As an outdoor writer and photographer, I spend a lot of time on the trail. Long days with a fully-laden pack is part of my job so I am constantly looking for products which help me lighten the load, without a reduction in performance. Often one of the heaviest things a backpacker carries is the backpack itself and the differences in weights between products can be large. The very lightest packs are light because they incorporate the lightest products available and these are pared down to the bare minimum. Very light materials tend to be very thin. And very thin material is often not very durable.
The holy grail of backpacks is therefore one that is light and durable and still performs well. I have used a lot of packs over the years and have never found the very lightest packs to be very good. Sometimes the straps are too flimsy to be comfortable. Sometimes the material just does not last very long. Well the Zpacks Arc Blast 55 has changed everything for me.
Over here in Europe, I had been hearing great things about Zpacks, a US manufacturer, for a few years now. So, I was very keen to get my hands on one of the packs. I chose the Zpacks Arc Blast 55 which has a good reputation in the US as an ultralight option for multi-day treks. Normally, I travel long-distance trails with a 45-litre pack which requires very careful packing to ensure that overnight gear and food fit in. The Arc Blast 55 would give me a little more space and yet at 569g it was still much lighter than 45-50 litre packs from other manufacturers.
The Arc Blast 55 is now my ‘go-to’ pack for long-distance treks. It is easily the lightest pack that I have ever used. In fact, it is almost unbelievably light. Yet I found it to be stable, durable and very comfortable. Unlike most other packs, it is almost completely waterproof. Despite the lightweight construction, it performed extremely well. At $325 it is not cheap but if you like to travel ultralight then it is a price worth paying.
But can I not find any faults at all? OK then, I have just one: please Mr Zpacks can we have a whistle on the sternum strap?! Honestly, that is the only fault I can find with this exceptional backpack.
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blogs about life on the Knife Edge