60L Pack for Sierra Long Weekends


Original Post
nkane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 90

I'm looking for recommendations for a lightweight pack for 3-5 day climbing trips into the Sierra. 

The format for these trips is pretty common, I think; I've certainly done many in the past few years. Drive from the Bay on day 0, bivy somewhere.  Get your permit at 8am, hike 7-15 miles on day 1. Days 2-3, do some routes on Charlotte Dome or Temple Crag or Merriam or something more obscure. Day 4 or 5, hike out. I've already got a few permits for the summer (no, I'm not telling where).

So the need is for a pack that can carry a rope or a rack (or a half rope and half the rack) plus shoes and harness, in addition to backpacking gear. And since it's the Sierra, it needs room for a bear can. This pack will stay in camp while I do the actual climbing; I have a tiny lightweight bullet pack that doubles as a stuff sack to take up the route. In my experience, 50L packs are too small but 60L is about right. My backpacking kit is pretty light - I was at 12-14lbs base weight for the JMT a couple years ago. But with climbing gear and food, this pack needs to be able to carry 30+ pounds with some amount of comfort, especially for the longer trips. 

On the JMT I borrowed a friend's Osprey Exos 58, which was fantastic and pretty light at 2.5 lbs. But taking it on climbing trips, I noticed that the added weight made the frame cut into my lower back in an uncomfortable way.

So I'm looking for a pack that is just a liiiittle more comfy than the Exos (or maybe just fits better or maybe just a suggestion on modding the Exos or to be told that I should just suck it up) without too much of a weight penalty. The Hyperlight Mountain Gear packs look promising but I've heard mixed things about ability to carry larger loads; I'm also looking for advice differentiating the different models (the Porter, Southwest and Windrider basically look the same to me so I must be missing something). Most of the big brand packs are crazy heavy. Everyone gushes about Cilo Gear, Wild Things and Cold Cold World as well, but the threads here discussing those packs are all pretty out of date (yes, I searched).

Lay it on me.

jdonigan · · Brooklyn · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 25

http://www.granitegear.com/crown-v-c-60.html

Worth a look

I've used this pack for mileage, days, and gear you describe- including a small bear can. I've carried up to 40 pounds pretty comfortably with it as well. Really recommend it. It's a top loader roll top closure and you can purchase a top lid separate if you want that. Haven't had experience with the exos. I should mention that because of the lighter weight cordura materials, I've noticed a little more wear than normal. Nothing excessive though. I do tend to be hard on gear. 

rocknice2 · · Montreal, Quebec · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 3,018

If you want comfort for heavy loads and long hikes, stop looking at ultralight packs.

With a good suspension those extra couple pounds won't matter as much as a sore hip, shoulder or back.

just my $0.02

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20

For heavy loads and comfort I find the nicer Osprey packs to be great. I use them all the time for cragging when I have all the gear, or when hauling lots of aid gear on a hike to a tower. If you really do want a lighterweight pack I find the Black Diamond Mission Packs to be great. Even the big 75L pack is light and nimble. It's also reasonably comfortable, just not as comfy as the Osprey Atmos or Aether.

nkane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 90
jdonigan wrote:

http://www.granitegear.com/crown-v-c-60.html

Worth a look

I've used this pack for mileage, days, and gear you describe- including a small bear can. I've carried up to 40 pounds pretty comfortably with it as well. Really recommend it. It's a top loader roll top closure and you can purchase a top lid separate if you want that. Haven't had experience with the exos. I should mention that because of the lighter weight cordura materials, I've noticed a little more wear than normal. Nothing excessive though. I do tend to be hard on gear. 

Thanks! That one looks promising. 

nkane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 90
Ryan Hamilton wrote:

For heavy loads and comfort I find the nicer Osprey packs to be great. I use them all the time for cragging when I have all the gear, or when hauling lots of aid gear on a hike to a tower. If you really do want a lighterweight pack I find the Black Diamond Mission Packs to be great. Even the big 75L pack is light and nimble. It's also reasonably comfortable, just not as comfy as the Osprey Atmos or Aether.

Thanks. To be clearer, I'm not looking for comfort with heavy loads, I'm looking for adequacy with moderate loads. 

The BD mission is 4 lbs for an M/L; I think we can go lighter!

Rob Subry · · Steamboat Springs · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

Go look at Mystery Ranch Packs.  By far the best packs out there for carrying weight, and built to last.  

jaredj · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 165

Why not comfy big pack (like Granite Gear Blaze) and an REI Flash 18 (or comparable lighweight daypack)?  I think carrying the bigger climbing specific packs (e.g. Cilo, BD Speed, etc over 50L) for summer rock climbing sucks.  Yeah the packs compress some, but I really think of those as being worth the tradeoff when you're doing a carryover on something really big.  

Put differently, I don't agree with the premise that cutting weight overall by less than a pound for the approach is worth the tradeoff of a big floppy (read tall) pack on a summertime alpine rock route in favorable weather sans bivy on-route.  

Also, if you haven't done it, you're gonna be disappointed about the comfort level of any climbing - specific pack laden with a can and food and whatnot in terms of support and transfer to the hips.  

I know the cool kids do these big alpine packs but the approach hasn't worked well for me for summertime Cascades stuff, and I've gone the other way.  

Chris Dunn 510 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 0

Gregory baltoro 65 is my go to pack for moderate to heavy loads, and long approaches in that region. 

nkane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 90
jaredj wrote:

Why not comfy big pack (like Granite Gear Blaze) and an REI Flash 18 (or comparable lighweight daypack)?  I think carrying the bigger climbing specific packs (e.g. Cilo, BD Speed, etc over 50L) for summer rock climbing sucks.  Yeah the packs compress some, but I really think of those as being worth the tradeoff when you're doing a carryover on something really big.  

Put differently, I don't agree with the premise that cutting weight overall by less than a pound for the approach is worth the tradeoff of a big floppy (read tall) pack on a summertime alpine rock route in favorable weather sans bivy on-route.  

Also, if you haven't done it, you're gonna be disappointed about the comfort level of any climbing - specific pack laden with a can and food and whatnot in terms of support and transfer to the hips.  

I know the cool kids do these big alpine packs but the approach hasn't worked well for me for summertime Cascades stuff, and I've gone the other way.  

I don't do many carryovers in the Sierra. And when I do, I have a smaller pack that's sufficient. 

For my purposes, I'm still looking for the lightweight pack that is just beefy enough to carry a rope, some gear, and a bear can. The lightweight approach to backpacking works: the less on your back, the faster you can hike, the more energy you have left over to put into the climbing, and the more you can get done in a weekend. I'm actually surprised more climbers don't optimize for weight on long approaches. It makes a huge difference.

The Exos 58 is almost perfect - maybe it's the solution and I just need to pack it a bit more carefully to keep the frame from rotating into my back. I'm also now considering the ULA Catalyst. At just under 3 lbs (if you strip some unneeded features), it is reported to carry up to 40 lbs with some comfort. Anyone able to weigh in on that one?

nkane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 90
Chris Dunn 510 wrote:

Gregory baltoro 65 is my go to pack for moderate to heavy loads, and long approaches in that region. 

The Baltoro 65 weighs 5 lbs, 10 oz. At 4.8 oz apiece, I could carry almost 9 more # 1 Camalots (regular! not Ultralight!) for the same weight penalty if I had a 3lb pack.

That might be overkill for, say, Mithril Dihedral. Anyone know an alpine version of Top Sirloin?

jaredj · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 165
nkane wrote:

I don't do many carryovers in the Sierra. And when I do, I have a smaller pack that's sufficient. 

For my purposes, I'm still looking for the lightweight pack that is just beefy enough to carry a rope, some gear, and a bear can. The lightweight approach to backpacking works: the less on your back, the faster you can hike, the more energy you have left over to put into the climbing, and the more you can get done in a weekend. I'm actually surprised more climbers don't optimize for weight on long approaches. It makes a huge difference.

The Exos 58 is almost perfect - maybe it's the solution and I just need to pack it a bit more carefully to keep the frame from rotating into my back. I'm also now considering the ULA Catalyst. At just under 3 lbs (if you strip some unneeded features), it is reported to carry up to 40 lbs with some comfort. Anyone able to weigh in on that one?

I tried the ULA Catalyst and went with the Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 instead, but it was close;  my view is that these are the two most credible alternatives on the market in terms of offering real support for larger loads (>35 lbs) while being much lighter than the conventional load hauler offerings (Gregory, Osprey Aether, etc).  The weight of the two was comparable. I found the Granite Gear more comfortable in general (shoulder straps and hipbelt, though I know that's idiosyncratic) and I liked its closure system a little better.   I also looked hard at the Exos 58 but wasn't a fan of the shoulder straps getting thin on the chest, as well as the ventilated back thing (which puts the load further away from the center of mass).  I, too, felt like the frame of the Exos kinda poked my hips.

I don't have to do a bear can often, but the Granite Gear closure system works a little better for mounting one up top than the ULA (again, matter of opinion, maybe I just didn't do it right when demo'ing the ULA).

One virtue of the ULA Catalyst is they're wide in diamater, and not as tall.  Also, the external pockets are more spacious than the Granite Gear. I think they'd pack big loads efficiently in terms of centering the weight.  I see a lot of ULA packs on the trail in the Cascades and most people rave about them. 

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Just buy a pack.

Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 60
FrankPS wrote:

Just buy a pack.

Seriously.  You want a comfy pack for 3-5 day outings (plus climbing gear) and you want something under 2.5 lbs?  One, does it really make that much of a difference? And, two, If not sure if what you're looking for exists.  Do a few more squats in the gym and that extra 0.5 lb. will seem like nothing.  

Jared Murray · · Oakland, CA · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 62

Slightly off-topic, but have you considered using a bear bag instead of a hardshell canister? That could reduce some bulk and allow you to use a slightly smaller pack that fits your other criteria, or make the Exos a more comfortable setup.

http://www.ursack.com

Not yet approved for use in Yosemite, but I think it's fine throughout the rest of the Sierra.

nkane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 90
JMurray wrote:

Slightly off-topic, but have you considered using a bear bag instead of a hardshell canister? That could reduce some bulk and allow you to use a slightly smaller pack that fits your other criteria, or make the Exos a more comfortable setup.

http://www.ursack.com

Not yet approved for use in Yosemite, but I think it's fine throughout the rest of the Sierra.

Alas, they're still not approved for Yosemite, SEKI, and Toiyabe NF. And that's where much of the good stuff is.

Jared Murray · · Oakland, CA · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 62
nkane wrote:

Alas, they're still not approved for Yosemite, SEKI, and Toiyabe NF. And that's where much of the good stuff is.

Nice catch - I thought Ursack was allowed throughout SEKI, but yes there are three areas where you still need an approved hardshell can.

https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/upload/FoodStorageRequirements_8x11_20150729-2.pdf

Zachary Winters · · Mazama, Washington · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 137

I think you'd like the Cilogear 45L Worksack. I know "45L" sounds small, but I think that's a very conservative number. It feels more like 50, and that doesn't include the expandable collar or detachable lid. The reason all the threads are "out of date" is because it doesn't seem like much has changed with the pack in recent years. The current version looks the same as my 5 year old version. I use my 45L Worksack for backpacking up to 9 or 10 days, cragging, alpine climbing, overnight ski-tours, overnight rock climbs, etc. Rope, crampons, and ice axes carry on the outside, so it should be plenty for your 14lb backpacking kit plus climbing gear and food. Removable frame helps it climb well enough for carry-overs.

But I'd recommend buying one from a retailer, or get a promise from Cilo about a ship date.

Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 650

I like my Patagonia Ascentionist 45L.  I can't imagine needing a pack bigger than that to be honest - I have no problem doing 3-4 day trips in winter with that pack.  I can't imagine you actually need 60L for summer alpine rock.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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