ZPacks Blast 30 Backpack & Multipack

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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…
  3. 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…

UPDATE: 1-12-10 

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.

~Stick~

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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13 Responses to ZPacks Blast 30 Backpack & Multipack

  1. Martin Rye says:

    Still looks like a crisp packet. But a well made one. Really enjoying your gear posts and thoughts. Keep at it.

    Like

  2. Dave Jenkins says:

    I am stoked you are getting a Solo Plus. I have been seriously eyeballing that as my new shelter and I look forward to your run down.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Dave,

      I am not “getting” one…I have one! It is sitting here in my living room with a fresh coat of seam seal on it…getting it ready for a 4 day (3 night) hike this coming weekend. This will be my palace in the woods…err… mountains!

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • Dave Jenkins says:

      Outstanding! You use a large NeoAir right? I really want to see one of those in there with the rest of the gear. My biggest issue is if I want the plus floor or the twin. I look forward to your report!

      Like

    • Stick says:

      Dave,

      I actually use a regular, however, I believe that my buddy has a large. If so I will throw his in the tent this coming weekend and get some pics. (Actually, nix that…my buddy just called and said he wasn’t going to be able to make it… sorry).

      As far as which size ground sheet, I would say go with the Solo +. This thing gives me plenty of room for all of my gear but it also allows some room to cook under the tent on the ground if I want.

      May I suggest though the new Poncho/Solo+ ground sheet. I really wish I had noticed this before I ordered. I think it may be a great idea, even given my dislike for ponchos… If this one ever wears down and I decide to get another one I will probably get it.

      However, I also just received a Polycro ground sheet from Gossamer Gear. I will see how well I like that in there. I think it may be a great option, and lighter than the cuben, not too mention way less expensive…

      ~Stick~

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  3. bearchaser says:

    Excellent Stick. I’m betting the change to the shoulder strap connection is for comfort. By adding that strap it allows the shoulder straps to move & form to different body types, wider shoulders, narrow shoulders, what have you. The internal reinforced areas does look like the new Nylon Faced CF. I have the Exo pack Joe makes and it looks the same, seems to be very tuff stuff. The LineLocs I don’t know. Do you suppose by going with them and over buckles he actually came up with a lighter design? Would lightweight wire/string & a LineLoc be lighter than a buckle & nylon straps?

    Keep up the great work Stick, looking forward to how your pack holds up, & yes, Joe is a great person to deal with.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      bearchaser,

      That is a good point about the shoulder straps. Makes sense. However, I still wonder if this type of connection will prove to be less durable, as durable, or maybe even more durable as simply sewing the straps straight to the pack.

      I feel that it is pretty safe to assume that the reinforced areas are in fact made from the cuben/nylon hybrid material, however, without getting the word from Joe I did not want to imply that it was for sure. If it is I am sure that it is tough stuff, but it is also twice as heavy as cuben, at least by the specs on the ZPacks site. So, if this is fact, a small amount of weight could have been shaved here if cuben were used instead. I understand that the weight saved would be very minimal, but fact is, once people are buying packs like this, they are usually counting their weight in grams. So, in this light, some people may prefer cuben to be used to reinforce these areas rather than the other material. That is unless there has been serious issues with the cuben being used to reinforce these areas before. however, as far as I am concerned, it would have been nice to have the cuben in this area, but I am also fine with this other material. I just wanted to point it out so that others would realize it and be able to choose one or the other. That is the great thing about Joe, he will make most anything you need (within reason).

      As far as the LineLocs, if you will look closely, you will see a small webbing loop that is sewn into the pack between the pack and the mesh. On John’s pack, this small loop was all that there was, no LineLoc’s or buckles (and from what I understand, this is the way that John received it). However, on the new one, he placed the LineLoc 3. So, with this in mind, by adding the LineLoc’s he simply added weight. Of course something needs to be used to cinch the line down, so I assume that before these people either added something to the pack, or they simply used knots.

      Anyway, thanks for checking out the post and commenting.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  4. Joslyn says:

    Wow, talk about timing :). Great review and I’m looking forward to hearing how the trip goes and how all the new gear works!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Joslyn,

      I am still crossing my finger for a few things. Next week before Friday I am expecting the tent, an AGG sil rain jacket, a face mask, and my GG LT4 hiking poles. There may be a few other small things, but these are what I am really hoping for!

      As well, I am looking forward to the trip…it can’t get here soon enough, but I know it will pass by too quickly too…

      And let me know when your pack arrives. Like I said, it looks like the expected delivery date is Monday so it shouldn’t be long…

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting,

      ~Stick~

      Like

  5. Jesse says:

    Thanks for the video, great job.I appreciate the way you and John point out things I would never think to check. It definitely helps with my major purchase decisions and research. You guys are awesome. Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing. -jesse

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Thanks Jesse. I feel the same way as you do. Considering the very limited amount of possibilities to even get my hands on this stuff I very much enjoy and appreciate watching (or reading) other peoples reviews of gear. It is very helpful. In this case, I owe a huge thanks to John for allowign me to get to put my hands on this pack before ordering, and of course it allowed me to pick up on some small items I normally probably would not have thought about too. Anyway, thanks again! ~Stick~

      Like

  6. Hey Chad,

    These are some rather interesting changes on the part of ZPacks.

    They have been the leading company for the lightest of the lightest gear. Moving to things such as linelocs is a troubling change in their direction.

    Those shoulder strap connections are waaaaay different than any previous Blast backpack. I would be really interested in hearing from ZPacks why they decided to move away from direct CF to CF connections for the top of the shoulder straps.

    Very nice to see they have made the switch to s-shaped shoulder straps. Really helps out the ladies out there and makes it much more comfortable for us guys as well.

    From the video is looks like they stayed with the CF on CF connections for the hip-belts. That leads to even more questions about why they have switched to using a piece of nylon webbing to attach the shoulder straps.

    Anyway Stick, thanks for the video and thanks for the photos and the blog write up!

    I hope you totally enjoy your new ZPacks gear!! Even with the slight product changes, these ZPacks backpacks are top of the line gear!!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      John,

      I did feel like your pack was more “minimalistic” and mostly due to those LineLoc’s. Don’t get me wrong, I love those LineLocs, especially on shelters, but it didn’t feel right being on my pack. However, I will give them a chance simply because once removed they ain’t going back.

      If you hear anything about the reason behind the way the shoulder straps are attached I would be interested to hear it. Raul commented over on YouTube that he has loaded 27 lbs in his with the same design and it is still all good. So, maybe they will be ok. Also, I am hoping that 20 lbs will be my limit in this pack… 🙂

      Anyway, as always, thanks for watching and commenting.

      ~Stick~

      Like

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