Vargo ‘ExoTi50’ Backpack (pre-release interview with vargo)

The Vargo Outdoors ‘ExoTi50’ backpack – a 50L external frame backpack — does “X” mark the spot for this second generation Vargo backpack??


Greetings Adventurers!

For the past year I have been using the Vargo ‘Ti-Arc’ Backpack, an exceptionally lightweight external frame backpack, and the first backpack from Vargo Outdoors.

A few weeks ago Vargo presented their second generation of the backpack, being called the ‘ExoTi50‘.

Very little has been known about the ExoTi50, outside of a couple of folks who took pictures of it at the OR event in SLC, which I was not able to attend.

Being a huge fan/user of the Ti-Arc, and being sponsored by Vargo Outdoors, I figured I would contact them to see if I could find out some additional on this next generation backpack.

If you have not already read it, it might be good to first meander over and read my review on the Ti-Arc, so you can fully understand some of the logic/reasoning behind some of the changes in this second generation backpack, and why I make a big, or not so big deal, out of the different changes in this next generation backpack.

Going to present the rest of this article in two different sections: first will be an interview/q&a between myself and Vargo, and second will be my thoughts on the changes to this second generation backpack.


Ok, let’s just move right into the Q&A…


Question: So starting off, what have been the main points, the highlights, the things you really wanted to target in this second generation of the Vargo backpack?

Answer: The main principles behind the current backpacks (Ti-Arc) and new one (ExoTi50) is that we wanted to provide more support, increase the efficiency that the frame transfers weight to the hips and the lumbar support plate, increase the pack volume size, and make changes to frame. Our goal was to bridge the gap between a backpack that maximized support, via an external frame, while minimizing weight.


Question: I have used the Ti-Arc for over a year. The load weight distribution of second to none, a directly result of having an external frame that does what it is suppose to do: distribute the weight of the pack to the hip belt and lumbar system. The Ti-Arc was already exceptional at this, so what changes, if any, have been made to the ExoTi50 that might affect the load weight distribution of the ExoTi50?

Answer: The lumbar support plate, we think, is the key to the pack as the frame efficiently transfers the weight to the hips and the lumbar support plate transfers that to the sweet spot on your lumbar. That makes, as you know, for an incredibly comfortable and efficient carry. We softened up the shoulder straps and hip belt to make them more comfortable. We also removed the arc bar from the top of the frame, developed a load lifting compression strap system that directly attaches the pack to the frame that, when tightened, reduces the pack volume and lifts the load up to the top of the frame for better load transfer.


Question: What changes have been made to the frame of the ExoTi50? As you know, I have said from day-one of using the Ti-Arc that the curved frame on the bottom and the top point needed to get whacked off. Were you able to make those changes to the ExoTi50?

Answer: Yes, we removed the bottom and top antennae of the frame. We also removed the arc bar from the top of the frame {which held up the bag} and the frame now has reinforcements in all four corners for higher load capacities and an all around stronger frame.


Question: As you know, I am always making a case to pack designers to give us extra padding on shoulder straps, to angle out the shoulder straps, and to make them wider. You mentioned you softened them up. Very good to hear. That was one of my complaints with the Ti-Arc. Anything else you have done to the shoulder strap system?

Answer: Yes, we have softened up the shoulder straps. We have also widened the neck yolk and lowered it a bit on the pack as we hear a lot from hikers with shorter torso lengths wanting a shorter length pack. As previously mentioned, we also gave hip belt some extra padding.


Question: So what is going to be the max torso length for the ExoTi50?

Answer: We are still in final production of the backpack so do not have a solid answer for that at this time, but the upper range for this pack will probably be about 21-22″.


Question: The Ti-Arc has a recommended max load weight of 30 pounds and is 36L in pack volume. Given you have the “50” in the name “ExoTi50” does that mean it is going to be 50 liters in volume, or a max of 50 pounds load weight?

Answer: The pack volume for the ExoTi50 is going to be 50 liters/3051 cubic inches. We do not know the higher end load weight of the pack as we do not have the final version yet to begin testing. It should be close to the 50 lbs. mark, we just need to stress test the fabric and welds. So potentially the 50 will be both volume and maximum load capacity.


Question: The Ti-Arc hits the scale at 2 lbs. 6 oz, so curious what the total pack weight for the ExoTi50 pack is going to be?

Answer: The current (prototype) is 2 lbs. 12 oz. The Titanium frame is lighter. The bag is now full length, with more durable fabric, and full of standard pack features, which has increased the weight of the pack.


Question: What are the dimensions for the ExoTi50?

Answer: The frame is 13.75″ wide and 24.25″ long


Question: The Ti-Arc is available in both cuben fiber and non-cf, so wondering if the ExoTi50 be available in both?

Answer: No, the ExoTi50 will be available in a nylon bag. Future bag types (e.g. roll top closure bag, different colors, different fabrics, etc.) may be offered after the initial ExoTi50 launch.


Question: Will the Ti-Arc packs (bags) fit onto the ExoTi50 frame?

Answer: No, to make the ExoTi50 more streamlined (and mainstream) we have removed the arc bar and the top and bottom stopper bars/antennae pieces of the frame, which the Ti-Arc bags attach too.


Question: Are you able to share the price for the ExoTi50?

Answer: Yes, the price for the ExoTi50 will be $299.95


Question: Briefly talked about the torso height already, anything else you can share about this regarding the ExoTi50?

Answer: It will be similar to the Ti-Arc, but will accommodate shorter torso lengths. Because the pack fits differently than normal packs, torso lengths are not exact. We have heard from those with shorter torso lengths wanting a shorter length pack so the upper range for this pack will be about 21-22″.


Question: One of the truly unique aspects of the Ti-Arc is the 3/4 length bag, allowing for a pad, tent, bear canister, or such, to be attached below the bag. For those who love this approach, are you going to keep selling the Ti-Arc backpack?

Answer: Yes, we will continue to sell the Ti-Arc packs. We will be updating the frame and bags a bit (removing the bends, changing bag colors, etc.).


Question: When is the new ExoTi50 going to be available to purchase?

Answer: Early 2017


Question: ok, last question… you know that I am a huge fan of front panel loader backpacks. Next to the ‘antennae’ issues of the Ti-Arc frame, my second biggest complaint of the Ti-Arc was the crazy short zippers on the FPL panel. Is the ExoTi50 going to continue to be a FPL pack, and if so, is the zipper going to get any longer?

Answer: The front zipper is gone. The ExoTi50 is a top loading cinch bag with floating lid on top.


My Thoughts Regarding Changes:

Well hopefully the above Q&A is going to answer the vast majority of questions you might have about this second generation backpack from Vargo. As has been stated, Vargo is still in final development stages at this point (August 2016) and it has not apparently gone into manufacturing yet, so we have to give them a big “thanks” for being willing to share such details on a product not yet being produced.

A couple, hiking the PCT, taking advantage of the design to carry bear canisters!

Regarding the change from a 3/4 to full size bag. I can totally understand this change. Most people I have talked too while wearing (and those who have seen my video/articles on the Ti-Arc) are just baffled why the bag does not go all the way down. A simple explanation that the frame/bag is designed to allow you to carry a bear canister, or to attach your food bag, sleeping pad, or large volume tent, outside and below the bag, directly onto the frame, and they, than, totally understand the concept/approach. I personally love the approach/idea, but I also understand it goes against the conventional modern day approach of backpacks, and such things probably result in lost sales, and that forces a company to change designs.

Regarding the changes to the titanium frame: weeeeehooo!!!! No more ‘antennae’ sticking out! That, seriously, is my #1 biggest issue with the Ti-Arc. It is really nice to hear they will be bringing to market a new Ti-Arc frame, very much plan on getting one of them, as I still love my 3/4 Ti-Arc pack!

Regarding no more cuben fiber: Honestly, good. I really do think that a backpack of this size (total volumes) and able to handle this much weight (projected 50 pounds!) should not be made with cuben fiber. Yeah the ability to have a highly water resistant pack is super nice, but that is what trash compactor bags are for.

Regarding the projected 50 max load weight: wowzer! The Ti-Arc is rated at 30 pounds. I have loaded mine with 32 pounds (massive amounts of water) and it road exceptionally well. Let us be honest though, gaining *20 pounds* to the max pack weight of a backpack is not an easy task. With the redesign of the harness system attached directly to the frame, and the more durable fabric of the bag, and the additional tie-out points of the bag to the frame, I can see how increasing the max weight is going to be achieved. Plus the extra padding for the shoulder straps and lumbar/hip belts… well, if they do pull off an extra 20 pounds of max load weight and hit that 50 pound mark, kudos to them! Either way, that is still more weight than I ever want to carry again.

Regarding the change to a Top Loader away from a FPL. Ahhh, bummer. But, I understand. The market is still not ready for FPL backpacks, despite my efforts.

Regarding the change from a 36L volume to 50L volume: Well in the end this pack is designed to be a heavy haul backpack – it is an external frame pack after all. I know many people questioned the need for an exoframe on a sub 40 liter backpack. Guess they neglected to take into account attaching a 2 pound bear canister and 10 or so pounds of food into it. From that perspective, it makes total sense, but humho. The 50L volume will fall more in line with the current market of the standard backpack.

Final Thoughts:

Well at this point I do not really have anything else to share. Once I find out more information about this backpack I will update this article. As soon as I am able to get some photos of the final production backpack I will get them posted within this article. Once I am able to get one of these backpacks, I will shoot a video of it and get it posted.

Thanks everybody,
+John Abela

Disclaimer: As of the time of this being published I am proudly sponsored by Vargo Outdoors. I typically buy all of the gear that I use, even when I am sponsored by a company, and I receive zero commission nor payments for any products that I (co)design and which companies manufacture. I do not work for anybody, or any company, within the outdoor industry. I am just a regular guy that uses gear and writes about it.

3 thoughts on “Vargo ‘ExoTi50’ Backpack (pre-release interview with vargo)

  1. I didn’t know that it was possible to make a pack with that many features at that low a weight. Kudo’s to them. I used to use a Camp Trails backpack with full aluminum external frame in another life and it would carry a lot of stuff but wasn’t very comfortable. But backpacks have come a long way. I don’t backpack as much as I’d like but when I do I want a pack that can carry the load and some type of frame is required and I’ve been pretty happy with my Arc Blast. That being said, I’m really interested to see where this all goes. Keep it up Vargo. Nice articles John.

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