Backpack size

10:36 p.m. on January 30, 2007 (EST)
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I am looking into getting a backpack for some backcountry trips. I think the longest trip in my foreseeable future would be a week, but I would probably be looking at doing longer trips in the future.

Essentially I want to know what size pack I should get. I was thinking 5600 cubic inches, but, I really have no way to determine what it would be exactly that I would.

Any help or opinions are much appreciated.

11:02 p.m. on January 30, 2007 (EST)
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A lot of it depends on how big and how much stuff you have. I have a 5600 cu. in. backpack and it suits me fine for a week long trip. For me, it always seems like I have to cram the last bit of food somewhere to make it all fit; of course, this isn't much of a problem towards the end of the trip. Also, the tent and the foam pad or therma rest gets strapped onto the outside of the pack. Hope this helps at least a little, if not ask some more questions.

1:35 a.m. on January 31, 2007 (EST)
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This question comes up regularly. The right answer is "big enough to hold what you plan to take." By that I mean you need to lay out everything you intend to take and then see what size pack you need. There is no right answer. 5600 is a huge pack suitable for winter expeditions. Many lightweight hikers can get by easily with a 3000 c.i. pack for a week or longer. Winter packs are much bigger because of the extra gear, such as big parkas,big sleeping bags, extra clothes, etc.

If you don't have all your gear yet, I would focus on buying lightweight gear and trimming down everything you plan to take, so that you don't need a monster pack. Big packs tend to get filled with a lot of extra stuff because there is space for it and you'll wind up carrying much more weight than necessary.

11:40 a.m. on January 31, 2007 (EST)
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I agree with Tom. The activities and conditions anticipated dictate what type and size pack you should have. Simple summer hiking is quite a light load. Climbing adds gear to your pack. Winter gear, like Tom said, adds more. I carry a Dana Design Bomb pack (3200 ci) on ice climbing overnighters and still have room to spare. I could probably get away with a 2000 ci pack in the summer... My extended use pack is about 5000 ci.

If you are considering a new pack, it is vital that you have your back measured. Once you find the right size pack, you MUST try it on with weight and wear it for about 15 minutes or so. Move around and make sure it fits well. Cutting this corner will cause great heartache down the road.

1:07 p.m. on January 31, 2007 (EST)
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I agree with what the others said - buy a pack that fits you and into which you can fit your gear. As you gain experience you'll tend to lug less "stuff" along - so you'll be able to accomodate longer trips with the same sized pack.
Careful gear selection and food planning can allow you to travel with very little "stuff". Winter, naturally, changes everything, as does climbing.
When I started backpacking (in the dark ages, dirt was invented but fire was still in the planning phase) a friend gave me great advice - he suggested I write down everything I put in my pack - then - during the trip - note if/when I used it - on the next trip he suggested that I leave out anything that hadn't been used on the prior trip (first aid kits and the like do NOT belong on this list) - when I'd been out for a couple trips of 4-10 days and everything had been used, I knew what I really needed. That was in the late 1960's, early 1970's - the core list hasn't changed much since then .....
Whatever you do - beware of magazine "essential" lists - if you were to pack everything most market driven editors consider "essential" you'd need a packhorse to carry your load for a weekend ....

10:59 p.m. on February 1, 2007 (EST)
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I agree with everything everyone’s said so far. Don’t buy bigger than you need. Buy a pack that’s just big enough for what you do need. Only you can determine how much stuff that is.

Steve’s advice about writing down what you use and what you don’t is good. I’d heard it long ago, but only recently started doing it, mainly because we’re now taking our 2 1/2 year old out with us and I need a checklist to keep everything straight. We’ve stripped things down quite a bit. I now have a car camping checklist and a backpacking checklist. It also keeps me from throwing in extra stuff “for just in case” that I really don’t need. If it’s not on the list, it’s probably not coming along.

Also, I personally prefer not to lash items to the outside of my pack, although occasionally tent poles or a sleeping pad end up there. I just like a streamlined pack that won’t catch on anything. I also feel like the weight balances better. Having to fit everything inside my pack helps me keep my load down since I’m not tempted to put anything extra on the outside.

9:21 a.m. on February 20, 2007 (EST)

Maybe everybody won't agree with me, but I would suggest a pack maybe even a little smaller, if you find you don't have enough room, then you are taking too much stuff, period. One quick example you will always find in magazines "essential pack list" is 2-4 days of extra food. What? Here's the deal with extra food; 1 days worth. Why? Because you may be hungrier than you thought, all that extra food is unecessary, you can live weeks without food if you are lost, and if you ARE lost longer than that, 3 days of extra food is not going to do much good.

12:51 p.m. on February 20, 2007 (EST)
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go with the 5600 C.I. bag.

You can always carry less in a big pack and obviously you can't carry more in a smaller one.

Everybody's idea of what one should bring on a trip can vary like the wind.

Take what you want and take what weight you feel comfortable carrying.

My 5600 CI pack can sometimes be too big for a four day trip and sometimes not big enough for a one night trip (my swedish memory foam pillow and a 12 piece box of fried chicken take up a lot of room).

12:15 p.m. on February 21, 2007 (EST)
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I agree with Ed. I have a large Crestone 75 (5000 ci)pack. After the essentials (stoves,fuel, repair kits, first aid, tent, sleeping bag, extra clothing) I only change the amount of food I take. Hiking the mountains of Idaho or fingerlakes trails of New York, the water is usually always available so only the food is the variable. My pack is pretty solid before I add the food. I believe in being safe and having everything I might need even if it is only an overnight. I have already been situations where I was glad I had all my stuff (helicoptered off of Mt Jacinto after three days of waiting after an unexpected 66 degree drop in temperature and 3 foot of snow.) It was a planned weekend trip.

5:24 a.m. on April 20, 2007 (EDT)
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I use and recommend the Macpac Traverse 65ltr (not sure of the dimensions in CI's). I posted a review on my site:

It's an extremely rugged rucksack and keeps the water out real good.

[Edited by Dave: fixed link, removed sig]

11:24 a.m. on May 20, 2007 (EDT)

a.k.a. John

My best advice is to pick your footwear and your pack for comfort and fit. Find a good local outfitter and take home a couple of packs for the weekend. Leave the tags on and head out to a nature area. Pack what you think you will take for week long trip (in each) and put them to the test. You will find your winner, not only the best pack, but the best store and sales staff too.

(I did this with my wife a couple of years ago, and what seemed the best choice in the store, was not the best on the trail. It was easy to get mislead by hip colors, fancy named fabric, and slick brochers.)

I have ventured into the wood with people who have packed twenty-two pounds and over fifty pounds, for the same trip mind you, but I have not found anyone with an empty pack. I would glady take an uncomfortable tent over an uncomfortable pack.

12:33 a.m. on May 22, 2007 (EDT)

a.k.a. Steve T

Ditto the advice "big enough to carry your gear." Take your stuff to an outfitter and check out pack of various sizes and choose what works for you. For me I carry the same gear overnight vs. 2 weeks. Only difference is food and always pack that in a bearikade weekender, so 1 night is same size (though not weight) as one week.

I can't tell you how big in cc my pack is, but stuffed to the gills it can handle my typical gear plus two bear cannisters and has compression straps for smaller loads.


2:46 a.m. on May 22, 2007 (EDT)

a.k.a. tungstentony, Tony Lynes

My short life as a backpacker has been filled with confidence and good advice from my outfitter, he listened to me first, then suggested models to try. Like everyone suggested, wear some packs with about as much weight as you expect to need in gear, have them fit to your requirements, before buying. As far as cubic inches, my 5760ci pack barely holds my gear for an 8 day trip, but I'm 6'2" and 300 lbs! My clothes, and bag are larger than normal and I have a large appetite! My outfitter couldn't see how I needed a large pack, until he tried to fit my ultra light clothing from his store in his pack, (he's about 150 lbs soaking wet). My outfitter spent a total of 3 hours with me over a week to find the "right" pack for my needs. I also agree with trying to keep everything inside, I used to swear by external frame packs until I actually used the internal frame afield. Keep it clean, high, and tight. They are right about packing for all the "what ifs", don't. I do exactly as someone else suggested, one extra days worth of food.

4:01 a.m. on July 4, 2007 (EDT)

5000 ci is fine for up to 14 days. I often go out for 10 days solo with a pack this size and everything is inside the backpack, except my fishing pole.

11:39 a.m. on July 4, 2007 (EDT)
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For "most"backpacking, the 5000-5500 cu. in. size is perfect, buy a REALLY good pack, adjust it perfectly for fit and you will be fine.

I seldom use a pack smaller than this as my "daypack"is a Mystery Ranch Futura Deluxe with two Fliptop pockets and a pair of Longpockets on the sides. This carries my emerg. camp without which I won't leave my vehicle, ANYWHERE, and is among the finest packs I have ever worn.

For winter backpacks, and extended wilderness excursions, I now use a Mystery Ranch BDSB with the above accessories, this goes over 8000 cu. in. and is not needed for most backpacking. However, for it's intended uses, nothing comes close and I have tested mine with over 100 lbs. which it carries in complete comfort.

If, you winter camp, I would recommend a 6000-6500 cu. in pack, my choices would be a MR-G-6000, a Gregory Denali Pro such as I used to have or a custom pack from Dan McHale, assuming you are serious about this and want gear that WILL perform.

2:42 p.m. on July 4, 2007 (EDT)
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I disagree with Ed and the others pushing the big packs. While they are right in principle-you can always put less in a big pack, in practice, that doesn't happen. I weigh less than 140 lbs. The idea that I could even lift, let alone carry, a 100 lb. pack is absurd. Even 50 lbs is too much for me. On my last winter trip, I towed a sled-so much easier. I made mine out of a kiddie sled I bought for $15 at Sports Authority, and made poles out of PVC and some cheap fittings. Worked just fine.

A 3000 ci pack is fine for most people for up to a week. Get 4K if you must, but anything bigger is inviting yourself to carry a lot of stuff you'll never use or use once. Give your back and your knees a break, don't try carrying the whole store with you. Save your knees for skiing.

8:09 p.m. on July 4, 2007 (EDT)
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The foregoing post assumes that all winter camping is the same and that one can use a sled, even a serious one such as a Kifaru in all conditions; such is not the case here in BC.

A weeklong deep winter solo trek, of which I have done many, requires a pack that will hold what you actually need and the larger packs have much superior suspensions that make this easier to carry, hence, they work better.

The point about size-volume making one carry excessive gear/supplies/weight is absurd; any serious, experienced winter wilderness camper knows what to take and that is ALL he packs,so, it's about skill, self-discipline and using appropriate gear, not physical weakness and lack of experience with severe winter conditions.

I can tell you that the FIRST time you spend several nights alone, far from ANY human habitation, on 8-20 ft. of snow and in temps. from -25*F to colder than -40*F, you WILL carry a bulkier sleeping bag, spare pad and clothing plus more fuel and food. The 6500 CI packs make this far more practicable than a tiny rucksack will as experience taught me many years ago.

10:00 p.m. on July 5, 2007 (EDT)
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For winter camping of more than one night I have for many years used a 7000 cubic-inch pack made years ago by former Kifaru-maker MountainSmith. It has very poorly designed suspension and I don't like it. Hence I'd question this statement:

"The larger packs have much superior suspensions that make this easier to carry, hence, they work better."

This is slighly more useful, or at least comforting information:

"I can tell you that the FIRST time you spend several nights alone, far from ANY human habitation, on 8-20 ft. of snow and in temps. from -25*F to colder than -40*F, you WILL carry a bulkier sleeping bag, spare pad and clothing plus more fuel and food."

For most trips to Northwest and BC., I've used a 3000 ci bag. I highly recommend MEC and I have another by Lowe which has no frame at all, and is good for a few nights, at least, including bulky climbing gear. My winter camping there was limited to two weekends, when I used a 2000 ci pack, which was much too small.

There are some highly experienced, somewhat high-profile commentators who would contradict this statement:

"The point about size-volume making one carry excessive gear/supplies/weight is absurd."

The next set of statements either don't follow, are irrelevant/and or slightly irrational, and are poorly punctuated:

"any serious, experienced winter wilderness camper knows what to take and that is ALL he packs,so, it's about skill, self-discipline and using appropriate gear, not physical weakness and lack of experience with severe winter conditions."


11:10 p.m. on July 5, 2007 (EDT)
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You have deliberately taken my comments out of context and distorted their meaning, just what I expect from you as you seem driven to foment a flame war here. The forum rules preclude my replying as I would prefer to, but, your TWO WEEKENDS sure are a LOT of winter camping experience, eh?

As to punctuation, it is correct to use periods to quote WRITTEN material, not "exclamation marks" which are used to denote speech.........typical, eh?

10:20 a.m. on July 6, 2007 (EDT)
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I think Kutenay's point was clear: an experienced winter camper will not take more than he or she needs or is able to carry simply because there is extra space in a large packpack.

Regarding punctuation, it is customary to write "and/or" rather than "/and or," but this is not a grammar forum.

Should the comma after "or" be placed inside or outside the quotation marks?

10:37 a.m. on July 6, 2007 (EDT)
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Regarding pack size, I generally carry a 4,000 ci pack with sleeping pad strapped to the bottom, and try to limit pack weight to 35 lbs or less, but I haven't taken a hike longer than 4 days in more years than I care to count. That pack works well for three season use.

It also works well in winter conditions when there is little or no snow and temperatures not much below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, which seems to occur more often here in southern Michigan.

However, for colder weather I use an army surplus sleeping bag that is too large to fit in that pack and too heavy to carry, so if I can't tow it on a sled, I'm car camping or staying home.

For paddling trips, I tend to over-pack and use a "great bloody sack" that is waterproof and has detachable shoulder straps and waist belt. That's the same bag that I use on a sled.

12:40 p.m. on July 7, 2007 (EDT)
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I'd recommend a mix of the above comments taken a step further.

go to the outfitter and try on a variety of packs and sizes, then go hunting on ebay and pick up two packs -- one monster huge pack, and a smaller 3000 cu in pack.

See how you like both and figure out which one makes more sense, then throw the other one back on e-bay. I've done that and actually made a few bucks off of doing it :-)

4:14 a.m. on July 13, 2007 (EDT)
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It all comes down to how long you are going to be out there and how much gear you are bringing with you. If you are doing an overnighter, 2000-3000 is plenty, unless you are a glutton for punishment and want to carry too much weight. For multi-day trips I suggest 4000+ for all the food and gear you need to stay out there. For week long expeditions 5000+ is ideal for you can carry all your food, gear and those creature comforts that are nice to have so you don't get that feeling of running home to mommy. The following is my gear list for a recent May excursion into Grand Escalante in the Paria River Area for 5 days:

Deuter Aircontact 55+10 Backpack
Source 3 Liter Water Reservoir
Deuter Dreamlite 500 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes Air Core Sleeping Pad
Brunton Raptor Stove

That is the staple of my gear that I took, of course all the essentials with it, and we had one incredible adventure. I look forward to trekking the Uinta's this August, and heading back to Denali next season after I get my snowboarding fix! Hope this helps you narrow down what you are looking for. Cheers!

1:43 a.m. on July 21, 2007 (EDT)
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What size backpack is good for a hike consisting of about 13-16 days? I plan on hiking the John Muir Trail at a good pace and believe it will take 13- 16 days. I do not want to resupply along the way. I wish to take all my belongings and food with me from the start on day 1.
Thank you

2:16 a.m. on July 21, 2007 (EDT)
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maybe find a wagon with a good suspension system? :-)

9:27 a.m. on July 21, 2007 (EDT)
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With all due respect, if you are having to ask what pack size you will need for the John Muir trail unsupported, you are not ready for the trip. What you need is to determine the gear you'll be taking, put together a food load and then look for a pack with suitable specifications. If you start with a skin out load of 25 pounds and carry 2 pounds of food per day you will be starting with a load of around 50 pounds. This could all squeeze into a 4000 to 4500 cubic inch pack. But, nobody on the forum knows what you will haul along; only you know that.

The whole idea is to HYOH; it is not advisable to select gear based simply on the opinions of others. You should always base equipment choice on your knowledge of your needs and preferences, not the opinions of others. Sure, use info from others to see what is available and to evaluate options and alternatives but the final responsibility and decision are yours.

You can do the trip with a smaller pack. I did what you are proposing in 1954 but took about 20 days on the trail. I used a war surplus German Army rucksack that I would estimate at 3500 cubic inches plus two outside pockets. My gear at the time weighed about 15-16 pounds and I was carrying an additional 30 pounds of food. All I can say is that it worked but the pack was only comfortable when the food was more than half gone. And, I didn't have enough food along so was on short rations for the last ten days. So, you can do the trip with a relatively small pack but whether you should or not is your decision.

10:23 a.m. on July 21, 2007 (EDT)
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Thanks Pika,
Wow 1954 John Muir Trail!! Thats amazing. Have you been back to the trail more recentely to see if its changed or is any different from how you remember it? You are right I am not ready for the trip. I plan on doing this in August of 2008 but I want to start knowing more and doing more research. I have lots of supplies to date but lack some things like a backpack and good hiking shoes. Thanks you for taking the time to respond. Your notes are invaluable.

12:28 p.m. on July 21, 2007 (EDT)
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Rudy, thanks for the kind words. I have hiked much of the trail since then but only in sections. The changes I've noticed are re-routings and a lot more people now than then (but not as many more as one would expect). There seemed to be a lot more people horse packing in those days than now. Several times in '54 I was fed by horse packers who felt sorry for this scrawny 17-year-old all by himself with nobody to do his laundry. I don't think I would have been able to make the trip without those meals and a few cans of stuff I bought at Red's Meadows.

I too am planning on hiking the trail again next year, this time with resupply at Toulumne and at Muir Trail Ranch. I'll be turning 71 while on the trail and don't want to haul any more than I need to. I'll be going North to South again and am probably more excited about the repeat than I was for the original trip.

My pack will be about the same weight now as in '54 but I will be a lot more comfortable. I won't have to rely on fires for cooking and I'll have a tarp-tent rather than a GI poncho and a lot of other improvements over what I carried then. I recently found my gear checklist for that trip and was amazed at how much I carried was cotton. Not now!

Good luck with your preparation. PM me if you think I can be helpful.

2:26 p.m. on July 21, 2007 (EDT)
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rudy, one addition to Pika's excellent comments. Keep in mind that the JMT is over 200 miles long. Your 13-16 days means 14 to 17 miles a day, with no rest days. I don't know how good a shape you are in, but back in the 1950s and 1960s when I was doing a lot of long distance hiking in the Sierra, including JMT, I did some 20-25 mile a day long distance hikes. What I found was there was no time for scenery, pictures, or enjoying the hike. I found that the kind of pace that Pika mentions (20 days for the JMT) is a lot more enjoyable. If you keep it closer to 10 mile days, and allow for rest and fishing days (fresh caught trout for breakfast, YUM!), you will enjoy the trip a lot more.

I have a friend who did the JMT as a 10 mile/day trip some years back, then did it in 10 days 2 years ago (4 resupply points to keep it light - I did a day hike over Kearsarge to give him the resupply for the last segment to Whitney). When I gave him his last resupply, he said he was glad he was doing it, but was really anxious to get the last segment over with. It satisfied his PR wish and convinced him that more leisurely trips are a lot more enjoyable.

Unless maybe you are out for a PR? In which case, make sure your footwear is well broken in. Lots of people on through-hikes suffer mightily with blisters and sore feet for their first week on the trail, due to insufficient attention to their feet and footwear. If you really try to go unsupported and no re-supply, the footgear becomes even more important.

I really suggest you do several multi-day hikes on which you carry 50-60 pounds and do 20 mile days for 3-5 days straight just to see what it is really like.

1:28 a.m. on July 22, 2007 (EDT)
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Thanks Bill,
You are absolutley correct about the time frame I wish to complete this in (speedy). The main reason (to be honest) in completing this hike in this small amount of time is I don't have sufficent time off from school/work. And as of now I can't really take longer. I have read countless stories (mostly online) about hikers really enjoying their trip on the John Muir Trail and seeing all the beautiful scenery and jumping in some of the lakes, and enjoying time with others that went along. I become almost envious of their happyness there. BUT, then I read they accomplished the trail in 20+ days!! To be honest, when I read it took them, or they took, over 20 days I cringe at the thought of that. I am not trying to set any records, but would like to accomplish it in a time period that fits into my schedual. However, I do want to really Take-In the Trail and bask in it's glory. You are right Bill, in order for me to do just that, I will need to really slow down the hiking pace and focus more on whats really important to me. The scenery, plunging into some of the lakes, taking great photos and camcording some of my trip (which I want to make a DVD of later), and just enjoying the trail.+/- August 2008 may be far away, but for some reason I feel so anxious everytime I think about Hiking the John Muir Trail. Its a rush for me to do something that (in my opinion) is very difficult. I have been going to Yosemite since I was a child and have always wanted to do the John Muir Trail ever since I saw it on the bottom of a sign as I enter the trail from Happy Isles. Last year me and my wife summited Half Dome in less than 1 day and I have been more inclined than ever to do this trip. Time is really my only restraint now. And now I don't know what I'm going to do!!! Thanks alot for opening my eyes to the real reason of why I initially wanted to go on this trip. Not for the end result. I have a lot of thinking and planning to do over the next several months. I really appreciate the time you took to educate me and help me make the best decision.

3:31 p.m. on July 24, 2007 (EDT)
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Hi Rudy. One other thing I was thinking about a couple of days ago is this: You will be required to keep your food in approved bear cannisters while you are in Yosemite and Sequoia/King's Canyon National Parks. Also in some parts of the USFS managed wilderness. The backcountry rangers check for the cannisters and you can be heavily fined and banished from the trail if you are found without.

If you plan to make the entire trip without re-supply you will need two bear cannisters at 2+ pounds each to hold your food, toothpaste, sunscreen, cologne and other smelly stuff. I have managed to carry ten days of food in a single Bear Vault which is, to my knowledge, the largest cannister available but almost needed a hydraulic press to get the stuff inside. This was based on a light food load of 1.5 pounds per day and with food chosen for packability rather than flavor. For a two week transit, you will at least need a large Bear Vault and a Weekender (I think that is what the smaller version is called). You will then need to be sure you can get both bear cannisters in the pack together with your gear. If you plan carefully for a resupply drop at either Muir Trail Ranch or Vermillion Valley Resort you can get by with a single bear cannister for the trip.

8:17 p.m. on July 24, 2007 (EDT)
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Pika, the BearIKade is larger than the large Bear Vault, and is also accepted by the Park Service. It is also over twice as expensive, but the container itself is much lighter than the large Bear Vault or the Garcia. Rudy might be able to get by with a single BearIKade for his trip, but he would be on short rations toward the end of the trip.

9:14 p.m. on July 24, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill, thanks for the info. I have no experience with the Bearacade other than one look at the price; I didn't bother checking the size once I saw that. I have heard, however, that they can be custom made to a range of sizes. A large custom Bearicade could be a possibility for a fast unsupported trip.

1:57 a.m. on July 25, 2007 (EDT)
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Rexim, Commas go inside the quote marks as far as I know. I'm not sure about the use of periods for quotes. Never seen that and we don't use them in that fashion in my line of work.

As far as the original question, as you can see, there is a wide variation of opinions and some contentions as to their validity. I suggest reading all of them and making a decision based on your own evaluation of what you see here.

Pika, Bear Vault has a half size canister and there is a new recently approved one by another manufacturer-can't remember the name offhand, but it is on the SIGG website, if I remember right. It was a lot cheaper than the Bearikade and fairly light.

5:38 p.m. on August 16, 2007 (EDT)

Are there packs out there that can be considered good as daypacks AND weekend packs? For instance, I want to have an internal frame pack that can handle my tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, etc... but can be stripped down to be good for just a hike. Any thoughts?


6:08 p.m. on August 16, 2007 (EDT)
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There are a number of packs which have removable lids with pockets that can be used as fanny packs (my Dana Terraplane is an expedition pack with a removable lid that has loops to slide a belt through, for example). And some that have a removable section that has shoulder straps.

6:23 p.m. on August 16, 2007 (EDT)
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In the past, I have used a coated nylon, lightweight day pack (about 8 oz) as a stuff sack for my sleeping bag and extra clothing. Not watertight but keeps things dry; also serves as a pillow with just the extra clothing in it. Yes there is a weight penalty over a stuff sack but you can use it as a day pack when you need one.

6:49 p.m. on August 16, 2007 (EDT)
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It's interesting to see the different perspectives on this.

I use a Kelty Redwing 3100 for my DAY hikes. I think it's marketed as a "weekend" pack. But I can't imagine fitting my tent (which is only a Mountain Hardwear Skyview 1.5), plus a sleeping bag, and pad, not to mention a bear cannister for food.

I fill up the 3100 on my day hikes. But then, I take lots of food, water, and warm clothes (always enough to sustain me if the worst happened and I got stuck on (or off) a trail overnight or longer).

But, then, I am doing contingency planning (actually information technology disaster recovery planning) for a living, so my perspective may be a little unusual :-).

After a long hiatus from backpacking, I'm planning to give it a try again - and am debating retiring the Kelty D4 external frame pack I bought in 1978 (wow, 29 years ago, hard to believe) for something more modern. I've been thinking I'd need something in the 5500-5600 range. I've seen a few with removable mini packs for use on day hikes (e.g. pack in with the full pack, camp, and take the mini pack on day hikes from there). I'm not sure how I'd carry my camera tripod on the day hikes though... (it fits nicely in the Redwing water bottle pocket).

7:07 p.m. on August 16, 2007 (EDT)
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bheiser1 said "But, then, I am doing contingency planning (actually information technology disaster recovery planning) for a living, so my perspective may be a little unusual :-)."

I have a poster that I acquired some years ago. It is one of the Beatitudes:

"Blessed are the Pessimists, for they have made Backups"

The picture with it shows a cartoon animal bending over his keyboard, holding his head in his hands.

7:40 p.m. on August 16, 2007 (EDT)
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The pack that I originally suggested CAN/DOES strip down if one wants to do this and yet will expand to about 5000 cu. in. with the extra Longpockets, Fliptop pockets and also you can attach a Mystery Ranch Loadcell easily so that you can carry all you would need to 4-5 days OR a day hike.

The point about Mystery Ranch, a company started and owned by pack genius Dana Gleason who also started Dana Design, is that they make packs of the highest quality that will LAST and thus are excellent value. I have never owned or used packs as good as these and I have had my share.

Now, as to correct English usage, it is:

When quoting a spoken comment, it is correct to denote this by separating it from the rest of your text by using quotation marks aka exclamation points, as such ", both before and after the quoted text.

When quoting a written comment, one does the same thing, BUT, employs THREE periods in place of the exclamation points. This is traditional English usage as taught in schools worldwide since, "The Glorious Days of the Raj" which illustrates the other aspect of this, proper nouns as in titles are denoted by quotation marks.

2:27 a.m. on August 17, 2007 (EDT)
38 reviewer rep
1,902 forum posts

Clayton, I have an old Kelty pack that can be expanded by adding clip-on pockets to it and I bet there are others like it around. For short day hikes, I have a small pack I got years ago for nothing. It will hold snacks, water and an extra jacket, pretty much all I take on a short hike in a local park. For a longer day hike in strange territory, I'd carry my big pack with extras such as the ten essentials (basic survival gear), food, extra clothes, maybe even a light bivy sack and stove, depending on how far I planned to go and the weather. In winter, I'd add a shovel and more extra clothes, just in case, so a bigger pack works as a "day pack."

11:59 p.m. on August 17, 2007 (EDT)
14 reviewer rep
9 forum posts

For my long, heavy trips (carrying a fly rod, camera, and tripod) my pack of choice is the Osprey Atmos 50. It is about 3000 cubic inches. I always have room to spare. My other favorite pack is the Osprey Talon 44. i just finished a 113 mile section of the Continental Divide Trail in Colorado and the Talon is the pack I used. It is 2600 cubic inches and everything fit inside with room to spare.
On this trip I left out my fly rod and tripod but added my PLB. I have done the list thing after backpacking for 32 years and it is amazing what is not in my pack anymore...and more amazing is that none of the stuff is missed.
The nice thing about the 2 packs mentioned above is that I can use them for day hikes if I so choose. It is also my opinion that the bigger the pack, the more stuff you will pack. As a result, you will be packing more weight. I see no need for a pack bigger than 3500 inches for most trips.

11:18 p.m. on September 8, 2007 (EDT)
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1 forum posts

> Also, the tent and the foam pad or therma rest gets strapped onto the outside of the pack.

Just an aside, but your comment makes me curious. Assuming that you strap the thermarest to the bottom loops on your pack, how do you securely strap your tent to the outside of your pack? I'm assuming that you have a daisy chain... I've always been wary of strapping my tent to the outside. Any tips?

8:22 p.m. on September 10, 2007 (EDT)
4,419 reviewer rep
6,010 forum posts

I, and many others, first of all split the tent among the number of people sleeping in it (2-person, 2 people, 3-person, 3 people, etc). The usual division is (2P) 1 gets the tent body, the other gets the fly and poles and pegs, (3P) one gets the tent body, 1 gets the fly (it's heavier for a 3P), the third gets the pegs and poles, and you swap day to day to even things out. 1P - put the tent and fly inside (it squishes, after all) and poles on the side under the tensioner straps. Or, if you really gotta carry the whole thing, put the tent bag with everything in it on top under the top flap/pocket.

5:19 p.m. on September 15, 2007 (EDT)
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25 forum posts

I put my tent (3.5lb Bibler) into the rear mesh + daisy chained elasticised large, flat, back pocket of my Osprey Aether 60. The poles & stakes are sandwiched vertically between the tent & the backpack.
I make sure to pack the tent in such a way that only the thicker urethane sealed floor is exposed. I'll either cover that with it's 6oz groundsheet and/or a light outer shell folded squarish.
By the way the Osprey Aether 60 (3500 the only backpack I now own, used for year round offtrail backpacking, with everything packed inside (except snowshoes & closed cell foam pad strapped outside it in winter).

7:03 p.m. on September 19, 2007 (EDT)

a.k.a. Jeff Chandler, Jeffrey C.

It all depends on your needs and preferences. I have found that most people agree that lighter is better. has great articles and a great gear list of everything you could need.

I personally use a GoLite Jam2 3200ci pack for all my outtings. I don't do any hiking in the snow but I have been out in 0 degree weather with nothing but what would fit in my 3200ci pack which is the same gear I always carry.

think about it like this.
Do you need a super padded backpack if your whole pack only weighs 20lbs?
How much would you rather carry 20 instead of 35?
In the end though you have to carry things that you will be comfortable with in the backcountry.

3:21 p.m. on September 25, 2007 (EDT)
5 reviewer rep
7 forum posts

If you are a lightweight fanatic, you can do a week with 4000 cu in. For most folks, 5000 cu in is enough for expeditions.


5:06 p.m. on September 26, 2007 (EDT)
47 reviewer rep
241 forum posts

Where exactly are you hiking and what time of year? For example, in the summer I would probably carry the same clothes whether I am going out for 3, 5 or even 10 days. I could also be hiking for 10 days, but plan a copule of re-supplys so that I never have to carry more than 3 or four days worth of food.
Food takes up a lot of space, but remember that you only have to carry 10 days worth of food for only one day! The colder the temps you have to prepare for, the bulky your clothes and sleeping bag and pad will be, so you will need more volume. In short, I would let the number of days you have to carry food and fuel and the temperature range you expect to encounter help determine the size of your pack. As you look at the cu. in. sizes be sure you notice the size of the main bag, extension collar, and pockets separately. Some might have a bigger main compartment, but fewer pockets. Check out the frame, too. Many are more substantial than others.

June 24, 2018
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