Friday, July 22, 2022
HomeHikingThe Important Information to Frameless Backpacks

The Important Information to Frameless Backpacks

A frameless backpack is a core factor of any ultralightweight backpacking technique. Because the starting of the 2000s, they’ve been my backpack mannequin of alternative for almost all of climbing journeys that I’ve finished. The next article accommodates a rundown of why you need to think about using a frameless backpack, addresses among the most incessantly requested questions on the topic, and at last supplies an inventory of 15 extremely regarded frameless fashions, together with specs, costs, and hyperlinks for detailed long-term opinions.

Why Select a Frameless Backpack?

1.  Simplicity: Frameless packs usually have easier designs. Fewer zippers, fewer compartments, fewer straps, no stays – much less that may break, rip, or go incorrect.

2.  Match: With frameless backpacks, it’s the load itself that gives the construction. With an unrolled or folded sleeping mat  (both CCF or inflatable) appearing as a makeshift framesheet, ideally, a frameless pack ought to mildew to the contours of your again. To ensure that that to occur, specific consideration should be paid to the style by which your pack is crammed (see How you can Load a Backpack). A average or heavy load packed indiscriminately right into a frameless mannequin, will likely be much more uncomfortable than it might be in a extra forgiving inner or exterior body backpack.

Joshua “Bobcat” Stacy and the Gossamer Gear Kumo | Lowest to Highest Route, USA, 2014.

3.  Weight and Sturdiness:  Due to their easier design and lack of framesheet or stays, frameless packs are lighter than different fashions. Usually talking, they tip the scales at 0.6 kg (21 oz) or much less. That stated, through the years I’ve discovered that the load saving doesn’t come at the price of sturdiness. A living proof was the primary two Mountain Laurel Design Burn packs that I used between 2009 and 2018. Every pack lasted at the very least 9,000 path miles (14,484 km). The one caveat to that is when you usually overload them, by which case the stitching tends to fail faster than framed backpacks; notably across the shoulder strap space.

Typically you simply need to go huge, and one of many largest masses I’ve carried within the MLD Burn was throughout an roughly 240 mile (386 km), seven-day stretch between East Glacier and Helena, MT, on the Continental Divide Path in August 2012.

4.  Dimension:  Individuals who purchase backpacks with giant carrying capacities (e.g. 65 litres or extra) usually discover methods to fill them. You will have all that area, it might be a disgrace to see it go to waste, no? An inherent benefit of frameless packs is that they’re comparatively small. They don’t seem to be made to haul masses over 10 kg (22 lbs) for prolonged intervals of time. This limitation forces the hiker to pare down their backpacking package from the outset. With a frameless pack, the focus must be on carrying the requirements, with superfluous luxuries both left at residence or stored to a naked minimal (Word: Usually talking, in case your base weight is lower than 4.4 kg/10 lb, you don’t want any greater than 50 L capability to be able to match 5 to 7 days of meals plus a number of litres of water).

5. Price: Fewer supplies and easier designs imply that frameless fashions are often cheaper than their inner and exterior framed equivalents.

Paul “Mags” Magnanti and his ULA CDT in Utah’s La Sal mountains, 2018 (picture courtesy of Pmags and Rambling Hemlock).

FAQs about Frameless Backpacks

“In regard to weight, how a lot is an excessive amount of when utilizing a frameless backpack?”

In case your base weight is north of 5 kg (11 lb) and also you usually carry a complete weight of greater than 9 or 10 kg (20-22 lb), you’re most probably higher off with a light-weight inner body backpack. Why? Inner body packs with a set hip belt supply superior load distribution between your shoulders and hips and thus are extra comfy to make use of when carrying heavier masses for prolonged intervals of time.

It’s value noting that what constitutes “comfy” can fluctuate considerably between hikers. All of us have totally different ranges of shoulder and again energy, and your muscle conditioning will fluctuate in response to how in “trail-shape” you’re at any given time. For instance, a thru-hiker might wrestle to hold six days value of meals and a few liters of water of their frameless pack throughout the preliminary weeks of a hike. Nonetheless, after two or three weeks on path, they’ll most probably discover that the identical weight feels comparatively comfy (or at the very least extra manageable).

To mitigate this breaking-in interval, the straightforward answer is preparation. Personally talking, earlier than enterprise any prolonged climbing journey I’ll progressively enhance the quantity of weight I’m carrying on my coaching hikes. I’ll usually do that over an eight-week interval in order that once I ultimately set out, my physique is already habituated to the forms of weights I’ll be required to hold throughout the journey. The good thing about this technique is just not solely a extra comfy and pleasing expertise however simply as importantly, it additionally makes you much less prone to incur body-stressing accidents. This level notably holds true for these amongst us which are getting up there in years.

For the traverse of Southwest Tasmania, I started the journey carrying greater than two weeks of meals in a framed HMG 2400 Southwest pack.

“What about hip belts, and the speculation that they aren’t mandatory for frameless backpacks in case your base weight is beneath 4.5 kg (10 lb)?”

I disagree, with the next caveat – if nearly all of your climbing is finished on well-maintained trails in three-season circumstances, then sure, you may positively handle sans hip belt with out too many points. This notably holds true when you hardly ever hike for greater than 4 or 5 days between resupplies (i.e. your complete pack weight doesn’t exceed 10 kg / 22 lb). When climbing on such pathways, most of the time I’ll go away my hip belt unfastened or clip it across the bottom of the pack.

All that stated……………I by no means give it the chop. Why? As a result of for a 1.5 or 3 oz weight penalty, even essentially the most minimalist of hip belts could make a distinction in regard to load stabilization, which is especially helpful from a steadiness perspective when climbing in technical, off-trail circumstances for prolonged intervals.

Word: Not all hip belts are created equal. Whereas the webbing hip belts or “wings” that you just see on many frameless packs could make a distinction stability-wise, they don’t do an awesome deal in regard to weight switch. For that, you actually need to go together with an inner body pack by which the body/stays are built-in into the pack’s hip belt (see under).

Justin “Trauma” Lichter (the one doing the pushing) beneath the pressure of a heavy load throughout the Copper Canyon Traverse (Word the hip belt!) | Mexico, 2013.

“Other than a hip belt, what different options ought to I search for in a frameless pack?”

This may fluctuate between hikers. Personally, I like a frameless pack with a slim profile, 30-40 litre capability, vast and padded s-shaped shoulder straps, shoulder pockets, and an excellent compression system (i.e. aspect and prime straps) which permits me to take care of a agency and secure pack regardless of the fluctuations within the perishable weight I’m carrying (i.e. meals and water). Moreover, I’ll sometimes use a detachable hip belt pocket if I’m carrying a devoted digital camera aside from my cellphone.

“What a couple of backside pocket? “

Some people appear to love them, I discover them superfluous. I’ve all of the area I would like for snacks in both my shoulder pockets, my occasional hip pocket/s, or the pockets on the aspect of my pack beside my water bottles. If I would like the rest I’ll merely swing my pack round or cease and get it out.

“What material/s would you advocate for frameless packs?” 

As of 2020, the principle choices for premium frameless backpacks are Xpac, Dyneema Composite Materials (DCF), and excessive tenacity nylons akin to Dyneema X, Robic, and Cordura. Which is greatest? It actually relies upon upon what you’re searching for. Personally, I don’t suppose there may be “one materials to rule all of them.” Massive picture-wise I’m not even certain it issues that a lot which one you go together with. In terms of backpacks it has at all times struck me that elements akin to workmanship, consolation, quantity/compression, useful pockets, and load-carrying capability are extra vital than which light-weight material you find yourself selecting. That stated, listed below are a number of ideas:  

  • Worth for Cash / Finances Decide – If cash’s tighter than a hairpin flip, go together with Cordura, Robic, or Dyneema X. They’re just a little heavier and never as waterproof as XPack and DCF, however for most folk, the latter level is not any deal-breaker when you’re lining your pack with a trash compactor bag (Word: Which you need to do in most environments no matter your material of alternative).
  • XPac and DCF – These two are lighter and carry out higher in moist circumstances than nylon fashions, however they’re additionally costlier. In regard to sturdiness, a lot depends upon the density/weight of the fabric used, and though I can’t personally converse to the long-term efficiency of Xpac’s a number of variants, I can say that I’ve put my DCF HMG Southwest 2400 by means of the bushwhacking wringer since 2015/16, and aside from discolouration and some scratches right here and there, it’s nonetheless in fine condition. The identical goes for my DCF MLD Burn which I’ve had since 2018. Does that imply that DCF packs will maintain up so long as my Granite Gear Cordura fashions from the early 2000s? No, however I don’t suppose the discrepancy in long-term sturdiness is that a lot that I’d surrender the load and water resistance benefits (i.e. sheds extra/retains much less) of DCF.
  • My Desire?: If I’m heading out for prolonged journeys in moist environments akin to Tassie, Scotland, Scandinavia, or the south island of New Zealand, I’ll be reaching for considered one of my DCF packs. For all different forms of circumstances, I’ll seize whichever pack is helpful and never give it one other thought.

Yours actually and the Granite Gear Virga throughout a descent of Taracuera Canyon | Copper Canyon Area, Mexico, 2005.

“I undergo from again ache. Would you continue to advocate a frameless backpack?”

No. A pack by which the body stays are built-in into the hip belt will assist scale back strain in your again and shoulders by transferring extra weight to your hips. As somebody who has skilled disc points lately, I can personally vouch for the distinction it may possibly make comfort-wise when carrying heavyish masses. That stated, it’s not a panacea. No matter which kind of backpack you carry, for people coping with again issues the onus is even better to reduce the quantity of weight you carry, be certain that the heaviest/densest gadgets are packed shut towards your again in the midst of the pack, and do every thing you may to rehab/strengthen the areas in question earlier than heading out into the sector for prolonged intervals.

Crossing the Salar de Uyuni with the HMG Southwest 2400 | Altiplano Traverse, Bolivia, 2017.

Advisable Frameless Backpacks

Because the early 2000s, I’ve used frameless packs from OG ultralight firms akin to Mountain Laurel Designs, Gossamer Gear, and Granite Gear. In recent times, a brand new wave of cottage business backpack producers have joined the UL occasion, and there are actually extra choices than ever earlier than from which to decide on. Listed under are 15 of the highest frameless backpacks at present available on the market (in alphabetical order):

Firm / Mannequin Weight (oz/kg)  Quantity (L) Cloth Value (US$)  Notes
Atom Packs The Atom 40 14.7           40 XPac £185
Extremely regarded UK-based firm / Additionally accessible in 30L and 35L fashions / Click on right here for a 3,000 mile evaluate.
Gossamer Gear Kumo 18.9          36  Robic  165 Very comfy pack, I’ve used the Kumo periodically for the reason that CT in 2015. Lengthy-time favorite of “desert king”, Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva.
Gossamer Gear G4-20  21.7       42  Robic  180 A sleeker, cushier, and heavier remix of the basic GG G4 from the early 2000s.
Granite Gear Virga 2 19  54  Cordura 140 Arduous to beat for sturdiness and worth. I used the unique model between 2003 and 2008; nonetheless in good situation after 17 years.
KS Ultralight Gear 40 12.7 38 Xpac  17,300 JPY (US$165) Barebones weight and worth. Add money and oz for fundamental equipment. Packs obtain good opinions, however the web site is headache-inducing.
MLD Burn 16.5 38   Dyneema X or DCF 220 Lengthy-time favorite. Extra bells and whistles than my authentic fashions from the late 2000s/early 2010s, however the workmanship continues to be second to none. See 19,000 mile evaluate.
MLD Prophet 17 48 Dyneema X or DCF 230 Bigger sibling of the Burn. Greatest for people with a three-season base weight of 9 to 11 lb.
Nashville Pack Cutaway 12 40 Xpac / DCF / Robic   Comparatively new firm, that has obtained constantly excessive marks. A lot of customizations accessible. Click on right here for an in depth evaluate.
Palante Packs V2  17  37 Xpac  240 In style alternative amongst US ultralight backpackers. Additionally accessible in 31 L mannequin
SMD Flight 30 UL 20 31 Robic 190 Out there with vest harness and several types of hip belts. Click on right here for a evaluate from
SWD Superior 35  14.5 43 Xpac or DCF 175  A lot of customization choices. Additionally accessible in 30 L and 40 L fashions. Click on right here for a 3,000 mile evaluate.
ULA  CDT 24 54 Robic 145 Reasonably priced, sturdy, easy design. Additionally accessible in XPac. See evaluate from Pmags
Final Path Fastpack 35 25 38 Robic 185 Largest mannequin of UD’s Fastpack collection.
Zimmerbuilt Quickstep 9.75 36 DCF 150 Barebones weight and worth. Add money and Oz for fundamental equipment akin to sternum strap & padding for shoulder straps. Click on right here for evaluate by long-time person, Rafael Mujica.
Zpacks Nero 10.7 38 DCF 199 Uber-light, however combined opinions regarding its sturdiness. 

Advisable Inner Body Backpacks

Whereas more often than not I choose frameless packs, I’ll use an inner body mannequin on journeys once I’ll usually be carrying greater than 5 or 6 days of meals and/or giant quantities of water. Under are listed 10 of essentially the most extremely regarded light-weight inner (together with one exterior) body packs, none of which ideas the scales at greater than 1.1 kg (2.5 lb):

Firm / Mannequin Weight (oz/kg)  Quantity (L) Cloth Value (US$)  Notes
Atom Packs The Mo 50L 30       50 XPac £257
Extremely regarded UK-based firm / Additionally accessible in 40L and 60L fashions.
Gossamer Gear Mariposa 32.7       60  Robic  270 Bigger sibling of the Gorilla. 
Gossamer Gear Gorilla  30.6       48  Robic  245 Pack of alternative for triple crowners POD and Disco from  “The Path Present”, in addition to Heather “Anish” Anderson, who took the pack on her record-setting Appalachian Path hike in 2015. 
Granite Gear Crown2 60 33 60 Cordura 199 I carried a forerunner to this bomber pack, the Vapor Path, from 2003 to the early 2010s. Justin “Trauma” Lichter used its quick predecessor, the Crown V.C., throughout our traverse of the Copper Canyon area in 2013.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest  29.3 50  DCF  310  I’ve used this pack extensively since 2016. Comfy carrying 30 to 35 lbs. Smaller sibling of the 3400, which affords 15L extra quantity. Click on right here for evaluate. 
Osprey Exos 48 40 48 Robic 200 Go-to mannequin for thru-hikers that don’t like sweaty backs. Additionally accessible in 58L mannequin. 
Search Exterior Flight One 36 61 XPac/Spectra 299 Constructed for rugged circumstances and comfy carrying masses between 35 and 50 lb. Click on right here for an in depth evaluate.
SMD Minimalist 35 54 Robic  210 Out there with vest harness and several types of hip belts.
SWD Lengthy Haul 40 27 50 Xpac or DCF 259  A lot of customization choices. Additionally accessible in 35L and 50L fashions.
ULA  Ohm 2.0 34.5 63 Robic 210 Reasonably priced, sturdy, easy design. Additionally accessible in XPac.
ZPacks Arc Blast (Exterior Body) 21 55 DCF 325 As with all exterior body packs, the Arc Blast affords wonderful on-trail stability however is just not perfect for off-trail excursions.  

Closing Ideas

Frameless backpacks aren’t a perfect possibility for all hikers and/or all forms of backcountry excursions. They require the next stage of discernment in how they’re crammed and are much less forgiving than framed fashions when loaded with greater than 10 kg (22 lb). Nonetheless, if the remainder of your gear is of an acceptable measurement and weight, frameless packs signify a useful, sturdy, and reasonably priced possibility by which to hold your light-weight package in your subsequent wilderness journey.

Sean “Mittencamper” Gauvreau and the SWD Superior 30 (DCF), Michigan, 2020 (picture courtesy of Sean Gauvreau)

Associated Posts

Disclosure: This submit accommodates some affiliate hyperlinks, which suggests ‘The Climbing Life’ receives a small fee if you are going to buy an merchandise after clicking on one of many hyperlinks. This comes at no further value to the reader and helps to assist the web site in its persevering with objective to create high quality content material for backpackers and hikers. 

Supply hyperlink



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments