The biggest problem with packs and bags is that the perfect bag, the one bag to rule them all, simply does not seem to exist. The sheer number of styles, shapes and sizes is almost endless and frankly pretty overwhelming. I, like many “outdoorsy” types, already own four bags, but needless to say, none of those seemed quite right for the challenge ahead. Yes, my plan to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail had provided the perfect justification for the purchase of yet another rucksack!
When searching for the perfect PCT pack, my two primary considerations were weight and comfort. Traipsing around with you world on your shoulders, day in day out, for over 5 months is no small undertaking. Also this thing needed to be big enough and sturdy enough to accommodate a week’s worth of food, the gallons of water required to see me safely through the desert sections and of course a bear canister for those highly perilous bear infested bits … (bears are currently my biggest fear, but that is a whole other story). As a personal preference, I also wanted something ultra adjustable so that I could dial the thing exactly into my irregular torso, which apparently falls “in-between” just about every regular sizing scale known to man and woman.
At this point, it might be worth mentioning that I already own a Lowe Alpine Airzone Trek+ 45:55, which is an absolutely fantastic pack and saw me safely around the Tour de Mont Blanc in 2013. However, tipping the scales at 1.66kg (59oz), I decided that it was just a little too heavy for the PCT. Thankfully there are a surprisingly large number of ultra lightweight packs to choose from. However, the problem with these amazing gravity defying bags (about the lightest I found was the ZPacks Arc Blast 60 at just a smidgen over 600g or 21oz) is that they all seem to sacrifice some degree of durability, comfort and those handy little features that us gear-heads simply can’t live without.
I was beginning to feel a lot like Goldilocks and the three bears (oh no, there they are again!) when I happened upon the Exped Womens’ Lightning 60. First off this little beauty comes in some sublime colours and, if I didn’t mention before, that was another of my primary considerations when selecting a pack. Add to that, it weighs a very acceptable 1.07kg (38oz), it has a female specific fully adjustable suspension system, a few really useful little features and of course enough capacity for the god damn bear thing!
Finally (on paper at least), I seem to have discovered PCT pack perfection. So I have taken the plunge, ordered this lovely temptress and when she arrives I will of course be posting an undoubtedly gushy first impressions review. How gushy I feel about her by the time I reach Canada … well that remains to be seen!