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Frankenpack... such a perfect little monster

As you know, I just finished researching 22 backpacks and testing 7 of those backpacks in order to find the best backpack for me to take along on all of our backpacking trips. Of course if you did not know that already, you should probably catch up and read my post on Finding The Best Backpacking Backpack in 2021. I have spreadsheets, reviews and videos of my top 7 backpacks, and boy was it hard to choose! That being said, I finally selected the ULA Circuit as my favorite backpack and I could not be happier... or could I?

{Cue mad scientist laughter} ... "Moo ha ha ha!" ... Hmmm... that sounds more like a laughing cow.

Ok, ignore the mad scientist laughter. What we are really talking about here is creating the "Perfect" backpack. If I could combine everything I loved from each of the 7 backpacks that I tested into one super awesome backpack, what would that look like? Yes, these are the things that keep me up late at night ... working in my laboratory during a lightning storm with my assistant Igor (AKA my dog Molly... or Kiki... or Roxie... or my cat Hercules, or maybe one of my 15 chickens... but who's counting). I wish I could just purchase all of my favorite backpacks and cut off the features I love, piece them all together and have what I like to call, my Frankenpack! So, what would be in this Frankenpack of mine? I am so glad that you asked because I have thought about it a lot and have just the perfect design... so here we go!

The Perfect Frankenpack - Front View
The Perfect Frankenpack - Front View

The Perfect Frankenpack - Back View
The Perfect Frankenpack - Back View

The Back Suspension, Arm Straps and Hip Belt would be from the Osprey Sirrus 50. The minute I put on the Sirrus it was instantly comfortable! I really liked the airy mesh suspension back as well as all of the mesh and ventilation incorporated into the arm straps and hip belt. Now, I know that mesh suspension will not help me to not sweat. That really is not the point. One will sweat even if they are not wearing a backpack at all when working out really hard. What it will do is allow air to flow freely through those areas that are sweating so that it can cool you down. When I am hiking and a nice breeze comes along to cast across my body, it is like magic! In that moment, I could not ask for anything better! Along this same topic of arm straps and hip belt, I will say that I would go with ULA Circuit's compression straps instead of the straps on the Sirrus 50. The adjustment on the sternum strap is much better on the Circuit and I also like how the Circuit has two compression straps on each side of the hip belt. This gives a way more customized fit! I also feel that the load lifters glide a lot better on the Circuit. All around ULA's compression straps are better!

The Main Body and Hip Belt Pockets would be from the ULA Circuit. I love the simple design of the ULA Circuit and the generous amount of space. Can we just talk a moment about those hip belt pockets? Hip belt pockets are so important to me and these have to be the most perfect hip belt pockets on the market. To be fair, actually the Gossamer Gear pockets are equally good so I would be happy with either design. You can fit a phone easily in these pockets. I can fit my travel camera. Not only that, but I can fit snacks, lip balm and so much more into these generously sized pockets. I have a few things that I need to have right at my fingertips, and these pockets allow me to do just that. As for the main body of the backpack, I love how the ULA Circuit is just so simple. It is one large open bag that is sturdy and constructed of thick quality materials. Other ultralight backpacks really skimp on the fabric, compression straps and buckles, but ULA keeps the quality high, but the weight low. I really appreciate that ULA! Another feature I really like about the main storage body on the Circuit is how versatile it is. If I want to carry a lot of insulation in the winter, this pack can expand to a total of 68 liters! If I want to minimize the gear I carry in the summer, this pack can really compress very small. The way that this is done is with the roll top closure. It really is pretty ingenious!

The Side Pockets would be from Gossamer Gear's Mariposa. This is actually a feature that quite a few backpackers would probably disagree with me about, but I absolutely love the way the Mariposa has its side pockets set up. One side has two standard size pockets stacked on top of each other. This is a great place to store two water bottles on the bottom and my camping stove on the top. On the opposite side there is one very large pocket that runs about the entire length of the main storage. This is great to store the first parts that go up on your shelter that do not need to stay dry. In my case that would be my suspension and my rain fly. I love that I can grab these items really quick without opening up my pack. Another great item to go in this spot would be one of those really compact camping chairs/stools. I might just have to break down and get one because I always find myself taking a break on David's stool. Sorry David! I will buy one for myself one day.

The Front Storage would have to come from Osprey's Renn. What I really mean, is a lack of storage on the front, but with hooks so that I can attach one of their Daylite packs. I absolutely love the idea of having a separate pack that can clip on the front when I am hiking my long stretches, but can also be detached so that I can use it for short hikes around camp after I get there. It really is dual purpose because on the main hikes I still have the extra storage space as well. I would not want the Daylite pack to be anything really complicated. I am thinking the Daylite Cinch would be the perfect size... although if they had an ultralight Daylite, that would be even better. To tell you the truth, I am afraid that this Daylite pack would weigh down my backpack too much... but if they designed an ultralight version, it might not really add that much weight since you are also using it as your front main pocket on the main backpack instead of the mesh pocket.

The Hydration Pocket and Clip would be from the Gregory Octal. I really like how secure it feels in the pack, the size of the pocket and the little clip that comes at the top to help keep the water bladder in place. A lot of hikers are getting away from the water bladder as their main source of hydration, but I still find it more convenient and do not see myself going away from it anytime soon. That being said, I do not like the water hose ports on the Octal. I would go with the ULA Circuit for that feature.

Extra Features would be limited to save weight, but there are a few features that I feel are worth the extra weight. The main feature I am thinking of are the ULA Circuit hand loops! I love these things and could not live without them! If you are a trekking pole person then you will probably find them useless, but if you are not then they are a great feature to keep your hands busy, help adjust your pack if needed and keep your blood flowing in your hands and arms. They just clip on the front straps and weigh almost nothing at all! Another small feature that I really like to have is a small pocket to hold things like toothpaste, batteries, toilet paper, sunscreen, bug spray, etc. Almost all of the backpacks that I tested had one of these, but it is tricky to say how I would like it to be on the Frankenpack. Ideally I would like it on the lid, but with a roll top closure that is not possible. The best option in the case of the Frankenpack might be just to use the Daylite pack as my storage pocket. I would probably keep everything in a removeable bag so that I could leave it behind on short treks, but this would eliminate adding another pocket to the main pack. Currently I have a storage pocket that I purchased with my Circuit that hangs inside, but I do not really like how it just free hangs, thus getting in the way when I want to get other items out. The last little feature that I would definitely have to have is the Y Strap option that the ULA Circuit gives you. I do not normally strap anything large on my pack, but once in awhile I will need a pad or something of that sort. The Y Strap gives me the option to strap something at the top which I like better than strapping more weight at the bottom. It is just a lot easier to carry more weight at the top.

The Overall Look would definitely have to be from ULA. You cannot get much better than the ability to custom design all the colors on your backpack. Now I know colors are not really that important, but if you can, then why not?

So there you have it! That is the Happy Hiker's Frankenpack. Maybe you will see it walking around one day if we are lucky. Can you think of any features that I missed that you really like to have on your pack? I would love to hear your ideas! Till next time... Hike on Happy Hikers!


Exit Glacier Trail

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