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Seeking Backpack Advice

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Seeking Backpack Advice

Postby BSquared » Sat Sep 20, 2014 7:26 am

My old REI "Great Star" pack is clearly in need of replacement. I've been looking at online stores, reading up, and seeing what other people have, and I'm trending toward the Gregory Baltoro line, probably the 65. I tend to pack on the heavy side, and on the last trip I took (TR coming in a week or so) I had persistent problems with the Great Star sliding down off my hips: every half hour or so I had to hitch it up with my shoulders and retighten the hip belt, and sometimes even after that adjustment it just slid right back down off my butt. I'm two hours away from the nearest serious outdoor store (REI and EMS), so it's hard for me to try stuff on, and so I'm turning to the ever-helpful forums for advice. I have two specific questions but would be happy for any and all advice.

1. Perhaps most importantly, how convenient is it to put a bear canister into the Gregory Baltoro 65? WIll it fit sideways? Are there other packs people recommend that seem to work particularly well with canisters? I usually carry a Bear Vault BV 500, but on trips longer than 5 days or so I sometimes rent a Bearikade Expedition. (I wish I got out to the Sierra often enough to justify buying a Bearikade. Sigh.)

2. What packs have largely hipless guys (I am definitely not hip :D ) found to ride particularly securely on their (nonexistent) hips? Are there specific things I should look for in the suspension system?
—B²



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Re: Seeking Backpack Advice

Postby Brien » Sat Sep 20, 2014 7:37 am

I have a Gregory Baltoro 65 on order. Like you I did my research and was impressed with all the positive reviews. I then went to REI and tried one on and was hooked. I think it's biggest knock is the weight, but it's still a pound lighter than my 20+ year old North Face. I'm really looking forward to getting it and doing another backpacking trip.
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Re: Seeking Backpack Advice

Postby rlown » Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:47 am

I think it would be prudent to call your REI, see if they have the pack in stock for you to test out, and somehow make a day of it to try it out and anything else they have in the store. 2 hr drive seems a LOT easier than return hassles later.

On the hips or lack thereof, the only thing i can think of is to try and reduce your pack weight a bit. All my packs slip a bit at the beginning of the trip, sometimes pushing me to over cinch the hip belt to the point of pain in the hips/thighs. It all goes away after i drop some of the food weight in pack after about 4 days.
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Re: Seeking Backpack Advice

Postby markskor » Sat Sep 20, 2014 11:20 am

Bill,
Packs are like shoes…every one fits you differently – even those packs which “seem” to fit well at REI may not fit well enough after 4 hours on the trail. Those "in-store" weight bags help, but don't tell the whole story.
As someone who goes out on longer trips Sierra, usually 7 – 12 days…(BTW, only 73 bag nights this summer)... Fit, pack weight, and finally durability (in that order) are my main parameters before pack selection. Additionally, having to carry a bear can puts additional demands on whatever pack used…still, something in the 60 range works best for me as my total “up” is usually ~35 pounds to start.
Those UL, 2 pound packs may work for some - thru hikers and shorter trips, but once you breach the 30 pound barrier, ouch! I look for one with with a stouter suspension (and weighing in ~ 4 pounds...anything heavier means leaving something else out.)... works better than one which weighs less but cannot manage that weight comfortably. Bottom line, you have to do a lot of personal testing on the trail – (or off) before buying anything…Just because your buddy or somebody here loves one brand, does not mean that the same will work for you, especially someone having no butt.
When also looking for my new pack a few years back, (had carried a Shasta for 10 years - like the Gregory fit) – tried a few Ospreys (broke em all), Deuter (ripped it), ULA (killed my shoulders), a Baltero (2 pounds too heavy), and the new light Gregory Z (wouldn’t handle the Bearikade)…couldn’t seem find one newer pack that fit me well, was light enough, and would last over one hard Sierra season.
Coincidentally, I had bought the ex-wife a 60 Gregory Deva (woman’s pack…WM) a few years ago now – she never used it – go figure. I swapped out the shoulder straps from my old Shasta and tried this one out on a 50 mile, fishing trek…it fit like a glove.

Armed with this knowledge, when again needing a new pack after 4 years carrying that well-used Deva, I looked on eBay and found another identical “never used” one for less than $100 …(not the new POS Deva model – ~$350, but), the previous lighter/smaller model without all the straps and giant pockets.
Again, personal fit and pack weight are personal choices and subjective.
There is no one perfect pack for all trips (winter or summer), but for me, without going to a McHale, this one comes closest for my summer outings.
Good luck.
Mark
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Re: Seeking Backpack Advice

Postby BSquared » Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:47 pm

Markskor has it right, as usual: use it in the wilderness for a serious trip. That's how I discovered that my Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone and I just didn't get along. It felt great in the store, it felt great on the (flat) shakedown trips I could manage to do out here in Maryland, and it felt awful after just a couple of days on the trail. Other people on this board love theirs.

The only problem is, I don't see how I can possibly do what you suggest, Mark! I'm good for about 1 trip out west a year, and I don't have a huge network of backpacking friends out here from whom I could borrow a pack for a substantial east-coast shakedown trip (although those I do have recommend Osprey enthusiastically)...

So, if anyone else has a specific idea about a particular pack to replace my old Great Star with... :)
—B²
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Re: Seeking Backpack Advice

Postby markskor » Sun Sep 21, 2014 3:38 pm

Bear Grylls Commando 60-Multi-Day Pack SALE !! Limited Quantities - Hard to Find!!

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Bear-Grylls-Com ... 8357&rt=nc

...well, maybe not, (designed for a big ass :eek: )
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Re: Seeking Backpack Advice

Postby BSquared » Sun Sep 21, 2014 5:30 pm

Hey, it's cheap anyway :D
—B²
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Re: Seeking Backpack Advice

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Sep 21, 2014 7:25 pm

Does Eastern Mountain Sports rent gear?

My husband likes his Gregory pack even though it is heavy. I have tried Gregory packs and they kill my back. I guess my back just does not match their design.

If your old REI pack fit well, why not just upgrade to the equivalent REI pack? You could rent a pack from REI when you came out west for one trip. If you like it, you could then buy one.
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Re: Seeking Backpack Advice

Postby maverick » Sun Sep 21, 2014 8:22 pm

I would deal with REI, especially since you can return any item within one year.
You need to take the pack out on a few trips before making a decision.
Like shoes, they may fit great in store, but once you have a pack on, and go out on
the trail, it may reveal many problems not detectable in the store.
Here is REI's return policy: http://www.rei.com/help/return-policy.html
Take advantage of it, and good luck on your quest, won't recommend a pack since
each of us is built different, and we have different styles of backpacking, so what
works for me probably will not work for you.
Please let us know what you finally decide on, and why.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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