I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Items to keep you alive in the event you must evacuate: discussions of basic Survival Kits commonly called "Bug Out Bags" or "Go Bags"

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KnifeStyle
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I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by KnifeStyle » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:23 am

As we packed up our car camping site yesterday morning, the guys all decided that we'd gather our lighter gear, get backpacks and head for an overnight in Southern Illinois. None of us currently own a ruck, we're just casual gear collectors who car camp at campgrounds and concerts. My goal is to keep this affordable but durable if this becomes a regular hobby. Account for the following:

-One Eureka Apex 2XT tent, it's a bit bulky but is still designed for backpacking. A small two person dome basically with a full coverage fly.
-Sleeping bag, to be determined and purchased. Most likely will be a twenty degree synthetic, not one of those sexy small-packing ones.
-No stove or fuel, just no-cook foods and snacks.
-Thermarest scout, bare-bones economy model that rolls down to a small bundle, no need to strap anything on the outside.
-Tarp cut down for a homemade tent footprint.
-Only enough clothes and layers for two days max, past that I'm just swapping the clothes.

Do note I am a 130 pound male, about 5'6. Looking for lighter civilian gear, military surplus is just overkill for my lifestyle.
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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by Delsaw » Mon Aug 31, 2015 12:26 pm

Glad to hear you are making the plunge into backpacking. There are a lot of great gear options out there that wont break the bank.

For packs, the first thing I would do it head over to REI or another backpacking store and get measured for your pack size. The big box stores probably dont have anyone that can help you measure. I'm 6'1 190lbs and I have a medium size backpack due to my torso length. So you might need a medium too, it all depends. It will make a big difference in the long run. Once you figure that out, you can shop around for good deals.

Since this is an overnight, you could try and borrow a pack, or even use a larger daypack to see how things go. However, if you use a bag without a hip-belt, make sure you go light on the gear. Your shoulders will thank you.

If you want to do this more often, I'd recommend getting some backpacking focused gear. It will make a huge difference, both in bulk and weight.

Sierra Trading post is a site you can usually find some nice discounted stuff. Also, checkout your local craigslist or ebay to see if anyone is selling their stuff. Once you know what fits you and what you need, it will be much easier to find quality second hand stuff. Also, I bet there are some folks on this site that might be willing to trade or sell some of their extra stuff. Here's a good article I just found on used gear: http://www.theactivetimes.com/5-ways-bu ... tdoor-gear

Kelty makes good gear, that doesn't cost an arm and leg. I have a 0 degree down (duck, not goose) that was really affordable and much lighter than a synthetic bag would have been.

The only other thing I would add is make sure you know what you are going to do for water. Carrying all the water you will need is no fun, so make sure you have a water purification (and backup) plan. you could grab some purification tablets, cheap and light or borrow someones filter.

OK, one more thing. Make sure you have good shoes. For an overnight, you can go with tennis shoes (no cotton socks), as long as you arent going too heavyweight of a pack (aim for 25 % or so of your weight). you dont need some beefed up boots (depending on where you are hiking).

Sorry for the long winded write-up, but your post made me realize how long its been since I've been backpacking. Time to get out there myself.

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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by majorhavoc » Mon Aug 31, 2015 12:32 pm

KnifeStyle wrote:As we packed up our car camping site yesterday morning, the guys all decided that we'd gather our lighter gear, get backpacks and head for an overnight in Southern Illinois. None of us currently own a ruck, we're just casual gear collectors who car camp at campgrounds and concerts. My goal is to keep this affordable but durable if this becomes a regular hobby. Account for the following:

-One Eureka Apex 2XT tent, it's a bit bulky but is still designed for backpacking. A small two person dome basically with a full coverage fly.
-Sleeping bag, to be determined and purchased. Most likely will be a twenty degree synthetic, not one of those sexy small-packing ones.
-No stove or fuel, just no-cook foods and snacks.
-Thermarest scout, bare-bones economy model that rolls down to a small bundle, no need to strap anything on the outside.
-Tarp cut down for a homemade tent footprint.
-Only enough clothes and layers for two days max, past that I'm just swapping the clothes.

Do note I am a 130 pound male, about 5'6. Looking for lighter civilian gear, military surplus is just overkill for my lifestyle.

High Sierra seems to offer very high value in internal frame backpacks. Kelty is a touch more expensive, but definitely also at the affordable end, and will likely give you better warranty service should you need it. If you have a Cabelas nearby, they often have good deals on Kelty and their store brand packs.

Buying used is another way to go, especially if you can find a really good commercial brand, like Gregory.

FYI: the single most common failure point on most backpacks is the shoulder harness anchor point, stressed when the user yanks it off the ground by a single strap. The most important thing you can do to extend the life of an inexpensive backpack is to lift it off the ground using the haul loop, swing it around to the back of your neck (your elbow will be pointed straight up at this point) and then slipping your free arm through the shoulder strap. Lean forward so some of the weight is across your back, let go of the haul loop and slip that arm through the opposite strap.
Last edited by majorhavoc on Mon Aug 31, 2015 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by Blackdog » Mon Aug 31, 2015 12:46 pm

Delsaw beat me to the punch. Getting a pack that fits will pay bonus points. All the bells and whistles won't count for much if the pack doesn't fit.

If you have a place that can fit you great, if not here are some tips to getting a good fit.

http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/ ... -size.html

Seamingly no end to all the packs out there and mostly personal preference once you figure out your size.

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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by Delsaw » Mon Aug 31, 2015 12:55 pm

Blackdog,

I learned from my mistake. I hiked 800+ miles on the AT with a too large pack. Hipbelt kept slipping, so had to constantly keep adjusting. I was 22, so I just dealt with it. Nowadays I'm not as patient (dumb/borke?) so would have dumped that pack at the first stop and bought something that fit. :wink:

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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by Blackdog » Mon Aug 31, 2015 1:23 pm

Delsaw wrote:Blackdog,

I learned from my mistake. I hiked 800+ miles on the AT with a too large pack. Hipbelt kept slipping, so had to constantly keep adjusting. I was 22, so I just dealt with it. Nowadays I'm not as patient (dumb/borke?) so would have dumped that pack at the first stop and bought something that fit. :wink:

We all learn lessons and 800 miles with a pack that doesn't work is a lesson that probably stuck, wouldn't wish it on anybody.
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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by JayceSlayn » Mon Aug 31, 2015 8:17 pm

I will echo the value of Kelty as a brand - I have a few of their packs, and they are study and pretty well featured for the price.

Besides getting fitted at a good backpacking store, I would also comment that if you are on the edge between two packs, but one of them has more adjustment capability (load lifter straps, adjustable torso/hip-belt, etc.), keep in mind that can come in handy later as well, as you can adjust it to fit based on load, body-type, etc.

And considering if this might be the first time you do a long hike with a decent load on your back, maybe take a look at the boot department while you're at said backpacking store...I must admit that I'm always disappointed though, that even a mid-level good pair of boots costs more than the same grade backpack any day.

EDIT: Re-reading earlier posts: I'd agree for an overnight you probably don't need new boots - but making sure your best pair of sneakers is at least up to snuff wouldn't hurt.
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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by offcamber » Tue Sep 01, 2015 8:30 am

Just another suggestion, I used to use Osprey packs before I switched over to Mystery Ranch.

I don't know if their quality has changed over the years, but the Ospreys were always reasonably priced, very lightweight and held up well for me during a bunch of backcountry trips in the SW.

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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by rivery » Tue Sep 01, 2015 10:38 am

Knifestyle, Are you in chapter 20? If so, try to make it to glamping. There will be plenty of gear to check out. I myself at 52 just did my first MBO. Pack was not fitted and weighed about 38#. But I survived.

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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by KnifeStyle » Tue Sep 01, 2015 1:00 pm

I will indeed be at the Chapter 20 Campout, sounds like a great chance to look at realistic gear.
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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by rivery » Tue Sep 01, 2015 2:18 pm

From the meeting Sunday it looks like we will have a stove - off. All kinds of stoves. If you want to request stuff to check out make sure to post on 20

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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by Wayward buckeye » Tue Sep 01, 2015 2:33 pm

One thing that helped me was going on YouTube. You can find a lot of reviews on all types of gear as well as some good ideas on light weight options. Instead of a nalgean bottle, use a plastic water bottle. Saves a lot on weight and will do the job. When they are empty you can crush it down and reuse it later.

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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by Wraith6761 » Wed Sep 02, 2015 6:46 am

I'll toss in another vote for Osprey's line of packs, especially the Exos line. Very nice suspension system, reasonably lightweight, rugged enough to handle normal usage, probably the most popular mainstream pack in use on both the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail, and doesn't completely break the bank. Plus there's that warranty of theirs... Kelty's packs are pretty nice as well, especially if you want/need a much larger storage capacity (the Coyote and Red Cloud packs are huge, available as 80L and 90/110L respectively). Gregory and Arcteryx packs are supposed to be nice, but they're too expensive for what you're getting IMO.

For the average 4 nights or less trip, I'd say a pack in the 50-60 liter range would be more than adequate. For trips lasting much longer than that, or trips when it's stupid cold outside, you'll probably need to go bigger.
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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by KnifeStyle » Wed Sep 02, 2015 11:45 am

Luckily enough I work five minutes from an REI, I just joined last week, and a fraternity brother works there in the pack section. I got fitted for an Osprey Kestrel 50 liter bag, just big enough for a weekend. They have a Kelty cosmic 20 degree bag on sale currently, it's a type of inexpensive down and is the halfway point between synthetic and down really. If I get accepted for an REI credit card and they toss in the free gift card, that sleeping bag will be mine very shortly. The Osprey may have to wait for Christmas, but wow was it well balanced with a lot of clever design features that were more practical than extra. They loaded me up with thirty pounds and insisted I wander the store for half an hour in it, it held up well without chafing or sudden aches.
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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by Delsaw » Wed Sep 02, 2015 12:40 pm

I'll vote for the Osprey too. The exo looks like a great series of packs. That is my current pack, Atomos 50 (http://www.ospreypacks.com/en/product/b ... tmos_ag_50). I dont get to use it as much as I like, but its pretty light, fits, just enough features (I like having the sleeping bag compartment accessible), but nothing you dont need, and sturdy. Also, that sleeping bag sounds just like the one I got. They are great for the price and Duck down isnt that bad. Mine has kept me (and my wife when she borrowed it) cozy on some real cold nights. REI is great, considering what you get. You might be able to find a cheaper deal onlnine, but considering their amazing return policy and the 10% (I think that's it) you get on each purchase, its hard to beat. Ask your buddy when the local REI is going to do the garage sales, you can get some solid deals on gear that people returned.


Be sure to take a lot of pictures on your hike.

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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by Woods Walker » Fri Sep 04, 2015 11:41 pm

Going to toss in another vote for Osprey.
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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by TheLastOne » Mon Sep 07, 2015 3:15 pm

I like osprey. I have the kestrel and it's bigger than I normally need, but rides great and has held up very well.
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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by Delsaw » Tue Sep 08, 2015 8:34 am

KS,

Here is another option that looks really nice and at a great price. And with your buddy working at REI, you should check it out. Its the REI Traverse. There is a great review by Wes Siler (his website is worth checking out):

http://indefinitelywild.gizmodo.com/rei ... 728811126

Link to the REI site: http://www.rei.com/product/886552/rei-t ... escription

If I already didnt own a pack, I would be strongly looking at this one.

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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by moab » Tue Sep 08, 2015 11:27 pm

Get fitted. FOR SURE. REI is the best place for that. Then look at sub 5lb bags from Gregory, Osprey, Kelty and the like. Something in the 50-60L range should suit you well. Big enough for three or more days. And you can strap it down for shorter trips.

Military and hunting or tactical type packs are going to be heavier. And not necessary for hiking. Those are going to be in the 10lb plus range. And weight makes a big difference. You can easily save 5lbs or gain 5lbs in a pack.

Lastly, here's a great resource for reviews on all outdoor gear. http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Backpacks ... ng-Reviews Reviews are done by world class hikers. Includes Osprey, Gregory etc.
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Re: I'm going backpacking? Looking for first pack

Post by unsung » Sun Sep 20, 2015 4:43 pm

I've done two 25 mile loop overnighter hikes in the last two months with my new Osprey Atmos 65. I am very happy with it.

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