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cneum

Larger-volume backpack recommendations

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Hi all,

I am finally getting around to replacing my Lowe Alpine Contour IV pack that I bought back in 1995. At 90+15 liters, it got me through an extended mountaineering trip in the Chugach, a couple of 10 day self-supported outings, and more routine trips.

 

I want to replace it with something close to that size (but maybe a bit smaller) with the intention of climbing Rainier next summer, carrying my kids crap on family backpacks, and otherwise over-packing for smaller backpacking trips for no good reason.

 

based on quick readings, my top choice right now is the Osprey Aether 85 available at REI. Has anyone used this particular pack and have input on its use for backpacking and occasional mountaineering outings, or can someone recommend another pack in the 70-90 L range? Is 85 overkill, and would 70L be fine? I'm not a fanatic ultralight kind of person so I need space, but sometimes having too much space just encourages me to fill it up with uselessness.

 

I'd also just take input on other stores to explore aside from REI that have other brands of note.

 

 

Thanks for any help you can offer...

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I've found that two packs will get me through most overnight options, whether they are technical or kid oriented.

 

My normal pack for 2-4 day technical outings is something in the 50L range. I have an older BD pack, but something like this would work well for Rainier (and for long backpacks sans kiddos): http://blackdiamondequipment.com/en/climbing-packs/mission-50-pack-BD681154_cfg.html#cgid=packs&start=1

 

For week long technical trips (or trips where I am carrying the whole family's gear), I have a pack in the 75L range. I have an older version of this Gregory Pack and love it: http://gregorypacks.com/en/GM748_cfg.html?dwvar_GM748__cfg_gmp_color=basalt_black#start=7

 

Given how light and small modern gear is, you can really get by with a much smaller pack than you used to need. Of course, this may mean upgrading your sleeping bag, pad, and insulation layers as well. But a 90+l pack just seems like no fun to me. Something to think about is how much the actual pack weighs, empty. Those huge expedition packs are usually tanks, not something you want to be hauling up to the summit of Rainier.

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70L is probably fine for Rainier. I feel like anything larger would be pretty awful for a carry-over, but I'm sure some/many will disagree here.

 

If you're okay with the idea of a frameless pack, I would suggest a Cold Cold World Chaos. The size medium is 66L, the large is 70L, and both have huge brains and 12-15" extension sleeves. I have the medium, and it's lighter and carries better than my Osprey Variant 52. It's probably worth noting that the Variant series is made with pretty heavy fabrics, but then so is the Chaos. According to the website, the Chaos weighs 3 lbs 12 oz, but I haven't weighed mine.

 

Randy at CCW can do some customizations, as long as you don't get too crazy. My two gripes with the Chaos that I would have fixed if I got it directly from him (rather than eBay) are (1) there's no hydration port, so if you want to use a water bladder you need to improvise, and (2) the ski slots are pretty narrow, and definitely won't fit modern fat skis. The other feature that is often changed is the orientation of the shoulder strap adjustment buckles; Randy likes to put them in a pull-up position, which feels weird to a lot of people. I think it's fine.

 

CCW packs have a reputation for lasting a long, long time. That may or may not be important to you, but it does tend to help their resale value.

 

Anyway, here's the website: http://coldcoldworldpacks.com/chaos.htm

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90L? I almost fell over when I read that, if you want your knees to last, you need to reduce your weight. You don't have to go crazy ultralight, but regular lightweight really doesn't mean giving up much, most of time it's just better technology to make a better and lightweight product. If you don't want to get new stuff you should dial in your set up, you need to figure out what you actually use regularly on a trip, this process is usually helped by a smaller pack. Lastly if any of your kids are over 7-8 then they need to carry more of there own stuff, 8-11 15-20L, 12-14 30-35L, 14+ all there share of the stuff. Stop overpacking, pack smarter, and get down to 60-70L for most trips. Then later you can get down to 60L for ten day comfortably, if you want. For now I would Recommend a 60-65 plus 10.

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I would softly suggest that 45L is far more than adequate for Mt Rainier.

 

I have a Dana Designs Terraplane I used only in Alaska and have not used it ever since. I've used the 45L for everything since then, including summer and winter objectives.

 

If you find yourself considering being a packmule, an external frame pack might be the ticket for big loads to help with kids backpacking trips, because, you won't be doing gnar-fest bushwhacking where you might opt for an internal frame bp.

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I agree with Alex, my 'big' pack is 45 liters and plenty big for Rainier. My expedition pack which I only use for Alaskan objectives and week long alpine climbing trips in the winter like technical north side routes on Rainier is about 70 liters.

 

I get the whole family pack mule thing though and I would suggest given modern gear that 70 liters is plenty big. The CCW Chaos is a great alpine climbing pack, but is frameless so if you want to carry more than 35-40 pounds I would recommend something else.

 

I would look hard a McHale packs. They are not cheap but will fit better, carry better, and climb better than anything else on the market and are so durable you can be buried in it. Every pack is custom so you can get him to build a SARC or Super Sarc (70-80 liters) using techy ultra light materials with no extra pockets, a smaller hip belt, etc. and end up with a pack that carries heavy loads very well, yet still climbing technical ground very well. Boeing engineers seem to love these packs, probably because they are so over built.

 

Another thought is the Crux 70 liter. If I were in the market for an expedition sized pack I would seriously consider that one.

 

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Another thought, you did not mention where you live, but if you are in the Seattle area a trip to Second Ascent would might be in order. Big packs have largely fallen out of favor for most climbers, but can be had for cheap. I've seen big Dana Designs, Arc'Teryx Boras, Gregorgys there. With the money you save on your big load hauler, you can buy a second, smaller pack that is more appropriate for Rainier and other climbing trips.

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I too have found the 70-75L size to be perfect for what you describe. My pick is the Gregory Baltoro 75. Outstanding load hauler, some sweet features, and extremely comfortable.

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