A few weeks ago I was able to put my hands on a ZPacks Blast 30 backpack thanks to John Abela from Redwood Outdoors, and more than likely because of this I ended up ordering one of these packs for myself. Then yesterday, the mail lady delivered a sweet piece of cuben fiber gear to my door…my very own ZPacks cuben fiber Blast 30 backpack as well as the cuben fiber Multipack!
As I mentioned in the video, there were some new features that I expected as well as some things that I wasn’t expecting.
Joe has been using a new design for the shoulder straps as well as the hip belt. The shoulder straps are now S-shaped and has a slightly more reinforced daisy chain. The hip belts are also wider and the padding extends out a bit farther than on the older design (which is great for me since it comes just a little past the bony part of my hips).
However, there are a few things that are not quite what I expected.
- The shoulder strap is not attached directly to the pack. Now the shoulder strap is attached to the pack via a nylon (?) strap. One end of the nylon (?) strap is sewn to the top of the shoulder strap and the other end of the nylon strap is then sewn to the pack. I am a bit curious as to how this method will hold up and will keep a close eye on it. Also, I have found that the shoulder strap will spin completely around with this new design which could lead to a little extra effort when pulling the pack on.
- Also, Joe is now installing the LineLoc 3’s to the attachment loops on each side of the front mesh pocket. Considering these only weigh like 0.017 oz/ea, 6 of these won’t add up to much…however, at this point every bit counts so I admit I found it odd that these were added. I can remove them, but to do so will destroy them so I have decided to use the pack for a while to see if they are worth it too me to keep them on…
- Joe is using something other than cuben to reinforce the hip and shoulder area inside the pack. If I were to guess, I would say that it is some of the cuben/nylon hybrid material, but I am not completely sure that that is what it is. I wonder how this material compares to using and extra piece of cuben, in terms of cost, weight and strength.
I have added some extras to the pack also. I added 2 pieces of Glowire to the side middle attachment points. I did this just-in-case I ever have to fill my 2L Platy because it will have to ride in one of the side pockets and I would need the side middle straps to help hold it in place. I also added 2 of the shock cord water bottle holders (from my ULA Circuit) to one of the Blast’s shoulder straps. I have come to really love carrying my water/drink on my shoulder strap, so I am happy to add the extra 0.4 oz to the pack for this application!
So, the backpack weighed in at 8.9 oz as delivered. The only additions at this point were the top side straps as well as 2 buckles attached to the bottom (unknown reason). I removed them from the pack and then came to a total weight of 8.5 oz. Then after adding my extras I ended up with 8.6 oz. At this point, I am pretty dang happy with that!
Also I decided to forgo hip belt pockets and extra side pockets in favor of the Multipack. The Multipack is basically a large pocket with 6 connection points so that it can be worn on the front of me, on the top of the pack (like a lid) or even as a fanny pack. However, when I ordered mine I opted to simply go with the top 2 connection points simply because I did not feel like I need the rest. I do not plan to use the Multipack as a pack lid and if I use it as a fanny pack the top connection points will work for that. But mainly, I plan to wear it on my front, attached to the shoulder straps. (Although, the Multipack came to me with all the connection points, but Joe told me that I can simply cut them off if I want…but I will give them a try first. Again, these cannot be put back on once removed.)
Anyway, the Multipack is made with the same 1.43 oz/sqyd cuben fiber as the pack is. By itself it weighs 1 oz. With the 2 straps to connect to the shoulder straps it weighs 1.4 oz. With these straps as well as the hip belt strap, it comes in at 2 oz even (although the hip belt strap will probably be left behind many more times than not).
All-in-all, I am pretty stoked about this set-up. And again, I want to thank John Abela for giving me the chance to put my hand on one before buying and of course Joe at ZPacks for making this awesome gear and getting it out to me in such a timely manner!
I will be heading out for a 4-day hike next week, and of course, this pack will be there with me. I plan to carry no more than 19 lbs total (and it is looking like it will be about 17 lbs total). Anyway, I will do some more video on this gear while on the trail so be on the watch out for more…as well as my new Hexamid Solo Plus tent that shipped out today…
Talking with Joe via email, he addressed the 3 things that I mentioned above as being unexpected. I asked for Joe’s permission to quote his response here, and he said yes. So, here is Joe’s quoted response:
1) The idea behind the webbing at the top of the shoulder straps is it allows the straps to turn easily to fit the angle of your shoulders. Also believe it or not I have seen the original cuben straps start to fray and tear at the top where the nylon is now, from the twisting and stress there (after alot of use). Let me know if you have any trouble with the new straps.2) I put the lineloc 3’s on the pack by default because some people decide to add extra side straps and base straps. Pliers would probably break the pastic pieces off without cutting off the loops if you want to remove them.3) The black reinforcements on the inside of the pack are made from 2.92 oz/sqyd hybrid cuben. Previously the normal cuben reinforcements were allowing the seams around the straps to stretch/shred in some cases. This material is stronger.
So thanks Joe for the explanation and for allowing me to put your response here!
Thanks for reading.