I put it off as long as I could! I have hiked with 2 others that use the ZPacks Arc Blast backpack, and know a few others that use it too, and all they do is sing praises about it… I tried to hold off though, after all, my Blast 30 is still going strong. Heck, it performed beautifully on my longest hike yet, 7 days in the Olympic NP. But, despite this, the lure of this other beautiful pack pulled me in, and I ordered myself a new 60L Arc Blast…
As in all of my other past experiences, ordering from ZPacks was easy, and timely. Matt, Joe & even Sheryl was super helpful, and met all of my “needs.” When I ordered the pack I made 2 revision request to the stock pack. The first was to leave off the hydration port, which was simple enough. The second was a bit more of a stretch… I asked for the pack to be made in all green, rather than just the front & the sides green, and the back panel gray. Obviously, due to the size of the rolls of the different colors, the gray color works best for the back panel since it leaves less waste material. Despite this though, they were kind enough to grant me this request!
Other than this, I opted for the 60L version and added load lifters and one of the cool new lumbar pads to it. I chose the 60L pack since I plan to use this pack in place of my ULA Circuit, or my Blast 30 pack. The weight increase to go for the 60L pack was minimal when compared to the others (45L = 16 oz; 52L = 16.5 oz; 60L = 17 oz) and in this case, I didn’t mind having a little extra room despite the slight weight increase, just in case… As for the load lifters, I have been a fan of these with my other bigger, framed packs. And I added the extra lumbar pad with the hopes that it will make up for my lack of a butt… I have to cinch down the hip belt pretty tight to get all the weight transferred off my shoulders and onto my hips. I am hoping the lumbar pad will help with that some.
Besides this, I have also decided to try out one of the shoulder pouches from ZPacks, however, this decision is totally out of curiosity. To be completely honest, I love my DIY method of hanging my water bottles from my shoulder straps, but will also admit, sometimes they do get a little annoying hanging there. Not that this shoulder pouch will alleviate this by any means… it will still be hanging there. But, I am also debating using the shoulder pouch for things other than my water bottle… I dunno though, it is up in the air at this point. For the time though, I have installed some cord on one of the shoulder straps in order to carry one water bottle as usual.
I am also giving the fold-over hip belt pockets another chance. Some may recall in a recent post hike gear talk video I didn’t really express much love for these hip belt pockets. But, to be fair, I feel like if they were positioned more in the front of my body rather than at the sides, they would work better for me. I have found that the pockets do seem to be slightly more towards the front of my body when installed on my new Arc Blast pack than they did with my older Blast 30 pack. So, I will give them another shot.
The cool thing about this pack though, is its external frame, and the mesh back panel. The frame is made of 2 vertical, and 2 horizontal, thin, flat pieces of carbon fiber. Bing of carbon fiber, the material will allow the frame to flex a good deal, while still remaining strong, and of course being light weight. When tightened down, the carbon fiber frame will make the pack arc outwards. This creates a gap between the mesh back panel, and the pack itself, which will allow a least a little bit of air flow, which in turn will (hopefully) help to keep my back from being so sweaty. As well, I imagine that the mesh back panel should be rather comfortable on my back… I shall soon find out…
Another thing that I personally find is nice about this pack is that it is fully taped. Between this and the roll top closure on the pack, I figure that it is a very water-resistant pack. However, I don’t know if I would call it a 100% “waterproof” backpack. I will still opt to use one of the LiteTrail NyloBarrier Pack Liners inside the backpack to keep my down items in. This may be overkill, but, at only 1 oz for the pack liner, and the fact that when I am using this pack it will be cold outside, I am again ok taking the slight weight penalty to ensure that I have a dry quilt/bag and some clothes to put on once I get to camp, or in case I need them.
All in all, I am pretty excited about this pack. The quality is as expected, which is top-notch. I cannot find any crooked seams, or any loose stitching. The taping on the inside of the pack is all straight and even, and looks to be bonded well. The one thing I might consider changing though is to round the corners on the tape. Rounded corners don’t seem to get caught and start to peel as easily as squared corners, however, I know that this will take a bit more work up front. But, since I plan to use a pack liner inside the pack, this should keep items from rubbing directly against the corners of the tape, so I don’t imagine it will be much of an issue.
And while I haven’t loaded it up and took it out for a spin just yet, I have worn it around the house with everything loaded up inside it… and it feels great. The weight really does seem to transfer to my hips rather well, and the mesh back panel is comfortable against my back. However, I will see how this does better once I take it out for a hike later…
So, weight… as I said, the 60L pack is listed at 17 oz. The hip belt pockets are listed at 0.75 oz each, the shoulder pouch is listed at 0.5 oz, the load lifter straps are listed at 0.2 oz and the lumbar pad is listed at 0.6 oz. This comes to a total listed weight of 19.8 oz. I have also added the short pieces of cord to attach my water bottles to my shoulder straps, which I would imagine is an additional 0.1 oz. This should put the total weight up to about 19.9 oz. However, when I set the pack on my scales, the total weight with all of the above comes to 20.6 oz (or 584 g). This makes this pack my heaviest pack by far (aside from my Circuit), however, for the volume, and the fact that it should carry “loads up to 30 lbs” (comfortably, I would imagine), then I am ok with it. To be honest though, I don’t know if I will ever load it up with 30 lbs though… even in the cold and with my wife or son since those trips won’t be more than 5 days at the most…
So, I think that wraps it up for now. For those of you that would rather watch what I have just said, you can check out the video below:
Also, here is another video I shot that shows what a typical load (for me) might look like in this pack:
Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to comment or ask questions below.
Disclaimer: I paid the full price for this backpack with my own money. I am not affiliated with ZPacks, nor am I required to write about this backpack. The opinions expressed within this article (written & spoken) are based on my own personal opinion, after having handled this pack myself. As well, this is an out-of-the-box review, and not meant to reflect any actual long-term experience with the pack.