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#100101 - 07/20/08 06:56 AM cheap ext-frame pack project
urbansix Offline
member

Registered: 09/27/06
Posts: 52
Loc: Atlanta, GA
I have a new Gregory Z-55 which I have used for a few multi-day hikes. It has served well, and is very comfortable, my gear fits with no problems, even when I had to increase the load while carrying food & shelter for two on the last trip. I have no complaints. Don't try to fix what ain't broke, right?

After reading about Moonbow gearskins, and their "powerpack" system, it got me thinking. I could insert the insulation pad and down sleeping-bag-as-quilt in to my hammock, and roll the whole thing up together. This would certainly speed up camp setup, especially if I did the same for my 8-year old hiking partner's hammock. I tried it and it makes a roll approx 9" diameter, 21" long. This could easily attach to a backpack (inside a dry bag), but not to the exterior of my current configuration. Besides, shelter/sleep group is easily 50% of the volume of my entire packing system, so I would need a smaller main compartment. I started looking around at external frame packs. (Also saw this article .)

The Keltys are available everywhere, but they have larger diameter telescoping tubing, and are thus pretty heavy. (5+ lbs) Jansport has much lighter looking frames. When I saw that the Jansport Scout (meant for older kids & teens, but in my torso size range) was only a few ounces more than my "light" Z-55 (3-11 Jansport, vs. 3-5 Gregory) I ordered one up ($50 at Campmor, vs. $189+ for the Gregory). My intent was to use just the frame and suspension.

The Jansport frames use a horizontal top hoop which the bag hangs from. For the Scout, the main compartment is made of heavy coated cordura nylon like you might find on one of their book bags. Once removed, the remaining frame and suspension weighs 2lbs 2 oz. This could be reduced further by substituting lighter suspension components, or removing extraneous frame portions such as the shelf hoop or top bale. The frame is quite well made, although the suspension feels a little cheap. But it is a $50 pack from a maker of mass-market consumer goods, company history notwithstanding. Additional mods I would consider: Replacing the back pad with a mesh panel, and seeing if suspension is available in "adult size" (the ones on there may be adult size, only the frame may be shorter)

I was hoping to be able to remove the top "shelf" hoop and attach it to the bottom, so it would serve as a gear shelf similar to the Luxury Lite frame or hunting game haulers. Upon inspection, this would only be possible by cutting the bottom bale off the frame to slide the joint-knuckle pieces on to the frame below the welded cross-bar. You could still re-attach the male-ended top bale in place of the bottom bale, and it would be held in place by the waist belt attachment strap and the harness pins. For now I have simply strapped the hammock-roll to the lower portion of the frame, and it fits quite well & snugly.

The dilemma is what to use for the upper compartment(s). One thought is to cut the lower compartment off the original 2-chamber Jansport bag. This would reduce the weight of the bag by 10-12 oz. The panel loading of the top half is nice & easy, and it is designed to fit the frame. It has a couple of large side pockets, but is missing such "modern" features as hydration compatibility, compression straps (those could be added). It fits all my remaining gear at ~1600 cu.in.(26L) + pockets. I find it almost awkwardly wide, being used to internal frames. But it could be made to work. All tolled it would be about 1/2 lb. less than my current pack, but with fewer bells & whistles (no pockets on the waist belt, ventilated harnes, hydration, etc.). Nominally the same in comfort, but more modular & flexible. It would scream "crappy Jansport pack". It's made of that cheap, heavy bookbag material. It would be nice if at least it was ripstop nylon.

Option 2: two dry-bags such as OR Hydroseal . One for clothing/gear, one for food/cooking system, strapped directly to the frame, dispensing of the upper "hanging" hoop (~4.5 oz.). The plusses are: weight savings, waterproof, cool DIY look. The down side of this: no features, no pockets, inconvenient access, nowhere to integrate hydration.

Option 3: Same as Opt 2, but use a product such as the OR Summit Sack or a coupleof the REI Flash UL convertible stuff sacks, strapped to the frame. It would add things like daisy chains, gear loop, or hydration pockets. Gives you a a lightweight day/summit pack. In the end it would weigh the same as the Jansport compartment, but would eliminate the top shelf frame.

Option 4: learn to sew and make a lightweight clone of the Jansport bag.

For now I am thinking go with the Jansport upper for a shakedown hike. May consider leaving it out in the weather so it will age for that vintage look, lol. However, I am liking the idea of option 3 with the Flash UL's, if the concept stays sound through some test.


Edited by urbansix (07/20/08 07:12 AM)

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#100102 - 07/20/08 10:18 AM Re: cheap ext-frame pack project [Re: urbansix]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Lets see if I understand correctly. You are taking an external and dispensing with the heavy bag that came with it. I would just use two dry bags and strap them on. You could always make a small holder for water and strap that on as well.

Another option not considered: ditch the frame and make yer own with a plastic sheet (.06" thick HDPE comes to mind). Attach shoulder straps and a hip belt to the sheet, then strap everything else on just like you would with the jansport frame. I am in the middle of trying this myself. I am taking my time so it is going slowly. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
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#100103 - 07/20/08 01:21 PM Re: cheap ext-frame pack project [Re: urbansix]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2751
Loc: California
I use a 1-lb Granite Gear pack and put the shoulder straps over my Kelty frame - sort of like the packframe is a person. The hipbelt clips on the back side of the frame and I clip the compressor straps around the side bars ofthe Kelty. This keeps the bag snug on the frame. There is room to tie drybags above and below. The bonus, is that I have a day pack with no extra weight. The heavy part is my Kelty frame. The only problem I have had is that the Granite Gear pack is a bit fragile and it now has more patches than origianal material!

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#100104 - 07/20/08 05:55 PM Re: cheap ext-frame pack project [Re: finallyME]
urbansix Offline
member

Registered: 09/27/06
Posts: 52
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Quote:
Lets see if I understand correctly. You are taking an external and dispensing with the heavy bag that came with it. I would just use two dry bags and strap them on. You could always make a small holder for water and strap that on as well.

That's basically it. It started with my surprise at how light the JS frame by itself is. Improving on the weight of the supplied bag should be easy. Now I'm thinking to attach the dry bags vertically, and nestle a hydration bladder between them in the "chinking". All this over the hammock roll.
Quote:
Another option not considered: ditch the frame and make yer own with a plastic sheet (.06" thick HDPE comes to mind). Attach shoulder straps and a hip belt to the sheet, then strap everything else on just like you would with the jansport frame. I am in the middle of trying this myself. I am taking my time so it is going slowly. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
I'm lazy, see. And this sounds suspiciously like my already over-engineered go-out-and-buy-an-expensive-internal-frame project. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" /> Do keep me posted though, I'd be interested in seeing it.


Edited by urbansix (07/20/08 05:56 PM)

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#100105 - 07/20/08 06:39 PM Re: cheap ext-frame pack project [Re: urbansix]
Heber Offline
member

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 245
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
I've been playing with the same idea for a while now. My hammock is homemade and the suspension is straps that are not permanently attached to the hammock. I've been trying to figure a way to use the straps on the outside of the roll you mentioned and then loop them over to form shoulder straps (naturally I'd want to put padding of some kind on these straps). I was thinking I'd make the roll bigger so that everything would go inside the pad/hammock.

I would like to eliminate the pack entirely since it is just a single use item. Not sure if I'll ever get around to making it a reality.

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#100106 - 07/21/08 01:58 AM Re: cheap ext-frame pack project [Re: Heber]
urbansix Offline
member

Registered: 09/27/06
Posts: 52
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Quote:
I've been playing with the same idea for a while now. My hammock is homemade and the suspension is straps that are not permanently attached to the hammock. I've been trying to figure a way to use the straps on the outside of the roll you mentioned and then loop them over to form shoulder straps (naturally I'd want to put padding of some kind on these straps). I was thinking I'd make the roll bigger so that everything would go inside the pad/hammock.

I would like to eliminate the pack entirely since it is just a single use item. Not sure if I'll ever get around to making it a reality.


Have you read up on the Moonbow Designs gearskins & "powerpack" system? That approach sounds very similar.

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#100107 - 07/21/08 07:20 AM Re: cheap ext-frame pack project [Re: urbansix]
Heber Offline
member

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 245
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
Yes, that's part of what gave me the idea. But then I thought about the suspension lines for the hammock and thought "there must be some way to incorporate these". If you think about your pack, or even a gearskin, a lot of what you have there is just nylon webbing, the same stuff I use to hang my hammock. So I figured there has to be a way to use that webbing as straps while carrying my gear.

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#100108 - 07/21/08 07:58 AM Re: cheap ext-frame pack project [Re: Heber]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Quote:
So I figured there has to be a way to use that webbing as straps while carrying my gear.


How does this sound...Use a ccf pad (or other pad, or no pad at all) and roll everything up inside, except your two hammock straps and tarp. Then wrap your tarp around everything, and strap it to the frame with your two hammock straps. Now you have no pack bag, and the straps are multi-use. I bet this has already been thought of, and I am not the first. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
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I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#100109 - 07/21/08 08:49 AM Re: cheap ext-frame pack project [Re: finallyME]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I also use a hammock with web straps, and have thought about this on a number of occasions. trouble is with a granite gear pack that weighs a little over a pound, but has really comfortable traps on it when used with my pad, It becomes kinda hard to get something workable and save any weight. any time I've tried tying up my straps to carry things like this it's just uncomfortable, so my hammock remains single use, and ditto my pack. It's kind of like, you know, I could multi use my spoon and not carry toilet paper as long as I washed it well - but my comfort level would decrease a lot. so I still carry single use toilet paper too <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
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#100110 - 07/21/08 09:24 AM Re: cheap ext-frame pack project [Re: phat]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Quote:
so I still carry single use toilet paper too <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />


What!! you don't double use your TP as fire starter. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#100111 - 07/21/08 10:17 AM Re: cheap ext-frame pack project [Re: finallyME]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Nope:

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Winter list.
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#100112 - 07/21/08 11:32 AM Re: cheap ext-frame pack project [Re: finallyME]
Heber Offline
member

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 245
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
Quote:
Quote:
So I figured there has to be a way to use that webbing as straps while carrying my gear.


How does this sound...Use a ccf pad (or other pad, or no pad at all) and roll everything up inside, except your two hammock straps and tarp. Then wrap your tarp around everything, and strap it to the frame with your two hammock straps. Now you have no pack bag, and the straps are multi-use. I bet this has already been thought of, and I am not the first. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />


Well I don't see a need for the frame. The CCF pad should provide enough stiffness. That's how my frameless pack works and I was thinking of making a frameless pack out of my hammock.

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#100113 - 07/21/08 02:29 PM Re: cheap ext-frame pack project [Re: phat]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
<img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#100114 - 07/21/08 02:31 PM Re: cheap ext-frame pack project [Re: Heber]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
So I figured there has to be a way to use that webbing as straps while carrying my gear.


How does this sound...Use a ccf pad (or other pad, or no pad at all) and roll everything up inside, except your two hammock straps and tarp. Then wrap your tarp around everything, and strap it to the frame with your two hammock straps. Now you have no pack bag, and the straps are multi-use. I bet this has already been thought of, and I am not the first. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />


Well I don't see a need for the frame. The CCF pad should provide enough stiffness. That's how my frameless pack works and I was thinking of making a frameless pack out of my hammock.


Maybe I will try that. I have shoulder straps and a belt that I just made for a butt pack (no frame). I could take off the butt pack and strap a ccf pad full of my stuff to see if it would work. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#100115 - 07/21/08 06:18 PM Re: cheap ext-frame pack project [Re: urbansix]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
An Old Thread That Might Be What You're Looking For

The NRS Paragon Pack might be what you're looking for.

MNS
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#100116 - 07/22/08 06:48 AM Re: cheap ext-frame pack project [Re: urbansix]
BarryP Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/04
Posts: 1574
Loc: Eastern Idaho
You have some cool ideas. When I looked at my Jansport, I could see better what you were talking about. Some advantages I see w/ your option 2:
1. Automatically waterproof. Donít have to mess with ponchos, garbage sacks, pack covers, Ziplocs, etc.,
2. external frames just plane breath better.

I have two external frames--- a Coleman and this Jansport (which is lighter). I like external frames when I need to be a sherpa for my family.

-Barry

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#100117 - 07/22/08 08:35 AM Re: cheap ext-frame pack project [Re: midnightsun03]
urbansix Offline
member

Registered: 09/27/06
Posts: 52
Loc: Atlanta, GA
<img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" /> Hey - I did see that item just last night while poking around the interweb looking for parts. It looks like a much less expensive version of gearskins. It's very much on my "idea" list now. Better view:
http://www.nrsweb.com/shop/product.asp?pfid=2933

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