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  1. #1
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    Default Did you own an Arc Blast 55....

    then learned you didn't like it? If that describes you, what didn't you like about the pack? If you bought a different pack, what did you buy?

  2. #2
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Standing by. Will take notes.
    Wayne


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Deep in the East Texas Rainforest.
    "Lately it occurs to me What a long, strange trip it's been." Grateful Dead

  3. #3
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    Default

    I have a 55L. If I had to buy again I'd get a 60L. The extra breathing space would allow for easier closing. Hey, I'm lazy!

  4. #4
    MuddyWaters's Avatar
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    I have old style 52L
    far superior to new ones in my opinion for UL hikers

    But
    material is fragile....relatively easy to make holes in it
    Ive a number of repairs over ~1000 miles of use. Still excellent shape, but theres repairs.
    Some from bear can, some from stays of pack itself rubbing thru the cuben

    When the fabric is salty....porcupines seem to like it.

    When this one wears out...I wont get one of the 21oz behemoths peddled by zpacks today. Probably get custom from KS or Zimmer.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  5. #5
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    The pouches/sleeves where the flex arc frame was kept in place wore through. I've seen it happen on other folks Arc Blast packs. This has been amended. $375(w/ hip belt $325 + $45)cost was significant particularly in regard to years when I'm doing 3000 mixed miles some off trail, in abrasive conditions, etc. and I'm going through a $370 pack every 14-16 months. Ouch! I'll roll that money into a 300 mile hike. I might be able to stretch the use out of hip belt pockets a little longer. IMHO too many people look to buy a cuben hybrid pack thinking it's the most UL wt for it's volume. It's the cuben infatuation - Ferrari of gear - thing. I use my Arc Blast only keeping one in the pack line up for its features NOT the low wt. I have packs in a side by side comparison with like features in the same volume that weigh LESS. I use it on wet maintained trail hikes. It's my main winter pack for that reason when I expects slushy and white stuff. It's a good pack also for only occasional sporadic rain hikes in that I can avoid a liner or pack cover. I also like the mesh panel which helps keep the back less hot. Mesh on the ZPacks starts wearing holes and tears but that is not exclusive to a ZP pack.

    All this has to be taken into context of UL cottage gear companies like ZP doing an excellent job of living and breathing UL using the gear they make personally and always listening to customer feedback resulting in improved versions. It depends partly on the version one is referring. This should be dutifully noted in any opinions proffered.

  6. #6
    MuddyWaters's Avatar
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    Only reason for a cuben pack...is the added water resistance.
    My important stuff (insulation) is in a liner in the bottom
    but other things like fleece, windshirt, raingear, tarp, maybe groundsheet or inner, battery, stove etc are not in that liner
    and its nice to have them stay dry for the most part too
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  7. #7
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    X-PAC products are waterproof. The materials dominate the bikepacking bag market. That says something about waterproof and durability qualities of the various X-Pac materials.
    Wayne


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    Deep in the East Texas Rainforest.
    "Lately it occurs to me What a long, strange trip it's been." Grateful Dead

  8. #8
    GAME 06
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    I have an Arc Blast 55 with about 1500 miles on it

    I have mixed feelings about this pack.

    I use this pack in the southwest where long food and water carries are very common. So it is often not possible to keep the weight below 30 lbs and sometimes one has to temporarily go up to 35 lbs. My base weight is right at 12 lbs btw.

    Cons
    1. The hip belt is not very good. It hurts on high end loads. I have attached the padding from another Z-Pack hip belt to add cushioning but it still does not work. They need to switch to a hip belt like ULA has and I am going this winter to cut apart one of their belts and sew their pack attachment onto a Ohm hip belt and then put it on the Z-Pack and see how that works.
    2. Wear is pretty poor but everyone expects that. It will not be waterproof for long. I had patches on wear holes in behind the belt after 400 miles.
    3. To get great ventilation you bow the frame as Z-Pack suggests. But if you want to carry a max load you do not want that bow there you want the pack to be flat to your back as it carries the load much better that way. I do not use the pack with much of a bow at all.
    4. Cost of course.
    5. Their shoulder strap pockets are poor. I got rid of them and put the bungy straps from my ULA pack on to hold water bottles instead.
    6. Hip belt pockets should be larger. I am fixing this with my ULA belt as it has larger pockets (a 2 fer).
    7. The mesh pocket on the back should be replaced with regular material with a bungy or drawcord closure as it is way toilet paper fragile.

    Pros
    1. An excellent simulation of a frame pack which has almost all the same performance as a real frame pack. And it weighs almost nothing.
    2. You can fit a full size bear canister inside it which is really nice.

    Overall I like the pack and once I have it modified to meet AZT/PCT like conditions it will be perfect I think. As it comes it is fine for the AT but somewhat wanting for more demanding conditions found on western trails or in the desert.

    There is no such thing as a perfect pack so ymmv as compared to what I need or want.

  9. #9

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    Watching as well, it looks like a lightweight Exos. I'm very keen on picking one up as I need a pack that can go 30+ lbs.
    Back to the Earth I screamed, and no one listened.
    Back to the Earth I lived, and they all followed.
    https://smokebeard.wordpress.com/about/

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllDownhillFromHere View Post
    Watching as well, it looks like a lightweight Exos. I'm very keen on picking one up as I need a pack that can go 30+ lbs.
    Not the pack for that heavy a load.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    I have old style 52L
    far superior to new ones in my opinion for UL hikers

    But
    material is fragile....relatively easy to make holes in it
    Ive a number of repairs over ~1000 miles of use. Still excellent shape, but theres repairs.
    Some from bear can, some from stays of pack itself rubbing thru the cuben

    When the fabric is salty....porcupines seem to like it.

    When this one wears out...I wont get one of the 21oz behemoths peddled by zpacks today. Probably get custom from KS or Zimmer.
    Yeah they adding features as standard that use to be optional.

    Does anyone remember the Exo? Not the Osprey Exos, but the ZPacks Exo. This was the forerunner to the Arc Blast. It was the same 52 L pack, but used a carbon tubular frame, a sewn in hip belt, no back mesh panel, and no load lifters. The thing weighed 14 ounces. I absolutely loved that pack - and I still use it, completing my AT hike with it last summer.

    What turned me off is when they added load lifters as standard. Not needed.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maineiac64 View Post
    Not the pack for that heavy a load.
    Not sure if trolling or criticizing.
    "The material and design can handle loads up to 35 lbs (16 kg)."
    Back to the Earth I screamed, and no one listened.
    Back to the Earth I lived, and they all followed.
    https://smokebeard.wordpress.com/about/

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllDownhillFromHere View Post
    Not sure if trolling or criticizing.
    "The material and design can handle loads up to 35 lbs (16 kg)."
    Was attempting to be helpful. IMO, the arc blast is not a good option if you are regularly carrying above 30lbs, despite the zpacks marketing language. The arc haul would be better but even then I would look at different pack options.

  14. #14

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    I had a buddy thru hiking, walked with him thru the smokies and his complaint was that no matter what he could not get the straps to stay tight, they would loosen many times during the day. He finally just tied them together when he started walking for the day. Now this is not a remark on the 55L but the zpacks backpack lineup in general, that you may have this issue. I ignored this experience when I bought my 55L blast, but can not give any personal experience in if I like it yet or not. I do know that it will have to be a 3 season pack for me bc I cant fit my winter load out into it. I expected this when buying, and I don't do any serious hiking in the winter anyway so that is not a concern for me.

  15. #15

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    But not the seams.

  16. #16
    GAME 06
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maineiac64 View Post
    Was attempting to be helpful. IMO, the arc blast is not a good option if you are regularly carrying above 30lbs, despite the zpacks marketing language. The arc haul would be better but even then I would look at different pack options.
    This issue is perhaps definitional.

    The pack design itself will carry even 40 lbs reliably (meaning the pack will not break). But would one rate it for that.

    In my experience of very often carrying 30-near 40 lbs in it I would say your answer on max capacity depends on your own body. For me it is this.

    When one hits 30lbs and carries this amount for a long period of time (2 plus days say) the hip belt hurts. If you go to 35 lbs it will hurt in 1 day and if you go higher it hurts basically immediately. If you carry higher loads very frequently for an extended period of time (weeks) I found not only was the belt very painful all day long I eventually went numb on my right side underneath the hip belt. It hurts where it wraps around the side of ones hip bones and the metal strap in the hip belt, which attaches it to the frame, also rubs my back.

    To deal with this I cut the hip belt pad from another Z-pack hip belt and sewed it inside the other belt. So double thickness. It was not enough to prevent pain from building up at the higher weights.
    There is no reason for this hip belt design as there are a host of packs with comfortable hip belts that do not cause pain at similar weights. The hip belt pad design is just inadequate.

    Now there are certainly some folks who most likely could wear this pack at the weights I have carried and not have pain. Just like some folks can walk on sharp rocks in light trail runners and not have issues.

    All Zpack would have to do is modify their pad design to one similar that that found on many different packs and I expect the problem would be fixed. But it might weigh and oz or 2 more (BFD). There is a weight/performance trade off with everything and this is the problem here. When the weight criteria is item 1 thru 5 on the design sheet then you end up with a worse product due to forgetting actual performance. This is just like the trade off in light shoes in that the very lightest result in a lot more injuries and pain and in the long run make you slower and allow for less time hiking.

    If there were a pack design like the Arcblast with a good hip belt I would switch to that. But there isn't that I am aware of. So I have to modify the pack by mounting a good hip belt from another pack on it. Which is what I am going to do soon. The effort to attempt to be very light does not always result in a better hike of course and I might just be better off on hikes where one needs to carry bigger loads with a heavier built pack.

    But I can see the solution to this is so simple that I do not understand why Zpack is not more flexible in fixing this. A heavier hipbelt option would not require hardly any effort on their part and one could order up one if needed and switch to the lighter hipbelt for hikes which did not require heavy loads.

    Gambit: Re the straps not staying tight. If you mean the ones which tension the frame I have had the same problem. A few times the pack frame actually came apart they got so loose. I finally got serious about the kind of knots being used and this solved the problem.

  17. #17
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    I recently ordered an ArcBlast 55 but I am sending it back. The main reason is because I had difficulty placing my Bearikade 12" in the ArcBlast in such a way that it rode well. In my ULA Circuit, I place the canister about midway into the pack so the weight is centered on my back. In the ArcBlast, you really can't push the canister much below the middle frame support. If you do, you will be unable to achieve a good "arc" based on my testing. As a result, the canister must ride higher than I am used to in the Circuit which throws the weight distribution off, for me. I feel like a smaller canister, like the Bearikade Scout, could work in this pack. Or if someone wanted to have a food bag in the pack and the (empty) canister strapped on top of the pack, that too could work. But neither solution appeals to me.

    My overall impression is that this pack is extremely well made (like all zPacks gear) and I test loaded it with a typical AT load (without bear canister) and it rides well in my limited indoor testing. But my pack's configuration cost $380 and I wanted a pack that I could use in the Sierra Nevada with my 12" Bearikade and my ULA Circuit handles that task with ease. Given that I try to get out to the Sierra at least once per year, a lot of my hiking requires a canister.

    So for me, for now, my zPacks line up will be shelter and sleeping bag, but my pack will remain the ULA Circuit for longer hauls and with canister, and ULA CDT for shorter/lighter trips.

  18. #18
    GAME 06
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    Coffee

    I carry a full size bear canister in my Arcblast.

    I let the bend out of the pack anyway but this might be the difference for you. The pack carries loads much better when there is no big bend in it so I always keep it as flat as I can pretty much. Not as much airflow but that is a secondary feature anyway. Load carrying comfort is feature number 1.

    When I drop the bear canister in I put in in vertically not sideways. I fill the pack with a base of stuff up to a point where when I put the canister in the top will barely close. Then the canister goes in and my remaining stuff gets packed around the sides of it. Works fine.

  19. #19
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    I can definitely get my canister into the pack (I also put it in vertically) and it slid past the middle cross bar fine when the arc is not flexed. It's only when I try to flex it that I notice the issue. I assumed that flexing the arc was a key step to getting the pack to carry as designed and I never tried it without the arc. Maybe I should have. But all things considered I think that I'm sticking with the tried and true circuit this year and putting my money toward a new zpacks shelter instead to replace my old hexamid.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coffee View Post
    I can definitely get my canister into the pack (I also put it in vertically) and it slid past the middle cross bar fine when the arc is not flexed. It's only when I try to flex it that I notice the issue. I assumed that flexing the arc was a key step to getting the pack to carry as designed and I never tried it without the arc. Maybe I should have. But all things considered I think that I'm sticking with the tried and true circuit this year and putting my money toward a new zpacks shelter instead to replace my old hexamid.
    This is exactly the kind of info I'm looking for! I was ready to pull the trigger on it, but I'll hold off. My rusty-trusty Exos58 will live to see another day.
    Back to the Earth I screamed, and no one listened.
    Back to the Earth I lived, and they all followed.
    https://smokebeard.wordpress.com/about/

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