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Cheffy 10-22-2009 03:38 PM

MEC IBEX 80 vs. Gregory Palisade vs Arcteryx Bora
Title says it all. Not necessarily looking for a ranking, as I have no doubt what the order is. Looking for feedback on comfort. Is it really worth the extra dough to buy the Bora over the Palisade? I've heard that the comfort on the Bora is unparalleled, but many speak very highly of the Gregory too. How does the Ibex match up? I tried the Ibex in MEC loaded with 50 lbs, and was very impressed with it, especially over my Brio 70 (which I absolutely cannot wear for backpacking anymore due to the backpain it causes me). The suspension on the Ibex seemed to really work the shoulders and hips independently, changing weight distribution with movement. I suppose that is how a decent pack should work.

Bottom line - at $165 for the Ibex VS. $384 for the Bora, will it really make the difference on a week long trek with 50 lbs on my back? Or will both be sufficiently comfortable? I am less concerned about long-term durability, as I know MEC will stand behind their products. Also, is the Bora worth it over the Palisade? What if I can find the Palisade for about $120 less than the Bora? Go for it?



Kid Charlemagne 10-22-2009 03:41 PM

I'm probably biased, but I would say you should buy the Bora. It passes the 'feels like Yoda on your back' test with flying colours.

swebster 10-22-2009 04:17 PM

The extra cost is worth it if it does in fact fit you better, but you won't know until you try...

Cheffy 10-22-2009 04:30 PM

Yeah, gotta get to MEC and try out all three. Fit is always the primary issue of course. BTW, I am about 5'8" and 165 lbs, 34" waist 48 cm back. Shorter, not particularly stocky but not lean either. Not sure if this help.

Tarp Man 10-24-2009 05:12 PM

Check with MEC, but in years past you could rent both the Ibex and the Bora. I used a Bora 40 for a couple week long trips and it was unbelievably tough and carried like a dream, with that much gear. I used the Ibex 80L for a trip of the same length, and found that the extra organization with the Ibex was nice, with lots of pockets, but the durability of Bora packs and carrying ability is up there with the best. Not only that, they hold their value like few other packs. If you have the cash and want to carry huge loads, the pack is worth it. If you tend to pack light for trips, there are other packs that will carry just as well, with less pack weight. I am thinking Granite Gear, Osprey, and the MEC Alpenlite packs.

spacemonkey 10-25-2009 11:29 AM

Great thing about mec is they will allow you to return a piece of gear that doesn't suit you. Buy em and try em. Also, check out the Arc'teryx factory outlet, they often have manufacturer seconds of the bora 80 for around $200-$225, but if you can wait till next year, I've heard they have reduced the weight of their bora 80's by about 3 pounds.

good luck

Matt 10-25-2009 11:48 AM

I bought the Bora this summer. I've only used it twice, and it's been great, but it was nowhere near loaded to capacity. At first I was a bit nervous about the price, but I considered that I would have it for a long time to come. It was by far the most comfortable one I tried on in the store.

johngenx 10-25-2009 01:24 PM

The IBEX is a good pack, but there are some flaws. The buckles are sewn right to the pack, and the sleeping pad straps don't work with crap. They can't be buckled with a pad in place, and if you do, you stand a good chance of breaking the buckle.

The other problem with sewn-on buckles is that they are near impossible to field (or even home) repair.

The BEST thing is to load each pack and wander around with it on. They fit different, and you need to go for fit.

That said, if the IBEX fits, it's a lot of pack for the money.

If you're serious about spending $400 or more, then broaden your horizon. Osprey was mentioned, and they make amazing packs. My "do all" pack is a 75L Osprey Aether, and it's comfy, carries WAY MORE than a 2.3kg pack should, withstands unimaginable abuse, and looks like it's got decades, not years, of use left.

FamilyGuy 10-25-2009 05:58 PM

If you are willing to spend some $$, look at Mystery Ranch, which is Dana Gleasons company. The most comfortable heavy haulers that you can buy.

Kid Charlemagne 10-25-2009 06:29 PM

Those Mystery Ranch packs are pretty heavy.

FamilyGuy 10-25-2009 06:42 PM

Which ones? The Big Sky is 2 lbs LESS than the Bora 65 and the same overall size (with the Shove It Pocket).

The MX Trance is even lighter and almost 70L. It is also rated to 70 pound carry ability with minute adjustments in torso length. optional 4 hipbelt sizes and three shoulder yokes.

The Glacier is heavy, but it is over 100L.

Cheffy 10-25-2009 09:22 PM

Awesome, thanks for the advice folks. I went down to MEC and tried the Bora 80, the Palisade, and the Alpinelite, each loaded with about 35 lbs. The Alpinelite is a great pack for the money, and nice and lights, but the thin and wide straps will bother me during the long haul I'm sure.

I found the Palisade a good fit overall, it's lighter than the Bora.

The Bora in a medium fit well overall, and seemed to defintiely make the load feel a bit lighter than the Palisade. Plus it kept it better balanced on my back. But, I found the straps bit into the sides a bit where the plastic strap feeds are, and that the nice head-rest did not line up with my head, and instead sat behind my neck. The waist belt felt like it was a it higher than it should be. The straps were as high as they could go on the pack.

I actually have a 52 cm back - so I gave the large a try. It actually felt BETTER than the medium somehow. The stabiliser straps on top of the shoulder straps were at a high angle, but other than that it felt good. How normal is this? I seem to have a longer torso in proportion to my legs compared to others. But I'm only 5'8". Is this a bad idea? The straps were as low as they could go.

Tarp Man 10-26-2009 03:20 AM

The pack fit is dependent on the torso length, not your overall height. Did one of the sales staff help you with fit and adjustments? They know their stuff. Plus they can also can help with the comparison between packs. And they stand behind their advice if you buy one, then have problems.

I agree about the Alpenlite. The straps are narrower, and for big load hauling, you don't want that. As the name implies, the weight is premium at the Alpine.

For the Ibex, I forgot about the sleeping bag straps. They are nearly useless in the stock form. I retrofitted (at my local shoe repair place) two 1" buckles there for actual use, and had them sewn on with webbing anchored with a back patch in the stuff pocket. Now it is bomber, but I sold it to my brother in law as he needed a decent pack for cheap. He had no trouble with it on the West Coast Trail.

As for your experience with the Bora packs, they are an investment, but one that will give many happy returns as long as you get the fit right, in the beginning. Take the time to really sort out the issues, and if you find the fit lacking, packs don't really "break in". If it rubs you now in the store, and can't be adjusted, it isn't going to magically go away on day 2 of a 5 day trek. They are heavy too, but ultra durable. A couple years ago Backpacker did a test of packs by dragging them down a gravel road at various speeds to see what would survive. The Bora kicked some gravel road butt.

FamilyGuy 10-26-2009 08:14 AM

Backpacker just did another test like that but with the Arrakis. It didn't fair too well:

Cheffy 10-26-2009 05:29 PM

Someone helped me at MEC, but to be honest he mostly just answered some questions and helped with some adjustments while I loaded packs and walked around in them. He didn't even bother to measure me. Nice guy, but didn't really seem to into trying to fit me into a pack. He suggested the alpinelite, although I expressed weight wasn't a concern, comfort was the primary concern. I measured my back before I came, and decided to try the larger Bora. He agreed that if it fits it fits, but seemed a little skeptical.

I will try some ospreys at the Europe Bound shop the road some time. I prefer to purchase from MEC do to their customer satisfaction policies though. So far I am leaning to the Bora, but will need to pick up both, pack them up and walk for about 30 minutes to better evaluate them I think.

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