Ultrahike on BPL

One reason that I took the plunge on the Ultrahike was the state of the market review of lightweight (not SUL) packs by Roger Caffin on backpackinglight.com. Whilst this has been an informative series, I was looking forward to the reviews of the individual packs, in the last of the series. I have to say I’m a bit disappointed in the reviews, which are mainly descriptive. I had hoped for a bit of compare and contrast and personal experience.

It actually reinforces my view that bloggers generally do a better job of gear reviews because they are willing to give a personal appraisal and are happy to give an honest and often forthright opinion. If you are interested, the Ultrahike gets a “recommended” tag, as does one of my other packs, the Exos 58. I promise I will give you a decent in-depth opinion when I’ve used the Ultrahike in earnest.


11 thoughts on “Ultrahike on BPL”

  1. Having just sold my Gregory Z55 I’m looking for a replacement, look forward to hearing your views on the Lightwave once you have a few miles under it’s belt.

  2. Actually many readers complained that Roger Caffin was too opinionated. I’m just glad that he measured the actual weights and volumes of the packs.

    Anyway, there is no best pack. There’s only a best pack for you, at a certain time, under certain conditions, for a specific use. Even then it’s still subjective.

    1. I think people were more exercised about his views on hydration sleeves etc than his views on individual packs. While packs are personal, some evaluation of the positives and negatives of each pack would have been helpful.

      1. Is there a better place than the hydration sleeve to carry 100+ ounces of water? It seems to me to be a pretty good location. The only better place might be some sort of hip belt.

  3. I have to be careful here as I am friends with Roger and my Ultrahike 60 was the one that Roger reviewed.

    I know what you are saying about the “mainly descriptive” reviews but just how does one person compare 27 different packs in a relative short period of time, I personally think he has done a good job on a difficult subject.

    Part of the conditions of me obtaining the Ultahike is that I do a review for BPL, but only after I have used the pack in the field, now that Rogers article has been published I will write one soon.

    I will not tell you how much my Ultrahike cost me, but I was happy with my Jam2 and Pinnacle, I would never have purchased a UltraHike if I was looking for a new pack but to my surprise after using the UltraHike twice now I am very impressed with it and I am considering using it for my next three season where I would have normally used my jam2 pack.


  4. I did comment on some of Rogers views. I was accused of cheeky comments. I actually refrain from letting some people know what I think on BPL when I read what are as some would see raciest comments and I defiantly get sick of the Nationalist superior USA is the greatest comments I read there. Anyway back to packs. One person with a lot of knowledge but it contradicted it self a lot. Don’t buy a pack without load lifter straps if it has a frame. Yet the GG Gorilla got Gold on BPL. The inconsistent views of BPL staff only leads to confusion in my view. A state of the Market report should have been done by three reviewers on different locations comparing the same packs. Then you would have a good side by side comparison. On stoves he knows a lot. Still he never answered a question I asked him once about stoves. Over all Roger is good to read and his website is superb.

  5. Mike: I’m not having a go at Roger. I have a lot of respect for him and find him consistently the best writer on BPL (please let him know he’s doing a great job!). His stoves review was a classic. I thought the first three pieces were very informative. I was just disappointed that there was very little opinion in the last piece. Which packs carried well, what were the best and worst featrures etc. I look forward to your review on BPL, but will I beat you to the draw? Like boots, packs are highly personal.

    Martin: Like you I do get fed up with some of the “US is best” slant, but I guess it’s not surprising in a country where only 20% of the population have passports. When I’ve been to America, the people are generally lovely but very insular. Gear needs to be suitable for conditions encountered. Single skin tents are not always ideal for everywhere (equally they should not be ruled out for the UK). As Roger states at the beginning of the article SUL packs are not necessarily the answer for everyone everywhere. In Australia most SUL packs would be ripped to shreds by scrub.

    On load lifters, I think it has to be qualified by where the frame terminates. On the Gorilla (and Mariposa) it doesn’t extend beyond the top of the shoulder straps, so load lifters are not necessary. Most frames extend above the shoulder straps and load lifters become a useful feature (e.g. ULA Ohm).

    I agree with his views on whistles and the desirability of security pockets for wallet etc. I don’t use a hydration system (I prefer botlles), but supplying a hydration sleeve for those that do seems sensible and it doesn’t add much to the weight.

    Overall, I think the article was a valiant attempt to assess a specific segment of the market in a systematic way and should be applauded. It just lacked the last element of subjective assessment.

  6. Hi Blogpackinglight,

    At no time I was thinking that you were having a go at Roger, I was just trying to point out that it would be very difficult to do a full field test on 27 different packs. I think Roger is fairly thick skinned and he would not be bothered by the criticism.

    I have to agree that packs, shoes/boots are personal, I would also like to add stoves, tents, clothing, sleeping bags, rain gearand just about every thing else to do with backpacking.

    I will not get caught up in the US is best debate, I got well and truely crapped on when I started a debate on BPL about should BPL go metric, things got a bit heated and I was glad that I lived in Australia. Though quite a few members PM me to say they were embarassed that the US was the only developed country that was not metric.

    I have my views on Ul packs most of the Australians who critisize them have never even seen them though tried them, I have walked in very thick bush using a sil-nylon poncho and the poncho just slipped through with no problems, my LW marmont Precip jacket has held up well even though most of the experts who have never seen a precip told me that it would not last.

    I look forward to your Ultrahike review, my testing has been delayed as I have been a bit ill lately and recently I have been very busy doing some research for another stove article for BPL. I will start writing my pack review soon.

    1. Sorry to hear you are unwell. Hope you recover soon. I’ve not walked through bush so I’m not in a position to comment. I guess the real worry with UL packs is that many have mesh pockets on the outside which could snag. I’ve found the mesh on the Mariposa isn’t very robust. I should have something up on the Ultrahike in two weeks time when I get back from my next trip.

  7. Robin,

    Further to your pictures of your Ultrahike, it has sparked my interest in my Crux AK57 again. I stopped using it really since I got an Aarn Natural Balance about 1.5 years ago that I find very comfortable (and big enough to carry two people’s stuff for the West Highland Way;approx 17 kgs dropping down to 14 kgs; I think the U-flow feature on these Aarn packs that “links the lower ends of the shoulder straps together by a low-friction strip that slides freely through a slot in the bottom of the pack when the shoulders move up and down” seems to be one of the key things that make them comfortable). Anyway I have been playing with the Crux a bit and I have adjusted the slider downwards at the top of each shoulder strap that controls the load lifter pivot point. The shoulder strap seems to sit better on my shoulders consequently. I will probably try the sack again in this format next time I use it to see if comfort is improved. Do you have any views on the locating of the load lifter pivot points?

    I also note how you have tied your Scarp tent with a bungee running through what looks like a small webbing eyelet. On my Crux I have a problem with these webbing eyelets fraying (i.e. wearing through) very quickly when tying certain things on in a similar manner. The only thing that did not make them fray was a very smooth plastic washing line. I am not saying your Ultrahike will wear in the same manner but it might be worth you keeping a close watch on it.

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