Friday, October 25, 2013

Pack size

The smaller Terra 35
While I have a fair bit of gear for hiking/camping, before I embark on a major backcountry trip of any kind that involves spending the night anywhere, I'd have to pick up a fair number of new things.  One of the things I need is a new backpacking pack.

The North Face Terra line immediately rose to among the top of my picks, as being a sturdy, convenient, well-rated and regarded (and reviewed) pack at a reasonable price.  I homed in on the Terra 65 at first--the number being a reference to the capacity (in liters) of the large size of the pack (although it is adjustible, there is more than one size to accomodate variable torso lengths.  I need to officially measure mine, but I'm figuring that I'm around 20".) 

But lately, I've been tinkering with my gear list.  I eliminated a few things that were extra (do I really need a change of clothes?  So what if they get dirty?  I have to carry those things!) and a few other small adjustments.  I read some articles on lightening your load.  As an exercise, rather than because I was serious about making this switch, I made an ultralight gear list.  As I expected, it was considerably more expensive than my regular gear-list--although curiously, other than the sleeping bag and an ultralight tent that uses ultralight trekking poles for set-up, it wasn't as much more expensive as I thought it would be.  To completely convert my existing gear to ultralight alternatives would be about $1,000 more than topping off my gear list is going to cost anyway.  Again; surprisingly less expensive than I thought.

The larger Terra 55
One side effect of this exercise was that it becamse obvious that I was overdoing it with my pack.  I had no need of a 65 liter pack.  In fact, one gear list article that I was quite impressed by, had the guy using a 29 liter pack from REI.  Is it possible that not only had I overdone it, but I had overdone it by a factor of 2?

The Terra series of backpacks actually has a number of entries, the Terra 35, the Terra 45, the Terra 55 and the Terra 65.  The 55 is only available at Dick's (as near as I can tell) but that's not a problem for me since that's actually my closest sporting goods store by far.  Plus, I can order online anyway.  And I'm almost thinking that the 45 liter may be where I'd like to settle.  I'll never be quite as small as the guy who stashed his gear in a 29 liter pack, because he cut a few things that I'm not willing to.  I could maybe even do the 35, although I think the 45 is a better option, just because it allows me to stash more food and water if necessary for longer or drier hikes without otherwise substantially changing my gear list.

Of course, that also opens up the door to other packs by other brands in the same size class--an opportunity to hunt for how I can cut a pound or two in pack weight without spending substantially more money than I have to spend anyway.  If I were to buy right now, The North Face options are almost certainly the winners, because they seem to have just gone on sale (hopefully not because the line is about to be phased out) based on cost, there is the Gregory Z40 to consider, and the Kelty Redwing 44, and the REI Lookout 40 (the lightest of the bunch, curiously.)

Because, frankly, with The North Face options, they aren't the lightest ones out there.  And the weight difference between the 35 and the 65 is only about a pound and a half.

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