M and I currently own nine packs. When I collected them all from corners of the house a while ago, she was surprised it was so few. I say we, and she uses some of them plenty, but let me be honest: I’ve been the prime mover behind acquiring every one of them. As part of my examination of packs, I thought I should round up all my packs, weigh and photograph them, discuss their purpose, and note why they’re still around. Because while we have nine packs today, I’ve sold, given away, or built and then torn up at least a dozen more in the past year.
The Micro Packs
The Bullet (15 oz) and Bbee (11 oz) are the smallest packs in the house, small enough that they don’t always get the job done even for day hikes. When they are big enough they’re great, as both sit innocuously between the shoulder blades and dead with scrambling and bushwacking with ease. The Bullet is fatter and shorter, the Bbee thinner and longer. They’re both about the same size, but shape is highly relevant with packs this small and each will carry a load the other cannot (ex: the Bullet will fit a full sized avy shovel, the Bbee is more stable while mountain biking). I cut the Bullet’s 1″ webbing belt off years ago, while the Bbee has a nice removable one. The Bullet is 100% Ballistics nylon, and has survived some serious abuse in tight slot canyons with no complaints. The Bbee has nicer, shaped and lightly padded shoulder straps and a lightly padded back panel. Both are great, and will be around for the long haul.
The Day Packs
The Hornet 24 (21 oz) and Lightflite 25 (14.5) are seemingly redundant packs. The Lightflite is bigger, much moreso than the claimed sizes would seem to indicate, and has a teardrop shape which makes it an exceptional mountain biking pack. The Hornet has a fantastic compression system, and this and it’s tight shape make it a bit more versatile. The above weights reflect some hacking off of minor strappage on the Hornet, and the substitution of the Lightflite’s stock straps for those from another pack (for details you’ll have to read my forthcoming BPL bikepacking articles). Both are good packs, the Hornet probably the better of the two, it being a very good if rather expensive daypack.
We’ve got two more daypacks, a Cold Cold World Ozone (33 oz) and a old Black Diamond pack (23 oz) whose name is escaping me at the moment. Both were used extensively as canyoneering packs, and show it. The Ozone is like the Bullet full Ballistics, and the weight above includes big drain grommets, lots of aquaseal and contact cement, as well as a mode to make the lid removable. It doesn’t get used much these days, but will when we return to canyon country. The poor BD pack is currently a harness pack, more as an experiment then anything. It has a great basic harness system and may get reborn with a new pack bag at some point in the future.
The Bigger packs
The Black Diamond Demon (size Large, 42 oz after mods) is the newest pack in the family, right along with the latest incarnation of the all pack (20.5 oz as pictured above). It’s the sixth major revision of the pack discussed in the first post in this series, after the last one just didn’t work out. The fit was off and it was too close, size wise, to the North Fork pack. I removed the aluminum stay for this weighing, and cut two inner pockets out of the Demon and trimmed the waist, shoulder, and load lifter straps. It’s still a porker, due to both the full Ballistics construction (love that fabric!) and the beefy framesheet and full back padding. I got this because it looked intriguing (market research), I wanted a beefy pack for hauling ski junk, and M needed a backpacking pack which had a stouter hipbelt and better load transfer. As many women do, she prefers to put the overwhelming majority of the load on her hips, and because she wears her waistbelt lower on the hips than is orthodox, we use the same size pack even though my torso length is almost 2″ longer.
The all pack/race pack shown above is a weight weenie winter pack and a design experiment. It’s as light as I can make a pack of that sort right now without sacrificing either features or buying cuben fiber. The packs are close to the same dimensions through no coincidence: that size is ideal for wilderness racing (the Jam was too big for the Classic). Which one I’ll use for the races in 2012 will be a matter of assessment over the winter and spring.
The North Fork pack is the load hauler of the quiver, and has evolved extensively over the last 14 months of it’s existence into a form with which I’m finally happy. The specifics will be the subject of the next post in this series. As pictured, with a purely foam, dual density frame sheet which is over an inch think in places, it weighs in at a hefty 46 oz. But there’s nothing I’d cut off, obviously, and no real places to shave weight without sacrificing function. I’m especially proud of this pack, flaws and all still the best thing I’ve ever built. I’ve yet to actually use it stuffed full as shown, but the capacity is there if I need it, and I have a few things in the works for next year where I probably will.
Please ask questions and share favorite packs below. This is a community project which is evolving nicely.