Exped Lightning 60
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $173.40
I'm definitely impressed with the light weight, a suspension system that works and is comfortable, and the overall build quality is quite nice.
- Light weight
- Suspension system comfortable
- Suspension system highly adjustable
- Straps are lightweight material
- Compression straps over side pockets
- Pockets on pack and belt are not durable material
I purchased this pack fully anticipating on returning it. I was very skeptical of the suspension system with the aluminum stay in the middle of the back that I thought would surely cause discomfort on my spine. In addition, I thought the price was exorbitant for a no-frills pack.
The reviewers I read prior to purchasing this pack seemed to quite pleased overall. When the price dropped during the fall I decided I needed to give it a try, but I intentionally chose a vendor who had a decent return policy in case my misgivings proved true.
A couple of disadvantage of purchasing the pack in the fall are that my backpacking for the year is pretty much over. Secondly, since this is the first model year, I would anticipate that next year Exped will improve some of the deficiencies, like the compression straps over the side pockets that was commented on in a number of reviews.
When the pack came I loaded it up with 40-45 pounds, including 3 gallon jugs of water and a bunch of jackets for weight and padding. Every evening I hike to the top of the rim rocks with my dogs. The trail is definitely much steeper than most trails encountered in most backpacking territory. Since I have spent most of my career working trails and wilderness for the FS in Montana and Wyoming, as well as numerous personal forays, one thing I do know is trails.
Next, I loaded the pack with a standard luxury kit that I would normally carry in my Dana Glacier that weighed approximately 40-45 lbs including a bunch of "bagged" liquid soups that I normally wouldn't carry. I hiked up and down my rim rock trail over the next week.
I was impressed with how easy it was to adjust the torso length (I'm about 20-21") and after a couple of attempts it was dialed in such that I could optionally carry the pack load by waist belt; by shoulders; or split between waist belt and shoulders...nice. The waist belt seem sufficient comfortable. The shoulder straps were comfortable, but they do seem not quite as wide as I would like them to be. This will need to be further tested on multiple day grinders, eh?
Most surprising was I found the aluminum stay did not cause any discomfort even when I tried to by bending over more than normal. In addition, the aluminum stay was bendable, yet not flimsy. In short, I was impressed and happy with the T-rex suspension. I also noted that the suspension does not come up too high and prohibit wearing a brimmed hat, like my Dana packs with top pouch do.
What could be improved? I thought the compression and top straps were flimsier than I would like. Also, I wonder how well the light nylon buckles will hold up. I do not think the stretchable material on the waist belt pockets and side pockets is as durable as I would like. Finally, since I am used to the luxury of my faithful Dana Glacier (and Terraplane before going lighter weight with the Glacier) it will take some getting use to not having a number of pockets and top pocket for conveniently stashing gear.
In summary, when I pick this pack up and marvel how comfortable it is, how well the suspension works, and the clean uncluttered simplicity, I decided this is a keeper and look forward to further experimentation on multi-day trips next season. Nope, I won't be winer camping anymore...too much dark; too much sleeping bag time; too many years on this old trail dog.
Where to Buy
Here's what other sites are saying:
Featherweight multitask pack with excellent motion control. The Exped Lightning Pack provides excellent ventilation, hydration compatibilty, great load transfer via the aluminum frame stay, all in a very light rolltop closure.