Backpacks 60 liters or less

2:06 p.m. on August 20, 2016 (EDT)
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Hope everyone is doing well, I plan to buy a backpack around 60 liters and would like a little help from others.  I have been using a Gregory Savant 48, and can take it out for about 2 days with 3 day emergency food.  I need a little bigger for my plan John Muir trip in 2 years.  I have a few things that are very important for myself.  My field of view, I would prefer a wider pack so when looking around I see as little as possible of my pack, I know I will see some.  I tend to use bottles more than bladders and if I use a bladder I tend to only fill it one time, my time on the trail is very important and I fell the bottles are better because it requires less time to fill, but I know I could always use a filter pump.  I would like mess type back to dry my clothes and/or tent fly.  I use a sleeping pad which I attach from the bottom.  I like hip pockets which I keep my headlamp, bugs spray, suntan cream and camera/phone.  My pack weight is around 21 pounds with food and 28 pounds  with water.  I have look at the Volt 60 Liter and it seems to thin for what I want, I prefer a strong pack and not into ultralight that much, I like less weight but not at the expence of my comfort.  The trip plan is going to be for 3 weeks, want to enjoy the trip. With planning already started.  The maxium weight that I plan to carry is 40 pounds, I might smell a little after this trip so stay clear or down wind.

Thanks for any input,

Mike 

3:53 p.m. on August 20, 2016 (EDT)
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Have you looked at the ULA Ohm? I got one early this year and really like it...tough, great side and hip pockets, back mesh pocket, and removable bladder sleeve. Meets some of your requirements. It is listed as just over 60 liters and that includes all the outer storage. I haven't built up enough miles for a review yet but there are other good ones on TS already. I like the water bottle approach as well and the hip pockets are easy to reach and can handle any size bottle that I have tried. The Circuit is a bit bigger if you need it. 

A bear cannister is a tight squeeze depending on how it is packed and what else you carry. I switched from a Gregory Z55 to the Ohm and don't regret it.

5:55 p.m. on August 20, 2016 (EDT)
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I agree with Phil. I just bought a ULA Circuit and it works for everything.  I switched from a Kelty Tioga.  I would still use the old pack for trips longer than 4 days.  The Circuit makes a great day pack.

7:56 p.m. on August 20, 2016 (EDT)
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Thanks for the information I will check the website and let you know, I did try an Osprey Aether 60 today, but I am just looking.  I just want a good pack with easy access and to carry water bottles and get the bear canister in.  I would like to know how good the waste belt is and shoulder straps are with some weight in the back?

Thank you

Mike

8:53 p.m. on August 20, 2016 (EDT)
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After trying many different packs, including the Osprey Aether, ULA packs, Kelty packs, military packs. I finally bit the bullet and bought a Kifaru pack, a Highcamp with a bikini frame to be exact. I havn't looked back or regretted that purchase since. They are pricey and just a touch on the heavy side, but they are built to last, and all of the adjustments actually work and function as they should...which I cant say is true with many other pack brands, especially not the most popular ones.

If only I would have bought my kifaru first, oh the extra money I would have!

9:16 p.m. on August 20, 2016 (EDT)
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I check the site, it's amazing pack.  I know what you mean by trying and buying packs.  I wish also I had the wisdom to choose correctly.  I guest this is why I posted.  I use the Hubba Hubba tent for me one person which I like the room for me and my gear.  I also was looking at Granite Gear.  

9:22 p.m. on August 20, 2016 (EDT)
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Mike,

I am still working on my review of the Ohm as I haven't had enough time to put it through the paces as much as I would like. I have been on short trips and feel good with weight well under 30 lbs. I plan to push 30 or more toward the colder months and see how it does on a longer trip. The hip belt is comfortable. I would say it is overall quite comfortable but not as plush as my Gregory Z55. In the warmer weather I might switch back to the heavier pack as it has airspace between my back and the pack that really help sweaty hikers like me.

9:59 p.m. on August 20, 2016 (EDT)
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Thank Phil, I watch the videos of the Ohm and circuit which are good for my quest, but maybe not strong enough.  I do a lot of bushwacking in SoCal and not sure how this pack will act off trail.  I am careful but I think everyone knows at the end of the day your ready to eat and sleep.  I sometimes don't care and drop my pack, or pick it up by the shoulder straps which is not right but I feel everyone has been there.  The warranty is important to me and I am willing to spend more for good pack, but TheRambler I think you most likely have the best pack made, or very close, I agree the cost is very high and I would have to think about it very hard.  

10:09 p.m. on August 20, 2016 (EDT)
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Bushwacking may be it's weakness...I do a lot of that too and haven't tried the Ohm out yet but plan to this fall. I may chicken out and switch back to the Gregory for those trips. Good luck in your search.

10:35 p.m. on August 20, 2016 (EDT)
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I am looking at the Granite Gear Leopard AC 58 Backpack which I think they may have stop making, there is many on sale now.  The only thing wrong I can see is no straps at the bottom, but I have straps that could work on front of the pack and the hip pockets are N/A, my camera/phone is waterproof and I know I am a plumber.  It can clip to the hip belt. I will make a list and let everyone vote and then I'll make a review for everyone.

Thanks Phil

10:21 a.m. on August 21, 2016 (EDT)
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The waist belt on the ULA is the best I have ever used by far. It has multiple adjustment straps.  The pack is narrower than a standard pack and would be actually be superior for off-trail hiking.

Because it is light, at only a little more than 2 pounds, you do not want to throw it around.  Thirty pounds is no problem with a ULA, but 40 would probably overwhelm it.

I do not see the utility of a pack that weighs more than 5 pounds, no matter how durable it is.

12:24 p.m. on August 21, 2016 (EDT)
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I agree, it looks like the ULA would work the best.  I know that the circuit and catalyst would work.  I know the size I stated was 60 liters, but the catalyst would work for longer trip, and if I can reframe from trying to fill the pack it will still provide a field of view.  It seems that the material is a little stronger than the circuit.

Thank you ppine 

2:26 p.m. on August 21, 2016 (EDT)
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Mike,

You are welcome. The Catalyst is rated to handle 40 pounds, and might be an easier transition from more traditional packs.  The chose the Circuit for shorter trips like 3 days

3:34 p.m. on August 21, 2016 (EDT)
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I am heading out Sept 8 for a few days with the Ohm and will probably be scrambling through some rough country to "create" a loop hike.  If the other ULAs you are considering are made of similar material, I can give you some direct feedback on bushwacking durability after that.

6:14 p.m. on August 21, 2016 (EDT)
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Thanks phil, I look at the site and the large side pockets look like they have change to solid material now.  I think that makes a big difference about getting snags.  

Mike

10:05 p.m. on August 21, 2016 (EDT)
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I have the Osprey Volt 60 and absolutely love it! It fits all the requirements that you listed and from my experience has been pretty rugged. Some of our trails in the Citico/Slickrock Wilderness are almost the same as bushwhacking. It is priced right and I don't know if you'll find a better warranty than Osprey's. It is very adjustable and the hip belt is great! The only problem I have with mine is the water bottle pockets are a bit hard to access. I have loaded mine to the 40lb mark several times and it still rides well. The shoulder straps never seem to dig in and are quite comfortable. The bottom straps are good for a tent or a sleeping pad. I think it's a great pack!

12:55 p.m. on August 22, 2016 (EDT)
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there are a lot of good brands out there.  whatever fits and works best for you, i suppose.  i'm one, for example, who can't get comfortable with Osprey's larger backpacks, they don't ride well on me, yet a lot of people love them.

a few additional ones to consider:

-my son is taking a weeklong trip and was kind of hard to fit.  we ended up with a REI traverse 70 (his is size small, so around 65 liters).  i admittedly had a bias against the store brand and must admit i was surprised and impressed with the construction and intelligent design of this backpack.  it's less expensive than many comparable backpacks but extremely well put-together and comfortable.  they make it in a smaller size too.   

-i have been carrying a large (100+ liter) mystery ranch backpack for almost ten years.  they're on the heavy side, very durable, and made to carry a lot of weight if needed.  for me, they're comfortable and carry weight well.  the glacier or sphinx would be the size range you're looking at.  

-gregory's baltoro is a really well-refined backpack in that size range.  another one on the heavy side; one of the best at making 50 pounds feel like 30, though.  they have been offering it for a long time, constantly updating it in various ways.  for example, the hip belt pockets on mine are too small and have some mesh that's prone to getting torn, or eaten by critters who find that damn clif bar i forgot.  they're larger and more usable now.   would have to try one on - the hip belt and shoulder harness padding is pretty hard, not to everyone's liking.  has an interesting and very useful angled bottle pocket on one side.  

1:41 p.m. on August 22, 2016 (EDT)
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It is amazing how many people still carry 50 pounds.

The obvious question is why?

2:07 p.m. on August 22, 2016 (EDT)
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My wife and I used 2014 model Atmos/Aura 50s on the JMT in 2014 and packed them up with 11 days worth of food for a trip in the Wind Rivers this summer (stating weights of 46 lbs for me and 40 lbs for my wife). The most comfortable pack I have ever owned, and the new model suspension system looks even better (tried one in in a shop). BV500 bear cans fit only vertically, but we made it work.

3:27 p.m. on August 22, 2016 (EDT)
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I carry a heavy pack often. It makes me happy to take what I want. The obvious question is, why question others hiking style or what they carry?

6:53 p.m. on August 22, 2016 (EDT)
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Mike I have a 2008 ULA Catalyst and a 2014 Cuircut..The differnce is the Catalyst has mesh pockets and is bigger...Frame is pretty much  the same. The materials are a little different by its Dynamee also...You might be able to custom a pack a little with Chris...You have to send an email  and ask...But goodluck on the pack selection..

9:28 p.m. on August 22, 2016 (EDT)
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A lot of input from everyone, Thanks.  I check the weight of my gear last night with 2 changes of clothes, stove, bag, tent and sleeping pad ect.  I came up with 19.2 pounds.  I can go lighter but I really like the Hubba Hubba and wide sleeping pad.  ULA looks great and the only problems I found with all packs is bear canister.  The circuit and Catalyst will work good, but my comfort is number one.  I have check the Atmos and Baltro and they're very good also.  I had access to them and tried them for a few weeks each.  I know osprey has sale starting Tuesday with 30% off on the Aether packs.  I fell I have the correct weight for my system, and this weight included small things like 3 lip bonds, extra things in first aid kit, suntan, soap suds, wipes ect.....

Weight doesn't bother me, I work hard and just want to get on the trail without equipment failure.  At this time I'm thinking about the Catalyst or Aether 60 liter.  Food is the problem but when on a extended trip I will put all freeze dry food in freezer bag and use my pot to heat the food.  I have to have coffee in the morning and oatmeal and at night hot meal.  I eat cold at lunch time, and 95 % of time I don't boil water, just heat it up.  Still looking and great info for me.

Thank You

Mike

10:45 a.m. on August 23, 2016 (EDT)
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slightly off topic, but a sampling of reasons one might carry 50+ pounds:

1. long trip without resupply.

2.  trip in areas where water is scarce, which can significantly increase the weight.

3. winter trips in areas that require axes, crampons, snowshoes, and heavier sleeping bags, clothing, etc.

4.  people who are starting out at this, who don't have a lot of money to spend, and who end up with gear that, while utilitarian, is quite heavy.  (this describes me in my youth).  

5.  parents who hike with younger children and serve as 'the mother ship,' carrying gear for multiple people (this describes me up until maybe 5 years ago).

6.  Canoe portage (well over 50 - i think our canoe alone weighs about 55).   

7.  Hunters that carry out anything reasonably large.

i haven't carried 50 on a summer trip in the last 4-5 years, fortunately, but i often do training walks carrying 50.  makes carrying 35-40 pleasant.  :)

11:20 a.m. on August 23, 2016 (EDT)
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Thanks Andrew, that is a great answer.

8:39 p.m. on August 23, 2016 (EDT)
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I talk to ULA today and went over my base weight and explain what I wanted to do and after talking it seems the catalyst would be the best one for my needs.  I can take a few pounds off, like changing sleeping pad and stove, I feel I could get it around 35 to 37 pounds.  I am a solo person, and I like the amount of water this pack can hold.

Thanks for input,

I feel I'll go with the ULA Catalyst

Mike

August 19, 2019
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