I have to break up with my Zpacks backpack
People have shared that gear may shift along the course of a thru-hike, but it is not without some sadness that I didn’t get my pack choice right from the start.
I have to break up with my Zpacks Arc-Haul backpack.
It’s not the pack’s fault, per se. I’ve had it for 4 years, and we’ve had some great trips, all with much shorter mileage. When it worked, it worked.
But now that I’m 200+ miles into a thru-hike, there are a few big reasons as to why I need to immediately change my pack:
1) adjustments: there are so many straps to tug on and things to adjust (which is normally an advantage), but I have literally had a half a dozen fellow thru-hikers, day-hikers, Boy Scout dads, offer to adjust my pack for me, all with zero luck. I feel confident that we have tried every possible adjustment scenario. All the weight ends up in my shoulders and out of my hips (about 60/40, respectively).
2) fit: this could be a sub-point of #1, but it’s worth noting separately here. My body has changed over the past few weeks, and as I have gotten leaner, the hip belt is not staying put! I have an hour-glass shape, and now that I don’t have the extra cushion on my hips, the hip belt constantly rides up to my waist. I’m now convinced that this brand (maybe this particular pack) is not friendly for women, especially curvy ones at that. To give Zpacks credit, I noticed they now make a pack designed specifically for women, so they’re tailoring their product-line. I, unfortunately, am over them.
3) durability: points 1 & 2 are critical, but this last one is something I am noticing the longer I am on trail. The buckles are small, and the connection-points aren’t particularly strong. When I tried to fasten the top buckles down the sides, for example, and I pulled down to tighten, that strap completely snapped. Now I can only fasten on top (not great in the WA rain). In fact, I’m noticing considerable tugging and pulling. A fellow thru-hiker mentioned that it is because I have too much weight (about 30lbs), and “Zpacks aren’t really designed for more than 25.” Maybe so; that’s up for debate.
All I do know is that I need to be more comfortable, stat, and at this point, that does not include a Zpacks backpack. No hard feelings.
I still have over 2,000 miles to go, so I want to get this dialed in. I have my trail legs, finally, and with regard to everything else, I’m feeling pretty good. I will need a new 0° sleeping bag once I hit the Sierras, but that was expected. I’m open to suggestions, if anyone reading here has some!
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