Bags for the PCT

11 Apr Bags for the PCT

Deciding on gear for a journey like this can be a never ending nightmare of second guessing and doubt. I’ve experienced it so far with every major piece of gear I’m going to take. Deciding on a bag has been no different.

I’ve never owned an ultra-light backpack so this required some start-from-scratch research. In the past I’ve backpacked with an older L.L.Bean AT 55 and also done a fair amount of traveling with a TAD Gear Fastpak. Although these are great packs and very durable, in ultralight terms they are dead weight. And honestly, I can’t imagine doing 20+ mile days with those based solely on their empty weight. On to the contenders…

My shortlist began with:

1. ULA Circuit (or Catalyst)
2. GoLite Jam 50
3. Gossamer Gear Mariposa
4. Osprey Hornet

Research included a lot of reading on BackpackingLight, gear reviews on Outdoor Magazine, visiting REI, and trying on peoples’ packs.

Ultimately, I chose a bag that wasn’t even on my initial list: Osprey Exos 46
Weight: 2.3 Pounds

Osprey Exos 46

1. Most comfortable fit for me.
For the sake of being ultralight, I really wanted to take a frameless pack. But when I tried on the ones with minimal back support (GoLite or Gossamer), I had a lot of issues being comfortable with the other packs I tried. This was just great from when I put it on and just got more comfortable as I fine-tuned.

2. I get back sweat.
This design allows for a lot of breathability. Hiking through the desert for 20 miles a day with a single set of clothes on my back, I’ll be so happy to have that wind cooling my back as I go.

3. Frame and separation from my back.
Other designs don’t provide much cushion between what is inside your pack and your back. In those cases, you have to develop a packing system based on that fact. The Exos, has good separation from the pack and my back allowing me to focus on weight distribution as I pack up but not worrying too much about something jabbing me in the bag all day long.

At the end of the day, the comfort of this pack allowed me to justify the extra ounces. We’ll see if I feel the same at mile 2600.

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