One Pack to Rule Them All – Part I…

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We don’t have TV…

And I have an hour commute…

And maybe one day my body will fuse with my pack, so I better make sure I like it….

These are all reasons I use to justify my obsession with finding the perfect pack and the insane amount of time I have spent thinking about them. To my knowledge, there is no known cure for Packophilia, unless you own a company that builds them.

I still remember my first. She was a blue, Coleman Peak 1 that I bought used when I was fourteen. She didn’t care that it was my first time or that I was a little pudgy, She was there for me in the good times and the bad.  The gentle, curves of her plastic frame and the summer escapade we shared at Philmont are still etched in my mind.

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She was faithful and true, but we grew apart as technology and my body changed. Though I will never forget her, I had to move on.

My late teens and college years saw a series of short, failed relationships, with a heartbraking theft during a trip to the Smokies. After that, I bounced from one to another, never really connecting.

I rebelled at one point, running around with a Roycraft pack frame, three sticks lashed together, until my boss caught me on the job with her. I even ran around with an “all natural” barkpack that shows back up in my foraging classes.

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When I started carrying a pack for a living, things got real. I was now influenced by my environment and lifestyle. My desires changed and no longer did I seek the robustness or novelty of my earlier years, but I now yearned for something sleeker, lighter, and tougher.  One that could handle the ups and downs of a tumultuous relationship, that would border on abuse.

I had a wandering eye and started lusting after some of the lightweight packs the thru hikers carried on the annual hippie migration north. Their packs wouldn’t be able to handle the briars, but I stole the concepts and started pulling out the frame and adding a cut down sleeping pad for emergency use.

Lightweight, tough, with a sleeping pad as part of a “virtual” frame, I though I had a pioneering love story until one day a store owner said…

“Dude… do you not know about Alpine packs?”

All those years spent modifying and tweaking, and right under my nose ice climbers had perfected the concept of a lightweight, tough frameless pack with a bivy pad. Damn… I really thought I had something special.

So I had a custom one built 5 years ago that I carried up until last week, with a brief Andininsta interlude. I will showcase those in another episode, but wanted to start with the Flash 45 because it is on a sale that may end this weekend. It’s not an alpine pack, but the result of the ultralight influence on backpacking.

At 50 liters(~ 3000 cubic inches), only 2 pounds 4 ounces, and $89, it is a smoking hot deal. http://www.rei.com/product/863031/rei-flash-45-pack-special-buy

While the Flash 45 is not the perfect pack for me, it is the perfect deal for someone looking for a lightweight, medium volume pack.

So for a tough, 2 pound, 50 liter pack $89 can’t be beat. In fact, I have been waiting for a year for it to go on sale. Pictured to the right of the pack is the 4 ounces of stuff I have cut off so far.

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I gained that back when I added my bivy pad, but I won’t hit the woods without it.

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I dropped the weight down below 2 again by pulling out the aluminum/delrin frame, but with only one compression strap on each side, it does not have the rigidity to work well frameless, based upon my one day experiment.

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I usually don’t review a piece of gear so soon after buying it, but I believe the sale will end soon and you could get stuck with the $130, lime green version.

With only a week on my back, it has already seen  off trail use, been submerged, hauled 20 pounds of corn along with my load, been rained on, snowed on, sleeted on, through briars, and a couple rhodo thicket. So far, so good, but I will give you my initial impressions.

Pro’s

  • Lightweight for it’s volume. Same weight as my CCW, but 10 more liters
  • Longer torso length than my CCW, which was my major complaint.
  • Comfortable
  • Eighty nine dollars!!

Con’s

  • Only one side compression strap
  • Elastic mesh on sides will probably may not make the cut
  • Water bottle pockets and back pocket are all interconnected
  • Black is a sucky color for the woods. It stands out. Lime green accent too. I will be spray painting it at some point.

I will do a review here in a couple months of how she is standing up under the abuse of Team 20mile.

I know she is not the “one”, and she understands that. We can still enjoy our time together and she will get to see stuff most packs only dream about. When I move on, she will be guaranteed to stay in my life as she has already proved worthy.

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4 thoughts on “One Pack to Rule Them All – Part I…

  1. Kenny

    Andrew nice article, i am in on the pacophile. Only addition to your dream pack idea would be a removeable hip belt for us who have to wear duty gear while in the woods. Jake was talking about getting overnight packs for the team so maybe uncle sugar could support an order of 20 or so. Looks like things have been going good out there.

    Reply

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