Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Backpack Minutia

Gossamer Gear Murmur

Let's talk about the lightweight gear I'm looking into, starting with backpacks.  Experts may agree the backpack is the last piece you should purchase, but to me it must be at least considered up front.  As in how many ounces/pounds you are considering carrying, how small your gear packs down (volume), and the weight of your total gear on a 5-day hike (greatest amount of food and gear).  I do plan some long hikes eventually, maybe even the Appalachian Trail.  So I will need some serious carrying capacity and good weight transfer to my hips in order to manage the loads.
My last backpack and tent were from Alps Mountaineering and it was the kit I used for weekend BSA camping trips.  I first used it in Virginia at summer camp when we took the boys on an overnight trip.  It rained all night and the tent was snug and warm.  Everyone else slept under a tarp.  The backpack needed load adjuster straps, but it held the tent, stove and overnight gear OK.
I have read that 5 days is the average time for resupply of food on a long trip like the AT, and prepared food for a weeks backpacking will weigh about 13-15 pounds.  Add 2.2 pounds for each liter of water (4.4 for my two liters), iso-propane fuel at about 1 pound and that's at least 21 pounds of variable weight - variable because you eat the food each day and use the fuel and your pack gets lighter because of that.  Water doesn't really count because you will fill that back up again and may need to carry more daily.
So here is my scale-less estimate of "other" weight...
Now we have a sleeping quilt at about 1 and one quarter pound plus one pound and one quarter of sleeping pad for 2.5 lbs.
Then add the tent at, say 3 pounds - the single person Alps Mountaineering tent I use now will have to fit until the time is right to replace it.
Cooking gear weighs little at 4.2 oz for the cooking pot, under an ounce for the spoon, 1.2 oz for my cup and guessing at the iso-propane stove for 1 pound and a half for all cooking (fuel is calculated already with the consumables).
Clothes (3 days), rain wear, first aid, headlamp and all personal items are about 4 pounds.
That gets me to 11 pounds (my base weight) into the lightweight range before adding the 21 pounds of food, fuel and water, or about 32+ pounds for capacity.  No wonder you need a scale...
Gorilla pack from Gossamer Gear
ULA Circuit pack
My first wish was for a Gossamer Gear Murmur pack but the carrying capacity is at 15 pounds, total.  That won't even hold my food for the week.
So we move up to a Gossamer Gear Gorilla pack with a capacity of 30-35 pounds.  Link  A much more featured pack and with a curved stay and hip belt with pockets, even better for the long haul.  I am hoping that will carry empty (with no food) just fine.
Also as an option, the ULA Circuit or CDT are very good bags with similar features and carrying capacity, the CDT a little less than the Circuit.  Check them here at  They are very close if you compare the specs but the ULA Circuit has more features like water bottle holders on the straps, thumb loops and an internal zipper pocket.
There have been some good reviews about the 2012 Gorilla pack at and  ULA's website has reviews on the Circuit also.  From what these fine folks are saying, I cannot go wrong with either pack.  Decisions, decisions.  Minutia.
We will continue looking at gear items over the next few weeks with a hike or two thrown in for balance.
Please share what gear you use in the comments section.  I can use all the help I can get : )

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