Richard Bucker

the cost of a backpack

Posted at — Mar 22, 2017

For some ridiculous reason I have been collecting daypacks like they are a substitute for a good ultralight pack in both capacity and cost. The one 45L pack I own is just not functional beyond being waterproof. And then at the bottom of the pricing scale there seem to be a number of shared manufacturers. The other thing I have determined is that the cost seems to be a product of it’s volume, prestige, materials and to some extent features. Some of which seems counter intuitive.One material I would like to exploit is Tyvek, however, the only backpacks I have been able to find are DIY. And while I like the cost savings I do not own a sewing machine and by the time I would develop the skills to make a half decent pack I might as well have bought one. Anything with Cuben Fiber or Dyneema is going to be a premium. While it is lightweight it is less durable. Then there are the sil-nylon and other nylons. Many are fine, however, a recent experience saw a decorative coral rock pull individual fibers from the pack. I have a different daypack that I used for getting around town when travelling and the bottom is shredding. Waterproof packs are generally tough but heavy.Needless to say that a hiking pack should be left to the hiking and not urban duty In the features department many people like gobs of features. From water bottle stretch pockets to large snack pockets, stretch outer pockets for wet gear like a moist tent. One pack has a bottom access zipper for instant access to a sleeping bag. The new “simplepack” has a large bottom stretch pocket for clothes, snacks or maybe trash. All is well and good, however, many hikers swear by 1L smartwater bottles, however, few packs can actually hold them. At least one hiker complains about putting the water bottle in the side pockets and the “balance” of the pack. Another hike, who I will call my hero, wants a pack to carry stuff and that’s it. No pockets.Comfort comes at a cost of weight. Whether it’s straps, padding, waist-belt. it’s going to add time and materials. Only gossamer gear thought to make it optional.I have several 15L and 25L day bags that could do double duty as an overnight pack. The challenge is that I’d actually have to go SUL.The yellow Klymit Stash 18L is properly packed for an overnight. First Aid, Fire, Stove, 2000 calories, tent, SOL bivy, Platypus Gravity 2L. If I substitute a hammock and fly for the tent then the weight is a push. In these bags there is room to squish more. I could always use a compression sack to compress the hammock or tent. I would add that the pack has some depth to it that might be effecting the center of gravity. I was able to drop a pound by converting my rainfly to polycryo.The big boys…John Zahorian and a few others use his Simplepack (40L. < 13 oz). These guys have a pack weight from 5-8 pounds. The rest is food and water. Compared to my Stash that leaves about 22L for food and water.Honorable mention goes to Kelty, however, their packs were just too heavy.The winner seems to go to the Murmur. Between it’s light weight design, big pockets, few if any zippers, integrated sitpad/frame, 20lb load this seems to be a strong section hikers pack.One thing I take exception to is the way most companies measure capacity.While the initial numbers suggest this is a 36L pack it’s an uncomfortable 36L. Meaning that it’s not an average use of 36L… or the collar of the pack near the top is only rolled once or twice. Sadly, other vendors make it almost clear that they include the pocket in the calculation:And for that reason again, given the price, the murmur and kumo are a better value.