View Full Version : back country backpack recommendations

sam barbee
11-10-2009, 10:52 PM
i want a pack that i can fit atleast a 1 man tent in and all of my camping and fly fishing supplies. thanks for the help. thanks for the help

11-10-2009, 11:13 PM
I am a big fan of the Osprey brand of packs the aether 70 style would probably suit you well and they carry loads around 35lbs with ease when I go I carry a MSR hubba hp tent, my waders rolled small and in a stuff sack, I tie my boots on the back and stick my rod case in the pocket in the back and roll my vest in a small stuff sack as well, my net just stuffs in the back pocket with my rod.

I carry a very lightweight pack it's called a ULA (Ultra Light Accessories) it's better for light weight backpacking I just sold a aether 60 it only has 3600 cu of space which just isn't enough. The ULA is 3800 cubic inches and I have everything I need for a very comfortable trip all of my backpacking gear is ultralight expensive but well worth it to have gear that performs.

Osprey, Granite Gear, and Gregory all make very nice packs be sure that when you purchase one to take all of the gear you will be carrying in it to the outfitters and pack it there and see if it will work for you.

11-10-2009, 11:21 PM
Sam here is a pic from this past weekends trip to Deep Creek I love backpacking and fly fishing if you ever want some company I'm game just e-mail me.http://i950.photobucket.com/albums/ad342/spotlight722/backpackto58106.jpg

fly fisherman DK
11-10-2009, 11:41 PM
Hi Sam,

I am thirteen years old and got a brand new mountainsmith youth scout backpack this past Christmas for backpacking and fly fishing trips in the Smokies with my dad. I know I am talking about a youth pack for kids my age, but I think it is a really great pack and it can carry a huge load because of its size. What I am really trying to get at though is their adult packs which would be bigger and be able to carry even more than my smaller pack that can actually carry as much as a lot of adult frame size packs. If you don't like these packs though, another great brand is kelty packs. My dad just got his kelty tioga pack earlier this year like me and likes it a lot. Our first trip with our new packs was in July this year, and they were put through a tough test into one of the most remote sections of the park in which they were proven worthy as great packs. I think you will like these two pack companies and if nothing else just check their websites out and see what else they have. I hope this helps your search.

Daniel Koeppel

11-11-2009, 09:16 AM
Recently, this osprey pack has caught my attention as a nice looking 3 season choice -->http://www.ospreypacks.com/detail.php?productID=158&colorCode=845&tab=specifications

Currently, my go to bag is an Arc'Teryx Bora 55....I believe Grouseman77 has one too and likes it pretty well. Its not ultralight, but there is almost no need to carry a rain cover. Its also very well built and can withstand torture from heavy underbrush & thorns. The top lid is removable and makes into a good waist pack when backcountry fishing.

Jim Casada
11-11-2009, 01:09 PM
Daniel--I have no advice whatsoever on backpacks, other than to note they have come light years since I was your age (there's a picture of me in my new book at about your age with a load which would likely make any decent pack mule freeze up and refuse to move). What I really wanted to say is that I'm absolutely delighted to see someone of your age posting here, or more specifically, being involved in all the wonders the Smokies and their trout have to offer. Kudos to you, and to your dad for introducing you to these wonders. Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

11-11-2009, 01:45 PM

In my opinion (others may not agree), I would get a pack that is at least 4000 cubic inches, if you were older, I would say 5000.

11-11-2009, 02:05 PM
There are tons of good packs available. Most of the ones you see now are internal frame. A few years back nearly all were external frame. If you're new to backpacking and do not have backpacking specific lightweight gear, I'd consider an external frame. A nice feature with external frame packs is that you can strap bulky stuff onto the outside much easier than you can with an internal frame pack.

Several years ago I bought an internal frame pack to replace a worn out external frame pack. My sleeping bag (which was a middle-of-the-road synthetic one) was so bulky it took up the entire pack. I ended up buying a new more compressible sleeping bag immediately.

External frame packs have kind of fallen out of favor, but I for one am a fan.


11-11-2009, 02:20 PM
Although I have never backpacked to fish, I have backpacked to cover miles. I have a 3100 cu in Osprey pack that was very reasonable in price.

I can imagine if you will be stuffing waders and tackle into the pack, you will need something with more storage. Its important to be as efficient as possible, so you dont want to go overboard and have too much space. Learning how to load a backpack probably more important than how much space the internal compartment has. Keep that in mind.

Secondly, Osprey is the only pack that I have ever owned that does not fall apart. On top of that,they have a wicked warrenty. There are several models to choose from, so it becomes, largely, a matter of preference.

Whatever you decide to purchase, be sure that you have gone to a reputable outfitter and have been helped by someone who is more than competent. If the sellsperson does not drop a few weighty items into the pack and make you wear it around the store for a little while, then dont buy.

Hope this was a little bit of help.


sam barbee
11-11-2009, 05:08 PM
Sam here is a pic from this past weekends trip to Deep Creek I love backpacking and fly fishing if you ever want some company I'm game just e-mail me.http://i950.photobucket.com/albums/ad342/spotlight722/backpackto58106.jpg
good picture!
thanks spotlight and everyone else for your helpfull comments. if it matters i am about 6`4 220lbs does that limit on what type of pack i should carry or how big it should be?
and do most of you all spend the night or just do a day trip?

11-11-2009, 05:54 PM
Shoot...I got you and the kid mixed up! In my experience, bigger guys eat more food, drink more water, have bigger clothes bags etc. IMO, go for something at least 5000 ci. You can always strap your sleeping bag off the bottom, it will bump you a lot though if you do that.

sam barbee
11-11-2009, 06:03 PM
Shoot...I got you and the kid mixed up! In my experience, bigger guys eat more food, drink more water, have bigger clothes bags etc. IMO, go for something at least 5000 ci. You can always strap your sleeping bag off the bottom, it will bump you a lot though if you do that.

thanks that what i was looking for. and ya about the food and water how much food do most of you all bring along with you? and i am just 16 i will be 17 in jan.

11-11-2009, 07:23 PM
Oh, ok...16...got it. Still you're bigger, so everything I said applies;) IMO, bring dried foods and beverage powders, some jerky and a water purifier (I assume you have a cook kit, stove, emergency blanket, small aid kit, etc.) Don't forget some rope to hang your pack in the trees, it also doubles as splint rope if you break a leg. When I was younger and camped a lot, my favorites were mac and cheese (put 3-4 in a large freezer bag, double bag it, and leave the boxes at home), any flavored pasta in a bag, dried beans, jerky, salt and pepper and some gatorade powder. You don't want to carry anything that is already hydrated as it's just too heavy. Those are the basics. If you like sweets, bring a snickers bar or two. They are great for adding that extra energy when you've been hiking all day. Also, from now to April, I would bring an extra couple of days of food. You never know when you are going to get snowed in up on the mountain. Same goes for stove fuel. I generally bring more food than I think I'll need because I am always more hungry because of all the hiking. The rest of the year, just bring the minimum. Don't forget to layer your clothing, it will be warm in the day and cold at night. I don't know nearly as much as most of the guys that post here, so hopefully you'll get some input from some others, but that should get you started. As far as spending the night, it just depends on the campsite and how many days you want to fish. It does get creepy when you are alone though! Don't worry, you will be fine though.

sam barbee
11-11-2009, 07:48 PM
thanks i will add that to my list of things to get. and the whole staying alone i plan on not having to do much of that if any i would like to be with someone in case something happens . the good thing is i am a lifegaurd and trained in cpr,first aid,and water rescue.

11-11-2009, 08:41 PM
Orvis has some nice packs. I am not much of a long term hiker but I know a friend of mine who guides and camps alot likes the orvis packs that are out right now. I believe it is the shooting star line. But I could be mistaken.

11-12-2009, 08:58 AM
Grannyknot mentioned the Arc'Teryx Bora pack. I have the Bora 80 and am very satisfied. The pack is pretty pricey but seems to be bomb proof. I bought my wife a Gregory pack last Christmas and it seems to be a quality product.

11-12-2009, 09:52 AM
I have stayed alone a few times and yeah it is a little creepy. I stayed one night at #56 (burnt spruce) this summer on a Saturday night alone. There was no one staying at 57 either so it felt really strange. Part of me wants to be alone and then again part of me is a bit happy when I see another tent there. I think the more I stay alone though the more used to it I would become.

I like the Osprey's too but I have a bigger old heavy Gregory right now. My next pack will be an Osprey.

11-12-2009, 10:50 AM
you could go with one of those wheeled "packs" like they use up at Hazel Creek. you can bring your cooler, grill, beer and everything that way.

11-12-2009, 11:32 AM
Back when I was in scouts I used an external frame backback for most of my 600+ nights camping. We always used a bungee cord to attach the sleeping bag to the frame and then it did not bounce around and you have the cord in camp for other uses too.

Long story short the external frames are still workable and can often be found at second hand stores or online auctions for next to nothing since they are not as fashionable as the internal frame packs. Just trying to save you some money so you have to spend on other things.

11-12-2009, 02:56 PM
Love Ospery and Gregory. Got to a shop and have them load you down with weight. Pick the one that feels the best.

sam barbee
11-12-2009, 03:21 PM
what would be a good shop in or around knoxville to look for packs?

11-12-2009, 04:18 PM
Little River Trading Company - Maryville

Riversports Outfitters - Knoxville

11-13-2009, 08:14 AM
I wanted to add something to my previous post... I was being lazy.

Of the two stores that I mentioned, I really like Little River Trading Company. This is just my opinion.

If you do go to one of the two stores make sure that you seek out someone who knows their stuff. You want to make sure the pack works for you.

Jody is the guy at LRTC. He is a very nice guy who spends a lot of time actually using the stuff that the store sells.

River Sports...I'm not sure who to talk to anymore. They get a lot of college kids in there that don't know the difference between packs but will try to sell you on which one is "more killer". I like the store but be careful to pay attention to who is giving their opinion.

I had one kid try to tell me that The North Face was "more killer" than any other brand and that everyone in his fraternity used their stuff. Complete idiot.

Blue Ridge Mountain Sports is another Knoxville store. Expect about the same as River Sports.

I also looked around at Mast General Store. I had to explain to the sales person that Gregory packs did in fact come in different sizes. She insisted that I was mistaken. I showed her what I was talking about and then left.

Plan to spend some time trying on packs. Load them down with weight and wear them around the store.

11-13-2009, 09:39 AM
To add to Grouseman's comment......

Nick Waller is who I deal with at River Sports. He is an organizer with the Great Smokies Hiking & Adventure Group and knows his stuff pretty well. I think he is also a Gregory certified pack fitter, and has taken the Go-Lite efficient packing class. As far as backpacks go, River Sports carries Gregory, Arc'Teryx, Go Lite, Granit Gear, Osprey, Lowe Alpine, & Mountain Hardwear.

I would do some research on the internet, figure out what features you want, pick a few different packs out, and go to the store with the intent to load them and try them on. Don't go to the store with a clean slate....your opinions on what you need are equally as important as the sales associates.

11-13-2009, 10:53 AM

Thanks for mentioning the guy at River Sports by name. I really like the store but have had difficulty dealing with some of the employees. It is good to have the name of someone who uses the products that they are trying to sell.

We need to put those packs to use ASAP.

sam barbee
11-13-2009, 07:01 PM
well after learning all that i will probly go to little river trading company this sunday.

11-15-2009, 10:13 AM
I highly recommend Deuter packs. My wife and I both have one. They are not as popular here in the states, so they are less expensive than the other brands. They are very durable and rugged. They don't leave out any of the extras either. A rain cover comes standard and is built in to the bottom of the pack. If it starts to rain, you just unzip it and pull it over the top. Both of ours have a seperate sleeping bag compartment. We can fit both our bags and pads in there. You can also open it up to just one compartment instead of two if you wish. The lids have a few small compartments. They are very comfortable and roomy. You will definately pay less for one compared to a lot of other brands. They have their own line of hydration bladders that are great too. I think they are a brand that should be considered. But in the end pick the pack that fits best to your body.

Scott Spencer
11-15-2009, 04:32 PM
I highly recommend Deuter packs.Which of their packs do you and your wife use?

11-15-2009, 09:30 PM
My wife uses the Futura Pro 42. I carry the Futura Vario 50+10. It has some really great features like adjustable shoulders straps that can fit anyone with a small large torso. Now I will admit the first few miles were a little rough until the straps were broken in. We have never had any trouble carrying all our gear. I am considering getting a smaller Deuter pack for dayhikes, to replace my camelback.

11-16-2009, 08:13 AM
I almost forgot that I also have one of the Deuter packs. I believe it is a Futura Pro but I can not recall the size. I bought it for long day hikes in the summer. I like the built in rain fly and the way it is designed to keep the pack off your back (Aircomfort?). The one I have is a good pack for lunches, rain gear, etc.

Not sure how I would like their stuff if it was a larger pack and really loaded down.

11-16-2009, 09:04 AM
I have had no trouble with the pack fully loaded. Even have used it on overnight trips. Took it to yellowstone, smokies, western nc, no trouble. I sweat less than with my daypack.

11-17-2009, 09:52 PM
Sam I am a lightweight weenie when I hiked 700 miles on the Appalachian Trail this year I averaged 21 pounds with 3 days of food but I have found that backpacking to fly fish is different I want more stuff, more food, tackle, rods, etc, I just seen one of these packs today at the outfitters I was very impressed with the storage space and the features and it says you can carry 45lbs like a breeze. My last trip up deep Creek to #58 I was 30lbs but my buddy carried my softside cooler with the 6 pack inside or I would have had 35.

I found out that the more I carry the more I like camping the less I carry the more I like hiking. here is the link to the pack I thought it was pretty sweet! at Riversports outfitters you can get a 10% discount tell them your a member of my hiking group The Great Smokies Hiking & adventure group Little River Trading in Maryville is a great outfitter as well.


11-18-2009, 09:59 AM
Spotlight, what are your thoughts on the 40d fabric on the Argon? I think 40d is a bit weak for a pack of that weight.

My impressions of Osprey has always been that they have rode fit and comfort as their selling points (with great success), and not necessarily design and technology. I do like the Exos series for an ultralight pack.

But hey, opinions are like you know whats, everyone has one. :smile:

11-18-2009, 07:39 PM
Spotlight, what are your thoughts on the 40d fabric on the Argon? I think 40d is a bit weak for a pack of that weight.

My impressions of Osprey has always been that they have rode fit and comfort as their selling points (with great success), and not necessarily design and technology. I do like the Exos series for an ultralight pack.

But hey, opinions are like you know whats, everyone has one. :smile:

I have had my Aether 60 stuffed to the gills and never ripped it, I hiked with a guy on the AT and his Exos ripped at the mesh on the pockets and Osprey gave him a brand new one free of charge so their warranty is awesome and if you want a real ultralight pack check out these. http://www.ula-equipment.com/packoverview.asp

But yes 40d is thin but it seemed pretty durable in the outfitters I WANT ONE!

Right now I have the ULA Circuit and love it! however my big 4 weighs just over 7lbs that's a 2 person tent Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo 2lbs 7 o/zs, a 2009 Thermarest self inflate mat 1lb, a Western Mountainering Megalite 30 degree down bag 1lb 8 o/z, and the Circuit is 36 o/zs.

I want the Argon because it has a lot of space I'd like to be able to put my rod case inside the pack so I could us a rain cover, right now my rain cover would never fit, it's way to small I am a ultralight backpacker but when I fly fish I want to be able to carry stuff the last trip I even had a chair kit for my Thermarest it's like a backcountry Lazyboy.

12-19-2009, 01:47 AM
'Which pack' is too often asked [everywhere!] with no parameters set. It's like asking what 'reel' to get -with no line or rod weight established-much less 'water to be fished' described:-) ?! Simply doesn't 'work' that way.
Duration of trips, terrain [open trails or bushwhacking?] weather zone [hot, temperate, cold [wet?] winter, 'comfort level' of gear[quantity/quality-lightweight] that's acceptable for the USER and MONEY are needed to make honest appraisals.
Since FF in the Smokies is applicable here [assumed], then 'when' [winter packs have to be BIGGER-more Cubic Inches!], duration and whether on 'trailed' streams or bushwhacking for specs are the choices. Essentially you have to have your 'contents' BEFORE you can choose a suitable container [just as you need your FF line size BEFORE you choose the rod].
Thankfully this forum doesn't have to overcome 'tactikewl' military wannabe's that promote 6# glorified daypacks as 'essential' to toughness-but totally inadequate CI-wise.
Look to high volume ultralight packs of 4400ci and up to keep most contents inside. Oughta be in the 3-4# range MAX. The more you bushwhack the 'slicker' the pack should be [same as an ascending climbing pack]. Dyeema and kevlar /ripstop blended fabrics have supplanted heavy cordura in modern sport packs. If you like/prefer to 'tie stuff on' the outside and stay on developed trails, you can't beat a good old Kelty or packframe for versatility . BUT if you aren't hauling a duffel bag of gear, a 5gallon jerry can and/or an outboard motor, a newer UL internal frame is probably indicated:-). [The pic of Jim as an [overloaded!] child is a prime use for a pack frame [think bipedal mule 'packsaddle' concept:-)].
Being realistic, money is a big factor. The higher quality [lightweight] gear you can afford [AND how 'spartan' you can camp 'comfortability'-this isn't about a 'sickening ' elimination hike for SAS selection!] effects how many CI you will need in your pack. Personally I gave up on the 1 pr. of boots, 1 gun, and 1 pack that 'can do it all' decades ago-simply isn't optimal -unless you're a hobo[and he just suffers alot].
It's no simple decision because to be valid you need your 'contents' first. Simply using a siltarp rather than a tent eliminates AT LEAST a couple pounds and hundreds of CI. An 800 fill power 30 degree down bag is less than half as bulky and heavy as a synthetic.[BUT I don't use down bags in the smokies-simply too wet. Wet down is a killer just as is cotton in the cold. Now if you can sleep in JUST your denim bib overals, a canvas coat and brogans next to a fire -waking-up frozen to the ground like an old smokies bear hunter [Kephart], ignore my wussy recommendations:-)].
Personally I'm guilty of 'overspecialization' with a dozen packs, about 7 bags and 3 tents, 6 tarps, etc-THAT isn't necessary. It IS why you need the knowledge to get the 'right' contents to determine what size pack you need-AND get the most utility out of our worthless FRN's.
Again, it's comparable to matching fly sizes to water to be fished, the flies to tippets/leaders and line THEN the rod/reel. The pack is purely an accomodation that must fit your OTHER selections. Course, then you get into fit, comfort and color-all pretty personal by that point. [Why I have wool packs for winter still hunting-NO noisy nylon.] Just an example of thinking thru YOUR requirements.] Ghost

12-19-2009, 04:20 PM

Assuming that a person was willing to not be fully optomized and carry a bit of extra weight, in exchange for a pack that would allow them to back country camp/hike in all seasons, on and off trail, what pack would you recommend, assuming that the person was hiking in the park, or areas around the park? Would a pack that produces less friction in the bush not also be fit for the open trail (assuming you could purchase one in the proper size)? Also, is there a significant difference in the weight between a large pack and say, a medium sized pack that it would deter the average hiker from buying a single pack for all occasions?



12-19-2009, 08:56 PM
Good question-and practical viewpoint. You're correct of course, a 'slick' pack works fine on developed trails.

Your parameters are specific enough to make honest recommendations.

Let me say up front that from the time I was issued the 'canadian ruck'[big knock-off Bergan design, steel frame with canvas bag] in '68 at Group at Bragg I've been fighting heavy rucks! [I was already a backpacker and thought most of the military stuff was truly 'retro']. Granted, a military ruck in an airborne unit takes a beating, there's no reason to accept that technology now.[And even then I carried a Gregory 'custom, handmade green nylon backpack with nice padding and aluminum stays when on non-jump team exercises.] I even used an 8X10 Eddie Bauer nylon tarp in Nam for night RON's and a nylon rain jacket rather than a poncho. So I don't think I've ever gotten locked into a 'rut' gearwise/institutionalized other than seeking the lightest strongest compromise with comfort and functionality possible. I say all that just to sorta establish some 'bona fides'-yep, I'm an ol' fart-probably older than Jim:-). [BUT I grew up on a horse ranch and not near the Smokies like him].

I recently addressed your question by buying a pack simply for 3 day trips in the Smokies. [NOT deep winter. After 3 chemo sessions and losing half my stomach I simply can't handle the caloric burn of cold, snow and weight-like Dirty Harry said, 'a man's gotta know his limitations'! No point in BS'ing oneself].

I got a Golite Quest, 4400 ci/73L [?] at 3#3 oz. at Sierra Trading Post -or maybe it was Backcountrygear.com-for about $125-great deal. I have mostly ultralight equipment BUT tend to take more 'snivel gear' than a true ultralight packer [again, I'm an ol' fart:-)]. I use the lightweight Patagonia waders and carry wading shoes outside the pack. [Waders go in a WP stuff bag inside]. My March Brown rod[s] either 7' [17" in case]or 9' [24
' in case]will fit outside or in. The Golite Odyessy at 5800 ci/95L is a better all around pack for what you suggest. Only weighs 7ozs. more and has compression straps to snug it up if not full. That's a minimal penalty to pay for the extra latitude. Considering most 5800 ci packs weigh over 6#'s alone, you're GTG.

For some perspective, the old steel framed/canvas Bergan weighs 6#'s as does the current military nylon version [but is bigger].

Let me also add this: an ultralight pack is a minimalist 'structure' compared to the more elaborate hipbelts and frame sheets/stays on a 6#+ 'AT thru hiking' pack. If you're carrying 50# + and busting *** to make 12-16 miles a day months on end, the 'hiking dedicated' pack is gonna be more comfortable. That type pack is designed for convenience to 'live out of' as opposed to a fishing ['carrying'] pack that needs to be acceptably comfortable and functional to move from car park to fishing stream site -probably only 5-6 miles, or even 13 ONCE until you go back DOWNHILL:-) a day or so later.

An argument I often get in with 'soldier wannabes' and pack selection is the weight/construction aspects. Neither they-nor a fisherman -needs a pack that'll sustain being dragged behind a deuce and a half nor creaming in from a broken drop-line on a DZ from 200ft. Nor do we need the 3 EXTRA yards of nylon webbing for MOLLE gear attachment-weight that does nothing FOR you. Practically speaking, if it doesn't contribute to your survival comfort and the REASON you're humping the gear to start with[fishing], it's extraneous BS-A WASTE. Not to mention a pain:-).

I mention that only to be kept in mind when sorting thru packs at the store [REI is pretty widespread and carries a broad selection of various brands/types of packs to compare. Any ultralight pack may feel 'light'/flimsy? compared to expedition packs. Simply keep in mind, it's gonna be on YOUR back-how much abuse do you intend to put YOURSELF thru to be worried about some nylon:-)]. Packing the inside of an ultralight pack bears thinking/planning about for ultimate comfort-it's easy and plenty of info. is available.

Hope I haven't put you to sleep, BRF-I do go on in my dotage:-). Feel free to ask if I've muddled something. http://www.rei.com/product/781547


12-19-2009, 11:00 PM
Thanks for the insight. You are definitely knowledgable and have some valuable insight. I understand about the health issues. I've had one for a couple of years that I'm just getting over (mostly). Still slows me down a bit. Energy level just isn't there and I fatigue easily. Always good to talk to a Vietnam Vet. I always admired you guys. Lots of them in my family. I will look into those packs. I am due for a new one.

12-20-2009, 11:43 AM
Maybe I oughta clarify that the Golite example is just that. Plenty of other alternatives in lightweight packs. I simply shop for acceptable features and quality PREFERABLY that I can get a discount on [stretch those FRN's:-)] and Golite is big enough to have over runs which create savings with some searching. You may find something of better value/features locally or on the net. EVERYTHING nylon seems to be chink made anyhow.

But definitely, with minimal weight penalty in UL packs, I'd recommend a 5800ci pack over a lesser volume. Even a fly vest bulks-up in a pack. Try to avoid ANYTHING except the wading shoes outside. If your rod case is too long try to position it so it doesn't interfere with either duck-walking thru brush or catching overhead branches when you bend over to avoid them [common sense].

Thanks for the kind words and good luck going forward with your issues. Ghost