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Re: [pct-l] light weight packs

Tom wrote:
>I am thinking about getting one of the light weight packs I have seen on
>"lwgear" and "golite" homepages. For those who have used one...what is
>the comfort zone in terms of weight? I believe my basepack would be
>under 20 lbs if I got one...but with a weeks worth of food and a liter
>of water I am back up to 35 lbs. How comfortable/practical would that

I used a prototype of the GoLite pack, called the Breeze, on my section hike 
of the PCT this year. This pack does not have a hip belt, and any suspension 
you create yourself, mostly by placing your sleeping pad inside the pack as 
a frame sheet, and hooking your thumbs under the shoulder straps when 
necessary, to help with circulation in the arms and to serve as "load 
lifters." The idea does sound fairly spartan, and I will admit to being 
skeptical myself in the days leading up to my hike.

But after using the Breeze for the majority of my 800 miles of PCT hiking, I 
can say that it works perfectly fine for the hiker intent on carrying light 
loads. For me, it was hard to overlook the fact that this pack weighs only 
14 ozs, and this kept me happy with it even when the load became a bit much 
for such a pack. So yes, there were times when I could have used more robust 
suspension, for instance when the load exceeded 35 pounds following a 
resupply. But this was not very often, and it wouldn't have justified 
carrying a beefier pack the rest of the time when the load was minimal.

GoLite admits that the pack is not the most comfortable when the load 
exceeds 30 pounds. It is not intended to support that kind of weight in 
comfort, although it can handle much more than that structurally. I found 
that my tolerance level rose considerably as the hike went on, and my 
shoulders became stronger to match the demands being place on them. In the 
beginning though, even 25 pounds felt a little strange after a few hours of 
hiking, but this I accepted as part of my mission to test GoLite products. 
But it soon became easier, and all the while I was reaping the benefits of a 
lighter load, and its inherent energy savings.

What was my base weight? Around 14 or 15 pounds, which was amply comfortable 
to carry by itself. But the thing to consider, in my opinion, is not the 
base load or the absolute maximum, but the average. The body will likely 
respond based on the law of averages, and learn to adapt to the median 
weight of the pack, which conveniently is what it will be forced to carry 
the majority of the time. For me, this was a base load of 15 pounds plus 3 
days of food, at 2.5 lbs per day (7.5 lbs) plus 1 quart of water (2 lbs), 
for a total average load of 24.5 lbs - well within my comfort range. I know 
I often carried much more than the 1 quart of water through the desert 
stretches, but in retrospect, I was probably completely out of water for as 
many miles as I found myself hauling a gallon or more. So there again, it 
averages out. And it would average out lower over the course of a thru-hike, 
since the northern stretches of PCT are amply watered.

I don't know anything about the LWGear pack, but can definitely vouch for 
the GL pack. And they've improved it considerably since my field test. The 
pack features two mesh side pockets, for water bottles or fuel canister, and 
one large, pack-size mesh storage pocket on the back, which IMO, replaces 
the compression panel as the exterior storage method of choice for distance 

- Blisterfree

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