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A Custom Backpack – Designed by You
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Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
A Custom Backpack – Designed by You on 12/18/2007 22:24:07 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

A Custom Backpack – Designed by You

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: A Custom Backpack – Designed by You on 12/19/2007 08:48:29 MST Print View

What a fascinating article.

How rugged is the fabric, Dimension Polyant TX2 fabric, that is used in your pack? Is it going to be as rugged as the fabric used in Six Moon Design's Starlight pack (a pack I have now).

I'd like to see a clone of the Starlight that has four alterations: (1) it could fit the Bearikade Expedition Cannister horizontally in it and (2) it would use a belt similar to either the Granite Gear Vapor Trail or the Osprey Aether 60 belt and (3) use a stronger but lighter fabric if one exists -- I'm curious about the Dimension Polyant TX2 fabric and (4) uses stiffer (stronger) stays.


John Haley
(Quoddy) - F

Locale: New York/Vermont Border
Re: Re: A Custom Backpack – Designed by You on 12/19/2007 09:29:30 MST Print View

This is obviously a nice design, well thought out by Will to be a POMP (Pack Of Many Pockets) that fit his needs. I know the amount of thought that goes into a pack such as this since I have a customized McHale being made at this time.

I wanted a lightweight, lightly framed, pack with a very clean design, so I went with a Q Bayonet, guide harness, 36" circumference LBP (Little Big Pack) version of the sub-pop. Total weight should be in the range of a Catalyst. The ability to have exactly what you want on a pack which is made to your exact measurements is great. I chose to go with a full Dyneema version.

BTW... Roleigh, I had flap added to the base of my double summit flap to hold a Bearikade Expedition Cannister under it.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Dimension Polyant on 12/19/2007 09:32:27 MST Print View

I believe that is the same fabric used for much of my Mountainsmith Phantom. The fabric is tough as nails, I really like it. A custom pack made out of that fabric is very tempting.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Re: Re: A Custom Backpack – Designed by You on 12/19/2007 09:40:41 MST Print View

John, when you get your customized pack, can you share some photos of it, loaded, with the Expedition cannister on it? Also, what is the weight of the pack, and the cubic inches volume of the main pack (and of the side pouches too)?

Do you have a link showing something similar at McHale Packs now?


Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: A Custom Backpack – Designed by You on 12/19/2007 09:45:16 MST Print View

I'm glad to see that Will chose to wear rain gear to test the waterproofness of this pack :P.
The Polyant looks really similar to fabric my MS Phantom is made out of. It has been tough as nail for me.


John Haley
(Quoddy) - F

Locale: New York/Vermont Border
Re: Re: A Custom Backpack – Designed by You on 12/19/2007 10:16:52 MST Print View

Roleigh (and others)...

Link to very similar pack (this one has a pocket added):

Link to summit flap canister/water bladder holder:

Edited by Quoddy on 12/19/2007 12:27:37 MST.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Re: Re: A Custom Backpack – Designed by You on 12/19/2007 10:22:49 MST Print View

John, do you have the link to the cover page that has text that talks about the pack whose pictures you provide a link to? Thanks! Want to share your costs with us too?

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Great article! on 12/19/2007 10:25:18 MST Print View

I enjoyed reading about your custom pack design process. Too bad my torso length isn't a bit shorter or I'd ask what happened to the first pack :)

(cuzzettj) - MLife

Locale: NorCal - South Bay
A Custom Backpack – Designed by You on 12/19/2007 11:56:39 MST Print View

This is a great article. I may give R2 a try. I always wanted a larger version of my GoLite Breeze with two long exterior side pockets for 2 liter Water Bladders and a loop and lock system for my hiking poles.

I love the fabric used for this pack, also. I love seeing new material used. You really can't get this good of information from any other site. Thank you BPL!

Ryan Corder
(demo) - MLife

Locale: Arkansan in Seattle
Re: Dimension Polyant on 12/19/2007 13:43:13 MST Print View

all the packs in the now defunct "Mountainlight" series from Mountainsmith were made from a combination of VX-21 and VX-42. I too can attest to their bulletproof-ness.

Will Rietveld
(WilliWabbit) - MLife

Locale: Southwest Colorado
Dimension Polyant VX2 on 12/19/2007 17:26:15 MST Print View

The VX2 is the lightest Dimension Polyant X-Pac fabric available. Its tough, but not bombproof, so it definitely requires some TLC. It's not nearly as tough as Dyneema Gridstop, for example. The former Mountainsmith Mountainlight packs brought our attention to the Dimension Polyant fabric, and it held up to the test of time. GoLite used some of it in their previous line of packs too. Ron found it fairly easy to work with for pack making.


Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
The Holy Grail, at last. on 12/19/2007 18:29:18 MST Print View

Great article, Will. Many thanks for sharing with us. I, for one, will be talking with R2.

Ron D
(dillonr) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: A Custom Backpack – Designed by You on 12/20/2007 08:21:34 MST Print View

Like John I am currently working with McHale on a customized backpack. The McHale offers the ability to customize fabrics, size, features, suspension systems and a tremendous range of options. Dan McHale is also more than willing to incorporate any special features or options that you want. But, I can't imagine McHale ever producing a sub 1 pound pack like the R2 in the article. Dan is too concerned with making durable long lasting packs that are very comfortable to carry. He does offer a lot a approaches to make the pack relatively lightweight with smaller packs, lighter fabrics and streamlined design. A feature I like about the McHale is that it is modular in many aspects. You can remove or use lighter versions of the suspension system and remove options to reduce weight or add them back on for increased weight or volume. The R2 website is more organized and process driven than the McHale one which looked like a real plus. On the other hand once you send Dan your fit measurements he sends a demo pack that you use to finalize the fit. I have probably sent a half dozen emails with photos of the demo pack with different weights and suspensions as well as multiple conversations with Dan on fit and features. It's a very individualized approach and I can't imagine the fit or design being wrong on the final pack. It really helps to have the demo pack at your house for a few weeks to work out what you really want to have in the pack and to see how the fit works. I spent a lot of time to see how different gear fit and tried weights ranging from 20 pounds to over 50 pounds. The suspension system is pretty remarkable, you don't even notice 20 pounds and loaded up to 52 pounds it was heavy but did not stress my shoulders at all (I don't plan to carry that much but had to try it out). I've never been able to say my shoulder don't hurt on any previous pack, even my old external frame. I currently use a Mariposa and I've been very happy with it up to about 25 pounds, unfortunately there are times when conditions, trip length or just the people you are going with mandate more weight. The McHale is perfect fit for those situations that the 1 lb or lighter packs can't handle and McHale's customized approach lets you get exactly what you want in a pack.

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Dimension Polyant VX2 on 12/22/2007 19:09:40 MST Print View

The VX2 fabric seems to be the same as the LuxuryLight VX-02. Is this true? I have had the LuxuryLight VX-02 cloth cylinders for 3 years now. The first failures were caused by "slices" from sharp objects. Most likely tree branches or sharp rock edges. The good news is that the slices don't migrate past the polyester yarn grid. These slices were easily repaired with sail tape.

After two seasons of use the cylinders began to show wear in the form of small holes worn through the fabric. I have been very careful with the pack but small "hard" items seem to abrade the fabric and I now have many small holes, mostly on the bottom of the cylinders.

The VX-02 cylinders are still my favorites but they are not waterproof anymore. I now must carry a pack cover if I expect rain. I wish the fabric was a little more abrasion resistant.

LuxuryLight Pack with VX-02 cylinders

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
RE: A Custom Backpack - Designed by Me? on 12/24/2007 23:08:23 MST Print View

Who knew that such an option existed? I was familiar with the McHale variety, but not R2. Thanks for bringing this to our attention Will and BPL!

And great pack design Will. I couldn't part with my external mesh water bottle pockets at this point, but your huge hip belt pockets and sternum strap pocket got me excited about the possibilities. Then I recall the truly waterproof (and floatable) design of the Arctic pack, and well... I will be spending the next little while daydreaming about my perfect pack.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
2 Packs - One price? on 12/27/2007 05:48:04 MST Print View

I am extremely impressed with R2 and have seen them before (I think a link was posted a while back on them). At the point I am at, I would probably go with a custom next. R2 will most likely be them - I'd even take the same one you had designed!
I do have a question...when you state a mis-communication, who do you feel mis-communicated? Do you think R2 would have replaced the pack if you DIDN'T work for BPL? Not trying to stir the pot, just very curious as R2 had to take a hit on the pack. Unless they modified the first one? Or had someone lined up to purchase it?
"Mis-communication" during custom work over the phone/internet could potentialy happen rather easily. Looks as though they have covered all angles with their layout scheme...
Any thoughts?

Edited by Steve_Evans on 12/27/2007 05:49:00 MST.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Dimension Polyant VX2 on 12/29/2007 17:44:41 MST Print View

This caught my eye enough to get one.

I actually had some very specific things I wanted in order to get this pack.

I was shocked that absolutely every last thing I've I wanted in a pack, was no problem for them.

This thing is pimped out exactly the way I wanted it with the exact displacement I want.
Ron is awesome to work with when it came to the design process as well.

Don't be fooled by the computer lay out and be thinking that you have to pick from only those options.

These packs are 100% custom to the designer’s imagination.

Edited by awsorensen on 01/06/2008 00:11:07 MST.

Kai Larson
(KaiPL) - F

Locale: Colorado
Out of Business on 08/14/2008 18:05:58 MDT Print View

R2 is out of business.

Kai Larson
(KaiPL) - F

Locale: Colorado
Out of Business on 08/14/2008 18:06:53 MDT Print View

Sadly, R2 has shut its doors