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williswall
seeking tailwind



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
Posts: 1723 | TRs
Location: Bellevue, WA
williswall
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seeking tailwind
PostTue Sep 17, 2013 11:53 pm 
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I don't usually like to write about untested equipment but I promise to follow up on these packs after some use starting next week. I thought readers might be interested in ZPacks ability to make custom items, basically a follow through on pieces I have written before.

I am a big fan and user of front packs, and I've written before on a modified front pack I had Joe make me a few years ago so I could pack up to 3 cameras; there's a current thread going where this topic is mentioned. With this in mind, I wanted to expand the idea into a totally custom piece....essentially a modified medium sized roll top cuben hybrid stuff sack where I had two pockets added to the sides and a small mesh pocket to the front. This allows me to carry water bottles on the front pack without having to secure them on a shoulder strap or have pockets on my backpack so I could leave it streamlined. I am going to have to make a new insert to carry my DSLR as my current one is slightly too wide to fit in this front pack; I needed to keep it thin to allow for the side pockets. The volume is such that I can carry some clothes, water, filtration system, camera(s) and items that I use throughout the day in this front pack.

Z front pack front
Z front pack front

I ordered the ZPacks Arc Slim with a few additions: dual ice axe loops and a modified center pocket. I did not want an all mesh pocket, but I wanted a pocket that had some slight expandability. Joe made me a pocket that was mesh on the top the bottom, allowing for some puffiness but still able to vent, and the center portion of the same cuben hybrid material. I removed the cordage that comes with the pack around the center pocket.

Zpacks custom center pocket
Zpacks custom center pocket
custom center pocket worn
custom center pocket worn

The Arc Slim incorporates Joe's frame system, where you can tension the carbon fiber rods to keep the pack off your back so that only the mesh panel is against you. This of course allows for ventilation to keep sweaty back syndrome at bay and gives some rigidity to the pack and load carrying capability transferred to the hip belt. The whole system is removable.

Arc adjuster
Arc adjuster
ZPacks Arc back panel
ZPacks Arc back panel
ZPacks dual2
ZPacks dual2

My system now is interchangeable; I can use either of my ZPacks packs with either of the front packs, or none at all. This Arc Slim seems cavernous and should allow for shoulder season, if not winter trips and allow for multiday food carrying capability. This summer I used a couple of my Gossamer Gear packs for longer trips along with my other front pack but this totally ZPacks combo is lighter and actually more robust....I have had excellent results with the cuben hybrid material on my other front pack and believe this Arc Slim will hold up well to bush whacking, another reason I didn't want an all mesh center pocket (this summer both Cassie and I put holes in our mesh negotiating blowdowns and some off trail travel).

pack combo side view
pack combo side view

Both packs have roll top enclosures and are seam taped for harsh weather. I won't call the backpack waterproof because it does allow for hydration bladders (covered ports) but it is certainly rain proof.

ZPacks Arc roll top
ZPacks Arc roll top

I am curious as to how the Arc system will hold up to fastpacking, where I do spend some time trotting and occasionally running. I already know that the front pack(s) are relatively non bouncy in this regard. The backpack weighs 13.5 ozs; I don't know what the front pack weighs (no scale) but I would guess between 3 and 5 ozs.

If you know exactly what you want, depending on usage and volume needs, then ZPacks is an excellent place to go for tweaking a system. This front pack is the 3rd totally custom piece of gear Joe has made me and he didn't charge any extra for the center pocket modification. Plus, I had both pieces in slightly over 2 weeks from time of order. This type of customer service is rare indeed.

--------------
"You run with me, not the other way around. (Cassie re races)

williswall.com
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RumiDude
Marmota olympus



Joined: 26 Jul 2009
Posts: 2843 | TRs
Location: Port Angeles
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Marmota olympus
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 8:23 am 
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I am looking for an ultralight pack for a possible PCT thru-hike in 2016.  My biggest concern is good weight transfer to the hips when fully loaded with food.  The issue with the cottage industry products is there is no opportunity to do a hands on inspection and test of the stuff.  This is especially important whwn it comes to backpacks.

Anyway, I am currently considering a Gossomer Gear Mariposa and a ULA Circuit.  There is a significant variation in weight between those two.  I know the Circuit can handle the food weight comfortably becaise of it's constrction.  I am not sure the Mariposa will remain comfortable, even though it has a metal stay.  The Circuit weighs about 12 ounces more than the Mariposa.  It looks like the Mariposa weighs about 13 ounces more than this ZPacks pack of yours.

Anyway, weight transfer and durability are two very important factors for me to consider in a PCT tru-hike.  I only wish it was possible to get a good hands on experience with these cottage industry packs.

Rumi

--------------
"This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."
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DIYSteve
seeking hygge



Joined: 06 Mar 2007
Posts: 12656 | TRs
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seeking hygge
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 8:44 am 
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williswall wrote:
pack combo side view
pack combo side view

Hey, lookie there, a UL pack that actually fits your torso length.  Nice (and rare) to see that.  up.gif

I've experimented with a front pack.  It worked great for trail hiking, but was downright dangerous for scrambling.  If I were to do a long thru hike I'd likely use a front pack.  And I'd also use my lightest McHale pack.  1-1/2 lbs. of well-designed additional structure can result in lots more stability and IME more stability = less fatigue.  (To some extent that's the cross-country hiker/ski tourist in me talking.)  Whether the extra 1-1/2 lbs. for additional structure is a value is very dependent on payload weight.  @<15 lbs., nearly anything carries fine.  But IME if the load is >20 lbs. I want the additional structure.
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fox212
lost in the woods...



Joined: 24 Jun 2011
Posts: 232 | TRs
Location: Bham
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lost in the woods...
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 9:04 am 
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That's a sweet setup, WW. I really like your UL gear ideas. I especially like the modified Arc Slim...I didn't even know that pack existed!

I would echo BS's thoughts about the front pack: I've found them to be pretty sketchy for use where scrambling is involved. I really liked the weight balance and the accessibility to lots of gear while on the move, but I found the reduction in visibility at/near my feet didn't work for me.

Steve, just to clarify: Is your lightest McHale ~1.5lbs, or ~1.5lbs + WW's pack? I've never heard of a 1.5lb McHale pack!

Edit: Nevermind. Your edited post and use of "additional" and "extra" in reference to the 1.5lb answers my question!
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DIYSteve
seeking hygge



Joined: 06 Mar 2007
Posts: 12656 | TRs
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DIYSteve
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seeking hygge
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 9:33 am 
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My lightest McHale in rolltop mode is 2-1/2 lbs., but it could be made lighter: it has a double Dyneema bottom, mid-back pad, full size Guide belt, each of which I want for the travel I do (off trail, scrambling, ski touring), where I want the superior stability (for scrambling, skiing, carrying skis) and durability.  I used 1-1/2 lbs. as a rough measure of the weight of additional structure, e.g., McHale Guide belt, full length 7075 stays, McHale's (very sweet) lumbar pad.  Pretty sure Dan can make a <2 lb. pack with these features if someone wanted to forego the double bottom and use lighter fabric.  Even lighter if one were to replace the McHale Guide belt (which I love and would have on my thru hike pack) with something equivalent to the ZPack belt.
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fox212
lost in the woods...



Joined: 24 Jun 2011
Posts: 232 | TRs
Location: Bham
fox212
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lost in the woods...
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 9:41 am 
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Thanks for the additional info, Steve.

I think I'd really like a nice lumbar pad on my next pack. Does anyone have experience with the ZPacks lumbar pad on an Arc Blast?
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DIYSteve
seeking hygge



Joined: 06 Mar 2007
Posts: 12656 | TRs
Location: here now
DIYSteve
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seeking hygge
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 9:43 am 
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fox212 wrote:
Does anyone have experience with the ZPacks lumbar pad on an Arc Blast?

WW's pic indicates that there isn't one.  Likewise, McHale will make a pack without one -- so maybe a 1-1/2 lb. McHale pack does indeed exist.  I like one because it, along with the Guide belt, creates a "shelf" that allows the payload to be stacked on my pelvis.  I'm spoiled by custom packs that, for <30 lb. payloads, allow me to stack virtually all of my weight on my pelvis, while having oodles of stability.  I really don't see me giving up the uberstability I'm used to, and I cringe when I see packs flopping around on peoples' backs, a common sight.

But maybe I'd be fine without a lumbar pad and a structural hip belt for a 15 lb. payload -- and that's what WW is talking about.  (Sorry for the hijack, WW.)  There's definitely a place for 13 oz. UL packs for long distance trail hiking.  And, again, it's nice to see one that appears to have been sized properly for WW's torso length.

FWIW, Ray Jardine didn't use a hip belt for his more recent thru hikes.  Heck, I think he even used a single shoulder strap pack for one of them, and periodically switched shoulders.  There are numerous ways to lighten a pack -- but usually at a cost.
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Member
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Joined: 10 Aug 2008
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Member
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 9:54 am 
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you pack a filtration system? not very UL there WW...  moon.gif
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fox212
lost in the woods...



Joined: 24 Jun 2011
Posts: 232 | TRs
Location: Bham
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lost in the woods...
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 10:46 am 
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BigSteve wrote:
fox212 wrote:
Does anyone have experience with the ZPacks lumbar pad on an Arc Blast?

WW's pic indicates that there isn't one.

huh.gif

Steve, the ZPacks lumbar pad is an add-on option for ZPacks backpacks. See link below, and scroll down:

ZPacks Arc Blast

Also, just to reiterate, I am curious about the Arc Blast, not the Arc Slim like WW has.

Your description of the pros of a lumbar pad are exactly what makes me want to try out a pack with a good one. Which is why I asked for feedback on the ZPacks Arc Blast with a ZPacks lumbar pad.

I also agree that there is always some tradeoff for weight reduction, be it comfort, durability, or whatever. It is up to the individual to determine his/her own balancing point between these factors.
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williswall
seeking tailwind



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
Posts: 1723 | TRs
Location: Bellevue, WA
williswall
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seeking tailwind
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 11:07 am 
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RumiDude wrote:
Anyway, I am currently considering a Gossomer Gear Mariposa and a ULA Circuit.

Rumi, each pack you mention has had lots of users on the PCT, especially the Circuit. I have used my Mariposa loaded up for the Marmot Survey where my daughter and I packed in for a base camp setup. The pack carried the extra weight really well, and I would still use this pack were I to be carrying over 20-25 pounds. I also know that there have been a lot of ZPacks Blast backpacks seen on the PCT, and don't forget about Zimmerbuilt.

BS brings up excellent points on front pack usage with hard core scrambling and the ability to see your feet. The thickness of these frontpacks has never interfered with my ability to connect with the terrain in front of me, but I would be cautious in taking one on steeper terrain like class 3 or 4.

BS also talks about McHale packs and if you live in this area they are certainly worth a visit. Were I carrying heavier loads consistently and doing winter ski touring (I'd sure love to expand, but two kids in college means no new ski gear for me) I too would probably be using a McHale pack.

My setup is geared primarily for trail use and mild scrambling with lighter loads; my base weight is low enough that this pack is designed primarily for carrying extra food and extra water if needed, but I would seldom exceed 20 pounds total. One of my goals is to test the Arc system with a heavier load, perhaps upwards of 30 pounds to see how the system handles load transfer to the hips. However, the Arc Slim is still only 2100 c.i. in volume in the main pack, with about 500 c.i. in the center pocket. This is still not a lot of volume if one is looking for packs that can handle bigger loads.

iron wrote:
you pack a filtration system? not very UL there WW...  moon.gif

It's just for show and to appease my wife.....

--------------
"You run with me, not the other way around. (Cassie re races)

williswall.com
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DIYSteve
seeking hygge



Joined: 06 Mar 2007
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DIYSteve
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seeking hygge
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 11:11 am 
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fox212 wrote:
ZPacks lumbar pad is an add-on option

looks more like a full wrap belt, which would certainly help stack the load on the pelvis.
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fox212
lost in the woods...



Joined: 24 Jun 2011
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lost in the woods...
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 11:31 am 
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BigSteve wrote:
fox212 wrote:
ZPacks lumbar pad is an add-on option

looks more like a full wrap belt, which would certainly help stack the load on the pelvis.

Dude.

ZPacks calls it a lumbar pad so I did too. You can direct your complaint to ZPacks.  wink.gif  Is this gonna be another round of load lifters vs tension members?  lol.gif

Yer too much sometimes, BS.  biggrin.gif   ykm.gif
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DIYSteve
seeking hygge



Joined: 06 Mar 2007
Posts: 12656 | TRs
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DIYSteve
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seeking hygge
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 11:33 am 
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Not complaining.  You are imaging that.  A pad is a pad.  A full-wrap belt is a belt.  Two different ways to achieve the same thing.  Or maybe that's a pad that looks like a belt and, if it is, I'd like to see how it's attached.  Notice that I used the word "looks" in my prior post.
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williswall
seeking tailwind



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
Posts: 1723 | TRs
Location: Bellevue, WA
williswall
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seeking tailwind
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 11:37 am 
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Now boys, be nice! For testing I'm going to finish up my WT hike with a buddy next week and I'm going to carry all the food and as much of his stuff as possible, trying to load up the pack. Lucky him.

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"You run with me, not the other way around. (Cassie re races)

williswall.com
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fox212
lost in the woods...



Joined: 24 Jun 2011
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fox212
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lost in the woods...
PostWed Sep 18, 2013 11:46 am 
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Awww, we're just proddin' each other a bit. Seems that's just how BS and I get along here at NWH. No offence meant on my part.

williswall wrote:
...I'm going to carry all the food and as much of his stuff as possible, trying to load up the pack. Lucky him.

Dang WW, can we hike together?  hockeygrin.gif

Looking at the description of the lumbar pad/full wrap belt/whatever you wanna call it, I'm a bit concerned that it isn't attached very securely. Seems like it might want to shift around with the pack loaded up. I hope I'm wrong about this.
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