equipment: backpacks

updated: 2021/5

backpack index

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mens – John’s backpacks

For reference, I am around 5’11” and have wide shoulders.

  • Zpacks Arc Haul Zip 64L Backpack (non-affiliate link)
    • size: M
      • Fits Torso Length (in.): 20 – 23 inches adjustable
      • Fits Waist/Hips: 30-45 inches
    • owned since: 2020-10
    • current status: primary multi day backpack
    • acquired: Facebook Backpacking Gear Flea Market group
    • condition when acquired: like new but at least 3rd hand
    • paid: $226.50 goods & services (G&S) via Paypal including shipping ($220 friends & family option)
      • chose G&S so I could use a credit card, 5 Ultimate Reward Points per dollar via Chase Freedom
      • budgeted USD$220 for UL pack, luckily seller accepted price after a couple of weeks.
    • weight: 1.65 lbs / 26.4 oz / 748 g
    • capacity: 64L (49L main body, 2.5L each side pocket, 10L center pocket)
    • dimensions: 30 x 8 x 12.5 inches (76 cm x 20 cm x 31.8 cm)
    • load recommendation: 40 lbs (18 kg)
    • type: “Arc Frame System”
    • materials: 4.85 oz/sqyd Gridstop Fabric
      • “This popular backpack material is a little stronger against abrasion. It has a grid of white High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) threads for exceptional tear strength, as well as a diagonal woven ripstop. The fabric has a waterproof urethane coating on the inside. This high quality fabric has a finished weight including the waterproof coating is 4.85 oz/sqyd (165 g/m²).”
    • customizations: none
    • comments:
      • Got a new-ish ultralight pack to play with, I wasn’t looking for any specific brand and more just trying to stay under budget. I do like the adjustability of the pack, which includes load lifters.  I haven’t had a chance to use it yet however, so more to come later.
  • Osprey Kestrel 48 (amazon affiliate link)
    • size: M/L
      • Fits Torso Length (in.): 19 – 23 inches adjustable
      • Fits Waist/Hips: 28-50 inches
    • owned since: 2017-10
    • current status: sold in 2020 to a friend for USD$70
    • acquired: REI members only garage sale
    • condition when acquired: returned and used
    • paid: $108.83 + $6.26 tax
    • weight:  3.68 lbs
    • capacity: 2929 cubic inches (48L)
    • dimensions: 28 x 15 x 16 inches
    • type: internal frame
      • I have used it through the JMT and a couple of other backpacking trips.
      • It generally can fit everything I need for a week on the trail, but it is recommend for shorter trips of 2-5 days. I was able to pack it for longer (9 day food carry) and had to get creative with a bear canister (I was using BV500).
      • It has plenty of compartments and a built in rain fly.
      • While it had belt pockets, they were a bit small to be very useful.
      • A negative is that you can’t remove the top pouch like other Osprey packs as it is permanently sewed onto the pack, making it less flexible.
      • With some wear and off trail hiking, a few holes formed in the mess pocket.
      • I would recommend this for a beginner’s all around backpack, but this isn’t good for ultralight packers or those looking for a pack that allows for more quick customizations.
  • Ultraspire Epic XT (amazon affiliate link)
    • size: universal (Chest Size: 28″-48″)
    • owned since: 2019-10-19
    • current status: light / short multi day backpack
    • acquired: REI members only garage sale
    • condition when acquired: used & returned with description of insulation is tearing at the seams of the bladder pack
    • paid: $44.83+ $2.69 tax = $47.52
    • weight: 33 oz (2.0625 Ibs or 935 g) with frame / 26 oz (1.625 Ibs or 737 g) without frame
    • capacity: 1526 cubic inches (25L)
    • dimensions: 23 x 11 x 5 inches
    • material(s): Extrema 100-denier ripstop nylon/polyester mesh
    • frame material: high-density polyethylene
    • type: removable internal frame pack
      • I was looking for a smaller and lighter pack since all the equipment are getting lighter, so giving this marathon inspired pack a try because of low garage sale price.
  • Osprey Aether 70 – 2008 version  (current version – amazon affiliate link)
    • size: L
      • Fits Torso Length (in.): 20 – 23 inches adjustable
    • owned since: 2015
    • current status: sold in 2019 to a friend for $100
    • acquired: bought from friend
    • condition when acquired: barely used
    • paid: $140
    • weight:  4 lbs 9 oz (2.10 kg)
    • capacity: 4200 cubic inches (70 L)
    • dimensions: 30.5×15.5×11.5 inches (77.5x39x29 centimeters)
    • type: internal frame
      • This old version was a no frills backpack.
      • It had a large compartment with a seperator for the sleeping bag. It was pretty minimal with only 2 large side pockets, a front pocket, and the top pouch. No belt pocket.
      • It does have plenty of straps and a water pouch inside the large main compartment.
      • Top pouch can be removed along with the hipbelt for a small day pack, but that was never worth the effort.
      • detailed review from
  • REI Co-op Ridgeline 65 (REI, non-affiliate)
    • size: L
      • Fits Torso Length (in.) 18 – 20 inches adjustable
      • Fits Waist/Hips 31 – 37 inches
    • owned since: 2010
    • current status: broken but usable, backup pack for when large volume is needed
    • acquired: REI
    • condition when acquired: new
    • paid: $120
    • weight:  4 lbs 4 oz
    • capacity: 3,966 cubic inches (65 L)
    • type: internal frame
      • This was my backpack from when I first started on our first trip to Yosemite to it’s last in Torres del Paine.
      • It is pretty much retired at this point with the top zipper fallen off and duct tape to hold a lining at the top.
        • If needed, I would use this without the top “brain” pouch.
      • It didn’t provide much in terms of airflow on my back, but that was welcome in the cold climates.
      • It had the necessary pockets with weighing only about 5-6 pounds. It has served me well for 6 years.

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womens – Meg’s backpacks

For reference, Meg is about 5 feet 3 inches tall.

  • Ultralight Adventure Equipment (ULA) Ohm 2.0 (non-affiliate link)
    • size:
      • Fits Torso Length (in.) S: 15 – 18 inches adjustable
      • Fits Waist/Hips M: 34 – 38 Inches
    • owned since: 2020-8
    • current status: primary multi day backpack
    • acquired: Facebook Backpacking Gear Flea Market group
    • condition when acquired: like new, never used
    • paid: USD$165.50 goods & services (G&S) via Paypal including shipping ($160 friends & family option)
      • chose G&S so I could use a credit card to get 5% back via Discover IT credit card bonus
      • budgeted USD$160 for new pack, luckily seller accepted price after a week.
    • weight: 2 lbs 2.5 oz | 2.16 lbs | 978 gm
    • capacity: 3,960 cubic in | 63 L
    • materials: ULA 400 robic
    • customizations:
      • S-Curve strap
      • roll top closure
    • recommended max weight: 30 lbs or less
    • recommended base weight: 12 lbs or less
    • type: internal frame – 1.2 oz carbon fiber/delrin active suspension hoop
      • A replacement backpacking pack for Meg after the Gregory Octal 45 did not work out. Bought based on opportunity from reselling group online.
      • After 8 day & 7 night trip into the Wind River Range, Meg couldn’t be happier with the pack.
        • No back issues at all with just a bit of sore shoulder the first day before adjustments.
        • The rolltop allowed our BV500 bear canister to be strapped on top.
        • Also came with an ice axe loop, which was needed during our off trail hike.
        • Meg loves the huge hip pockets on the pack.
        • Looks like we found a winner for Meg.
  • Gregory Octal 45 Backpacks (Amazon affiliate link)
    • size: XS
      • Fits Torso Length (in.) 14 – 16 inches non-adjustable
    • owned: 2018-2020
    • current status: sold for USD$80 on reddit
    • acquired: Massdrop (referral link)
    • condition when acquired: new
    • paid: USD$119.99 + $9.00 shipping – $10.00 referral discount = $118.99 total
    • weight:  2.3 lbs (1.04 kg)
    • capacity: 2,563 cu in (42 L)
    • dimensions: 26 x 12.5 x 11 in (66 x 31.7 x 27.9 cm)
    • type: internal frame
      • This was bought as Meg’s primary backpacking pack that is lighter than her larger REI pack.
      • It is Gregory’s version to compete with the trend of ultralight packs such as the Osprey Exo/Eja, Osprey Levity/Lumina, Zpacks Arc Blast, Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider, Granite Gear Virga 2, etc. (amazon affiliate links).
      • As with ultralight backpacks, she does miss the many pockets and compartments of her REI pack. She also found the hip pockets a bit smaller than she’d like for them to be completely functional.
      • Meg liked the weight of the pack, but found it sits a little higher on her hips than she likes.
      • After a little bit more than a year and several backpacking trips, she found the hipbelt just sat too high on her and wasn’t on her hips. It lead majority of the weight on her back. A negative about the bag was that we couldn’t adjust the torsal height. Looking over the information on this pack, it seemed the length was 14-16 inches while her REI bag was 15-17 inches, so Meg is probably toward the 17 inch torso length. So we sold it.
  • REI  Co-op Crestrail 55 XS (REI non-affiliate link)
    • size: XS
      • Fits Torso Length (in.) XS: 15 – 17 inches adjustable
      • Fits Waist/Hips XS: 26 – 32 inches
    • owned: 2015 to 2021
    • current status: sold to a friend for USD$60 in 2021
    • acquired: REI
    • condition when acquired: new
    • paid: USD$160
    • weight:  4 lbs 5 oz
    • capacity: 3,356 cubic inches (55 L)
    • type: internal frame
      • We got this for Meg and she hasn’t had a complaint about it.
      • There are so many pockets, it makes me a little jealous. We’ve taken this more for traveling more because of that.
      • Currently, this pack is still in capable condition, but there are starting to be some wear and tear in the form of small holes. As our equipment has gotten smaller, the need for the larger backpack is lower as well. To lower the weight for Meg’s carries, we have since moved on to lighter packs.
      • We sold this pack to a friend for cheap, which was also my way to getting them to backpack with us.

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  • Camelpak Trinity Hydration Pack 100 fl. oz. inc bladder
    • owned since: 2012
    • current status: daypack, bladder has broken since
    • acquired:
    • condition when acquired: new
    • paid: $33
    • weight:  1 lb. 13 oz.
    • capacity: 1,709 cubic inches (28 L)
    • dimensions: 19 x 12 x 10 inches
    • bladder liquid capacity: 100 fluid ounces (3L)
    • type: frameless
      • I got it for the bladder, but it has served as a nice day pack and as a carry on when traveling light. The built in rain cover has also been nice.
      • Since the purchase, the bladder has long broken with leaks. However, I’ve shifted away from bladders anyways.
  • Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack (Amazon affiliate link)
    • owned since: 2020
    • current status: travel daypack
    • acquired: Amazon
    • condition when acquired: new
    • paid: $24.49 = $23.10 + $1.39 tax
    • weight: 3 oz
    • capacity: 1,098 cubic inches (18 L)
    • type: frameless
      • We thought it because I saw the sale come up on slickdeals and through it would be nice to have a light and collapsible day pack for travel and side trip while backpacking. However, we have yet to use it.
  • miscellaneous Patagonia daypack
    • owned since: 2016
    • current status: daypack
    • acquired: from friends
    • condition when acquired: used
    • paid: $0, gift
    • type: frameless
      • We got this as Kevin and Shannon were moving and were getting rid of things, as such I have no stats on the pack.
      • Overall, it’s pretty large for a day back and overall fit in terms of torso size. Without a lot of items, the pack will curl up if i have the hip strap clipped. The volume almost makes it a possible multi-day pack. So it’s a backup day pack.
  • IDRYBAG Waterproof Dry Bag (Amazon affiliate link)
    • owned since: 2019
    • current status: waterproof daypack for watersports
    • acquired: Amazon
    • condition when acquired: new
    • paid: $49.99
    • weight: 3.1 lbs
    • capacity: 30 L
    • material: 500D outdoor waterproof fabric, IP68 weatherproof
    • type: frameless
      • I bought it as waterproof bag for watersports like kayaks and such. However, we haven’t had the opportunity to use it yet. Thanks COVID.

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