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#200740 - 04/15/18 01:44 AM Need Suggestions for Pack
Bill Kennedy Offline

Registered: 02/27/18
Posts: 61
Loc: Portland, Oregon
I'm attaching a couple of pictures (links, I mean...problem with Photobucket) of one of my homemade packs, of course hoping you'll "ooh!" and "ahh!" appreciatively, but mainly in the hope that you'll have some suggestions. I'm thinking of making another one, maybe similar, but a bit lighter. The one in the picture weighs 41.7oz. and I've made another using lighter materials that weighs 36.4oz. I haven't used the lighter one much, due to an ill-advised shoulder strap experimentthat worked, but I didn't care for much, and it would be complicated to change it.

The pack pictured uses 330d Cordura for the back and bottom, 400d pack cloth for the rest. There's an extension collar made of 1.9oz. coated ripstop. The inside surface of the hipbelt and shoulder straps are a soft-shell fabric laminated to 1/2" closed cell foam. The back pad is the same fabric laminated to 1/8" closed cell foam. The lumbar pad is 330d Cordura, and the padding is 1/2" firm open cell foam laminated to 1/2" closed
cell foam, with a thin (about .032") piece of fiberglass PC board material behind it, to spread out the pressure of the aluminum stays. The stays are 1/2"x1/8" 7075-T6 aluminum, which is springy and takes a set less easily than the common 6061 alloy.

The lighter pack mentioned above is much the same, except 1.9oz ripstop instead of the 400d pack cloth, and the stays are 3/4" wide (this was before I discovered the 7075 aluminum), and 3/8" closed cell foam instead of 1/2".

So, I'm thinking of 1.9oz. silnylon for the main pack. Seattle Fabrics carries this - it's heavier than the silnylon used for tarps. It's actual weight is 2.3oz/sq. yd., slightly lighter than PU coated ripstop, a bit tougher, and not slippery. I have a piece of it, but it's bright yellow, and I'm not sure
I want a bright yellow pack. Leaning toward the light green.

Probably still going to use 330d Cordura for the back and bottom, but I'm open to suggestions here. Needs to be fairly sturdy, as the hipbelt and shoulder straps are sewn to it, and the bottom needs to be fairly abrasion resistant.

The V-stays work well, but I'm open to other ideas. My one experience with a frameless pack (Ray-Way style) leads me to believe that I probably won't be happy without something more than a rolled-up sleeping pad for a frame. One idea I've considered is a single vertical stay, with the shoulder straps attached higher and farther apart, like the Ray-Way pack, and no load lifters, since there'd be nothing to attach them to. My frameless pack experience wasn't all bad, though, so I haven't completely dismissed it.

Thinking of eliminating the top and side pockets, but with light material they don't add much more weight than the stow bags I'd have to use to store the little stuff. And they're much more convenient for things I want easy access to (raingear, TP, sunblock, etc.). I realize they're not stylish or hip smile

Also considering a roll-top closure if I eliminate the top pocket. Any thoughts on drawstring vs. drybag style closures?

The mesh used in the side and back pockets is fairly heavy at about 5oz./sq.yd. Lighter mesh might not be durable enough for water bottle pockets, so thinking of silnylon here, too. I have some powermesh (stretchy stuff) that I could use for the back mesh pocket and maybe eliminate the compression straps, replacing it with light bungee cord. I've seen it on commercial packs, but not sure of durability, and would be interested in your experiences with it.

I've noticed that both these packs tend to sag a bit, that is, the bottom sags below the lower edge of the hipbelt. Not a problem, really, it just bugs me a little. If the upper side pockets were eliminated, I could put a couple of angled compression straps there to maybe correct it. Somewhere I
saw side compression "straps" made from 1/8" nylon cord. Anybody done that?

The main compartment is 24"x12"x8". Thinking of making it smaller.

These packs have worked well, and are more comfortable than any commercial pack I've tried, although I've only tried the more modern ones in the store. The goal is to keep the comfort and ability to carry a heavier load if I ever feel the need, but reduce the weight as much as possible.

Long, windy post, I know...sorry.

Edited by Bill Kennedy (04/15/18 02:59 PM)

#200761 - 04/17/18 07:22 AM Re: Need Suggestions for Pack [Re: Bill Kennedy]
PerryMK Offline

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1164
Loc: Florida panhandle
Actually your work is ooh-aah worthy. smile

It's not much of a suggestion but more for confirmation. I have Varga Ti Arc backpack. It is made from 70D ripstop nylon, which I believe is equivalent to 1.9oz. This is an external frame backpack so that might change things a bit in how it carries, but at least you know the fabric can be used.

#200780 - 04/17/18 10:53 PM Re: Need Suggestions for Pack [Re: PerryMK]
Bill Kennedy Offline

Registered: 02/27/18
Posts: 61
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Thanks, that's exactly the sort of info I need. I've used 1.9oz (70d) ripstop in two packs, for the front and side panels, but neither pack has seen a lot of use.

I hadn't seen the Vargo pack before. As someone who started with an external frame pack, I know they have some advantages (and some disadvantages, too.) I always thought that the evolution of the external frame was incomplete, but of course internal frame packs took over the market.

In the old days, manufacturers made a big deal about the strength of the frame, usually using 1" diameter aluminum tubing, although a few used 3/4" (notably Trailwise and Jansport). I think 1/2" aluminum would be strong enough, especially with the lighter loads people carry now. Titanium is lighter and stronger, but expensive.

I read a few reviews of the Vargo pack, and people seem to love them, but all mention the same things they'd like changed, like the top design. I'm guessing maybe they've designed it without benefit of someone on the design team who has experience with external frame packs. People certainly rave about the comfort, though.

I wish I had the metalworking skills (and a shop) to experiment with this. The traditional external frame pack updated with lighter materials and a few tweaks might be a winner.

#200786 - 04/18/18 06:20 AM Re: Need Suggestions for Pack [Re: Bill Kennedy]
PerryMK Offline

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1164
Loc: Florida panhandle
I've made a few external frames and adapted them to commercial packs. Even my day pack has an external frame and I love how it works for me.

Check out the new external frames from Varga. They've addressed some of the criticisms.

#200791 - 04/18/18 11:55 AM Re: Need Suggestions for Pack [Re: Bill Kennedy]
4evrplan Offline

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 690
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Originally Posted By Bill Kennedy
...I think 1/2" aluminum would be strong enough, especially with the lighter loads people carry now. Titanium is lighter and stronger, but expensive.

It's a misconception that ti is lighter than al. The reason products made of ti are typically lighter, is that it's stronger, and you can use less of it (i.e. thinner wall tubing). If the dimensions were identical, the ti would be heavier.


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