ZPacks Multi-Pack

ZPacks Multi-Pack (Closed)The ZPacks Multi-Pack has been, for over four years, one of my most beloved pieces of gear – I have used my original one for well over 5,000 miles of hiking – and have bought and use others for use around town, as a BOB that stays in my truck, and on vacations to keep all kinds of stuff in. It has been, without a doubt, the most versatile and used piece of gear that I have used in my years of hiking.

The very first Multi-Pack was made way back in February of 2011. After sending Joe Valesko a little sketch of what I was after – what I called, looking back in my emails, a “chest bag for water bottles” – and asking if he would be willing to make me one,  he ran with the idea, and as memory serves, his wife got involved and offered the idea to include three clips on each side (I only thought of having one, having three was a brilliant idea!) so it could be used in a much broader and more versatile manner. A short time later the first “Multi-Pack” was made and shipped my way. It soon thereafter made it onto the ZPacks website and has remained pretty much the same ever since – proof that our original design was a pretty dang good one, eh!

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ZPacks Arc Haul Zip

ZPacks Arc Haul Zip + ZPacks Duplex

The ZPacks Arc Haul Zip, the latest backpack to be released by ZPacks, is a full featured backpack for those looking for the ability to carry a heavier load than the ZPacks Arc Zip.

If you are not familiar with the “Zip” backpack from ZPacks, I recommend reading my ZPacks Arc Zip review of this great front panel loader, it will go into detail of all of the features of the Zip, along with some of the history of the three years I spent developing the Zip, now being manufactured by ZPacks.

The “Haul” came about, as I understand it, as a result of ZPacks getting a lot of feedback from long distance hikers about the desire to carry heavier loads (thus the name “Haul”) for those longer stretches between resupply towns. The Haul increased the load capability of the standard Arc Zip from 30 lbs (14 kg) up to 40 lbs (18 kg).

It accomplished this through a number of ways:

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ZPacks Zip Pouches, Two Year Usage Review

ZPacks Zip Pouch
ZPacks Zip Pouch

Update: Please see my 2000+ days update of this article!

I think it was in early 2013 that ZPacks introduced a set of neat little zippered pouches designed to hold things, such as glasses, passports, wallet content, and so forth. I ordered a few and over the last two years have used most of them at one time or another – and have used one of them every day as my primary wallet.

I did not expect for it to become my daily wallet, but over time it just proved to be the perfect size and meet the requirements I obviously wanted, but did not know I wanted, in an enclosed wallet – my first enclosed wallet in my life.

Earlier this year I upgraded to an iPhone 6 Plus and it does not fit into the ZPacks Pouch I have been using – my iPhone 5 did fit – and now, thankfully, ZPacks has released a new zippered pouch called the ‘ZPacks, Phablet Zip Pouch‘ which is suppose to fit an iPhone6+, so I just bought one of those. I just hope that it is big enough as I have a Mophie iPhone 6 Plus Juice Pack attached to my iPhone6+

Ok… seriously, how much can be said about a zippered pouch? Some I suppose could say a lot, but I am not one of them, so, moving on, here are some photos of the pouch I have used for around 800 days, to show how amazingly well it has held up, both out on the trail and at home / around town.

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ZPacks Duplex Tent

ZPacks Duplex - Redbeard (AT - Island Pond Mountain NY)
ZPacks Duplex on the AT (Island Pond Mountain, NY) Photograph courtesy Will (Redbeard) Wood

Greetings All,

Time to talk about the ZPacks Duplex Tent.

In September of 2013 ZPacks introduced the “Duplex“, a 2-person version of their 1-person “SolPlex(now the Plexamid) shelter. It has since gone on to be used by multiple thru-hikers and has gained some serious love by hikers around the world. I finally saved up the cash to buy a Duplex and have been exclusively using it ever since.

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ZPacks Carbon Fiber Staff

ZPacks Carbon Fiber Staff & wearing the ZPacks Challenger Rain Jacket
ZPacks Carbon Fiber Staff & wearing the ZPacks Challenger Rain Jacket

Greetings all,

Today I would like to share my thoughts on the ZPacks Carbon Fiber Staff.

I, like I suspect a fair number of people, have been through a number of hiking poles over the years. I think my first pair of hiking poles was the GGLT4’s. They caused me too much frustration, so I switched to the Komperdell Vario 4 poles. They were too flimsy so I switched to the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork poles. They are really heavy but they are the best trekking poles I have ever encountered. Along the way I tried switching away from using poles, and back to using them, and back to not using them.

I know some hikers that have to use them. I know other hikers that cannot use them. I know hikers that swear they refuse to hit the trail without them, and hikers that have hiked tens of thousands of miles and never used them. In the world of hiking they really are a HYOH piece of gear.

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ZPacks Rain Jacket, Challenger Version

ZPacks Challenger Rain Jacket
ZPacks Challenger Rain Jacket

ZPacks Rain Jacket, Challenger Version:

In mid 2014 ZPacks updated their rain jacket to use a new combination of fabrics: a layer of eVent on the inside, a layer of spectra (CF) in the middle, and a layer of nylon on the outside.

I have written more about this jacket than anybody else so I have gotten a lot of people asking me thoughts about this new version,  called the “Challenger“. If you want a lot of backstory on this rain jacket you can read my original post, my thoughts after using it for a few months, my thoughts after using it for over a year, my full review of the last version, and my post going into detail of the fabric being used.

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ZPacks “Arc Zip” Backpack

ZPacks "Arc Zip" Backpack
ZPacks “Arc Zip” Backpack

Greetings Hikers,

Very happy to share the news that ZPacks has released the “Arc Zip” backpack, which has been a collaborated design involving myself and Joe Valesko, the owner of ZPacks, since I initially approached him with the idea of working together to build a front panel cuben fiber backpack, back in September of 2012.

The “Arc Zip” is a fully featured backpack that utilizes an old fashion front panel loading design. Simply put, it was time to bring an old school design into the world of new school fabric and modern day lightweight backpacks!

The “Arc Zip” is being offered in three different volume sizes:

A 47L (2,850 cubic inches) weighing only 19.0 ounces (539 grams).

A 54L (3,300 cubic inches) weighing only 19.5 ounces (553 grams).

A 62L (3,800 cubic inches) weighing only 20 ounces (567 grams).

The Arc Zip features a traditional full-U shaped zipper making up the front panel loading pocket. Sitting on top of the front panel is a high volume ‘front pocket’ that is solid fabric giving it a very clean look. Designed without a roll top closure, it uses a top compression system that allows you to compress down the top of your pack as you eat through your food or if you just do not need the extra volume. It features two internal compression straps to help keep your gear in place and give the pack extra durability for those times when you have to carry a lot of gear.

The Arc Zip, like all of the Arc backpacks designed by ZPacks, includes the Patent Pending Flexed Arc carbon fiber frame, solid fabric side pockets (5 Liters / 300 cubic inches), side compression straps, top and bottom straps, hydration ports.

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ZPacks Rain Jacket

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Hiker, and author John Abela, wearing the ZPacks Rain jacket in the Redwoods of Northern California. On this hike, a sub-24-hour hike, in temperatures in the low 40’s(f) I wore the jacket all day long as a thermal layer to help keep the chill off.

Greetings hikers, adventure racers, alpinists, runners, and all other outdoor enthusiasts.

The time has arrived for me to review the latest version of the ZPacks Rain jacket. If you have not yet read my reviews of the previous generation of this jacket and would like to do so you can read my initial review, my 2-month use review, and my 1-year review.

In July of 2013 the company that makes the fabric that the ZPacks Rain jacket uses made a change to their manufacturing process which resulted in a massive increase of MVTR of the fabric.  I would encourage you to read this article that I wrote on the changes made to the fabric. Suffice to say, the jacket went from a rated 20,000-25,000 g/m2/24hrs range up to a range of 40,000-41,000 g/m2/24hrs. These are based on the JIS L 1099 testing method.

Such a drastic change in breathability of the fabric has changed the way that this jacket performs. It also places this jacket up in the highest rated MVTR of any rain jacket on the market. It would be foolish of anybody to dismiss this jacket as a legitimate rain jacket simply because it has the “cuben fiber” fabric associated with it.

Now I often hear a lot of outdoor folks say “there is no such thing as a breathable jacket“. Let us just be clear here, what they really mean is “when you really start working up a sweat, a rain jacket causes you to sweat more“.

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Does the ZPacks Arc Blast Have A Place In A Sub 5 Pound (2.2 kilo) Setup?

A ZPacks Arc Blast fully loaded for the winter hiking season.
A ZPacks Arc Blast fully loaded for the winter hiking season.

Greetings Hikers,

I got asked a question earlier today on my hikelighter facebook page asking what I thought about using the ZPacks Arc Blast (see my review here) in a sub-5 pound BPW setup.

It was a really good question and one I have thought about often myself so I welcomed answering the question to get my own thoughts typed out.

Here is what I responded with, posted here in an article format, for all of my readers to be able to read and share thoughts on.

My Response:

Well, as you know, weight does not always define bulk space (cubic inches/liter volume) so to answer the question on a purely numerical perspective, I would say the answer to your question could be “Yes”.

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ZPacks Arc Blast Backpack

Author and hiker, John Abela, wearing a ZPacks Arc Blast backpack.
Author and hiker, John Abela, wearing a ZPacks Arc Blast backpack.

Greetings Hikers, Runners, Alpinists, Adventure Racers, And Other Outdoor Fans!

Does your list-wish for a backpack include an external support frame, high volume capacities, super  tough fabric, and be sub 20 ounces (566 grams)?

If so, the ZPacks Arc Blast backpack is going to be the backpack that you will want at the top of your list.

The “Arc Blast” from ZPacks LLC, based out of Florida USA, features a flat carbon fiber support system, three different volume capacities (45 Liters up to 60 liters [2,750 – 3650 cubic inches]), is made from a cuben fiber and nylon fabric, and starts off at a meer 454 grams (16 ounces) on the scale!

Two hiking seasons have passed, since the Arc Blast was released and it has been great to start seeing some reviews show up on the internet about this backpack, including an excellent write-up by Keith “Fozzie” Foskett, and I figured it was about time for me to write up my thoughts on this backpack.

I purchased my first Arc Blast in November of 2012. I have since ordered a second one with a few extra features, and even sent my second one back for some additional modifications – one of the truly great aspects of ZPacks LLC – and the Arc Blast has, unquestionably, become my go-to backpack when I need a pack with a lot of volume. As I head into the winter hiking season the Arc Blast will be the only backpack I will be using due to the need for extra room for a winter sleeping bag and winter garments.

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