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TheBigOutside.com – Featuring Exos 58 and Atmos 65 – June 2013

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TheBigOutside.com – Featuring Exos 58 and Atmos 65 – June 2013

June 5, 2013

Ask Me: Advice on Buying a Lightweight Backpack

Hi Mike,

Any recommendations on a lightweight backpack for overnight to five-day trips?

Todd

McCall, Idaho

Hey Todd,

I’d say get a pack around 50 liters that’s lightweight but not ultralight, so you can use it on a greater variety of trips, that will carry up to 35-40 lbs., but is light and compressible enough for a 20- to 25-lb. trip.

The Deuter ACT Zero 50+15 is an excellent example and reasonably priced.

The Osprey Exos 58 is one of my favorite packs for light to moderate loads; I’ve used it for years. It’s a pound lighter than the other packs I’m recommending here, but will handle 30 to 35 lbs. comfortably.

The Gregory Savant 58 would handle a somewhat bigger load, but is still not too big for what you’re looking for.

You might consider a slightly larger-volume pack if you want to have one that would allow you to also carry some of another person’s (wife, kid) stuff, like the Osprey Atmos 65.

Hope that helps. Make sure you measure your torso correctly to get the right size pack. Try on packs with weight in them before picking one. Good luck.

Mike

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TheBigOutside.com – Featuring Jib 35 – May 28, 2012

May 28, 2012

There were two things I made sure of before letting my son carry a backpack instead of a daypack on our family backpacking trips: that he was ready and eager to do it, and that the pack I gave him fit him. The first question I let him answer: I waited until he asked to carry a backpack. (He was nine-and-a-half the first time. Now 11, he has carried a backpack on several trips. My daughter is nine and yet to carry more than a daypack, though I think she’s close to making the decision on her own.) The second question I answered by measuring his torso properly and trying packs on him. Many kids are not big enough to fit in a children’s backpack until age nine or 10—and carrying a poorly fitting pack might be the best way to turn a kid off to backpacking. My son has used and likes both the Fox 40 (skiing to a backcountry yurt in Idaho’s Boise Mountains) and the Jib 35 (backpacking in Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park), carrying 18 pounds in each pack. The 11-year-old daughter of friends also carried the Jib on our yurt trip. I think both are excellent kid backpacks, though they have different strengths.

The Fox 40 fits the smallest kids best, and has a little more padding in its hipbelt, shoulder straps, and back than the Jib 35, as well as having a nice vertical channel through the back padding for air circulation on hot days. I think it’s made to handle at least 20 pounds. But the Jib delivers a bit more support and rigidity, with its frame of aluminum rods and flexible tensioners in the hipbelt, giving it a slight advantage when your kid starts carrying upwards of 25 pounds. The Jib’s hipbelt is also adjustable for a wider range of waist and hip sizes—it can grow with your child. As for organization and features: Both are top-loaders with roomy lid pockets, deep, stretchy side pockets, and a safety whistle on the sternum strap; but the similarities end there. The Fox 40’s large, zippered, bellows side pockets (above the stretch pockets) have a functionality edge over the Jib’s front stuff-it pocket. But the Jib’s two zippered hipbelt pockets—big enough for a few snack bars each—are more useful for backpacking than the Fox’s hipbelt gear loops. Lastly, both are well-constructed packs built to last, with high-quality stitching and tough, 420-denier nylon, though the Jib’s mesh side and front pockets are more susceptible to tearing than any fabric on the Fox’s exterior.

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TheBigOutside.com – Featuring Atmos 65 – May 1, 2012

May 1, 2012

When you’re carrying a heavy pack on a hot day, a breeze across your sweaty back can feel like a plunge into a cool swimming hole. That may be the first thing you notice about the Atmos 65 (which also comes in a 50-liter version; the women’s packs are the Aura 65 and 50): the ventilated mesh back panel keeps the pack off of your back, allowing for excellent airflow. But you get more than just a cool back with the Atmos and Aura packs—you get high-end fit and organization. I carried up to about 55 pounds (including more than 20 pounds of water) in the Atmos 65 backpacking with my wife and school-age kids for three days down Spring Canyon in Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park; and on a family trip to a backcountry yurt, skiing three miles in and three back out with about 35 pounds in the pack, while pulling a sled loaded with at least 60 pounds of gear and food attached to the backpack with carabiners. (Note: I’m not recommending the Atmos as a ski pack or for pulling a sled, and it’s not designed for either purpose; I just used it for that because I was testing it out and it worked well enough.)

For starters, the hipbelt is luxurious, thanks to foam that has good cushion and support under a heavy load. The length of the hipbelt’s padding can be adjusted while wearing it, for a more precise wrap around the hipbones. The adjustable harness—uncommon in a pack that’s available in multiple sizes—gives you three inches (7.5 cm) of latitude to dial in the torso fit. Mesh shoulder straps are nicely padded and breathe a little. I also like this pack’s organization for bigger loads and longer backpacking trips: two big front pockets; two spacious hipbelt pockets; a removable lid pocket; a sleeping bag compartment with its own zipper access, and, of course, a hydration sleeve and port. One small caveat: Be careful about not putting too much weight in the front pockets, or the pack will pull against your shoulders. But load it wisely and this pack carries 50 to 55 pounds with impressive comfort for a model that weighs in under three and a half pounds.

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TheBigOutside.com – Featuring Syncro 20 – March 12, 2012

March 12, 2012

This daypack is all about organization, comfort, and versatility for several hours of hiking or biking. On hikes, rides, and light ski tours in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, I found its suspension super stable, thanks to a single, aluminum perimeter stay that wraps around the back panel and flexes with your torso motion while providing enough support for loads of 15 pounds or more. The trampoline-style back panel allows lots of air circulation, which kept my back cool on long uphill slogs, while the lightly padded, mesh waistbelt and shoulder straps are comfortable without being bulky or obtrusive.

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