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While packing for day hike I usually start off with something like the military surplus patrol pack, pack my gear, then decide if a smaller or larger pack will do. One of the drawbacks to this, the patrol pack has two canteens mounted on it. So whether I need two canteens full of water, they both get filled up. This will sometimes add unnecessary weight. Also, the pack itself is not that lightweight. Just about everything military surplus seems to be built for durability rather than ergonomics and weight.

Let's back up a few decades. In the 1990s just about everything I needed for a lightweight overnight warm weather trip would fit in a Jansport bookbag. This would be a hammock, canteen, water filter, MRE, maps, poncho, compass and GPS, matches, mosquito repellent.... would fit in the backpack. Plus, the pack weighed almost nothing.

For some reason I shifted to heavier packs and more gear than I us to carry in the 1990s. Being 25 years later I can feel the difference between the two packs and weight. While the bookbag does not have a stiffener like other packs, everything adds weight.

I find myself wanting to go back to that lightweight pack and being selective in the gear I carry.

For those of you who do not know what the patrol pack is, here is a video about it.

 

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I did seven days unresupplied in the Smokies, and hiked almost 100 miles. My pack weighed exactly 30 pounds at the start. That included an extra day and a half of food and two liters of water. I used a frameless pack and slept in a hammock every night.

It was so light I sometimes carried it on one shoulder.

Pics here:
http://www.tothewoods.net/HikingPicturesSmokies.php
 

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I did seven days unresupplied in the Smokies, and hiked almost 100 miles. My pack weighed exactly 30 pounds at the start. That included an extra day and a half of food and two liters of water. I used a frameless pack and slept in a hammock every night.

It was so light I sometimes carried it on one shoulder.
The problem with many of the "school" type backpacks is that they lack a proper waist belt. I personally recommend some type of suspension (even a sleeping pad frame sheet), but more importantly a good waist-belt system. I've been using a ULA Circuit as my primary pack and while I could go a little lighter, the frame make a big difference for me. I will literally hike all day (well, about 7-9 hours) and only take it off once. I average about 27-30 pounds total weight (5-6 days of food, fuel, and about 2.5 liters of water).

If you're planning on wearing a frameless pack and not waistbelt with anything over 15-20 pounds, your shoulders will feel it.

ROCK6
 

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The problem with many of the "school" type backpacks is that they lack a proper waist belt. I personally recommend some type of suspension (even a sleeping pad frame sheet), but more importantly a good waist-belt system.
I agree for anything over about 20 lbs.

The pack in that pic is the Gossamer Gear Miniposa. It uses a folding CCF pad as the framesheet, and has a hip belt. You can see the pad in the picture, and the pockets at the top and bottom to hold it in. I like that setup, rather than rolling the pad inside the pack, because it's easy to remove the pad for rest stops and such.

It's a torso-length pad, which I used under my legs in the hammock on that trip. Had a homemade 3/4-length underquilt under my torso.
 

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It's a torso-length pad, which I used under my legs in the hammock on that trip. Had a homemade 3/4-length underquilt under my torso.
Hahaha, even with the minimalist frame of the ULA, I keep a folded section of a Z-Rest (about six sections, or about three feet) for the same purpose. It fold up and rests between my bladder and rest of the pack contents.

ROCK6
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I did seven days unresupplied in the Smokies, and hiked almost 100 miles. My pack weighed exactly 30 pounds at the start. That included an extra day and a half of food and two liters of water. I used a frameless pack and slept in a hammock every night.
That is outstanding, and in a way I am a little jealous.
 

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That is outstanding, and in a way I am a little jealous.
@Just Jeff and I need to link up. Last May I did 106 miles from Neels Gap to Nantahala, about 30 miles before the southern end of the Smokies. It took me 7 days (and a wake up:D:), but my pack weight was about 38 pounds starting out (and I ended up with a day and a half of food as well).

AAR

ROCK6
 

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@Just Jeff and I need to link up. Last May I did 106 miles from Neels Gap to Nantahala, about 30 miles before the southern end of the Smokies. It took me 7 days (and a wake up:D:), but my pack weight was about 38 pounds starting out (and I ended up with a day and a half of food as well).

AAR

ROCK6
I have family in GA so we could time it with a visit.

Re: your AAR, we have very similar backpacking styles. I even use a Packa. It's probably my favorite piece of gear besides a hammock kit.
 

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That is outstanding, and in a way I am a little jealous.
Of the trip, or the kit?

Can't help with the trip, but you can put together a lightweight backpacking kit relatively inexpensively. Just have to put in the work of understanding how all the parts work together, and spend the time piecing together gear that functions well as a system. Gear doesn't have to be bombproof, and lightweight gear doesn't always have to be expensive...although it's easy to spend A LOT of money on ultralight or lightweight stuff.

I've found GoLite, Mountain Hardware, and Marmot gear at Goodwill, for example. Two weeks ago, I got some like-new Carhartt rain pants from Goodwill that are barely heavier, but much more durable, than the GoLite ones I wear backpacking. I think I paid $6 for them. And last week I got two new-with-tags $130 rain jackets for $20 each from Goodwill.

And while I wouldn't use an ultralight backpack for bugout, I'd absolutely use ultralight gear for nearly everything else, which would help to offset the weight gained in, um, other hardware that I don't take on backpack trips. So the lessons carry over.

If I can have a ~35 pound bugout kit that lets me sleep very comfortably at night while others are slogging a 70 pound pack and sleeping on dirt, there's a good chance I can move faster and farther and avoid a confrontation, or be more agile and refreshed if a confrontation is unavoidable.

So ask away if you have questions about lightening your load.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Of the trip, or the kit?
All of it.

I have the gear, just dealing with getting older and dealing with heavy military surplus packs I have bought over the decades. I bought my medium ALICE pack around 1992, and my large ALICE around 1994 or 1995. From there I have continued to collect various military surplus packs over the decades.

Currently working on getting a medium MOLLE pack ready for a trip.
 

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If you are asking for the best day pack, I would recommend, without hesitation, the bag I carried for 14 of the 15.5 years in the Marine Corps. Spec Ops T.H.E. Pack. Hands down the best bag I have ever had and even as old as it is it is still going strong.

Multiple deployments, many exercises, literally around the world and back, the only thing that happened to it is a broken side buckle. With Spec Ops warranty they have stated they would replace it free of charge.

https://specops.us/pack-tactical-bk.html

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heavy military surplus packs...ALICE pack...MOLLE pack....
Yep. All heavy.

Mission drives the gear train. If that gear meets your mission, like if the goal of your backpacking trips is training to use milsurp gear in a simulated bugout, cool.

But if you want to get into distance backpacking, lighter gear would help ensure you actually enjoy those miles instead of making them the suckfest that is ruck marches. And ensure you can keep putting in the miles as you get older.

50+ pounds is hard on the knees. 30 pounds is not, for most people.

Like I said, mission drives the gear train so I'd take a more durable pack for a bugout, with the lighter weight gear inside. Something like an Osprey designed for backpacking, and not a military pack designed for airdropping or strapping to the outside of a HMMWV in combat.

The only time I'd purposely carry an ALICE pack is if I'm zip-tying a telescoping ladder to the frame for...reasons. I have this one, but I got it for about half price.
 

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best day pack overnight backpack

Yep. All heavy.
20 years ago I did not mind the weight to much, now I am starting to mind it.



If you are asking for the best day pack, I would recommend, without hesitation, the bag I carried for 14 of the 15.5 years in the Marine Corps. Spec Ops T.H.E. Pack. Hands down the best bag I have ever had and even as old as it is it is still going strong.
Looks very close to the Army 3 day assault pack.
 

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20 years ago I did not mind the weight to much, now I am starting to mind it.











Looks very close to the Army 3 day assault pack.
Yep but much better.

Now that I think about it, if you are looking for a true day pack Spec Ops has this one.

https://specops.us/pack-edc-cyb.html

I have seen it it in stores and it's the same high quality as the other one but at half the size.
 
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Yep but much better.

Now that I think about it, if you are looking for a true day pack Spec Ops has this one.

I have seen it it in stores and it's the same high quality as the other one but at half the size.
I like that OD green one.
 

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I like that OD green one.
I agree. The OD green is a good color.

By they way, something else to consider. It's a 100 percent made in the US item.

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I agree. The OD green is a good color.

By they way, something else to consider. It's a 100 percent made in the US item.

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What is the difference between the THE pack and the FILBE pack? It looks like the FILBE pack is missing an external pouch that the THE pack has.
 

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What is the difference between the THE pack and the FILBE pack? It looks like the FILBE pack is missing an external pouch that the THE pack has.
If you mean the assault pack it's about the same size. Not as comfortable though. The assault pack has a bottom pouch like THE pack but it also has an attachable top pouch that can be added. The attachable pouch doesnt have molle on it like the top pouch on THE pack does. The main pouch is also 200 cubic inches smaller.

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Yep. All heavy.

Mission drives the gear train. If that gear meets your mission, like if the goal of your backpacking trips is training to use milsurp gear in a simulated bugout, cool.
This is where many get sidetracked. Yes, I’ve had several deployments around the globe and a few combat deployment. There is a small number of service members that actually carried heavy packs on foot…a very small number. Most barely carry their packs from a fixed wing, rotary wing, truck, etc. on and off that tarmac or to their billeting location/tent. The overbuilt packs were heavy too withstand abuse not always associated with carrying like a backpack.

I’ll be the first to say that backpacking isn’t necessarily indicative of a bugout, but 99.9% of most bugout scenarios only speculate at carrying a pack on foot and rarely for long distances (and that 0.01% rarely backpack long distances). Day hikes are one thing, hauling a base camp load just a few miles is also not reflective of the importance of a lighter, properly fitted pack.

The majority of “trail” backpacking packs that are lighter in construction also aren’t really meant of “off-trail” hiking or bushwhacking. The best packs I’ve found are some of the cottage industry hunting packs meant for the type of hunting out West…hiking long distances in rougher terrain, but needing to haul heavier loads.

I’ve got a few heavier duty packs (modified Large ALICE, Kifaru, Arc’Teryx, Mystery Ranch, Eberlestock), all of which have had some time on a deployment somewhere. They’re all capable of hauling heavy loads (most well over 100 pounds), but they also weight anywhere from 6-10 pounds which is a lot of empty pack weight. Lighter gear helps. I know I can stay on a “trail” for 7-10 days and between 100-150 miles and keep my pack weight between 30-40 pounds (fully agree with Jeff that 30 pounds and under is where you really want to be though).

Lastly, most of the heavy duty packs are designed for abuse from the lowest common denominator. As much as I know that backpacking isn’t bugging out, neither is bugging out like combat. Those wanting surplus gear always decry that the former has zero relation, but often conflate the latter. From personal experience, that’s very rarely true. Distance backpacking helps refine kit and give you an honest, realistic assessment on bugout feasibility. While combat relies on fail-proof kit, it’s rarely pushed to those limits on a personal level; and redundancy isn’t as important in some aspects as long as you understand risk assessments, mitigation, kit maintenance, and competent decision making.

Whatever you choose, use it, test it, assess it. A $1000 backpack system sitting in the closet has less value than a surplus Alice pack used several times a week on day hikes. However, that expensive, purpose-built pack that’s actually stressed on distance hikes will reveal why lighter-weight, proper-fitting, and quality suspension/waist belt are truly important.

ROCK6
 
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