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Backpacks The Backpacks forum is for the discussion of backpacking packs (including front packs and pack accessories: hipbelt pockets, pack covers,...).


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  #1  
Old 03-31-2014, 10:37 AM
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Checksum Checksum is offline
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Backpack: Osprey Aether 60
Shelter: LedgeSports Scorpion 2
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 10
Buying pack first or last?

Question regarding the purchase of a backpack, when building a first/new gear list? The only "real" piece of gear I have is a tent (Ledge Scorpion 2p (~5lbs; I know, pretty hefty...).

Should I plan on purchasing a large, comfortable pack first, and then build my gear list, making adjustments that will fit in? or gather the rest of my gear (sleeping bag, pad, cook set, etc) first, determine the volume I'm at, and then find a large enough pack to hold it all?

I can see pros both ways (everything has to fit in the pack, so make that your "lowest common denominator" vs. figure out what I all have/need, then get a pack big enough to hold everything).

I can also see cons both ways (get a pack first that's "too small" and I end up leaving out/skimping on essential gear vs . build a gear list that's "loo large" and I end up with an oversized-over stuffed pack).

Trying to avoid too many "rookie mistakes" if they can be avoided!

TIA!

- Checksum
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  #2  
Old 03-31-2014, 11:14 AM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Oregon
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The general thinking on this is to gather your gear, then get a pack that best suits the load that you'll be carrying.

However, there is no definitive way - as long as it's the right way for you and your situation.

An experienced backpacker can choose a pack based on the cubic inches or liters that it holds and know that it's enough volume for her/his gear selections for a particular season and trip duration. This is, however, nearly the same thing as the get your gear first and pack last thinking. Because the backpacker already has (or has experience with) gear and is able to predetermine what volume is needed.

Short and to the point: Gather the gear you'll need and then determine what's best to carry it in.

Reality
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  #3  
Old 03-31-2014, 01:21 PM
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badwolf badwolf is offline
Practical Backpacking™ Junior Member
Backpack: Granite Gear Leopard 58 AC KI or Deuter Aircontact 50L
Sleeping Gear: Thermarest NeoLite XL womens, Big Agnes Roxy Ann
Shelter: Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Ohio
Posts: 45
Conventional wisdom (not so wise?): You don't have to succumb the adage that if you buy a big pack, you'll fill it. Set a total weight limit and stick with it. For me, it's 30lbs (including food, 1L water). I don't go over my limit regardless of pack or season.

Packability, Gear placement, and Solo:
I personally prefer a large pack with space left over to a small pack stuffed to the maximum. Other people feel just the opposite. I want everything inside my pack, nothing strapped outside... again demanding a slightly larger pack. If you're willing to put stuff outside, you can go smaller volume. Lastly, if you're going solo, your pack may need to be a little bigger since you can't share shelter, water filter, stove, etc.

It's likely your gear will evolve. So the pack you buy now doesn't have to be the only pack you ever own. I'd be embarrassed to tell you how many packs I have (and do!) own.

My choices (which shouldn't necessarily be taken as advice!):
I currently use a Deuter Aircontact 70L -- it's very heavy (6lbs) and eats up a large percentage of my 30lb limit. But it's so comfortable it's worth it for me. It allows me to bp in the fall/winter. I always have space left over inside.

I have a Deuter Aircontact 50L (5lbs) for summer.

My "lightweight" Deuter ACT Lite 60L (3lb 10oz) is my Goldilocks "just-right" pack. I think 60L is a pretty good starting size for unless you've got all the smallest/lightest gear.

Small and light: Unless you're ready to carry a tarp or hammock instead of a tent, have a lightweight down sleeping bag, and all the smallest/lightest gear you will likely need a relatively large pack. Consider also whether a smaller/lighter pack with marginal suspensions is more or less comfortable than a larger/heavier pack with a substantial suspension. There are people in both camps on that issue.
Whatever you get... get out and have a blast with as little and light as possible
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  #4  
Old 03-31-2014, 01:30 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badwolf
I personally prefer a large pack with space left over to a small pack stuffed to the maximum.
I feel the same way. I'd rather my pack be a little larger than needed than too small.

I've been able to use the same day pack for overnights and weekends. [In fact, I do not use a day pack that will not carry overnight gear.]

Reality
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  #5  
Old 03-31-2014, 06:40 PM
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Balzaccom Balzaccom is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 188
I also agree that it's better not overfill a pack...but that said, most beginners tend to look at a pack like a closet, and find things to fill it with.

Get your gear, and then get a pack that will carry your gear. Sure, you can get a pack just a bit larger...but an 80L pack for a few overnight hikes is a waste of money...and won't hike as well as a smaller pack that fits you and fits the load
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  #6  
Old 03-31-2014, 09:30 PM
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Grandpa Grandpa is offline
Practical Backpacking­™ Associate Member
Backpack: GoLite Pinnacle
Sleeping Gear: Moonstone Lucid 800 w/Neo Air pad
Shelter: Tarptent Sublite Tyvek & Tarptent Double Rainbow
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 430
...and if you find an awesome deal on a pack that fits your probable criteria for size, weight, and load carrying capability, go for it! Don't let not having acquired all your gear keep you from taking advantage of the savings. The pack will probably do just fine.
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  #7  
Old 04-01-2014, 04:02 PM
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richwads richwads is offline
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Shelter: Tarp
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: California
Posts: 483
Well, if you're like most beginners, what your preferences are a few years from now will be different than they are now, so my suggestion is -

1. buy cheap
2. find out how comfy you like to be by trial and error
3. find out how long you like being out by trial and error
4. shelve the gear you determine you're not willing to carry
5. upgrade the gear that is inadequate (hopefully saving your next pack purchase for last).
6. using your first pack as a guide as to it's carrying capacity with the gear you actually need and settle on, buy the size you like, in a more expensive version if you are so inclined.

You will end up owning a lot of gear that will be loaners.

You will never be satisfied with your first purchase of pack and other gear, if you really take to backpacking.
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  #8  
Old 04-02-2014, 01:07 PM
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Checksum Checksum is offline
Practical Backpacking™ New Member
Backpack: Osprey Aether 60
Shelter: LedgeSports Scorpion 2
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 10
Thanks for the insight. Sound like the general idea is to gather most of the gear first, then plan the pack accordingly, knowing full well that pretty much every piece of gear will be changing at some point, probably in the not-too-distant future.

I think my first big purchase will be a sleep system; sleeping bag and pad.
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  #9  
Old 04-02-2014, 08:04 PM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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Backpack: Mountainsmith Maverick 65
Sleeping Gear: ALPS +20 mummy
Shelter: Kelty Noah 9x9
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,482
i bought both cheap and over-sized. it was a killer price on a pack that's turned out to be a fantastic keeper.

on size, make sure, if you find a pack with a lot of volume, that it's got an extensive set of compacting straps. i went large because of kids, and because i hunt - i wanted a pack i could load ultra-light and expand to carry a quartered deer.

mine has something like six or eight of them.

find a pack that's very adjustable. it goes a long way towards making it great. mine has fully adjustable suspension in many areas and that really helps.


i also bought my pack before i had things like tents and sleeping equipment in hand. it's been no huge deal to make everything work.
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  #10  
Old 04-02-2014, 08:50 PM
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Wildfield Wildfield is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 131
I guess I can offer an alternative viewpoint...not an argument opposed to what has already been offered...and quite possibly off base...but this is the rationale I used when picking out my first backpack.

First, my recent purchase (last year) was actually not my first backpack...it was my 3rd. My first 2 backpacks were purchased when I was a kid...an Antelope canvas pack with alloy external frame and later a Kelty Tioga made famous by Eric Ryback.

When I decided to "get back into backpacking" a couple years ago, I decided to make my backpack purchase before buying most other pieces of equipment.

I picked the size/capacity based on the amount of weight it could manage. I thought I would not want to carry more than 30 pounds...35 pounds as an absolute max. Also, I figured if I bought a smaller pack, I would be forced to choose lighter, more compact equipment knowing I had space limitations.

I chose an Osprey Kestrel 46 liter pack, which can manage between 30 and 40 pounds. The pack is a little heavy at 3.4 pounds.

I've used it several times on overnight trips. As it turns out, the capacity works out just fine for me. While I've only gone on short trips, there is plenty of room left over for probably 3 or 4 days of food. I carry a 3 season bag, a 2 person tent, extra change of clothes, down sweater, rain jacket and pants, first aid kit, stove, titanium pot, pack cover, trowel, 3 liter water bladder and more.

Being limited by a smallish 46 liter pack, I am forced to pick compact equipment (which was my original rationale) but this has worked out for me. The result is a fairly light 16 pound base pack weight. Not the lightest, but definitely manageable.

The only issue I will run into will be the day I have to carry a bear canister. My guess is I will have to go up to a 55 liter backpack on that day. But, it won't be before trying to make adjustments to make my 46 liter pack work.

My 2 cents.
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