Looking for a 25-50 L pack for daily commute, overnights and multiday car camping

3:11 p.m. on June 27, 2010 (EDT)
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I'm looking for some suggestions for a pack that will do tripple duty as a daypack, overnight backpacking trips, and longer car camping trips. Hear me out before you suggest that I get two separate packs.

I've tried a handful of daypacks over the years, all of them without an internal frame of any sort. None of them have been very comfortable, but I never wanted to go so far as to use a "real" pack for my commute. Depending on my mood and the weather, my commute is a 5 mile hike along the Superior Hiking Trail, a 2 mile walk along hilly city streets, a 2-5 mile bike ride, or a bus ride.

To make matters more complicated, I'm overweight and have a longer torso than most at 21.5". So many of the daypacks I've owned and tried barely reach the small of my back, making hipbelts (when there is one) worthless.

My requirements:
- 25-50 L (1500 - 3000 ci) capacity
- Rated to carry 15-30 lbs
- Internal frame, comfortable suspension
- Long enough to accomodate a 20-22" spine
- Hipbelt with decent weight transfer
- Lightish- 2-5 lbs
- Pack should remain comfortable when underpacked and when fully packed.
- Either hydration compatible or with a side pocket for a 1 L Nalgene water bottle

Preferences:
- Removable hipbelt and/or adjustable torso: I've had better luck getting a good fit on packs with these features but they aren't a must if the pack fits right.
- Compression system of some sort
- Something I could take on a plane with a few days worth of clothing
- Able to carry 30-40 lbs

I don't need a pack with a lot of pockets and features; I usually keep pens and other random trinkets in a small stuff sack anyway. One internal, outter zippered, or zippered lid compartment would be nice to hold it.

Many thanks in advance!

Aaron

3:50 p.m. on June 27, 2010 (EDT)
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649 forum posts

Welcome to Trailspace rev

A proper fitting is very important and most all good packs came in a variety of sizes Small Medium Large depending on torso size also having adjustable belts and straps.

The best advice I can give you is go to a store that knows how to fit a pack properly. REI, EMS, Campmor, Mountainsports or what ever outfitter you have close by you and have an experienced pack fitter help you out. Taht way you can get the best pack for your needs.

4:52 p.m. on June 27, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks for the reply and the welcome- I've done that already, but my search has been hampered by the available selection.

I'm fortunate to live by the Granite Gear office/factory/outlet store, where I was sized and fitted. I also got help at Trailfitters (an independent outfitters here in Duluth, MN) and REI. REI ended up telling me to pick out a few possible packs based on what I learned, try them out, and return the ones that didn't work.

The dilemma I've run into that the packs which fit well are probably overkill for my purposes, and that the packs more geared towards use as a daypack or commuter pack haven't fit well.

A great example is the Osprey Aether 60- most comfortable pack I tried by far, but definitely overkill for how I plan to use it. The Osprey Atmos 35 or 50 would work, except that I've not been able to get a good fit with the non-adjustable torso.

I might have settled on something like the Granite Gear Vapor Day or Latitude Vapor, but the shoulder straps would need to be quite a bit longer for either to fit me very well.

Thanks!
Aaron

7:50 p.m. on June 27, 2010 (EDT)
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An expensive option, but one that might work, are the Mystery Ranch Snapdragon and Big Sky. I own a Snapdragon, a 2300 cubic inch daypack plus. the big sky is probably around 3000, more of a weekender. i haven't tried that one. they are on the heavy side, 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 pounds, i'm guessing.

Advantages:

1. great fit, sold in different torso length and waist belt sizes so you can customize. even after that, the shoulder harness/torso length adjusts via sturdy hook/loop strip internally. outstanding weight transfer. with a framesheet and less-padded hipbelt, i have hiked all day with 25-30 pounds comfortably. 30 would be about my limit with the snapdragon. i think the big sky, with a real frame, probably goes at least 10 pounds more.

2. internal frame: the snapdragon has a stiff framesheet, the big sky has stays, though i'm not sure what the stays are made of. if it's like my larger mystery ranch pack, carbon stays.

3. hip belt that isn't removable, but both packs are designed to fold the hipbelt away and hide it. you can choose between a lightweight hipbelt with minimal padding (fine for my purposes), or some extra padding if you plan to carry more weight. not sure how well the extra padding hides away, but it's something you could remove and put back on, i believe, for commuting vs. trips.

4. two compression straps built-in on the back, plenty of places to tie on extra gear. opens w/three zippers - convenient for traveling in my experience, easy to access everything inside.

5. hydration system compatible, and has two side pockets that can each hold a one liter bottle.

6. great company. no i don't work for them. have had a large (6000+) pack of theirs for a number of years, which has been fabulous - well-designed, well-made, very comfortable. have had the large daypack since early spring, and with over 100 miles on my back since then, couldn't be happier.

by the way, the snapdragon design is also licensed to camelbak and sold in a camelbak pack, the trizip, that's a little less expensive and has slightly different features (not surprisingly, Camelbak ditched the bottle pockets and relies solely on hydration reservoir, for example).

money well-spent in my view, because it's a great design and an outstanding manufacturer. the pack will last for years.

8:21 p.m. on June 27, 2010 (EDT)
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649 forum posts

........
The dilemma I've run into that the packs which fit well are probably overkill for my purposes, and that the packs more geared towards use as a daypack or commuter pack haven't fit well.

A great example is the Osprey Aether 60- most comfortable pack I tried by far, but definitely overkill for how I plan to use it. The Osprey Atmos 35 or 50 would work, except that I've not been able to get a good fit with the non-adjustable torso.

...............

One thing about the Osprey Aether 60 well a few things that pack like most good quality packs have a bunch of well paced compression straps that will compress the pack down nicely to fit your load on day trips and also it will due for a multi-day pack as well. I have used my Kelty Beam 82L/5000ci on day trips and it worked out well for that. So my point is if it fits well and is comfortable it can be used in a verity of type of trips.

9:52 p.m. on June 28, 2010 (EDT)
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19 forum posts

I'm fine spending $100-250 as long as it's what I want and will hold up over for at least a few years. I must admit, I've never even considered Mystery Ranch- I've never seen one in person, so they've been below my radar. The Snapdragon looks like it'd be a good fit- but I'd need to find a retailer with a decent return policy- the three zipper seems provide the convenience of both a top and regular panel loader.

I'm also fine with heavier packs, within reason- I'll generally take a pack made out of a fabric that'll take a beating. I've found that the wear and tear of a daily commute often does more damage than bushwacking- I don' t think a pack made mostly of Dyeema or silnylon would last as long for how I'll be using it.

I think I'll try out the Osprey Aether 60, the Snapdragon and a Granite Gear pack or two. I've been impressed with how the GG Vapor Trail compresses around a smaller load, but the Vapor suspension just doesn't work for me so it'll probably the Nimbus Latitude or the Nimbus Meridian.

Thanks for the ideas- I'm open to any other suggestions as well, but it looks like I have some packs to hunt down... Hopefully I'll be able to make a trip to Midwest Mountaineering some weekend soon, which has a lot of these in stock.

Aaron

2:51 p.m. on July 5, 2010 (EDT)
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19 forum posts

Okidoke, I'm trying out:
- Osprey Aether 60
- Granite Gear Nimbus Latitude
- Granite Gear Latitude Vapor

Round two will likely be:
- Granite Gear Nimbus Meridian
- Mystery Ranch Snapdragon

I'd like to take a look at the Snapdragon, but I haven't looked into where to buy it yet where I could return it after a short 2-3 mile hike. Looks like it inhabits the sweet spot for my needs- not too big, heavier fabric, nice suspension, hidable belt, cushy belt, versitile access and simple.

I live near Granite Gear HQ and have been able to get the right size for belt and harness, even if I end up needing to return the pack and going with another option. After getting those, the two Nimbus packs feel really great. My main concern with them is the durability of the silnylon in daily use- hoping to have a pack I can use all the time, not just on hikes. GG's owner convinced me to try out a Latitude Vapor, but in my testing so far the Vapor suspension still isn't working for me.

The Aether 60 is a dream- but probably won't make the cut. Feels good, but with the smaller loads ends up with bits hanging off, the lid weighed down, and a bit strappy. I like the beefier fabric, and the additional weight over the GG packs isn't a concern for me at this point. It's a shame the Atmos doesn't fit well on me, because the smaller Atmos packs might be a perfect fit. With the compression all sinched in it takes a bit more work than I'd like to get at my stuff after walking to work.

Thanks again!

Aaron

September 19, 2014
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