Ray's 2,200 backpack on his 2009 AT thru-hike.
Pg 6: How to Choose a Volume
We are selling our BackPack Kit in a range of Shoulder Size options and Pack Volumes. Please see our Order Form
The Shoulder Size pertains to the size of a person's torso. Not to be confused with Pack Volume. Shoulder Size pertains to the size of the person; Pack Volume pertains to the size of the backpack.
Our kit comes in Shoulder Sizes XS (Extra-Small - say for 10-14 year olds) to 3XL (Extra-Large - for extra burly folks).
Our range of Backpack Volumes are: 2,200, 2,400, 2,600, 2,800, and 3,000 cubic inches. Please note that these are the baseline volumes, and do not include the volumes of the three external pockets or the full-length extension collar. Our Backpack Volume figures are only the internal cubic-inches of the pack body's itself.
All Ray-Way Backpacks with various volume size options look about the same, but of course the larger ones look larger.
The 3,000 in-cube is giant. Beware! It is very big. We even made one 3,200 in3 but that was so ridiculously giant that we are not offering it.
Starting with our classic, 2,200 cubic-inches Ray-Way Backpack: it is genuinely lightweight. It will carry a moderately heavy load in a pinch, but it is designed to carry light-weight gear and a minimum of it. Even so, 2,200 cubes is not what some would call a "minimalist" backpack.
2,200 cubes is fairly good size, especially as we are not factoring in the carrying capacity of the three large external pockets and the full-length extension collar.
This size backpack was the perfect size for me during my 2009-AT Solo thru-hike
, and I rarely used the extension collar - only when hiking out of a town with a load of food (see photo above).
The 2,200 was the perfect size for me because I was hiking lightweight with no extra clothing other than what I needed, and a quilt with only one layer of insulation. I carried no stove or fuel, no hammock, no backgammon set, and etc. (There is nothing wrong with these, but I wasn't carrying them).
On Jenny's and my first thru-hike of the AT, we carried homemade backpacks of the same general design, capacity and weight; same with our third thru-hike of the PCT, and our IUA Hike & Bike trip. During all these trips we carried a 2P two-layer alpine quilt with the Split-Zip. So in effect each of us carried only half of a quilt.
Also, during our "Journey Flow" classes, each student carried a home-made Ray-Way backpack having 2,200 cubes volume. Each class was out for a week in the high mountains of Oregon. This was in summer, but still the nights were cold. And each person's backpack weighed around 12 pounds baseline (not including food and water).
So we think that during the hight of summer, under our guidance, a person could do very well with the 2,200 cubes backpack. At the same time, we realize that other hikers have different requirements; so we also offer a range of larger pack volumes to give plenty of extra room, say for a 1P quilt of two layers of alpine insulation. Or more room, still, for an insulated jacket. Or whatever.
But here is the big caution. And we mean BIG.
Our larger backpacks are not meant to carry the profusion of gear found in the usual backpacking store. If the person wants to carry all that, he or she should use a usual heavy-duty backpack of the type found in the backpacking stores.
Our Ray-Way Backpack is not designed to give top-notch performance with an over-load of klutzy gear.
So we would advise against mixing the two.
Carry either Ray-Way type gear in a Ray-Way backpack, and the minimum of it, OR heavy-duty gear in a heavy-duty backpack (and read Trail Life to learn why this would be a mistake).
And even with our larger pack volume backpacks, we would caution a person not to buy the largest size with the false notion that larger is better.
Larger is NOT better. Instead, larger leads to more gear, and that leads to more weight, and that means more klutzy.
So chose the correct size depending on what you need to carry. Chose your backpack to fit your gear, rather than the other way around.
Backpack Volume General Guidelines:
2,200 cubes: Someone hiking solo on the AT in summer, carrying a one-layer ray-way quilt with woodland or Alpine insulation, and no insulated jacket, might want 2,200 cubes - with the understanding that this size pack is designed to carry the minimum of Ray-Way gear with nothing superfluous added. In other words, a backpack designed for someone intent on hiking big daily mileages. Someone in shape who has trained for several months prior to his or her thru-hike. And someone who is experienced in hiking and camping in a variety of weather situations. Someone like this is more likely to require only a minimum of gear.
The same would be true with two people hiking as a couple while carrying a two-layer Ray-Way quilt with Split-Zip. They could be hiking the AT, or some other trail such as the PCT, CDT and so forth. But note once again that we recommend this size backpack only for a fit and experienced hiking couple carrying a minimum of gear.
(Note that this option (two people each carrying only half on a 2P quilt) is much warmer at night than the first one (two people each carrying 1P quilts), for the same weight and volume - because of the sharing of body warmth at night.)
2,400: We would suggest this size for a solo hiker carrying a two-layer quilt on the AT, PCT, CDT and so forth, and who meets our same general criteria - well conditioned and serious about enjoying high daily mileages. This person has a baseline packweight of about 12 pounds or less (not including food and water). Ray carried this size backpack on his 780 mile section hike of the AT in 2016, with a Woodland Quilt.
2,600: This is an all around backpack size for the average hiker, and yet it is still lightweight. It is intended for someone carrying the usual selection of Ray-Way gear, and including a stove and fuel, a thicker sleeping pad, a water filter, and a warmer jacket. Someone hiking solo or (in pairs) in colder climates, carrying a 1P Quilt with two layers of Woodland or Alpine insulation.
But please note that this size is not giant, and will not carry a big selection of the usual store-bought, heavy-duty gear.
The 2,600 is the size that Ray carried during his early season 2010 AT thru-hike, on the central portion (he used a 2,800 at the start and end). He was carrying about 9 pounds and hiking high mileage days, but needed this much volume to carry my warmer clothing, a two-layer Woodland quilt, and thicker sleeping pad, because of the cold, early season conditions.
2,800: This is the size backpack that Ray carried during the initial few weeks on his early season 2010 AT thru-hike. The days and nights tended to be cold, and he hiked through a lot of snow, mainly in the Smokies. In southern Virginia he switched to a 2,600 and carried that for the middle portion of the hike. Then the climate turned cold again in the northern states, so he switched back to the 2,800. And this is the backpack featured in Ray's AT gear video.
My philosophy is that the gear should enable the most enjoyment from one's outing. And to me, because I tend to do a great deal of hiking, that means that for the most comfort on the trail, I carry the least amount of gear. But note that I am not a minimalist. I like to be comfortable, and never sacrifice comfort or safety. But I have eliminated the superfluous. To learn more, read "Trail Life."
The 2,600 backpack on Ray's 2010 AT thru-hike.
Ray's 2,800 on the 2010 AT thru-hike.
2,800 on the 2010 AT.
2,800 on the trail to Mt Cube, New Hampshire, during the 2010 AT thru-hike.
Ray carries a 2,800 during his 2010 AT thru-hike. The small strap holds a Camera pouch slung over the torso. Mt. Washington in the background.