BACKPACK-While it’s true, that just about every piece of equipment you will bring on a backpack trip is “one of the most important,” the pack truly is at the top. For, if your pack fails, your trip could be doomed. If your pack hurts, your trip could be doomed. So, let’s start with one of “the big three” of the pack, the tent and the sleeping bag…the pack.

The pack needs to be big enough to carry all your equipment. A basic rule of thumb depending on how long your trip is and whether you will be bringing a bear canister etc….your pack should minimally be 3,500-4,500 cubic inches, and weigh 3-4 lbs. An ultralighter will get a pack as small as 1,800 that weighs only a pound, but ultralighters are generally more experienced and can make do with less…the average backpacker can still go light without testing the limits of how light he/she can go…til later when lighter can become a fun game!


External Frame Backpacks

Back in the 60?s, we had external frame packs that only weighed 3-4 lbs. As technology improved and gadgets were invented more and more packs have every feature imaginable and could almost carry themselves…and started weighing as much as 9 lbs! It got pretty silly. Folks rebelled and stopped buying the load monsters and packs started getting simpler and lighter again. Now, just about any store you go into to buy a pack will have a wide range of simpler, smaller and lighter packs that will allow you to still have a comfortable safe journey. Whether you go internal or external or choose this brand or that really does not make much difference. Just go somewhere reputable and try them on. Bring all your gear that you want to carry and pack and load it up and wander around for a long time! It still will not simulate being out on the trails, but if something starts poking you a bit in your back in the store…that is not the pack to take out on the trails! So be diligent about trying on packs with real loads before buying.

Dee's ULA P-2

Dee’s ULA P-2

My favorite packs in the last few years have been a Mountainlight 3,500 and a ULA P-2. Both packs are under 3 lbs and comfortably carry up to 35 lbs. Unfortunately, both packs are no longer being made so I can’t link you to them. But…the companies both exist with newer models that I am sure are great,  and there are a plethora of  other great pack makers making very lightweight packs nowadays, so happy hunting!:)

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