been purchasing more lightweight gear but by all means I'm not an ultralight backpacker.

My average pack weight weighs around 35 lbs. Does this put me in the "traditional" backpacker category?

8:06 p.m. on March 31, 2009 (EDT)
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Hey guys / gals,

Yes MC that puts you in the traditional category, same place I'm at most times. I can get my base pack weight down to about 17 lbs. for light trips, but I am more happy at camp in the traditional range really.

Walker,

It is the wise man who seeks advise, so I would say you already possess the most important piece of gear you will need, your mind. Lots of good advise can be had at this site, in both the forums and the articles. You will benefit from finding someone with some experience to hike with, a hiking club is a good start.

Most of my gear is 10 to 13 years old, I buy the good stuff and make it last. I am not a gear head really, my gear is fine tuned to my personal needs and I don't have experience with a wide range of other gear. So I will let others recommend gear most times. I am good (my opinion) at technique, being alert, blending in, staying safe, and living comfortably at camp. I would advise you to consider these things as being just as important as the gear you take. Developing skills takes some time, but what you carry in your head is more important than what you carry in your pack.

When I first started I had a very used army pack, full size Coleman lantern, 4d flashlight, Rambo knife, full size binoculars, etc. As I gained experience and started doing longer hikes, those things went by the wayside and were replaced with smaller, lighter gear more appropriate for backpacking. But I can assure you I had just as much fun in the early days as I do now. The fun is in learning as well as in the adventure. I still have a lot to learn myself, but I have worked my way up to some nice gear, and often go on 4-6 day solo trips in fairly remote areas. My current pack weight with food and fishing gear is 32 lbs for summer & 35lbs. for winter. At that weight I have everything I need to live comfortably for a week. Many guys go lighter and is quite doable if you wish.

Just hang in there, the knowledge will come fast if you work at it, do some reading, ask questions, I do, & find someone experienced to backpack with.

Best of luck to you!

1:06 p.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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...Yes MC that puts you in the traditional category, same place I'm at most times. I can get my base pack weight down to about 17 lbs. for light trips, but I am more happy at camp in the traditional range really.

I kind of figured that. Seems to work for me.

Now a partial list of my gear I carry on an average one or two night backpacking trek:

My ALPS Mountaineering Zenith 2 AL Tent, 4.8lbs;

ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 2 AL Floor Saver 8ozs;

Depending on the temps I use either my Cabela's XPG Backpacker Mummy bag (Long) 3.9lbs or during warmer times of the year my The Backside Backsider Mummy Bag (rated at +35) 2.2lbs;

My SunnyRec Hexagrip (regular) 2.7lbs;

If I want to cook I bring my Coleman Exponent 442 Dual Fuel Stove 1.8lbs;

In addition to all this, I bring my Texsport Tent Stake Mallet 12ozs.

3:24 a.m. on April 8, 2009 (EDT)
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More from Walker

Hi guys, thanks for the positive feedback and helpful comments.

 

Here is a more thorough gear list (incomplete) that I'm putting together. Initial test revealed a space of approximately 60L needed and weighed in at less than 19 lbs. Neither the test nor the list include food or clothing. The bags listed are smaller bags that will obviously need to fit in the (larger) backpack. They help me organize. Also, some items have been added/moddified or exchanged since the initial gear weigh-in/space evaluation. The gear, however, should still be roughly the same weight (less than 20 lbs) and take up roughly the same amount of space (60L). Only after my gear list is complete will I know (roughly) my weight and space requirement - one of the reasons I'm glad I haven't bought my backpack yet.

 

Katmandu Inner Bag (Large) Total Weight - 2 lbs
2 Rolls Biodegradable Toilet Paper
2 Packs Biodegradable Moist Wipes (perhaps only 1 pack needed?)
1 Spade (Kunai at the moment - replace with longer spade?)

Katmandu Inner Bag (small) Total Weight - .8 lbs
Hot Hand Warmers 4 (min. 12 max)
21Ft. Wind-Up Clothesline with Included Wood-screw Hooks
Whistle/Compass (containing Safety-Pins for hanging things and Signal Mirror)

Sea to Summit Inner Bag (Medium) Total Weight - .8 lbs
1 Microfibre Full-Sized Bath/Body Towel
1 Microfibre Hand Towel

Sea to Summit Inner Bag (Small) Total Weight - .4 lbs
1 Microfibre Small-Sized Bath/Body Towel

Nomadic's Inner Bag (Medium) Total Weight - .5 lbs (will be more with fresh supplies - bottles are near empty)
Mosquito Head Net
100% Deet (get a new one)
Bug Repellant (get a natural one - Fly Swatter or equivallent)

Yellow Clip-On Bag (Small) Total Weight - .4 lbs
Light Yellow Poncho & Survival/Safety Instructions
Silver Reflective Survival Blanket
Bic Lighter (Replace with 1 w/saftey or Zippo)
Swedish Firesteel (needs Maya Gold Dust to work well)

Calvin Klein Toiletry Bag Total Weight - 2.8 lbs
Crest Dental Floss Mini Packs (approximately 18 in. floss per container)
Hair Band (for pony tail/alternative for a rubber band)
Earplugs - 26 decibel dampening
Eyemask - for sleeping in bright lighting conditions
Biodegradable Camp Soap - 4 oz
Toothbrush & Full-Length Toothbrush Container w/UV Toothbrush Head Sanitizer w/2AAA batteries
Organic Toothpaste - 4 oz
Natural Lip Balm - .5 oz
Natural Deodorant - 2.5 oz
Moisturizer - 3 oz (replace with 1 oz container?)
Hairbrush
Sunblock
Gillette Mach 3 Shaver + 4 Blades
Needed: .5 oz bottle filled with Awapui Conditioner (for Shaving)

Med Kit Total Weight - 2.2lbs
mirror (attachable to med kit via velcro)
Band Aids
Cayenne Pepper Powder in Ziplock Bag (anti-bleeding)
Anti-Infection Formula (clean wound first then apply to kill infection and create protective barrier - add band aid/tape to further protect area) - .5oz bottle
White Flower Oil (reduces allergies, helps eliminate headaches and reduce motion sickness [topical application only]) - .1oz
StingEze Insect Bite Relief - .5oz bottle
Soothanol 2X Formula (helps increase circulation and reduce pain [topical application only]) - 1oz bottle
Miracle II Neutralizer Liquid (eye-wash, wound-cleaner, PH balancer) - 2oz bottle
Colloidal Silver 500PPM (anti-infection) - 1 ounce bottle (still need a small sized dropper instead of cap)
SuperTonic (all-purpose tonic - anti-bacterial/fungal/paracitical/viral) - 4oz bottle (still need a large cap sized dropper)
Echinacea Plus (immune enhancing) - 2oz bottle
Flexible Tape
Intestinal Formula #1 Pills (makes you go, stops colonic bleeding, helps eliminate parasites) in Ziplock Bag
Intestinal Formula #2 Pills (anti-diaherea) in Ziplock Bag
Aspirin? (anti-inflammation)

Seal Line 10L Baja Bag (waterproof) (replace with stuff sack or compression sack - packing too difficult) Total Weight - 3.4 pounds
NorthFace Green/Black Sleeping Bag (needs some sort of fleece or decent liner to increase warmth)

Big Agnes Tent Bag Total Weight - ?
Big Agnes Seedhouse SL Tent (freestanding) with Gear Loft, Poles, Fly, Stakes & Cords
Plastic Mallet/Tent Peg Remover
Coleman Dustpan and Whisk (find a place for it [not in the tent bag]) (replace with Cohlan's brush and pan?) - .2 lbs

NorthFace Sleeping Bag (replace with Thermarest stuff sack?) Total Weight - 1.6 lbs
Thermarest Prolite 4 Large Sleeping Pad
Thermarest Repair Kit

 

Obviously, I haven't gotten everthing figured out yet. But this is the direction I'm headed in. My hope is to have a pretty decent, thorough list of products I can not only take with me on the road, but also be able to recommend to others whole-heartedly.

 

Things I'm looking into at the moment include:

pillow (compressible)

stuff sacks (for sleeping bag and thermarest)

fleece liner or it's compact equivalent (Sea to Summit Reactor - $55 and Kelty Fleece Travel Sheet - $46 being considered)

lighter/zippo (Cabela's Alaskan Outfitter™ All-Weather Lighter - $40 and Micro Jet Pocket Torch - $20 being considered)

cooking aids (super portable burner/stove or lightweight grill for cooking with stainless steel mess kit on)

 

Meanwhile, I still continue the search for the ultimate backpack. I have learned of many along the way. Thanks again to everyone that posted suggestions. I have looked at most if not all of the ones that were mentioned.

Now, the bad news (and I understand that this may mean moving to a different topic post): My trip plans seem to be changing somewhat- partly due to the advice and comments of others, and partly due to a lack of finances. I am considering now, instead of driving everywhere, and only doing small (0-3 day) hikes, really backpacking, and perhaps doing the major journey legs by bus or by train. This would mean taking everything with me in my pack. So I'm thinking that the pack bare minimum is 5000 cubic inches now. Everything I'm taking has got to fit in it.

 

So, moderators, perhaps it's time to start a new thread!

Thanks again to everybody that gave wise advice and was helpful. I appreciate it.

 

- Walker

9:21 a.m. on April 8, 2009 (EDT)
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Wow, now that's a decent gear list!

The good thing about a long backpacking trip is that you will see a fast refinement of your gear list towards your own unique set-up. Th first things to go might be the mallet and the whisk ;)

If you're low on finance, can i suggest an alcool stove? It's free, easy to make, recyclable and efficient. I only bought a white gas stove for deep winter camping and snow melting.

A coffee can with holes in it is also good to make a small wood fire, toast baggles, grill burgers, cook stuff and enjoy around camp. A bigger coffee can makes a cook pot, or a cheap alu pot from Wal-mart. I've cooked on a coffee can fire for 2 months on the PCT, it's fun!

IMHO cooking gear is waaaaay overated. Cheap is the way to go.

9:51 a.m. on April 8, 2009 (EDT)
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Cooking gears is def. something you can go cheap on. The problem is- I tend to "geek" over everything I buy. About the buy the new Eta Power Packlite just 'cause lol.

11:31 p.m. on April 8, 2009 (EDT)
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Oh, if you end up with an MSR stove or any other that requries isopro fuel, if the temp gets below 40, you should put a sock around your fuel and sleep with it in your sleeping bag.

the fuel gets a lil funky when cold.

I use a regular fleece blanket when hiking that I picked up at Bed Bath & Beyond (hunt for the blue 20% off coupon).. trust me, its worth its weight. You should always take a few comfort items.

regarding pillow, REI has a reversable stuff sack that I use as a pillow - stuff my clothes and soft items in there. The Thermarest pillows are nice, just don't get them wet.

http://www.rei.com/product/728415

10:34 p.m. on July 7, 2009 (EDT)
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I realize no one has posted to this sight in a while, but I hope Walker is still "listening" to this forum.

Without getting too personal, may I ask why so much pharmaceuticals? 2 to 3 day trips can be "survived" with really nothing more than a few bandages and some antiseptic ointment.

On another personal note, why so much toilet paper and moist towelettes? I carry none of either, but that is an understandably personal choice.

Ear plugs and eyemask? Where exactly are you planning on sleeping?

And what the heck is a "Head Sanitizer w/2AAA batteries" or even a "Hand Sanitizer w/2AAA batteries"?

Care to post your latest gear list? Have you gone for a hike yet?

5:32 p.m. on July 9, 2009 (EDT)
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I forgot to add that my "best" 2-3 day backpack is a newly purchased but old design The North Face Recon, 2000 cu. in., to be used with a front mount tummy pack of about 500 cu. in. that has two Nalgene 1 liter bottle pockets.

6:03 p.m. on July 9, 2009 (EDT)
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....

Without getting too personal, may I ask why so much pharmaceuticals? 2 to 3 day trips can be "survived" with really nothing more than a few bandages and some antiseptic ointment.

On another personal note, why so much toilet paper and moist towelettes? I carry none of either, but that is an understandably personal choice.

Ear plugs and eyemask? Where exactly are you planning on sleeping?

And what the heck is a "Head Sanitizer w/2AAA batteries" or even a "Hand Sanitizer w/2AAA batteries"?

Paul,

Let me try to take a wild guess as to Walker's gear -

1. Lots of medical gear - Walker is a Wilderness EMT and equiping a full ER crash cart (wilderness version), since he expects to encounter a large number of newbies and people with no judgment or experience, thus needing to save them from themselves. Or maybe he expects his party to have numerous encounters with grizzlies and mountain lions.

2. TP and towelettes - He is expecting to encounter lovely young things and wants to get rid of all possible body odors of those stinking mountain men that would keep the sweet young things away from him. Either that or he has been watching too many Real TV programs and is expecting to be suffering from giardiasis and other intestine-upsetting maladies. Note also the Calvin Klein toiletry bag.

3. earplugs and eyemask - that's obvious. He will be hiking in Arctic regions in summer, where it is bright sunshine 24 hours a day, plus his companions are prolific snorers. That, plus grizzlies are prolific snorers, and he does not want to see his companions being eaten alive.

4. That was a UV toothbrush head sanitizer. Didn't you know that an unsanitized toothbrush promotes halitosis? He doesn't want bad breath to scare off the sweet and lovely young things (see answer 2). Although maybe it might also help with avoiding sleeping-bag hair, given the absence of hair washing facilities in the outback.

Wait! Looking over his list of meds, he isn't headed for the Arctic after all. Those meds are almost all for tropical diseases. I know! the earplugs are for blocking out the sounds of the howler monkeys, along with roaring lions and trumpeting elephants. This hypothesis is strengthened by his carrying a head net, 100% DEET, and a flyswatter

6:48 p.m. on July 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Excellent deduction Bill S.

I agree that he is expecting a young lady based on this:

"Coleman Dustpan and Whisk (find a place for it [not in the tent bag]) (replace with Cohlan's brush and pan?) - .2 lbs"

I thought I carried a few abnormal items in my first aid kit, but walker sure does sound prepared....for something.

Does cayenne pepper really stop bleeding, or will it burn so bad you don't care?

7:07 p.m. on July 9, 2009 (EDT)
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...Either that or he has been watching too many Real TV programs and is expecting to be suffering from giardiasis and other intestine-upsetting maladies...

Hay Bill I have a question for you, did you mean Reality TV programs ?

9:26 p.m. on July 9, 2009 (EDT)
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I totally forgot about the possibility of meeting lovely young things in the wilderness. I can't tell you how many times I've hoped to stumble upon them as I approach camp only to be disappointed by seeing either a)noone at all, b)very smelly young make things, or at best, c)lovely not-so-young things that want absolutely nothing to do with me!

I'll bet your guess that he's heading for the jungle is right-on. That is one place I do NOT intend to hike in anytime soon, unless its with a indigenous guide.

Are you there, Walker? We're all waiting to see if we are right.

On a more serious note, tho' I'm not so sure I agree with starting out over-loaded and trimming down. For 2-3 day trips a similar arguement could be made for starting light and adding things that increase comfort.

Outward Bound (Sangre De Cristo Mountains, 1977) conselors made us divid everything we brought into 3 piles.

1. Things you absolutely cannot live without. (I actually don't remember what I ended up putting in this pile, but after much culling it was pretty small).

2. Things that you really really think/feel you want/need (extra underwear, TP, more than one hat, more than one flashlight, a thin blanket to line your sleeping bag, etc)

3. Things that with some thought you're pretty sure you can go without.

You've probably figured it out by now, but "they" took piles 2 and 3 away from us -litterally threw them all in a truck which drove away- and there we were with only pile 1. We survived just fine. (Well actually everyone else survived just fine. I ended up falling down the side of a mountain resulting in a fastinating injury two days' hike from any help. Great fun!)

As for the the backpack, I recently tried out several and stongly agree with others who've said this: When you think you like one, load it up IN THE STORE and walk around with it for as long as they will let you. Nothing worse than getting 4 hours into a hike and finding out something on the pack constantly pokes you.

9:27 p.m. on July 9, 2009 (EDT)
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b)smelly young make things...

9:27 p.m. on July 9, 2009 (EDT)
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male, I meant male!

10:12 p.m. on July 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Well, this might start a new feature: "Trail Detective." Post your packing list and have others guess your destination/trip purpose/personality! Definitely good for some chuckles...

10:27 p.m. on July 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Well, this might start a new feature: "Trail Detective." Post your packing list and have others guess your destination/trip purpose/personality! Definitely good for some chuckles...

I like that idea!

10:30 p.m. on July 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Hi NLees...how you been doing?

That is a good idea you have there!

I might need multiple choice though.

11:46 p.m. on July 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill S said:

...Either that or he has been watching too many Real TV programs and is expecting to be suffering from giardiasis and other intestine-upsetting maladies...

Hay Bill I have a question for you, did you mean Reality TV programs ?

I thought they were Real. Are you implying that they aren't? Now you have me worried about Suvivorman and Man vs Wild.

I happened to see a part of Expedition Africa a few nights ago (got sucked in thinking it was some NatGeo or Discovery actual show about the wildlife). In this episode (of apparently once a week for a year or two), there they were, squabbling and moaning about the lack of water and extreme heat, all wearing what appeared to be freshly washed clothes, no one showing any signs of sweating. One of the party was a Masai warrior in full regalia, like the ones Barb and I saw in Tanzania standing by the road posing for tourists to take photos (for a fee, of course). There was the obligatory young lady (billed as an expert on some sort of animal or plant life, I forget which), the obligatory crotchety "leader" (billed as a navigator, but obviously not knowing which end of the compass needle pointed which way, much less how to read the pathetic excuse for a map they were carrying), the obligatory wiseguy "journalist", some other "whiteguy" whose role I could not figure out, a bunch of porters (the number of which varied from minute to minute), and a couple of burros, only one of which had any sort of load.

I think this passes for "Real" or "Reality" or something. Their total baggage looked from the pack sizes to be about right for a day hike. Oh, yeah, it was in HD, apparently filmed by 3 or 4 different camera operators who jumped quickly from back to front to middle, and up in an airplane or helicopter from minute to minute.

11:31 a.m. on August 30, 2009 (EDT)
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I was looking through some of the "older" threads and this thread made my day ... still chuckling ... I like NLees Trail detective idea.

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