The time has come…yet again…to try and find another pack that will work for my smaller collection of gear. Over the past few months I have been eyeballing the ZPack’s Blasts packs, but have been waiting on the $$$ to get one. Then, just as the time is drawing near, John Abela from Redwood Outdoors sent me his to check out! And boy am I glad he did! Now I can actually put my hands on a Blast pack and get a feel for what it is all about (as well as what I want in it) before I decide to drop my hard-earned $$$ on this sweet little pack.
Rewind just a bit…
Quite a few months ago I had decided that my gear was not filling the void of my ULA Circuit, so I purchased another pack that would be more appropriately sized. The pack I picked up was the Six Moon Design Swift. However, with this pack I was a bit disappointed…at a stripped down weight of 15 oz I managed to save almost a pound and a half off of the weight of my ULA Circuit, but the kicker is that the Swift is almost the same size as my Circuit! Now don’t get me wrong, the SMD Swift is a great pack, but considering the size, it intruded upon my (already loved) Circuit’s turf.
So, since then I have been putting more thought into the next pack that I get so that I don’t make the same mistake again. I knew that I was going to order one of the ZPacks Blast packs sometime after the new year, but (happily) my wife is letting me get it just a little sooner. So, this was perfect timing on John’s part when he sent his Blast pack. Since I received this pack I have loaded it down multiple times. I have tried different packing strategies and I finally feel like I have one down that works for me with this pack. Also, I have been able to check out the sizing of the shoulder straps and hip belts and can make a more educated guess on what I will need in the pack I order, rather than ordering blindly!
Probably the best outcome from John sending me this pack is that I realized what size pack I needed to go with. I think that when I bought the Swift, I got scared that most “UL” (or frame-less packs are going to be rather huge, or quite tiny. Before John sent this pack, I was sold on the ZPacks Blast 22 because I wanted the smallest size Blast pack. After loading up his 30 (previously the 26) I realized that the 30 may be what I need rather than the 22…
I can get all of my “winter” gear in the Blast 30 and still have room for plenty of food. Loading it up last night with items that I would take on a solo hike I came to 14.5 pounds with everything except food so I feel like I am in the acceptable weight range for this pack as well. All else that would be added would be extra (alcohol) fuel, and whatever food I carried. (For a detailed list of what I consider “winter” gear in my neck of the woods, complete with weights, click here: Gear List)
I made 2 videos last night in which I talk/question a lot about the features of this pack and how they will/may work with my particular body as well as gear choices. So, check them out and let me know what you think…
As can be seen in these videos, there are quite a few things that I am questioning, especially concerning fit. So, if you have any comments or concerns about the way this particular pack fits me, please comment. I am using this pack to determine if I need to change anything about the pack I will be getting. Namely the torso height and the hip belt measurement.
But of course, there are a few other things that I am delving into, such as not going with hip belt pockets, and the extra top side pockets (which has been a feature I always knew I would get once I got one of these packs) in favor of the multipack, which I would use on my front side, like in my videos. This pouch would hold pretty much all of my gear that I would normally keep in the side/outer pockets on the pack. And why do you ask? It is all about balance. (Thanks John, and I am working on it… 🙂 )
So, at this very moment, here is what I am going with:
- ZPacks Blast 30 Cuben Fiber Backpack ~ White
- 50″ Hip Belt
- Middle Side Straps (Just in case)
- Roll top closure
- Multipack (Black ~ 1.24 cuben fiber ~ only 2 attachment points on top)
And that is it. I would like this pack to be as water tight as possible, so no hydration ports (thanks again John) and as few outside additions as necessary. I am debating seam sealing the pack, or just using dry sacks for my clothing items. I will have to mull that over throughout this week…
So now here is my very own 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, listed below 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.