Advantages of a Smaller Pack?

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powderhound
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Advantages of a Smaller Pack?

Post by powderhound » Sat Jul 08, 2017 5:25 pm

Are there any significant advantages to a smaller pack other than weight? Does anyone here have multiple overnight packs? I currently am using an Osprey Xenith 88, and it's been terrific, though it's showing wear from all the miles I've put on it. It's also huge, and I feel silly wearing it on trips that are less than a week. I was looking at the new Aether 70 AG, and it's an incredible pack. I'm sure it's big enough for most trips, but I would be tempted to keep and use the Xenith on trips that involve carrying more than 7 days of food. I have a Bearikade Expedition for longer treks (actually a 16 incher), and mostly I'm worried about fitting it inside a 70L.

The Aether 70 is noticeably skinnier--would it help with balance by keeping weight closer to my core? Has anyone here fit a tent+expedition size canister inside a 70L pack? I'm working my way into tarp camping, but I'm thinking I still might bring a tent on longer treks that involve alpine camping...I just keep thinking about the blizzard/lighting storm at Guitar lake the last time I was there.








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Re: Advantages of a Smaller Pack?

Post by AlmostThere » Sat Jul 08, 2017 5:39 pm

I've never taken a pack larger than 60L, so I'm no help whatsoever. I suspect that my answer lies in being able to pick up the pack. (Strong legs, weak arms.) I've done nine days at a stretch, with a Bearikade Weekender and a Granite Gear pack that wasn't nearly as heavy or huge as any of those...

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Re: Advantages of a Smaller Pack?

Post by rlown » Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:07 pm

why does the tent have to go inside the pack? And why a 16" expedition bearikade? I can do 10 days with a 12" bearikade. No straps on the outside?
I'm sold on my Kelty 5500 so I probably cant help you either. I strap all kinds of stuff on the outside frame and keep the food and clothes inside.

I think smaller pack is psychological, setting a limit on "all I can bring." It's more about the ability to carry (comfortably) what you choose.

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Re: Advantages of a Smaller Pack?

Post by powderhound » Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:27 pm

I eat a tremendous amount of food. Even sitting in front of a computer I manage to burn 2-3k calories a day somehow. I used an Expedition on the JMT and managed to cram 9 days of food into it but that was it. I went with the 16" just because it was so close in price. Every so often I get tempted to sell it and use my BV500, but then I get worried I won't be able to go more than 6-7 days without a resupply.

The tent doesn't have to go inside the pack, I just like keeping everything neatly packed away with no risk of anything falling out. The Aether 70 has straps on the outside that would work for a tent.

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Re: Advantages of a Smaller Pack?

Post by maverick » Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:41 pm

Russ,

Not everyone has the same metabolism, their are some of us who eat constantly while on the trail, there is no way I could get more than 5 -6 days of food in a 12" can, and that would be pushing in, unless I hiked in somewhere, basecamped, with minimal movement (hibernated). :)
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Re: Advantages of a Smaller Pack?

Post by rlown » Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:58 pm

Yeah.. It's called fishing. Maybe that's the supplement. :unibrow:

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Re: Advantages of a Smaller Pack?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Jul 08, 2017 7:38 pm

If you backpack a lot, it makes sense to invest in two if not three different packs. In the long run you will not be spending that much more, because the wear and tear is distributed over multiple packs. Maybe more of an initial investment. But packs are relatively cheap (compared to sleeping bags and tents). You can always find a good pack on sale for at least 20% off, most times more. None of my packs cost more than $150. My three packs are 1) my old external frame Kelty with re-made lighter weight packbag- just about unlimited space putting the bear can up top tied to the extender bar, 2) 55 liter internal frame pack, 3) 35 liter day pack that I use for a weekend pack in cases where I do not need a bear can. I have a Bearikade Weekender (almost always use this), Ursack, Garcia and BearVault. You guessed it- 2-3 tents too!

Personally, I prefer to get everything inside the pack because I do a lot of off-trail and bushwhacking. Stuff tied to the outside gets lost. That said, I often do strap the tent on the outside until I eat enough to fit all cook gear and butane canister inside the bear can. At that point the tent easily goes inside. My problem is that I need a woman's small size frame, which means a small size pack bag. I have struggled with how to fit everything inside. My current pack for trips 4-9 days is an internal frame 55 liter pack. This pack gets used the most, so I have replaced it three times- best one was the GoLite Quest, but they went out of business. :( I would say I use this pack about 80% of the time. But I am still glad I have the others (bigger and smaller) for other trips.

The key for me in size of pack is being able to fit the bear can, ideally, horizontally. The capacity of a pack may have little to do with this criteria. More important is the top opening circumference. A lot of men's large packs work; I have only found a few women's small packs that work. Second criteria is a pack bag dimension that works with my tents (I have several of those too). It is a pain, but I buy a pack, then take it home, leave all tags on, pack it with various gear for various trips and then take it back if it does not work, and try another. Repeat, repeat. Lucked out with my current Bergans of Norway 55 L pack, on sale, from Sierra Trading Post. Ordered it on line and it was perfect!

As for food, I can fit 9-10 days food in a Bearikade weekender, with a ration of 2,600 calories per day, if I am VERY careful about bulk. For example, nine breakfasts of malt-o-meal pack down smaller than the equivalent calories for breakfasts of oatmeal. Couscous vs macaroni is a big space savings. Just about everything is repackaged loosely, in zip lock bags. Tightly packed food and commercial FD meals are too rigid. Gorp vs crackers for trail food. You get the idea. I am not a "foodie"- all I need is reasonably tasty food with enough calories. When I fish, I can cut back even more. Cannot say that my meals are nutritionally wonderful- they are high fat (40-50%) as I use a lot of nuts, olive oil and cheese to get compact calories. I eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and protein between trips.

So the size of your pack bag you use, depends on your style of backpacking. Nothing wrong with needing a 70-80 L pack if that is what it takes to carry what you need for your style of trip. But I agree, that you do need something smaller for shorter trips. If you keep and eye out for sales you can pick one up for $100-$200.

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Re: Advantages of a Smaller Pack?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Jul 08, 2017 7:50 pm

Oh, forgot to say this. The advantage of a smaller pack as that it doubles for a day-pack.

If you went for a 50-60 L pack, you would have to put the 16" bear can in vertically or get a smaller bear can for shorter trips. I tried an Exos- liked it but it only comes in a medium frame not short enough for me.

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Re: Advantages of a Smaller Pack?

Post by rlown » Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:24 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:Oh, forgot to say this. The advantage of a smaller pack as that it doubles for a day-pack.

If you went for a 50-60 L pack, you would have to put the 16" bear can in vertically or get a smaller bear can for shorter trips. I tried an Exos- liked it but it only comes in a medium frame not short enough for me.
Completely agree with the doubles as a daypack comment, WD. Except I carry a daypack as well. It's lightweight fleece and I bring a poly bottle, water filter, TP, food, all the fishing gear, basic first aid gear, rain jacket, etc in that when out for the day... I have two of those of various sizes and 4 packs to choose from. It really depends on the trip and expectations/conditions/length of trip.

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Re: Advantages of a Smaller Pack?

Post by Ashery » Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:51 pm

The Aether 70L works well enough with the Expedition, but you'll be tight for space. That was actually my exact original setup before I traded out the 70L for a larger bag to give me room to experiment with gear. With the can vertical and sleeping bag on the bottom, I put my tent on one side of the can and clothes on the other. Pad was strapped to the outside.

Looks like your 16" is a good 1.5" or so larger than the Expedition, though, which means you'll be even more pressed for space than I was. It should all still fit, but you'll have no spare room at the top to stick a couple water bottles, which is how I usually carry water (Not a fan of bladders).

One thing I would suggest, however, would be to go for a smaller secondary pack. Dropping from 88L to 70L isn't much of a change; both packs are still geared towards the same type of trip. I recently picked up a 58L to augment my 80/85L primary pack, though it's yet to see use.

Largely gravitate towards larger bags since I'm also one of those types that prefers to pack everything inside their backpack save for the sleeping pad. And considering the amount of abuse my current pad has seen over barely a dozen trips, I've no plans on sticking something as expensive and prone to critical damage as a tent on the outside of my pack. I might be tempted to strap a bear can on the outside, but that'd depend heavily on the weight distribution and how secure it'd be.

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