This year I’ve had the great pleasure to carry a new pack!
For my thru hike of the 4,800mi Eastern Continental Trail, I took a chance on a new company, and purchased the Simple by Pa’lante Packs. They weren’t in production yet, but I had been seeing photos of it online. Similar to the pack I had been using for the last few years, but an improved design.
“Hey that thing looks awesome, take my money.” Is to my memory, the message I sent Andy Bentz. He mailed it out to me while I was on trail, and I received it the same day I picked up a very heavy resupply (6 days.) Immediately I was stoked on how comfortable it was, even while carrying 15lbs of food on top of my gear.
Grabbing a snack from the secret bottom compartment
Andy Bentz and John Zahorian are the two founders of Pa’lante Packs. Some info on Andy’s making history can be seen in this cute video, showing packs he’s made in days past, leading up to what you see now in this final product!
Since receiving it I’ve now carried it for the last 2,800 miles, and this is what I think about it.
- Volume: 35L or 40L
- Price: $210 – $250
- Weight: 13oz
- Frameless and Hipbeltless
- Material: X-Pac
Where can you find it? PalantePacks.com
They come in both a 35 liter, and 40 liter. Very low on internal volume, but in a world where ultralight backpacking is becoming more popular this is a perfect size. The bigger the backpack you buy, the more stuff you tend to fill it with, and then consequently have to haul up that mountain!
For me, with a 6lb base weight the 35L is just right. I’ve carried 6 days food in it without issue, even thinking I had room for more. I would go for this size if you’re looking to seriously nerd out on gear, for most everyone though, I think the bigger size might be wiser. If you’re unsure, definitely go for the larger 40L. You’ll be happy you did when you want to pack out bonus foods from town!
As a frameless, hipbeltless pack it does well. The shoulder straps are large enough with enough thickness to take the heat of heavier carries. I find it’s comfortable up until around 25lbs.
All in all the small size is something I really like in a backpack. It gives me the ability to maneuver freely.
Amazingly, after 5 months of use every single day. Sleeping on it. Rubbing it against, and sitting it on rocks. Brushing it against trees and branches accidentally…. there isn’t a single hole, not a single tear, or even any real sign of wear. Even the stitching is holding up, without fraying or coming loose. It’s almost the same as when I first got it.
When it comes to durability most consider ultralight gear flimsy or that it won’t last. In the case of this pack that is clearly not true! I could easily get a second multi thousand mile thru hike out of this pack.
I had remembered seeing pictures John posted online when he first came up with this design. I was skeptical about the bottom pocket, and it’s durability. After 2,800 miles of abusing it without a single hole forming I’m convinced. The east coast is very rocky, Maine and New Hampshire are no cake walk, so to come out unscathed was really impressive, and admittedly surprising.
I give it a big thumbs up for durability! Unlike cuben fiber packs this X-Pac material is gunna last. I expect I’ll get another few thousand miles outa this one, at least.
- Waterproofness: The fabric used for the body of the pack is waterproof, but overall water will get in the seams. So I still use an internal liner like a trash compactor bag.
- Single strap top closure: I love the single strap! It sinches down so nicely, creating an excellent seal. The last pack I had before this used a Y strap, and I greatly prefer the single.
- Shoulder strap pockets: One of my favorite features of this pack. The stretchy integrated shoulder strap pockets! I like that I have everything I need right at my fingertips. These pockets are perfect for a camera or phone, snacks, guidebook pages or maps, trash. Really handy, and sleek. I highly recommend getting them added to your pack, as they are optional.
- Secret bottom pocket: Annnd my favorite feature is the bottom pocket. Large enough to fit almost an entire days worth of food. But why do you care? Because every time you’re hungry, you can just reach under and grab a snack! No need to stop. Just keep moving! Alternatively, keep a rain jacket, or wind jacket under there for quick access.
- Aesthetics: I mean, it’s super cute. Really small. Black. Beautiful. Clean.
- Side pockets: Good height to grab my water bottles while walking. Stretchy enough to hold two bottles in one pocket. Or as I often do my umbrella, and a water bottle. Or my rehydration jar, and a water bottle. Tight enough so that they don’t slip out when jostled.
- Shoulder straps: Comfortable width, shape, and thickness.
- Draw cord compression: Unsure of what to call it, but it needs to be mentioned. On one side of the pack there’s a small cord that can be pulled tight, to either compress down loose space inside, or firmly secure an item there. Personally I use it most when I have wet socks, or to dry out a wet groundcloth. Sinch the item down, and let it sit outside your pack all day. Or if you’re looking for a place to stow away trekking poles or a trekking umbrella while not in use, this is it!
John has used this pack for thousands of miles, and I’ve used this pack for almost 3,000 miles. He loves it, I love it. I hate to gush er whatever, but of all the gear I’ve been using this year, this pack is the only thing I wouldn’t swap out if given the chance. Since leaving Canada and receiving this pack, its been wonderful all the way down to Florida.
It’s made for efficiency. Most everything you need during the day is at hand, and I love that. So until these boys come up with something similar but smaller and lighter this will remain my main hiking pack.
The waterproof material, the clever pockets, a pack that won’t deteriorate after a single season…
So if you’re looking for that perfect backpack for your next thru hike, the Simple from Pa’lante has treated me right.