|I don't want to look like this!|
I have three choices. My goals are to be able to keep up a moderate pace unburdened by too much weight, be comfortable, and to be able to organize my gear so I don't have to dump out the whole pack to find something (most likely, we will be in rain a lot of the time).
Exhibit A, The Heavy Hauler.
It's a Deuter ACT 65 Lite, the heaviest of the bunch. 3 lbs, 14 oz. 3900 cubic inches.
Pros: Comfortable. Sleeping bag compartment and two top pockets to keep gear separate. Tested on JMT so I know it works. The old style of pack, made for backpacking in all situations.
Cons: May be overkill for this hike, since I'm not carrying a bear canister--kind of big and difficult to carry as a day pack should the occasion arise to do some wandering from camp. Heavier than the others by far. If full, the top part can hit annoyingly on my head, forcing it down and causing neck strain. No external pocket for wet gear.
Exhibit B, the Ultralight Pack. 3100 cubic inches. 1 pound 7 oz.
This is a Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus Full Suspension.
Pros: So lightweight! Love the mesh outside pocket for wet gear. The time I've taken it out, with the same gear I will be taking minus extra food, toiletries and first aid, my entire load weighed 20 pounds. Has an inflatable sit pad that acts as a frame, which can be used as a pillow, sit pad at camp, etc. Good design, seems comfortable.
Cons: Largely untested on a long trip. Possible volume concerns with a week's worth of food. Unsure of comfort if going over 25 lbs. Probably will have stuff lashed to it, which isn't always a good thing. Sleeping bag in with rest of gear.
Exhibit C, the Medium Pack. Granite Gear Vapor Ki, 3600 cubic inches, 2 lbs 5 oz.
Pros: Moderately light; lighter than A. Like the two side pockets for sorting gear. Have used it and know it works, though not on a long trip. Short and compact.
Cons: Not as comfortable as A. Side pockets can be difficult to fill if the rest of the pack is full. Not sure about volume for seven days of food, but probably more volume than B. No external mesh pocket for wet gear. Sleeping bag in with rest of gear.
We will be hiking about 15 miles a day, sometimes more, and there really are very few bail-out points. I hope to have base weight (full pack without food and water) around 12 pounds, but it may be up to 15. On our longest leg without resupply, 100 miles, we will have about a week's worth of food.
The weight of the universe rests upon your answer! Vote now!