Top 5 Expedition Backpacks For 2016

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Heading into 2016, expedition backpackers have many options when it comes to choosing a big backcountry backpack. A few years ago, the focus then was on interior capacity, where now-a-days, gear is getting so light and compact that a smaller backpack (50-75 Liters vs 100+ from a couple years ago) can be used on 2-8 day trips and more. Let’s take a look at our top 5 best expedition backpacks for 2016 (which might not necessarily be new pack models).

#5 – Mountainsmith Lookout 50 ~ $180

The Mountainsmith Lookout 50 backpack might be a little on the small side for an expedition backpacking trip, but there are plenty of larger options below to choose from. We couldn’t leave it off the list, especially at this price point and with its features. The Lookout features excellent padding on the shoulder pads and hip belt and is a very comfortable bag with a sweetspot weight range right around 40-45 pounds. Once again, this might not be big enough if you plan to pack gear for mountaineering, but can handle a week long trip no problem. At this price point, you can’t go wrong, and is about as good as it gets bang for buck. Click the following link to pick up your Mountainsmith Lookout 50 (or step up to the Mountainsmith Apex 80) today.

#4 – The North Face Banchee 65 ~ $250

The North Face Banchee 65 features a proprietary OPTIFIT technology that helps you to dial in your fit no matter your body type, male or female, short or tall. We found this pack to be very comfortable because of this. It also weighs 3.6 pounds, which is pretty light for an expedition pack of this size. We found that the sweetspot for the weight is right around 50 pounds. Who wants to pack around more than that anyway, right? The Banchee does a great job distributing the weight with its suspension system, and is a joy to carry around for long periods of time. Click the following linkto pick up your North Face Banchee 65 today.

#3 – Osprey Xenith 75 ~ $320

The Osprey Xenith is one of the best performing expedition backpacks on the market today. It is comfortable, durable, and has the capacity to pack for an extended stay trip no problem. The 105 Liter incarnation made the list in place of the retired Argon a couple years ago, and there are good reasons that it is back for 2016: the Xenith is a well put together backpack, with 4 access points to the main compartment, as well as well placed external storage pockets. This makes it easy to pack and unpack. The external hydration pocket is another nice feature that helps you re-fill your hydration source without having to dig out your pack’s contents. The sweetspot for the weight is right around 60 pounds, which is a ton of gear in my book. The Xenith doesn’t lack in the comfort arena either, as it features great suspension and cushion, as well as a decently breathable mesh backing for those hot summer days. If you are looking for a no joke top of the line expedition backpack, the Osprey Xenith will deliver every time. Order yours through Amazon by clicking the following link.

#2 – Mountain Hardwear South Col 70 ~ $300

With a sweetspot around 55 pounds, the South Col 70 from Mountain Hardwear is a durable workhorse to get you there and back again. It is designed for mountaineering applications, but is more than adequate for extended-stay trips as well. The South Col weighs in a smidge over 4 pounds, which makes it a lightweight option in the expedition backpack category. Some of the weight was trimmed from the padding, as the shoulder and hip pads are noticeably thinner and less substantial than most packs in this category. We found the pack to be comfortable enough at the 55 pound sweetspot, but carrying more weight made a noticeable difference in comfort, so keep that in mind. One of the best features of the pack is the waterproof main compartment. No more worries about soggy gear if you don’t get your rain gear on quickly during a sudden downpour. Your main gear will stay bone dry. This feature has won over more than one field tester. Overall, the Mountain Hardwear South Col 70 is a fantastic option and was only beat out by one other bag on this list. Simply put, it is one of the best expedition backpacks on the market today. Click the following link to pick yours up today.

#1 – Gregory Baltoro 75 ~ $320

Coming in at #1 is the redesigned Gregory Baltoro 75. A few years ago, this bag was on the cusp of making the list, but was edged out by two other Gregory packs (the Whitney and the other being the audacious Denali Pro), and it was no secret why they featured 2 bags in our top 5. Gregory makes some of the most comfortable bags on the market, from the shoulder harness systems to the hip belts. They are just a pleasure to wear, and none more so than the Baltoro 75 (and its little brother the 65). All the way up to 60 pounds, this pack is comfortable and agile while on uneven terrain. Other features of this bag include an integral rain cover, 3 access points to the main compartment, divided lid compartment, a detachable day pack, large hip belt pockets (1 waterproof), and a re-worked design that makes the pack 12% lighter than its previous incarnation. This is a serious expedition backpack that is as durable as it is comfortable. If you are in the market for a do-it-all extended stay backpack, look no further than the Gregory Baltoro 75. Click the following link to order our number 1 expedition backpack for 2016, the Gregory Baltoro 75 today!

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

As backpacking gear gets smaller and lighter, gone are the days when expedition backpackers need bags in the 100+ Liter range. You’re not doing yourself any favors bulking up to 80 pounds+ anyway. Slimmer, lighter expedition backpacks in the 50-75 Liter range are taking the spotlight, and the 5 packs above are all excellent choices, from the affordably priced Mountainsmith Lookout 50 to the Gregory Baltoro 75. Ultimately, comfort won out, as the Gregory Baltoro 75 just wasn’t matched by any other pack on our list.

What do you think of the list of expedition backpacks above? What is your top expedition backpack of choice? Let us know in the comment section below. As always, thanks for reading and happy trails!

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ULA Equipment Catalyst – Lightweight Expedition Backpack For Less

Let’s say you are looking for a heavy-duty expedition size backpack that is lightweight, capable, and won’t break the bank. You have come to the right place for a review of the more than capable, lightweight and inexpensive ULA Equipment Catalyst backpack! Let’s check out some of the features and specifications below!

Specifications

ULA Equipment CatalystFirst and foremost, the Catalyst weighs in at only 48 ounces (for a Medium torso and hipbelt size). That is an incredible weight for a pack of this size. Some of the features are removable, bringing your total weight down even more to 44 ounces. The Catalyst is sewn with ULA’s 210 Robic fabric, which according to ULA, is the “toughest stuff ounce for ounce that we’ve ever seen.” You will be the judge of that, but everything we’ve seen is that it is some lightweight fabric that is extremely durable.

The total volume capacity for the pack with all the pockets attached is 4,600 cubic inches or about 75 Liters. The breakdown is as follows:

 

  • Main Body: 2,600 cubic inches
  • Front Mesh Pocket: 600 cubic inches
  • Side Mesh Pocket: 350 cubic inches times 2
  • Exterior Collar: 600 cubic inches
  • Hipbelt Pockets: 100 cubic inches

The recommended maximum load is 40 pounds or less.

Features

Here are the integrated features of this backpack:

  • Internal Frame
  • Twin Stay Framesheet
  • Contoured Shoulder Straps
  • Front Shock Cord
  • Front Mesh Pocket
  • Dual Hipbelt Pockets
  • 210 Ripstop Adjustable Side Pockets
  • Rolltop Closure
  • Side/Top Compression Straps
  • Ice Axe/Pole Retention Loops
  • Bear Canister Capable
  • Cordura Bottom Panel

Here are the removable features (for a weight savings of about 4 ounces):

  • Handloops (~.8 oz)
  • Hydration Sleeve (~1.4 oz)
  • Internal Stash Pocket (~1.1 oz)
  • Water Bottle Holsters (~.8 oz)

Sizing

The ULA Equipment Catalyst comes in 4 different Torso sizes and 5 different hipbelt sizes:

Torso

  • Small (15”-18”)
  • Medium (18”-21”)
  • Large (21”-24”)
  • XLarge (24”+)

If you happen to fall right between two torso sizes, ULA recommends you go with the smaller size. Make sure you measure you torso by standing up straight, tilting your head to your chest, and finding the largest lump on your neck. Measure with flexible tape down to the top of your waistband resting on your hipbone.

Hipbelt

  • XSmall (26”-30”)
  • Small (30”-34”)
  • Medium (34”-38”)
  • Large (38”-42”)
  • XLarge (42”+)

If you fall between two hipbelt sizes, ULA recommends that you go with the larger hipbelt size. For men, use the waist of your pants and add 2 inches.

The Shoulder straps come in two different fits: the original J-Curve and the S-Curve. The J-Curve straps work best on most men with an average build. Men with athletic builds (strong, square shoulders) most often prefer the S-Curve straps. The S-Curve straps work best on almost all women and men with good posture and square shoulders. Below is a sizing guide for the Catalyst backpack, but be sure to measure your waist and torso to be accurate.

ULA Equipment Catalyst Sizing Chart

It also comes in 4 different colorations: original Green, Purple Blaze, Multicam Camo, and Woodland Camo. The two camo options (for you hunters out there) are made with 500 Cordura, so plan on adding about 2 ounces to the overall weight of the pack.

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

We are big fans of the lightest ULA Equipment backpack, the CDT, but we also recognize that it is limited to shorter backcountry trips. We have found that the ULA Equipment Catalyst is a nice step up into the big-boy land of extended-stay and expedition backpacks, but without adding unnecessary weight. While it might lack style points, this is truly function over fashion, and admittedly, some of the ‘fashion forward’ backpacks tend to not only be on the heavier end of the spectrum, but also quite a bit more expensive.

Speaking of price, what will a ULA Equipment Catalyst set you back? $500? $400? Try $250. That’s right, a lightweight, capable extended-stay/expedition backpack costing only $250 is a steal. ULA Equipment is a proud American company that makes their backpacks in the good old U S of ‘Merica. They are a great company with awesome customer service, and are just a phone call away with any questions you have about fitting the pack to your build and body type.

This is what one customer recently said about the Catalyst:

  • “Excellent Quality: The pack had excellent reviews, so I took the plunge and ordered it. Quality of fit and finish is indeed excellent. The owner even called me before shipping to double check the sizing. A focused, American based, craft manufacturer producing an excellent product at a reasonable price. Highly recommended.”

Here is another review touting the customer service aspect of ULA:

  • “Great Customer Service: It did what it was supposed to do for 6 days on the John Muir Trail. When it arrived it had a loop accidentally stitched to the pack itself. I got an instant response to my email to the company which overnighted me a new one with a label to return the other one. Impressive.”

If you are looking for a lightweight, durable, and inexpensive backpack capable of medium to extended-stay trips, look no further than the ULA Equipment Catalyst. This is a highly recommended backpack for the weekend warrior and trail-blazer alike. Click the following link to order yours today!

[amazon_link id=”B00534ZGP2″ target=”_blank” ]ULA CATALYST Ultralight Backpack[/amazon_link]

What do you think of the ULA Equipment Catalyst backpack? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!

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How To Set Up For Lightweight Trekking With An Ultralight Backpacking Gear List

Ultralight BackpackingFor many of us backpacking enthusiasts, the ultimate goal is to reduce the total weight of our packed gear bit by bit. I look back on the many years I have spent in the great outdoors and my gear has evolved over and over. My total weight has ranged all over the place, but a few years ago I underwent a transformation from a gadget backpacker to a minimalist. I now take only the bare minimum on my multi-day trips. Are you interested in trimming the weight to ultralight standards? Below, we will go over some tips to accomplish this, as well as my most recent ultralight gear list.

The Big Three

No matter how many ounces you trim from your gadgets and gizmos, you will be limited by how heavy the big three are – your backpack, shelter, and sleeping bag/sleeping pad. This is the place where you can make the biggest impact on the total weight. But this is also where you can spend the most money. Unfortunately, most of the ultralight gear is on the higher end of the price spectrum. You will need to decide if shaving a few ounces is worth the additional cost, since you will likely start to see the law of diminishing returns manifest itself here.

What if you already own some nice gear, but it is just a little on the heavy side and you want to upgrade to lighter stuff? Sell your other items to fund your upgrades. This is a fairly standard practice, and is made even easier with the advent of EBay, Craigslist, and local online classifieds. Selling your old gear will soften the blow of upgrading to lighter, newer gear.

Backpack

[amazon_link id=”B00534ZLG6″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]ULA CDT Ultralight Backpack - Torso Large - Hipbelt Large[/amazon_link]There is a great company out of Logan, Utah called ULA Equipment that makes ultralight backpacks. The CDT, for example, weighs 2 pounds and has a capacity of 3370 cubic inches. This is a very capable backpack for a multi-day trip, and you are starting off on the right foot with only 2 pounds of backpack weight. The cool thing about this pack is that there are removable features that will trim the weight by an additional 5 ounces if desired (like the hydration sleeve, water bottle holsters, and internal mesh pockets). At a price point of only $135, you might not think you are getting a great backpack. But because ULA Equipment dispenses with style and design costs, they pass the savings on to you. It might not be as visually appealing as a Gregory or Arcteryx pack, but it’s all about weight, and that is where these packs shine. Click on the following link to order your ULA Equipment CDT backpack today.

[amazon_link id=”B00534ZLG6″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]ULA Equipment CDT Backpack[/amazon_link]

Shelter

[amazon_link id=”B001OPJVN2″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Equinox Ultralite Mummy Bivi Sleeping Bag[/amazon_link]When it comes to finding a tent or other shelter that is lightweight, bivy sacks are the ultimate option. Weighing as little as 6 ounces ([amazon_link id=”B005W4K9P0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MontBell Breeze Dry-Tec UL Sleeping bag cover[/amazon_link], ~$115, and the [amazon_link id=”B001OPJVN2″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Equinox Ultralight Bivy Cover[/amazon_link], ~$65), bivy sacks are basically sleeping bag covers that will keep you dry. Some come with wire hoops that give you a little headspace, but you will basically be confined to the shape of your sleeping bag.

[amazon_link id=”B0000E5N87″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Black Diamond Beta Light Tent[/amazon_link]Tarp tents are another great lightweight option. [amazon_link id=”B0000E5N87″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Black Diamond’s Beta Light 2 person tarp tent[/amazon_link] is about a pound and a half (split in half is about 12 ounces per person, plus trekking poles) and offers quite a bit more space than a bivy sack. For $150, you get a super light shelter for two. Another great option for about the same price is the [amazon_link id=”B00453MUNS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MSR E-Wing Shelter Tent[/amazon_link], weighing in at roughly 1 pound (plus trekking poles).

[amazon_link id=”B0036GT87G” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 Person Tent[/amazon_link]Finding an ultralight tent in the 1 pound range is difficult, but splitting the weight of the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 (2 pounds 2 ounces) is about as good as it gets. The Fly Creek UL2 costs about $300, so quite a bit more than the other options, but you will have the most space and weather protection here. I have used this tent for most of my trips, and while it is cozy on the inside, it is perfect for me and my wife.

Sleeping Bag/Sleeping Pad

[amazon_link id=”B00AYH8HQ8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Unisex Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 Bag BLUE Reg RH[/amazon_link]There are a few other articles on this site that talk about lightweight sleeping bags. My favorites include the Marmot Helium down bag, the Mountain Hardwear Phantom series, and the [amazon_link id=”B007LL3LX4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MontBell UL Super Spiral Hugger series[/amazon_link]. Down sleeping bags will give you the best warmth to weight ratio, but will generally cost more. There are different temperature ratings to be aware of as well. Colder conditions will require lower ratings, which will bump up the weight and price. My choice is the Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 degree sleeping bag, which weighs only 2 pounds (~$450), and with a 15 degree temperature rating, I’m usually comfortable for 3 season trips, even at higher elevations.

[amazon_link id=”B005I6QZE6″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Thermarest Prolite Sleeping Pad (Large)[/amazon_link]As for the sleeping pad, if you decide to have one at all (think more weight savings by leaving one at home), look for a pad around 1 pound or less. You might have to settle for a torso length (only covers your waist and up) to shave more ounces. The [amazon_link id=”B0047BXBUO” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Exped SynMat UL 7[/amazon_link] in medium weighs in right at a pound ($170). Thermarest’s Prolite pad is another great option. You can get a smaller dimension torso length pad weighing 8 ounces for $60.

Totals For Big Three (My choices)

Backpack [amazon_link id="B00534ZLG6" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]ULA Equipment CDT[/amazon_link] $135 24 ounces (2 pounds)
Shelter [amazon_link id="B0036GT87G" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2[/amazon_link] $300 17 ounces (1 pound 1 ounce split in half)
Sleeping Bag [amazon_link id="B00AYH8HQ8" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15[/amazon_link] $450 24 ounces (2 pounds)
Sleeping Pad [amazon_link id="B0075JN8FS" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Thermarest Prolite Small[/amazon_link] $70 11 ounces
Totals $955 76 ounces (4 pounds 12 ounces)

Clothing

[amazon_link id=”B005BV88NO” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Outdoor Research Men's Helium II Jacket, Medium, Glacier[/amazon_link]If you are really going for weight savings, you will need to skimp on extra clothing. Plan on bringing a few extra layers for night and for rain/snow/colder weather, as well as extra socks and under garments. Having extra socks and under garments will prevent chafing and blistering, as well as keep you from stinking to high hell. But these garments should be as light as possible. Here is a list of what I pack with me on a spring/summer/fall mountain multi-day (3-5) trip:

Trail Socks [amazon_link id="B00EYABH2W" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Icebreaker Men's Multisport Ultralite Micro Socks[/amazon_link] $15 1.6 ounces X2
Sleeping Socks [amazon_link id="B004M5UG4O" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Darn Tough Vermont Men's Merino Wool Boot Full Cushion Socks[/amazon_link] $15 4.8 ounces
Thermal Top [amazon_link id="B005I0JXPK" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Terramar TXO 2.0[/amazon_link] $15 6 ounces
Thermal Bottom [amazon_link id="B005I0JYTU" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Terramar TXO 2.0[/amazon_link] $15 6 ounces
Undergarment [amazon_link id="B00D4KISI4" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Icebreaker Men's Anatomica Boxer[/amazon_link] $50 3 ounces X2
Spare T-Shirt [amazon_link id="B00BONJ6YI" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Way2Cool[/amazon_link] $50 4.4 ounces
Shell Top [amazon_link id="B005BV88NO" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Outdoor Research Helium II[/amazon_link] $150 6.4 ounces
Shell Bottom [amazon_link id="B004OZ6R3G" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Epic Pant[/amazon_link] $90 8 ounces
Beanie [amazon_link id="B00EV0KDCK" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Effusion Dome[/amazon_link] $25 1 ounce
Gloves [amazon_link id="B006O2EZ0O" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Winter Momentum[/amazon_link] $40 2 ounces
Clothing Stuff Sack [amazon_link id="B00ATNIB7M" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Outdoor Research Lightweight Stuff Sack (10L)[/amazon_link] $15 1.3 ounces
Totals $545 49.1 ounces (3 pounds 1.1 ounces)

Food and Water Prep

[amazon_link id=”B000AXVOLQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Vargo Titanium Triad Alcohol Stove[/amazon_link]Depending on the length of your trip, your menu will vary. One of the most important things to remember is to plan your hike along a source of water. This will allow you to re-supply via water purification. You don’t want to have to carry all the water you will need for a multi-day trip, since water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon (more than the big three combined!). Below is a list of what I utilize for food and water prep with their accompanying weights and costs:

Trail Filter [amazon_link id="B006QF3TW4" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]LifeStraw[/amazon_link] $20 2 ounces
Stove [amazon_link id="B000AXVOLQ" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Homemade Alcohol Stove[/amazon_link] $0 .5 ounces
Fuel [amazon_link id="B0016GXNC4" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Heet Methanol[/amazon_link] $2 12 ounces
Cook Pot [amazon_link id="B009B5E39O" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]TOAKS Titanium 600ml Pot[/amazon_link] $30 3.8 ounces
Mug [amazon_link id="B004BKHVYI" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Sea to Summit X Mug[/amazon_link] $15 2.7 ounces
Spork [amazon_link id="B001E7S5BO" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Light My Fire Titanium Spork[/amazon_link] $15 .5 ounces
Firestarter [amazon_link id="B004TPFKPW" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]SOL FireLite and Tinder Quick Fire Starter[/amazon_link] $10 1.3 ounces
Water Bottle [amazon_link id="B002LSS68C" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Platypus Soft Bottle (1L)[/amazon_link] $10 1.6 ounces
1/4 Water Towel [amazon_link id="B001QWFHIQ" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]MSR Packtowl (S)[/amazon_link] $12 1 ounce
Food and Water Stuff Sack [amazon_link id="B00ATNIB7M" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Outdoor Research Lightweight Stuff Sack (10L)[/amazon_link] $15 1.3 ounces
Totals $119 26.7 ounces (1 pound 10.7 ounces)

Toiletries, Tools, First Aid

[amazon_link id=”B0032Y4IUE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Leatherman 831204 Squirt ES4 Black Keychain Tool with Scissor[/amazon_link]When it comes to gadget backpacking, this is where I used to go crazy. I used to pack multiples of different tools based on the old axiom ‘two is one and one is none.’ While there are a few things that might require a little redundancy, most everything in this category will be just fine by itself. Think carefully about these items and how much each weighs. Look for gear items that serve multiple purposes. And if you really feel like you should include redundant gear, go ahead and do it. You will see if you really needed it while on your trip, and might be able to trim it for your next excursion. Below is a list of what I take with me on the trail:

Toiletries Stuff Sack [amazon_link id="B00ATNIB7M" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Outdoor Research Lightweight Stuff Sack (5L)[/amazon_link] $12 1 ounce
Light [amazon_link id="B003VU4I3Q" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Black Diamond Wiz Headlamp[/amazon_link] $20 2 ounces
Multitool [amazon_link id="B0032Y4IUE" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Leatherman Squirt[/amazon_link] $30 2.1 ounces
Firestarter [amazon_link id="B00711YQN8" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mini Bic Lighter[/amazon_link] $1 .5 ounces
Tinder Dryer Lint (in Ziploc bag with Petroleum Jelly) $0 1 ounce
First Aid Kit [amazon_link id="B00BAV6C5U" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Ultralight and Watertight Medical Kit (.3)[/amazon_link] $9 2.3 ounces
[amazon_link id="B002KQ6682" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Duct Tape[/amazon_link] Wrapped around Old Credit Card $0 2 ounces
[amazon_link id="B00664KXGA" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]550 Paracord[/amazon_link] 50 feet $5 3.6 ounces
Sunscreen [amazon_link id="B0014L9TH4" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Banana Boat Sport Performance Sunblock Lotion SPF 30[/amazon_link] $2 1.2 ounces
Soap [amazon_link id="B000TG6HI4" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Gel 1 OZ Travel Size[/amazon_link] $2 1.2 ounces
Toothpaste [amazon_link id="B0070IZQBS" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Colgate Toothpaste 2.8oz Travel Size[/amazon_link] $2 2.8 ounces
Travel Toothbrush [amazon_link id="B000052YA2" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]GUM Travel Toothbrushes with Antibacterial Bristles[/amazon_link] $2 1.6 ounces
Towel [amazon_link id="B0075JTNXO" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Packtowl Nano Light Towel (M)[/amazon_link] $10 .9 ounces
Trail Map Laminated Map $0 1 ounce
Totals $95 23.2 ounces (1 pound 7.2 ounces)

Worn Or Carried On Self

[amazon_link id=”B0054TJOUE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Salomon Men's XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 Running Shoe,Swamp/Black/Deep Red,10.5 M US[/amazon_link]Not everything will go into your backpack. Some of the gear you will be wearing or carrying on your person. For example, sunglasses, hats, trekking poles, boots, clothing, a watch, a headlamp, etc. will be extra weight but won’t be on your back. You should still consider these items because your body is still exerting energy to carry all of them, even if the final tally doesn’t count against your pack weight. Think about packing some of the items above in other lists in pockets or on your belt for easier access.

Below is what I normally hike with on my body on a sunny, warm day (obviously, these things will change with the weather and possibly the terrain).

Trail Shorts [amazon_link id="B004M9XOA8" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Canyon Shorts[/amazon_link] $50 6.3 ounces
Trail Shirt [amazon_link id="B00BONJ6YI" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Way2Cool[/amazon_link] $50 4.4 ounces
Trail Socks [amazon_link id="B00EYABH2W" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Icebreaker Men's Multisport Ultralite Micro Socks[/amazon_link] $15 1.6 ounces
Trail Hat [amazon_link id="B008ENFV40" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Men's Chiller[/amazon_link] $40 2.9 ounces
Sunglasses [amazon_link id="B00CM0957A" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Polarized P52 Sunglasses Superlight[/amazon_link] $30 1 ounce
Watch [amazon_link id="B0006OGJZK" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Dakota Watch Company Digital Compass Watch[/amazon_link] $40 9 ounces (belt clip)
Trail Shoes [amazon_link id="B0054TJOUE" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Salomon Men's XA PRO 3D Ultra 2 Trail Running Shoe[/amazon_link] $130 14 ounces
Trekking Poles [amazon_link id="B00AU2R8XU" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles[/amazon_link] $140 10.4 ounces
Totals $495 49.6 ounces (3 pounds 1.6 ounces)

Location Specific/Extra Gear

[amazon_link id=”B00H8MPCIS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Garmin eTrex 20 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator[/amazon_link]There are a few gear items that, depending on where I am hiking, I will bring along. If I am backpacking in bear country, there are a few extra precautionary items to bring along, like bear spray or a bear canister. Below is a list of these extra items that I may or may not pack.

Bear Canister [amazon_link id="B0055QGZUS" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Bear Keg Food Container[/amazon_link] $65 56 ounces
Bear Spray [amazon_link id="B002E6VAHK" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]SABRE FRONTIERSMAN Bear Attack Deterrent with Hip Holster[/amazon_link] $36 7.9 ounces
GPS [amazon_link id="B00542NVDW" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Garmin eTrex 20 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator[/amazon_link] $165 5 ounces
Emergency Messenger [amazon_link id="B002PHRDQU" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger unit[/amazon_link] $90 8.6 ounces
Bug Spray [amazon_link id="B00DP2A1SQ" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Deep Woods Sportsmen[/amazon_link] $5 2.2 ounces
Mosquito Net [amazon_link id="B0009PUSZI" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Coleman Insect Head Net[/amazon_link] $2 1 ounce
Additional Water Bottle [amazon_link id="B002LSS68C" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Platypus Soft Bottle (1L)[/amazon_link] $10 1.6 ounces
Camera [amazon_link id="B009TCD8V8" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]GoPro HERO3+: Black Edition[/amazon_link] $400 20 ounces
Warmer Top [amazon_link id="B0061CSTNG" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Terramar Txo 3.0[/amazon_link] $50 6.3 ounces
Warmer Bottom [amazon_link id="B0061CSV8O" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Terramar Txo 3.0[/amazon_link] $50 6.3 ounces
Warmer Jacket [amazon_link id="B00ABSTNBS" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Outdoor Research Halogen Jacket[/amazon_link] $200 13.3 ounces
Fishing Kit [amazon_link id="B001E18M2M" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Eagle Claw Pack-It Spin Combo Telescopic Rod[/amazon_link] $25 12 ounces

Meals

Backcountry foodsWhen it comes to packing food for an ultralight 3-5 day trip, you really need to maximize your calories-to-weight ratio. There are a lot of good trail foods that help achieve this, like trail mixes, peanut butter, cheese, and granola. Protein is another essential menu item, and any time you are able to have a warm meal, you will have a more enjoyable time on the trail.

Food fatigue is a real enemy of backpackers, and can be a dangerous situation if prolonged. Pack a variety of flavors and types of foods. Sure, 10 pounds of trail mix is chock full of calories, but will you want to eat it three meals a day for 5 days straight? I will go over my ultralight backpacking menu in another post, but keep in mind that you will want to keep your food to about 2 pounds per day, give or take a few ounces. I pack my meals without extra packaging or boxes. For example, if you are taking an MRE, strip all the ingredients out of the MRE pouch and leave behind anything you don’t plan on consuming.

Don’t forget to bring along some water additives as well. Water fatigue is another problem to be aware of. Sweeten up your water with some Crystal Light or Gatoraid powder, and bring along some coffee/hot chocolate/tea for evenings and mornings.

Final Weight Talley

Big Three $995 76 ounces (4 pounds 12 ounces)
Clothing $545 49.1 ounces (3 pounds 1.1 ounces)
Food/Water Prep $120 27 ounces (1 pound 11 ounces)
Necessities $95 23.2 ounces (1 pound 7.2 ounces)
Worn Gear $495 49.6 ounces (3 pounds 1.6 ounces)
Gear Subtotal $2250 175.3 ounces (10 pounds 15.3 ounces excluding worn gear)
Water 1L $0 35.2 ounces (2 pounds 3.2 ounces)
Food ~2 pounds per day $40 ($10 per day) 128 ounces (8 pounds)
Total Pack Weight 338.5 ounces (21 pounds 2.5 ounces)

Final Thoughts

You can see that the total weight of a little more than 20 pounds for a multi-day excursion is not only achievable, but will also afford quite a bit of comfort in the backcountry. The gear base weight at a little more than 10 pounds is just breaking the unofficial ultralight threshold, but I choose to bring along a few extra comforts (like extra socks and underwear) that push it over the top. Your mileage will vary, and you may very well fit comfortably under the magic number of 10 pounds.

Remember that trimming weight from the Big Three is essential for obtaining this goal. I have listed a few options above for getting there, but there are certainly a lot more options on the market today. Get started making your list and find ways to trim extra weight.

Hopefully, this article will help you to get started in the wonderful world of ultralight backpacking. Use these lists to help modify the gear that you pack. Thanks for reading and happy trails!

What do you use for your Big Three? What is your gear base weight? What about your total 3-5 day weight? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for your contributions!

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5 Great Dual Purpose Daypacks For Back-To-School

When the summer days begin to get shorter, and the temperatures begin to back off of summer highs, back-to-school shopping comes to mind. If you are looking for a good backpack for your books, computers, and supplies that can also double as an able daypack on the trails this fall, you have come to the right place. Below, we’ll highlight 5 great dual purpose daypacks for this back-to-school season.

The North Face Vault – $50

[amazon_link id=”B00IAUUU8O” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Vault Backpack Style: A93D-0M3 Size:One Size For AllSize For All[/amazon_link]This is a fantastic choice for back-to-school, and can also be used on the trail to good effect. The North Face Vault backpack features 26 Liters of interior space, two large double zippered compartments (one larger perfect for books, binders, computers, clothing, hiking gear, etc. and one smaller for smaller gear organization, calculators, pens, etc.), exterior daisy chain for lashing additional gear to your pack while on the trail, and support giving chest and waist fitting buckles. It also comes in several different color options. One customer review states the following:

“This backpack is made very well – it looks good, it is very sturdy and we anticipate it will last the entire school year – (not like some of the other backpacks we’ve bought in the past)!”

If you’re looking for an affordable, durable, and spacious daypack, The North Face Vault is a perfect option. Click the following link to pick yours up today.

[amazon_link id=”B00IAUUU8O” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The North Face Vault[/amazon_link]

Osprey Talon – $75

[amazon_link id=”B00HPM8TG8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Osprey Talon 22-Litre Backpack (Meteorite, Medium/Large)[/amazon_link]The Osprey Talon is a 22 Liter daypack that resembles more of a hiking backpack than the Vault does, but it is more than capable of hauling your day-to-day school books and supplies. The Talon features a ridge-molded foam back panel with grip mesh covering as part of its Airscape suspension system that provides superior comfort for hiking, biking, and everyday use. The hipbelt distributes weight across the body, and also features a modified ErgoPull closure to ensure a secure fit. The sternum strap harness is adjustable and features a safety whistle. There is also a helmet strap (LidLock) to keep your bike helmet with you at all times. One reviewer says:

“First off, it’s an Osprey. Great reputation, lifetime warranty, and the Talon-22 definitely lives up to its name.”

The Osprey Talon is a great lightweight daypack with the support and harness to haul heavier books or hiking gear. If you are into biking (or are biking to class), you’ll love the LidLock feature, and this pack is hydration compatible. Follow this link to get yours today.

[amazon_link id=”B00HPM8TG8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Osprey Talon[/amazon_link]

Gregory Miwok – $100

[amazon_link id=”B008NB4K72″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Gregory Miwok 22 (Prussian Blue)[/amazon_link]Gregory makes some of the most comfortable backpacking packs on the market, and their daypacks are no exception. The Miwok is lightweight and efficient for its ability to carry 22 Liters of gear or school supplies. From Gregory, “the Gregory Miwok 22 daypack is an ideal size for day hikes, long strolls, and other single-day adventures,” including a short or long day of classes. It features 6 pockets plus the main compartment, it is hydration compatible, and also features a lifetime warranty. The suspension system allows your pack to move with you, increasing the comfort. The key is the use of a set of flexible tendons that attach the shoulder harness and hipbelt to the pack body. See what this customer thought of the Miwok:

“Great product, I use it for everything from day backpacking to weekender, lately I have been using it as a carry on for flights across country.”

Gregory makes awesome backpacks, and the Miwok daypack is a fine choice for school or the trail. Pick yours up today by clicking the following link.

[amazon_link id=”B0045TB0FG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Gregory Miwok[/amazon_link]

High Sierra Cirque – $50

[amazon_link id=”B004EBRG3K” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]High Sierra Classic Series 59102 Cirque 30 Internal Frame Pack Redrock, Auburn, Charcoal 21.5x12.75x9 Inches 1830 Cubic Inches 30 Liters[/amazon_link]This daypack features a whopping 30 Liters of internal space, enough for a laptop, several books and binders, or a ton of daypacking gear, and all under 2 pounds of weight. It offers a harness media pocket, daisy chains for lashing extra gear to the outside, suspension harness and padded hipbelt made of breathable mesh, and an integrated hydration compartment with dual exit ports.

One recent customer noted that they were “looking for a good sized hiking daypack that had a nice padded hip belt, and wasn’t terribly expensive. My initial reaction is very positive. I really like the design of this pack and it’s exactly the size I was looking for. The apparent quality of the materials and construction seem much higher than other packs I’ve looked at in the $50.00 price range, I’m actually really impressed with the quality at this price.”

If you are looking for a big daypack at a not so big price that is capable of hauling all of your school or trail gear, click the following link to buy yours today.

[amazon_link id=”B004EBRG3K” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]High Sierra Cirque[/amazon_link]

Kelty Redtail 30 – $60

[amazon_link id=”B00AATSCY2″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Redtail 30 Daypack (Cobalt, One Size)[/amazon_link]Another 30 Liter bag rounds out our selection, and this one is from another company that is known for offering a lot of features for the price. The Kelty Redtail daypack is a great option for those interested in a large pack for hiking or carrying a lot of school supplies. It features a webbed hipbelt for lighter loads which is also removable, plenty of pockets for organization or school supplies or backcountry gear, side compression straps, mesh construction on the suspension harness and back panel, daisy chain, and a reservoir sleeve. It is lightweight and low profile. One reviewer said this about the Redtail daypack:

“Light…great padded straps…nice size for my gear and nice design on padding for your back…purchased another one for the wife.”

With a limited lifetime warranty from Kelty and all of these features, the Redtail is a great option for you. Click the link below to order yours today.

[amazon_link id=”B00AATSCY2″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Redtail[/amazon_link]

The Bottom Line

This concludes our look into 5 great daypacks for back-to-school season. Any one of these is a great choice, whether you are getting ready to hit the books or hit the trails this fall, or both. Thanks for reading, and happy trails (and studying)!

What is your favorite daypack? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks!

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New To Backpacking? Get Started For Under $300

Are you interested in backpacking, but not willing to commit a large amount of money upfront until you know you are going to like it? Are you on strict budget? If you answered yes to either of these questions, this article will hopefully help you to see that you don’t need to spend a small fortune to get into this great hobby. Below, I will go over some of my favorite low cost (but still high quality) gear to consider.

For the sake of this article, we will assume you have no backpacking gear. That means you will need to buy a backpack, tent, sleeping bag, and other items to keep you going, less the consumables (food, fuel, etc). Let’s say you have a strict budget of $300 to get all the gear you need to go on a summer weekend (3 day, 2 night) backpacking trip that is more or less on a flat trail.

Here is a breakdown of the items, and below will be more details of the gear choices:

  • Backpack$115 [amazon_link id=”B009R4CV3E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Coyote 80 Backpack[/amazon_link]
  • Tent$110 [amazon_link id=”B0043HH5CW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Eureka! Apex 2XT 2 Person Backpacking Tent[/amazon_link]
  • Sleeping Bag$40 [amazon_link id=”B006WPZBBA” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ledge Sports Scorpion 45 Degree Ultralight Sleeping Bag[/amazon_link]
  • Water Prep – $25 [amazon_link id=”B004DZMD08″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Seychelle 28 Ounce Flip Top Water Filter Bottle[/amazon_link]
  • Food Prep$10 – [amazon_link id=”B000P9IR8I” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Stainless Steel Mess Kit[/amazon_link]
  • Total Cost = $300

Backpack – $115

[amazon_link id=”B009R4CV3E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Coyote 80 Internal frame Backpack, Forest Night, Medium/Large[/amazon_link]For the backpack, the Kelty Coyote 80 [amazon_link id=”B009R4CV3E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]can be picked up off of Amazon currently for $115[/amazon_link]. That is a great deal for a backpack that boasts 78 Liters (4750 cubic inches) of interior space. This is more than large enough for a 3 day excursion. It is more suited for a longer trip, but at that price point, it’s hard to pass this deal up. Additional features in this pack include:

Bag Features:

  • Top loading
  • 420-denier polyester Ball Shadow body fabric
  • 420-denier polyester Oxford reinforcement fabric
  • Hydration compatible
  • Reservoir sleeve
  • Front-panel access
  • Zippered side pockets
  • Mesh water bottle pockets
  • Side compression straps
  • Load stabilizer straps
  • Spindrift collar
  • Ice-axe loops
  • Daisy chain
  • Key fob
  • Zippered waist belt pockets
  • Lid converts into lumbar pack
  • Carry handle

Suspension Features:

  • CloudLock II adjustable suspension
  • LightBeam II dual aluminum stays
  • HDPE frame sheet
  • Removable HDPE reinforced dual density waist belt
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Ventilating back panel
  • Load-lifter/stabilizer straps
  • Sternum strap
  • Patented Scherer Cinch

Specifications:

  • Capacity: 4,750 cubic inches (78-liters)
  • Weight: 5 lb. 9 oz.
  • Measures 16 x 34 x 16.5 inches (W x H x D)

Highlights of the Kelty Coyote 80 backpack are the price point, the capacity, removable waist belt and lid (converts into hip pack), and construction. The pack is on the heavy side at 5 pounds 9 ounces empty, but as long as it isn’t over packed for a 3 day trip, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Tent – $110

[amazon_link id=”B0043HH5CW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Eureka! Apex 2 - Tent (sleeps 2)[/amazon_link]The tent of choice is the Eureka! Apex 2XT tent. This is a lightweight 2 person backpacking tent that is also a very palatable price right around a hundred bucks. We chose the Apex 2XT tent because of the price, as well as a few features, such as: the 2 door design with 2 vestibules totaling 27 additional square feet, solid construction, and light weight (6 pounds 5 ounces). Here are some additional features and specifications:

  • Seasons: 3
  • Sleeps: 2
  • Floor dimensions: 7′ 6″ by 4′ 11″
  • Center height: 3′ 10″
  • Minimum weight: 6 pounds, 5 ounces
  • Frame: Freestanding, shock-corded fiberglass
  • Vestibule: 2, with 13.8 square feet of storage each
  • Storage pockets: 2 mesh
  • Clothes line loops: 4
  • Flashlight loop: Yes
  • Warranty: Lifetime

This is great tent, and for the price, you won’t be disappointed. [amazon_link id=”B0043HH5CW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Pick yours up today[/amazon_link].

Sleeping Bag – $40

[amazon_link id=”B006WPZBA6″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ledge Sports FeatherLite +20 F Degree Ultra Light Design, Ultra Compact Sleeping Bag (84 X 32 X 20, Red)[/amazon_link]Since this is a summer trip, we can get away with suggesting a summer sleeping bag. And that is completely fair, because if you are new to backpacking, you probably don’t want to get into a cold weather trip right off the bat because you might ruin your outlook on the hobby. Start with a mild, warm weather trip to see if you like it first, then as you get more experience and become more adventurous, expand. Back to the sleeping bag of choice – [amazon_link id=”B006WPZBBA” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ledge Sports Featherlite 20 degree ultra light sleeping bag[/amazon_link].

The price is right at $40, and the weight is also a bonus coming in at 3.4 pounds. This sleeping bag is nice because is compresses well and takes up minimal room. It is a synthetic fill sleeping bag, so even if it gets wet, it should keep you warm down to 30 degrees or so. It also comes with a stuff sack. Pick up one of these affordable 3 season sleeping bags today!

Food and Water Prep – $35

For cooking your food, this [amazon_link id=”B000P9IR8I” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]stainless steel mess kit[/amazon_link] is just right. It offers a frying pan, pot, two lids (plates) and a plastic 8 ounce cup. At just over $10, all you need to have is a bed of hot coals and you can cook food or heat water.

[amazon_link id=”B004DZMD08″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Seychelle 28oz Flip Top Advanced Filter Water Purification / Filtration Bottle[/amazon_link]As for purifying your water, the [amazon_link id=”B004DZMD08″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Seychelle 28 ounce flip top water filter bottle[/amazon_link] is a high quality option that is affordable ($25). It removes 99.99% of bacteria, virus, contaminants, and pollutants from water. It can filter up to 100 gallons of water, depending on the quality of the water (dirtier water = less filtering capacity). It weighs just 11 ounces and you can fill it up from any body of water along the trail.

The Bottom Line

If you are just getting into backpacking, and you are worried that you won’t like it, it doesn’t make sense to spend a ton of money on gear. I can tell you that if you like nature, exercise, the outdoors, and camping in general, you are going to absolutely love backpacking. But keeping your start-up costs low just in case you don’t is a good idea. The nice thing about all of these items is that they could all be sold used to recoup most of your money if you decide you don’t like backpacking. Another nice thing about all of these items is that if you do like backpacking, they are high quality products that you will be able to enjoy for a long time.

Use this list to find the right gear for your needs. This is just a list of the most essential gear items. I didn’t include hiking boots because they require such a specialized fit and vary greatly in price. For a flat 3 day hiking trip, sturdy tennis shoes should be alright. Other items might include a good flashlight, first aid kit, survival kit, GPS, fitted hiking boots, multi-tool or pocket knife, and a sleeping pad. They will greatly increase your comfort and safety in the backcountry. As always, happy trails!

Do you agree with this list? What would be your $300 starting setup? Leave a comment below. Thanks!

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The Top 5 Expedition Backpacks – Quality And Comfort Are Essential

When it comes to expedition backpacking, it is essential to utilize a high quality backpack. If your backpack is made from inferior products and falls apart on the trail, you won’t have an enjoyable experience, and you might even put your health at risk. Expedition backpacks are at the top of the price range, but don’t be deterred by that fact. These backpacks on this list are made of high quality materials and with superior craftsmanship. You can rest assured that they will not fail you while on the trail.

Below is a list of our top 5 expedition backpacks that we have tested on the trail. They are all superb examples of comfort and durability on the trail.

#5 Osprey Xenith 105 ~ $400

[amazon_link id=”B00B1VBRX6″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Osprey Packs Xenith 105[/amazon_link]When you need to load up for your expedition, the Osprey Xenith 105 is a great choice. With a massive 6400+ cubic inches of interior volume, the Xenith 105 will hold everything you need for more than a week on the trail. This pack is comfortable, durable, and did we mention it holds everything? Click the following link to pick yours up today!

[amazon_link id=”B00B1VBRX6″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Osprey Xenith 105[/amazon_link]

#4 Gregory Whitney 95 ~ $390

[amazon_link id=”B001BBPZ84″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Gregory Whitney 95 Backpack (Trinidad Blue,Small)[/amazon_link]Gregory makes awesome backpacks. Two of their largest packs made our top 5 list, and for good reason. They are some of the most comfortable backpacks on the market, and their durability is second to none. The Gregory Whitney 95 backpack is an excellent choice for expedition trekking. With a capacity range of 5300-6300 cubic inches, you will be able to carry most of what you will need for an extended expedition. Comfort and durability once again is exemplified in this option. To buy your Whitney, click the following link right now!

[amazon_link id=”B001BBOEXQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Gregory Whitney 95[/amazon_link]

#3 Mountain Hardwear BMG 105 ~ $350

[amazon_link id=”B00HNKMPSK” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Mountain Hardwear BMG 105 Backpack Black Large[/amazon_link]The Mountain Hardwear BMG 105 is another huge expedition pack choice that ‘hauls all’ of the gear you can possibly pack and carry. Come up with your own meaning for BMG – we think it should mean ‘Big Mountain Gear,’ since you will be able to plan hiking, mountaineering, climbing and long distance trips with this bag. With a capacity range of 5800-7000 cubic inches, the Mountain Hardwear BMG 105 has more than enough space to fit all of your climbing, guiding, winter, summer, etc. backpacking gear. Get your BMG today by clicking the following link.

[amazon_link id=”B00HNKMPSK” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Mountain Hardwear BMG 105[/amazon_link]

#2 Arcteryx Naos 85 ~ $700

[amazon_link id=”B002UXZ8W0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Arcteryx Naos 85 Backpack Blackbird Tall[/amazon_link]Coming in at #2 is the Arcteryx Naos 85, a monster of a backpack that has the internal carrying capacity of 5000-5370 cubic inches. What really sets the Naos apart from the other bags on this list is the fact that it is truly an all weather backpack, featuring an impermeable heavy duty fabric as well as fully sealed seams and waterproof zippers. Expedition backpacking usually exposes you to the worst kinds of weather, and this backpack will keep all of your gear bone dry. With the all-weather designation, the Arcteryx Naos also boasts fantastic comfort on the trail. If you plan on wet weather, you can’t go wrong with the Arcteryx Naos 85. Click the following link today to pick yours up!

[amazon_link id=”B002UXZ8W0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Arcteryx Naos 85[/amazon_link]

#1 Gregory Denali Pro 105 ~ $550

[amazon_link id=”B00J07XSDA” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Gregory Denali Pro 105 Mountaineering Pack (Chili Red,Small)[/amazon_link]As stated in the Gregory Whitney 95 section above, some of the most comfortable packs on the market are made by Gregory. This is their flagship expedition pack, and is absolutely enormous. With a capacity range of 6100-7000 cubic inches, it rivals the BMG and Argon above. The Gregory Denali Pro 105 backpack is so massive that you have to be careful not to over pack it, or you could encounter some pain on the trail. Because of its comfort and fit, the Denali Pro is our top rated expedition backpack on the list today. Click the following link to get your Denali Pro today!

[amazon_link id=”B00J07XSDA” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Gregory Denali Pro 105[/amazon_link]

The Bottom Line

This was a close competition between all five packs, and when the results came back, a lot of us were surprised at the rankings. As you can see, there is a pretty good representation of the major backpack companies out there on this list. You would be well suited to go with any of the options on this list for sure. The previous edition to this article had the Arcteryx Bora 95 as the top rated backpack, but since it is next to impossible to find this backpack on the market today (we think it has been discontinued), we decided to update our ranking system. The number 5 backpack has also been updated, from the Osprey Argon 110 (a fantastic backpack) to last year’s Osprey Xenith 105. Thanks to John from the comment below for suggesting we look into this pack, and in fact, a few of us had already taken it on the trail, and since the Argon 110 is becoming more difficult to pick up, we decided to update this position as well.

We obviously left some great expedition packs off, and that was out of no disrespect for the companies or brands. We only had 5 to work with, and these 5 packs made the cut. Do you agree with our assessment of expedition packs? Tell us what you think by responding in the comments section below. Give us your own top 5 expedition packs if you like. We like to see what other backpackers think about the available gear. As always, thanks for reading and happy trails!

Click the following link to view our Top 5 Expedition Backpacks for 2016.

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Kelty Coyote 80 Backpack – Bargain Backpackers Pack

[amazon_link id=”B0113LLUEE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Coyote 80 Internal frame Backpack (Cypress, Medium/Large - 17.5 - 21 Torso)[/amazon_link]Kelty is a name that is well known in outdoor circles. Their products are high quality and durable, and their prices don’t break the bank. The Kelty Coyote 80 backpack is no exception. Built on an internal frame system, the Coyote 80 pack offers several features to the bargain minded backpacker. Let’s look at some of these features and highlights below.

Features

The Coyote 80 features S-shaped shoulder pads that fit the contours of your body, providing comfort and stability without causing excess chaffing. The Rip-and-Stick adjustment allows you to configure the frame to fit your torso length. Several stability adjustments, including the sternum strap, stabilizer straps, and belt stabilizers help to stabilize the load while hiking uneven and rough terrain.

Other highlights include:

  • Hydration sleeve and port
  • 8 exterior pockets + main interior compartment
  • Two access points – top and side
  • Daisy chain for extra gear attachment
  • Two ice axe loops
  • Removable lid converts into waist pack

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

The Kelty Coyote 80 offers great value to any bargain minded backpacker. It is simply loaded with features and pockets, and provides a large amount of interior capacity (4750 cubic inches) for the overall weight of 5 pounds 9 ounces. If you are looking for a mid-sized backpack capable of carrying heavy loads for extended trips with the added bonus of not breaking the bank, the Kelty Coyote 80 pack is a great option for you. Click the following link to purchase yours today!

[amazon_link id=”B0113LLUEE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Coyote 80 Backpack[/amazon_link]

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Mountain Hardwear BMG 105 Expedition Backpack – High Value Climbing Pack

[amazon_link id=”B005W39GB4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Mountain Hardwear BMG 105 Backpack Black Large[/amazon_link]The Mountain Hardwear BMG 105 expedition backpack is the next best thing to a pack mule. With ample internal storage, along with exterior add-on space, the BMG delivers and allows you to pack everything minus the kitchen sink. This expedition series backpack is designed for professional climbers and guides as it handles huge loads with ease. Let’s look at some of the features and highlights of the Mountain Hardwear BMG 105 backpack below.

Features

Mountain Hardwear is a brand that provides quality and value with their products. The BMG 105 is no exception. When it comes to comfort, the BMG offers a few features that need a spotlight:

  • The low profile FitLock hipbelt allows for a custom fit to the contours of your hips. This allows for improved support and comfort when dealing with heavy loads.
  • The Alpine suspension system provides stability and comfort while improving support.
  • The Alpine compression strap system allows you to compact your gear down to the lowest profile possible. The straps are easily manipulated with gloved hands, and they are removable when not needed.

Additional highlights of the BMG 105 include:

  • Removable horizontal aluminum stay behind hipbelt
  • The ability to add up to 625 additional cubic inches of capacity with a removable skirt extension
  • Removable top lid doubles as fanny pack
  • Multiple lash points for added gear
  • 840D Ballistic Nylon bottom flap material for added durability and weather protection
  • 5 exterior pockets + main compartment + sleeping bag compartment
  • Two access points – top and bottom

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

The Mountain Hardwear BMG 105 backpack is a wonderful example of a great mix of value and high-quality features. It is hard to beat the price of this backpack when compared with other expedition/climbing backpacks, and the amazing thing is that quality and features do not suffer. The BMG 105 is offered in 3 sizes (S,M,L), and the capacity ranges from 5800-7000 cubic inches. The average weight of an empty pack is an incredible 5 pounds 3 ounces.

If you are looking for one of the best values in climbing/expedition backpacks when looking at comfort, durability, and capacity, look no further than the Mountain Hardwear BMG 105. Click the following link to purchase yours today!

[amazon_link id=”B005W39GB4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Mountain Hardwear BMG 105 Expedition Backpack[/amazon_link]

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Gregory Backpack General Fit Guidelines

It is vital when choosing a backpack that you first take the proper measurements of your torso length. This is the same, no matter what brand of backpack you buy. Gregory offers a PDF document that sums up all the sizing and fitting guidelines that can be found here. This article will briefly go over the main points to add a bit more information and experience behind adjusting and fine-tuning Gregory backpacks.

Frame Sizing

Take the measurement from your C7 vertebrae to your Illiac Crest. To find your C7 vertebrae, lean your head forward, and it is the most prominent bone sticking out where your neck flares out to meet your shoulders. Your Iliac Crest is the spot on the spine that is level with the top of your hip bones. Feel for your hips at your sides and trace the point around to your back. Use a flexible tape measure or the Gregory Fit-O-Matic tool to measure this length (your torso length). Do it a few times to make sure it is as accurate as possible. Use the fitting guide below to match the size of the pack you want to your torso length. Note – If you are between two sizes (overlap between small and medium), be sure to go with the smaller size. The extra 200 cubic inches isn’t worth risking an improper fit. Going with the smaller size will make for a more comfortable fit in the long run.

Gregory Sizing ChartWaist Belt Fitting

Follow the below instructions: (from the fitting guide PDF)

  • Fit your harness and belt size first.
  • Install the belt by sliding the plastic load transfer panel through the webbing and pocket sleeve on the waist belt.
  • Load your pack with 15-20 pounds of weight. Fitting your pack empty will result in improper fit.
  • Put on the pack, and secure the shoulder harness first. Adjust the harness until the top of the iliac crest is even with the top of the waist belt.
  • Shrug your shoulders and fasten the belt.
  • Suck in your belly and tighten the belt tighter than you would normally wear it. This ensures that the waist belt covers your iliac.
  • Pull the quick-adjust tabs behind the waist belt and the belt should automatically register your hip angle.
  • Release the tabs and the belt will lock into place, providing maximum comfort and load transfer.
  • Make sure you can lift your leg to 90 degrees (see image below) and check for even pressure between your body and the top and bottom edge of the waist belt.
  • Confirm equal settings on both sides using the scale. Manually adjust with the pack off if necessary.

90 DegreeShoulder stabilizer adjustments

See the image below to adjust your shoulder stabilizers to the proper angle (pack dependent):

Stabilizer Anglers ChartThese guidelines are designed to help you have the most comfortable fit with your new Gregory backpack. Fine-tuning these adjustments will take practice, and often will occur while on the trail. Don’t be afraid to experiment with adjustments while on a hike, as this is the best way to familiarize yourself with how to maximize your comfort level when on the trail.

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Gregory Whitney 95 Backpack – Full Size Champ

[amazon_link id=”B001BBPZ84″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Gregory Whitney 95 Backpack (Trinidad Blue,Small)[/amazon_link]With its ability to offer support and comfort, and the seemingly endless possibilities with respects to its customization to fit your needs as a backpacker, the Gregory Whitney 95 backpack delivers one of the best values of high-quality backpacks on the market today. Offered in two color choices (a very outdoorsy Humboldt Green and a more trendy Trinidad Blue), the Whitney 95 falls more on the end of extended-stay backpacking trips with its capacity ranging from 5300 to 6300 cubic inches (sizes S,M,L). And with an overall weight of only 6 pounds 9 ounces (average), the Whitney 95 offers an incredible amount of internal space and other features, which we will dissect below.

Features

The Gregory Whitney 95 backpack features the Response Custom Fit Suspension (CFS, image below), which provides:

  • Twin aluminum stays which are supported by a horizontal cross stay, preventing barreling.
  • A smooth piston-like movement of the stays while you walk, providing flexibility and adding comfort.
  • The quick adjust 5 point angle waist belt, which allows for the perfect fit to the contour of your hips by easily adjusting a quick release tab.
  • Co-molded anti-slip lumbar pads, providing maximum comfort and weight transfer.

Gregory Response CFS

The Whitney 95 also features the Auto-Cant Shoulder Harness, which features a rotating plate attachment for your harness to the pack frame that allows the shoulder pads to easily and fluidly adjust to the contours of your neck and shoulders. This eliminates friction and rubbing that cause hot spots, adding comfort to your hiking experience.

Other highlights and features include:

  • Hydration sleeve with dual tube ports
  • Water resistant zippers
  • Water and wear resistant bottom panel material
  • Removable top pocket – converts into fanny day pack
  • Dual waist belt pockets
  • 4 access points – front, side, top, and bottom
  • 9 exterior pockets + internal compartment + sleeping bag compartment

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

Two of our writers swear by this backpack, and only trek with it. The Gregory Whitney 95 Backpack delivers when it comes to comfort, durability, and capacity better than most competitors on the market. Most reviewers are amazed by the customer service rendered by Gregory, and I have been amazed with their ability to replace small buckles and the like that have broken at no cost to me. If you are looking for a high quality and great value high capacity backpack just under the expedition series, the Whitney 95 is for you. Click the following link to order yours now.

[amazon_link id=”B001BBPZ84″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Gregory Whitney 95 Backpack[/amazon_link]

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