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Zpacks Blast 32 Cuben Fiber Backpack

Zpacks Blast 32 Ultralight Cuben Fiber Backpack

My new Zpacks Blast 32 backpack arrived last week. It’s made out of ultralight cuben fiber, the stuff they make racing sailboat sails out of. I remember seeing one up close for the first time last year at the Carter Notch Hut during my Northern Presidential Traverse in June. It was an iridescent blue color – really space age looking.

The Blast (3,200 ci) is going to replace the Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus (3,600 ci) which has been my regular 3 season pack for the past two years. I love the Mariposa Plus, but my current one is in pretty bad shape and it has a too much capacity for me when I’m out on a 2-3 day, three season trip. While the weight of my gear list has stayed pretty consistent over the past 2 years (10-15 lbs), the volume of my gear has shrunk as I’ve moved away from single walled tents to tarp based shelters. That means that I can get away with a smaller volume, lighter weight backpack.

The customized version of the Blast 32 I purchased (10.7 oz)  is about half the weight of my Mariposa Plus (22.3 oz.) The weight saving is the result of less fabric and the use of cuben fiber which is incredibly light, but strong. On top of that, there is less padding in the hip belt and shoulder straps. Not that the Mariposa Plus has a lot of either, but the Blast has even less.

Here’s the build list for my Blast 32. Everything except the backpack is an optional add-on.

FeatureWeight (oz)Cost (USD)
3,200 ci, Color: Sky Blue4.3125
Shoulder Padding: 3/8 inch0.10
Sternum Strap0.36
Daisy Chain0.28
Hydration Port0.34
Top Strap0.256
Shock Cord Lashing0.58
Pair Ice Axe Loops0.14
Sleeping Pad Sleeves0.520
Carbon Fiber Stays1.515
Tall Side Pockets0.24
Cuben Padded Belt w/ Pouches2.339
Mesh Pockets, Side Only0.30
Torso Height, -1 inch00
Order Spec10.85239
Actual Weight10.7

Since the Blast 32 arrived, I’ve been loading it up with 20 lb of gear, water and food and day hiking with it . The pack carries really well. The torso length is spot on for me and the body of the pack is narrow, resulting in excellent load transfer to my hips. The padded shoulder straps are a little narrower than those on my Mariposa, but still comfortable after a few hours of hiking with a comparable load.

Blast 32 Ultralight Backpack

When I defined the options I wanted on my Blast, tall mesh pockets were at the top of my list. I really learned to love them on my Mariposa and don’t think I can really ever be happy with a 3 season pack that doesn’t have them. I use them to keep stuff I need during the day easily at hand like food, my water bladder, toiletries, and a water filter if I’m carrying one.

Another nice feature on the Blast is the rear pocket which is large enough to store a rain jacket, rain pants, a hat and gaiters. The top of the pocket doesn’t close but it is connected to the compression lashing and you can tighten the top of the pocket to keep gear from spilling out.

Zpacks Blast Ultralight Backpack

I also opted for the sewn-in pockets on the Blast’s hip belt. These are larger than the external pockets from MLD that I had previously attached to my Mariposa hip belt. Each provides about 1 liter of additional space and closes with a drawstring and a cordlock. They’re perfect for holding my Gecko GPS, a digital camera, snacks, map, compass, bug dope, gloves, sunglasses, etc.

In addition, my pack has a sleeping pad sleeve in addition to carbon fiber stays to add stiffness to the pack and enable it to carry heavier loads. Unlike, the Mariposa Plus, I had the sleeping pad sleeves on the Blast positioned inside the pack to keep the pack’s center of gravity as close to my back as possible. Zpacks will sew them inside or outside as you specify. The sleeves are large enough to fit a Therma-a-rest Z-Lite sleeping pad or a full Gossamer Gear Nightlight pad (22″ x 10.5″.)

Carbon Fiber Stays on the Blast 32

The carbon fiber stays can be used in addition to a sleeping pad for very heavy loads. Each stay is extremely lightweight and only weighs 0.6 oz.

The list of features on this pack goes on and on and I have to say that I am delighted with it’s performance so far. It’s got lots of capacity for a 2-4 day hike with food and water. While the Blast is not rugged enough for winter hiking, I do plan to use it for overnight trips beginning in the spring and for the TGO Challenge next May.

Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.

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  1. Cool pack. Maybe I'll get into cuben packs after a while. I just have to wear out my new Mariposa plus (2009) first ;)

  2. Hi,

    I will be interested to see how this works fo you over time. I ordered the hexamid tarptent from zpacks about 3 weeks ago. I wanted to ask you about your ordering experience with Zpacks. I got an email from paypal about my order but no other confirmation from Zpacks. I have sent Joe about 3 emails asking for an estimate on shipping times but have received no responses and I haven't seen a phone number on his website. Any info you can share with me will be apprciated. Thanks for your great blog.

  3. I'll be interested to hear if you have problem with back sweating in this pack. Cuben is non-breathable and it looks like you will have a panel of it directly against your back. Silnylon non-breathable too of course but in my Mariposa (and other Gossamer Gear packs) the egg-crate sleeping pad that you use for a frame creates a "little" bit of air flow, at least in places (I usually end up with polka dots of sweat on my back).

  4. Nice! I've seen only one of these in person. Between this and the Hexamid you mentioned last week, my christmas list is already getting too big for this early in the season :)

  5. Guthook – you just need a secret santa!

  6. Heber – I sweat under all of my backpacks, including my Mariposa, regardless of the position or type of pad. Carry less, sweat less.

  7. Evan,

    I got email from Joe today – he's made some changes to the Hexmid that lower its weight and improve its durability – and he's been very responsive to me. Give him another chance and try again. He was away during Christmas and maybe he's still catching up.

  8. Congratulations on the new addition, it looks fantastic! My new pack arrives this Friday, and I'm already anticipating it a lot!

  9. "I love the Mariposa Plus, but my current one is in pretty bad shape and it has a too much capacity for me when I'm out on a 2-3 day, three season trip."

    Does this mean that you want to kick this bag my way?

  10. I have two M+ backpacks in the same condition actually, and I'm not willing to part with either. :-).

  11. ..I finally decided to go with the Dyneema X32 by Zpacks, with a few personal touches (load l/shifters); very nice bag, that feels good to carry. Maybe I'll send a picture sometime.

  12. I also order 32 blast Zpack. After a number of hikes this year I happened to check the seems and they were pulling apart sufficiently that I did not feel safe taking it on a 10 day (Philmont) hike so used my Mariposa Pl instead. I really liked the Zpack. I used it on Grand Canyon, Ga ATC, PCT section, plus a number of weekend hikes. I got it to replace a Gossamer Gear G4 Silnylon pack I have that is 7.7 oz. The G5 never showed the wear the Zpacks did even after 4 years of use.

  13. Early on I discovered that the base of the blast 32 leaks water when placed on wet ground so I seam sealed it the bottom of the pack. Other than that the pack has held up pretty well after about 350 miles of hiking, but I am watching the seams to signs of weakening. One thing I don't like is how dirty the threads in the seams get – doesn't effect performance by it is visually unappealing.

  14. Joe at Zpacks does an amazing job with all things cuben. He was kind enough to sponsor me with a gift certificate to use on his merchandise for my upcoming PCT thru-hike. I ended up with a few little cuben stuff sacks, a shoulder strap case for my camera, and a large food sack…all made of cuben fiber, all super lightweight, and all crafted meticulously well. I was thoroughly impressed. Enjoy your Blsst! :)


  15. I'm curious about your opinion of the pack now. I'm considering getting one for a thru hike. Would you recommend it?

  16. Like a 2,000 mile hike. No, I wouldn't do that. I think you'll be better off with a Granite Gear pack or something like the Osprey Kestrel or Exos – which some people like (all light enough) Weight won't matter to you after the first 400 miles and these will be better packs to carry the heavier food loads you'll be hauling.

    The Blast isn't a good heavy hauler. I suppose I should do an update about my experiences with this pack. It's optimal for shorter haul trips, but I wouldn't count on it's durability for 4-6 months.

  17. I appreciate your input. I already have a GG Vapor Trail and a ULA Circuit. I will probably go with one of these, although I'm still considering the Exodus from Mountain Laurel Design. I do have my base weight at 7lbs now so I was curious about this pack, but I will take your advice and save my money.

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