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#202202 - 12/04/18 09:21 AM What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas
DerickH Offline
newbie

Registered: 12/04/18
Posts: 8
Loc: IN
Hello everyone I am a new member and would love some input form some experienced members. I am a senior in college and will be doing my mechanical engineering senior design project this coming spring semester (yes, it's just one semester long). My question is, what gear would you like to see improved and in what way? This could be weight, functionality, price, etc. Even something like a custom fit piece of gear would work if you would want to fund the project and then later after its done receive the finished gear. I am very new to backpacking and don't have much gear or experience to really know what works well and what doesn't which is why I'm asking you. If I can get some good ideas I will pitch it to my senior design group and we may try to do it. I really love backpacking and everything that goes with it which is why I would love to contribute to making it better by improving on peoples current gear. This will not be something that we later try and sell.


Edited by DerickH (12/04/18 09:26 AM)

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#202203 - 12/04/18 10:19 AM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: DerickH]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 765
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
That's a tough one, because pretty much every variety of backpacking gear has been engineered and thought to death. There's certainly a lot of gear that is sub-par/sub-optimal, but there's a good/better option for pretty much everything too. It depends a lot on what you want: style of hiking/camping, location, weather, mileage, etc. There's lots of options for gear that fits different criteria. I'm not saying there won't be innovation; of course there will be innovation, but it's probably not going to come from strangers online spitballing a few ideas on request.

I think most of what I've seen that I'd like to change is because companies design and market to the "crowd" if you will. For example, a lot of packs are overly complicated (separate compartment for sleeping bags, lid pockets, integrated pack covers, etc.), because those features look good in an ad and sell well, but they add weight and complication that many (well, some) of us don't want to deal with. But, having said that, there are options that are better; you just have to know where to look and maybe be willing to spend a bit more. Of course, no product is going to be exactly what you want unless you make it yourself, and some backpackers do. Personally, I don't really care for logos all over my stuff. I don't feel like being their walking advertisement, and I don't want to fall into the trap of buying and showing off stuff just to fit into some kind of identity. Having said that, I realize I'm probably not representative of most consumers.

In any case, I really do wish you the best with your project.
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Hiking is the ultimate realization that the journey is more important than the destination.

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#202204 - 12/04/18 10:59 AM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: DerickH]
PerryMK Online   content
member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1180
Loc: Florida panhandle
The things which could be improved upon: battery packs, solar chargers. There have been recent advances made but I feel these are the areas with the most room for improvement. Of course if a new fabric or metal is developed it could revolutionize (only a tad overstated) tents, poles, frames, stoves, etc.)

Something that I am not aware has been invented but I've always thought a neat idea: backpack with helium bladder to help lighten the load. I've not done any actual calculations on how much helium would be required to make a noticeable difference. Maybe there's another lighter than air gas that would work better? How would the bladder work? Could it be integrated into other parts (like the pack frame or pads) or would it be a separate compartment? Or simply a balloon that pulls up on the pack? Perhaps you could do a feasibility study on this. The military would love you.

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#202205 - 12/04/18 11:13 AM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: 4evrplan]
DerickH Offline
newbie

Registered: 12/04/18
Posts: 8
Loc: IN
@4evrplan
Yeah I realize that there are already all kinds of innovations all the time. I guess something you touched on that I think would work is to do more of a personalized item that has a different function than the original product. This could be fit, or just some added feature(s). For example, having a pack with a pouch sized for specific gear that might now be a common piece of equipment. Creating a whole new innovated product is a little daunting for just a 1 semester project.

I really appreciate the response and input!


Edited by DerickH (12/04/18 11:15 AM)

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#202206 - 12/04/18 11:23 AM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: PerryMK]
DerickH Offline
newbie

Registered: 12/04/18
Posts: 8
Loc: IN
@PerryMK

I can't say for sure but I don't think the helium is a plausible solution to weight management. Helium has 0.0114 pounds of upward force/cubic foot. That means to decrease the weight by one pound you would need over 2000 liters of helium. I think the better thing would be to just focus on decreasing weight by way of materials (titanium, lighter fabric etc.) And unfortunately I don't think my group is in capable of creating a whole new material in such a short time.

I like the idea of maybe improving solar charges, or battery packs. Not necessarily how they work but maybe in their implementation or recharging. One thought I had was a crank charger that could use the flow of a river to charge a power bank, basically a small hydroelectric setup.

Thanks a lot for the input, I really appreciate it.

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#202207 - 12/04/18 11:49 AM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: PerryMK]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 765
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
In the vein of powering electronics, I wonder if anyone has tried to make a kinetically charged power pack. I suppose there's really limited energy gain this way, not enough to charge your phone, camera, light, PLB, GPS, mp3 player, or whatever unless it's a really low drain device (e-reader?). You could have a dynamo with a crank that you use like one of those noise makers that you hold in one hand and swing around. That seems like it'd be easier than using both hands, holding it with one and turning the crank with the other. I've seen flashlights made that way (2 handed cranking), but they were awkward and tiring to use.
_________________________
Hiking is the ultimate realization that the journey is more important than the destination.

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#202208 - 12/04/18 12:08 PM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: DerickH]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 922
Loc: Torrance, CA
How about a lightweight, wide mouth water container that can be used with a steripen? Bonus if it can reach out and down to a difficult to reach water source. I've been fiddling with some designs, but I would rather see what you come up with.

Nalgene bottles are heavy. A basic water bottle that comes with... water! at the convenience store are great but too narrow. Gatorade bottles are a bit wider, but not quite wide enough for the Steripen Opti: https://www.rei.com/product/799003/steripen-adventurer-opti-water-purifier

Additionally, water sources are often quite bushy and shallow near the edge. If you walk out into the water source you get wet feet and kick up a cloud of debris. It would be nice to have something with a bit of reach.

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#202209 - 12/04/18 12:26 PM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: BZH]
DerickH Offline
newbie

Registered: 12/04/18
Posts: 8
Loc: IN
@BZH
That's a very interesting idea, I've seen plenty of people ditching water bladders for something like a lightweight smartwater bottle. But like you said it lacks the wide mouth. This could be done with pretty simply by just creating a blow mold and a sturdy threaded top. I think an added benefit would be if it could be crushed for storing and return to shape repeatedly. This would require some special material and I would have to do some research on it. On top of that it would need to be a food safe material that won't break down over time from the UV light of the steripen. Overall I really like the idea and will add it to my list.

Thanks for the input, I really appreciate it.

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#202210 - 12/04/18 12:32 PM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: DerickH]
PerryMK Online   content
member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1180
Loc: Florida panhandle
Originally Posted By DerickH

This could be done with pretty simply by just creating a blow mold and a sturdy threaded top. I think an added benefit would be if it could be crushed for storing and return to shape repeatedly.


https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K183LWW/ref...0f-4bfeb16e18fe

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#202211 - 12/04/18 12:47 PM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: PerryMK]
DerickH Offline
newbie

Registered: 12/04/18
Posts: 8
Loc: IN
@PerryMK

Man, I was just in the process of designing something just like this. I guess I should have checked to see if it was already a thing first.

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#202212 - 12/04/18 01:05 PM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: BZH]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 765
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Originally Posted By BZH
...Bonus if it can reach out and down to a difficult to reach water source...It would be nice to have something with a bit of reach.
You got me to thinking, how about a bottle that clips securely to the end of your trekking pole, fishing pole, selfie stick, tent pole, or whatever?
_________________________
Hiking is the ultimate realization that the journey is more important than the destination.

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#202213 - 12/04/18 01:22 PM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: 4evrplan]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2990
Loc: Portland, OR
With an emphasis on "securely", for dipping into a swift-flowing water source.

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#202214 - 12/04/18 01:43 PM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: aimless]
DerickH Offline
newbie

Registered: 12/04/18
Posts: 8
Loc: IN
@aimless

Seems easy enough. I think some screw adjustable clips for the pole and velcro straps for the bottle might work. Not sure if that is as secure as you were thinking. Is the point of putting the bottle on the pole specifically for reaching hard to get water sources or will it remain there while hiking? If the later then I would need to think of a better solution. But it still should be doable.

Thanks for the idea!


Edited by DerickH (12/04/18 01:44 PM)

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#202215 - 12/04/18 10:02 PM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: DerickH]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1628
Loc: Southwest Ohio
How about an effective windscreen for a canister stove. It would have to block wind (thus increasing the fuel efficiency of the stove) without causing a buildup of heat that would cause the canister to overheat and explode.

Yes, I realize that MSR (Windburner) has done a very good job of this, and Jetboil has done an OK to good job of it - but those stoves are heavy (typically half a pound heavier than a canister stove and titanium pot; think MSR Pocket Rocket and Titan Kettle, or the Snow Peak Giga stoves and pots) and they only really work with the special pots designed for them. The ideal would work with any pot.

On a related note, you could re-design the fuel canisters to include an indicator to tell you more precisely how much fuel you have left (not just some markings that tell you it’s about half full or a quarter full when you float it in a pot of water.)

Or, maybe a package for freeze-dried food that would include some insulation without adding significant weight, bulk or cost; this improves the package’s functionality for those who add boiling water to the food in the bag, then eat from the bag.

On a lighter note (pun partly intended) - how about freeze dried water? smile

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#202216 - 12/05/18 03:44 AM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: DerickH]
Bill Kennedy Offline
member

Registered: 02/27/18
Posts: 149
Loc: Portland, Oregon
I can see room for improvement in water filters. The Pur (now Katahdin) Hiker solved the problem, mostly, of hard-to-reach water sources with a fairly long tube with a weighted float and prefilter at the end. Just plop the float into the water and pump. And the filter cartridge is replaceable. It's fairly heavy at 12oz, and expensive.

The Sawyer Mini and Squeeze are quite light, but require pressure from squeezing a bladder or a gravity setup, and must be protected from freezing.

So, a design with the best of both would be a distinct improvement. Years ago, Pur had a filter called the Pioneer that came close. It had the same pump-and-tube arrangement as the Hiker, but was smaller and screwed onto a Nalgene bottle. It used small filter discs, nearly weightless, so carrying a spare or three was easy. It weighed about 8 ounces. A variation on that theme seems like a possibility.

I wonder if the backwashing syringe that comes with the Sawyer filters could be modified for use as a pump, with the tube-and-float idea. Hard to do as a DIY project, because it's made of polypropylene, but if you had the ability to mold a slightly different design...
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Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everybody else. -Margaret Mead

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#202217 - 12/05/18 07:24 AM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: Bill Kennedy]
PerryMK Online   content
member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1180
Loc: Florida panhandle
I attached a pump and extended hose to my Sawyer filter cartridge as I like that arrangement. There are some similar style filter cartridges that come already equipped with pump and hose, but they are made in China and replacement filter cartridges and parts are not readily available.

I agree it would be nice to have a compact ready-to-go pump unit to attach to the Sawyer filter cartridge.

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#202218 - 12/05/18 01:47 PM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: Bill Kennedy]
DerickH Offline
newbie

Registered: 12/04/18
Posts: 8
Loc: IN
This sounds like a great idea and I think its more than doable. I've already started thinking of initial designs for it hopefully it could be kept cheap and add only a few ounces to the sawyer squeeze.

Thanks a lot for the ideas!

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#202219 - 12/05/18 01:49 PM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: PerryMK]
DerickH Offline
newbie

Registered: 12/04/18
Posts: 8
Loc: IN
Originally Posted By PerryMK
I attached a pump and extended hose to my Sawyer filter cartridge as I like that arrangement. There are some similar style filter cartridges that come already equipped with pump and hose, but they are made in China and replacement filter cartridges and parts are not readily available.

I agree it would be nice to have a compact ready-to-go pump unit to attach to the Sawyer filter cartridge.


could you point me in the direction of those Chinese ones? I don't want to steal someones design or concepts for this project.

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#202222 - 12/05/18 08:32 PM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: DerickH]
balzaccom Online   content
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1832
Loc: Napa, CA
OK, I am interested in this project, because I think there would be a real market for a very lightweight backpacking chair. The chairs I have seen weigh well over a pound, maybe two. I want one that weighs less than 8 ounces. I've thought about adapting some sort of hammock (then you need to find a tree or two) or two pieces of closed cell foam that would retain the rigidity to actually serve as a chair.

But so far...
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#202223 - 12/05/18 10:27 PM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: balzaccom]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1628
Loc: Southwest Ohio
That’s a GREAT idea!

For a lot of years, I used a Thermarest chair kit. They weighed anywhere from 6 to 12 ounces, but were inconvenient because you kept having to put your sleeping pad in it to sit, then take it out to sleep, then put it in to sit, then...well, you know.

I always wondered why they never just incorporated the stays and the straps directly into the sleeping pad - I always thought it couldn’t have added more than 4 or 5 ounces to the weight, and would be a lot more convenient. I’m probably overlooking something. smile

The Crazy Creek chairs tried this, but their chair made a lousy sleeping pad; just about any other closed cell foam pad was better. And, since I stopped using those when the first Thermarest self-inflating pads came out, the Crazy Creek was never a real contender for me.

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#202227 - 12/06/18 06:05 AM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: DerickH]
PerryMK Online   content
member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1180
Loc: Florida panhandle
There are several of similar but not identical design.: Survivor Filter Pro

Here is a photo of my Sawyer set up. Essentially it's just a cheap, light filter pump with the low end filter cartridge replaced with the nicer Sawyer filter cartridge.

https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/attachments/img_0190-jpg.287875/

I've since replaced the hoses with longer hoses. It worked well for me in the field.
The problem is it's a bit bulky to stow in the pack. Perhaps a clip to secure the filter beside/parallel to the pump and some fitted hoses would work. Plus a clip to hold the hose to a bottle and a pre-filter (coffee filter) on the intake end. I'll let you come up with the design.


Edited by PerryMK (12/06/18 06:07 AM)

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#202231 - 12/06/18 11:30 AM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: Glenn Roberts]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 922
Loc: Torrance, CA
Originally Posted By Glenn Roberts
...
I always wondered why they never just incorporated the stays and the straps directly into the sleeping pad - I always thought it couldn’t have added more than 4 or 5 ounces to the weight, and would be a lot more convenient. I’m probably overlooking something. smile
....


Thermarest had a design like this on a prolite (or similar style) pad. My buddy has one. It is a bit more awkward to use than the adapter kits because you folded the ends of the pad in but they weren't held in place. I think they work ok for chair but not great and they were still fiddly like the add-on kits. I'm guessing they didn't sell well or we would still see them available.

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#202233 - 12/06/18 12:51 PM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: BZH]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1628
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I’d never seen one - probably because they never sold well... smile

Fiddle factor was the reason I finally gave up.

The best chair I ever had was the old Colin Fletcher rig: roll out your pad, prop up your external-frame pack with your hiking staff, and lean back. (Hey, there’s an idea: incorporate fold out legs into a pack frame, to make the pack self-supporting...)

Actually, I discovered that the Osprey Atmos, Exos and Levity packs (being high-tech external frames) can be propped up with a hiking pole, and if you lean back carefully and don’t wiggle around a lot, make a reasonable chair back with only a minor fiddle factor.

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#202289 - 12/10/18 11:23 AM Re: What do you want to be made better? Need Ideas [Re: DerickH]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2825
Loc: California
Many areas in the west require "bear proof" food storage. There are several models of bear canisters but all are too heavy, rigid so awkward to get inside a pack, and have limited storage space for long trips. The lighter weight ones cost a lot (about $250). There are also "electric fence" wraps/nets with solar powered batteries. So far the total weight is heavier than bear cans. In some areas you can hang food in a tree but it has to be 4+ feet from the trunk and 10+ feet off the ground. Any device to make setting that up easier would be good. There are also fabric (Kevlar) bags that have been provisionally approved, but these have been plagued with approval withdrawn in some areas.

Bear canisters have to be approved by specific government agencies, specific to an area. In general, they put the device in a cage with several bears, and over time see if the bear can get into the food. Some cans now approved for areas with black bears are not approved for areas with grizzly bears.

More broadly, animal-proof food storage is also applicable to campground camping and horse packing, and containers that are suitable for rodents with very sharp teeth.

Animal proof food storage is becoming required in more backpacking areas so are likely to become used more wide-spread in the future.

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