The GDT Pack Dilemma

This whole ‘budget’ approach to GDT gear has mainly been going quite well! I really do have most of what I need (read more about that here). The only real consternation is my pack.

My projected longest food carry (leaving Jasper) including food, water, and all gear is ~33lbs. My Osprey Tempest starts carrying uncomfortably around 30lbs, and is unbearable by 40lbs (weights including the pack itself). My Osprey Ariel is great at 45lbs, but is awkward under 25-30lbs. And it weighs 70oz! It is simply overkill for all but the first two days of my biggest food carry (~31lbs, everything but the pack).

The obvious answer is to buy a new pack that better suits the demands of this trip, however I really do want to stick to what I already have where it is possible/reasonable.

So now I have a dilemma. I see 3 options:

Tempest: also a puppy carrier!
  1. Use the Tempest – I do love this pack for most things, but not carrying significant weight. The ‘wing’ style hip belt is the big failure. As it gets to 30 lbs and above the pack sags down onto my bum, and the hip belt ‘hangs’ off the front of my hips. Even at relatively short distances with minimal elevation gain it is extremely uncomfortable at 40 lbs and makes my hips go numb. The Tempest will be fine with most day’s loads, but will suck for a few. Normally that would be acceptable, on a short trip, but on a long one it makes me uncomfortable to be running my equipment to the limit like that. It won’t leave me any wiggle room should I find I want to pick up an additional luxury or two, or that I need to carry more calories than I expected, have a long water carry somewhere water is normally abundant, or have to replace a light piece of gear with whatever is available on the trail in the event of a major failure. I am also a bit worried about its condition. I have used it really hard over the past few years, and am currently using it as a weight pack for training. The seams and harness are really starting to show the wear.
  2. Use the Ariel – Probably the best ‘middle of the road’ option. It will absolutely work for the heaviest projected weights, give me wiggle room for unexpected carries, and keeps in line with my budget requirements. It is just so damn heavy! There are a few ways to lighten it up, some more permanent than others. I don’t want to do anything too drastic to it, as I do like its load carrying capacity for winter/astrophotography/beginner outings if I need it. I do worry about a ‘packing your fears’ situation here.
  3. Buy a new pack. There are packs in the weight range of my Tempest that will handle the loads I am looking at. Something like the Hanchor Marl, or Elemental Horizons Kalais. There are a few issues though:
    1. Cost- after the exchange rate to CAD, shipping, taxes, and duty, either of those packs will be ~400CAD. I just don’t think I can justify that right now.
    2. Risk- any of the packs that would be an improvement for me on the Tempest/Ariel situation are made by cottage companies outside of Canada. This means taking a gamble on fit when buying sight-unseen, with return shipping being quite expensive.
The Ariel in its natural habitat.

On paper the Tempest should be fine. I just worry about what happens if I find out it is not on the trail. The solution here of course, is testing. And, well, I can’t complain about an excuse to go on more trips!

Packs! Packs Everywhere!

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