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A very not light pack.
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David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
A very not light pack. on 04/18/2009 16:24:18 MDT Print View

The last year has revealed a hole in the pack quiver. A ~50 liter, tough, simple pack for rough backpacking and more gear-intensive pursuits (like backcountry skiing). Nothing ready made was super-close to what I wanted, and I like projects, so I ordered up 2.5 yards of Ballistics and 2/3 of a yard of 1.9 oz silnylon, and made my own last night and this morning.

Pack, side view

I'm pleased. The fit is exactly what I wanted it to be, and was based on the dimensions and performance of my Osprey Talon 22, and my Cold Cold World Ozone. With a few adjustments.

More detailed shots are available here:

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: A very not light pack. on 04/18/2009 21:49:12 MDT Print View

Hi Dave

Looking at the attachment at the hip, it seems that the hip belt and the shoulder straps are held with just 1 and 2 rows of Bartack? That worries me a bit: I prefer to sew distributed rectangles with crosses to hold the webbing. It spreads the load better. Field testing will tell.

Any frame used?


/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Similar design w/ donor duffle bag on 04/18/2009 22:37:22 MDT Print View

I've been thinking of making a similar pack with an Ortlieb waterproof duffle-bags that weighs about 10 oz.

It should make a simple and reasonably durable waterproof panel-loading pack.

What do you think?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
hidden on 04/19/2009 06:48:21 MDT Print View

Roger, there are some other bar tacks (holding the straps to only the inside piece of Ballistics) which aren't shown in any of the photos. I thought about this issue, and decided to mimic the structure from the CCW pack. If I haven't been able to break that one after 6 years of canyoneering and climbing, it should hold up fine. Those panels would be one of the few areas were adding bar tacks would be fairly easy.

I've never been a fan of the ULA Arctic-style packs where the drybag is external. Too much of my hiking is in desert canyons or involves nasty bushwacking. Hauling a pack also becomes potentially failure-inducing. I also like this sort of thing to be very overbuilt.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
weight on 04/20/2009 09:13:15 MDT Print View

Got around to weighing the thing: 2 lbs 7 oz.


Edited by DaveC on 04/20/2009 09:14:06 MDT.

Eric Parsons
(EricP) - F

Locale: Alaska
nice! on 04/22/2009 11:16:36 MDT Print View

nice job Dave,
That thing looks killer.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: A very not light pack. on 04/23/2009 11:22:14 MDT Print View

Nicely done, Dave. Very clean, functional design. Still relatively light, especially compared to other bomber packs.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
revisions on 09/03/2009 15:13:43 MDT Print View

I've taken to calling this the all-pack. If it's not a day trip or superlight overnight, I use this. It's also good for hauling all manner of technical crap, though I've yet to take skis anywhere but around the backyard.

Based on a summer of testing, I made a few tweaks which made a huge difference. They also made it lighter: 28.5 oz. including a full Ridgerest short inside.

all-pack revisions

All the nitty gritty and details can be found here:

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
final update on 10/22/2009 15:09:42 MDT Print View

Parcour pack

I put this thing through it's paces enough hiking across the Bob Marhsall last week to call it done, with one modification. The 1/8" Thinlight I added to the shoulder straps packed down to nothing by the end of the trip, so I added in some burlier 1/4" rubberized foam and burlier mesh as well.

Otherwise, it's perfect. I started the Bob trip with over 30 lbs, and while definitely on the outer edges of it's comfort, the pack carried very well. Most obvious was the mobile, body hugging design, and the clean weather-shedding and quick drying properties of the fabrics. The beavertail also held big showshoes perfectly.

Very pleased.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
feature creep on 04/07/2010 10:59:04 MDT Print View

There's always something else, it would seem.

The heaviest loads I've yet carried in and on this pack have been on day trips, lugging all my ski gear (boots in the pack) up dry trails to access our miserable snowpack. I decided I needed a proper hipbelt. I had an old Mountainsmith lumbar pack in the scraps box, added some yoga mat to the lumbar portion only, and bartacked it on at the outside edges. Eh voila:

all pack again

It's only attached at those two points along the sides, which allows a bit of sag when loaded, but also promotes a nice range of motion. A successful experiment.

As can be seen above, I also added a bit of webbing in the upper left corner to facilitate a diagonal ski carry, which has proven more stable and out of the way in brush than the traditional A-frame carry.

While I was at it, I put on some hipbelt pockets to keep snacks, maps, and compass handy.

hipbelt pockets

The gray fabric is ballistics, same as the pack body. Zippers don't match, were scrounged from the scarps bin. Black fabric is a poly stretch woven job from some old and worn out Patagonia pants. The pockets fold down and stay out of the way when empty, but can easily hold three snickers bars each. The design does make the zipper opening fairly small when the pack is on. Not a problem given the larger items I put in them, but some might prefer to have the zippers out from the belt a bit for easier access.

Lastly, key this winter has been a vintage Sawchuk innovation:

glove holder

I bit of shockcord and a cordlock on the shoulder strap makes for a perfect glove and/or hat holder when skinning uphill. Put the fingers up so you don't get snow in them. When doing some orienteering the other day, I realized I can stuff my trekking poles through the lower part of the shoulder strap, then cinch down the shockcord around the handle and have a nifty pole holder a la the Osprey Exos series. Nice for taking bearings on the run.

Making and refining this pack has been such a fun experience. I've had to tweak it a few times (load lifter height ended up being crucial, and quite finiky), but it works great and adds a bit of "soul" to my backcountry experience. It should be around for a while.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
A very not light pack on 04/07/2010 11:27:37 MDT Print View

I like the look of this pack. Just an observation, but the torso lenght looks off by several inches - it appears too short. If you were to raise the shoulder straps (think Mchale here) you could get away without having the need for lifters.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
torso length on 04/07/2010 12:45:30 MDT Print View

David, a very good observation. Based on all my prior experience with far too many packs, I choose that torso length deliberately. For me, the wrap of the straps down my scapulas combined with load lifters makes for a much more comfortable carry than the current fashion (which I lament) of straps attached not far below shoulder level. The shoulder straps also come together much closer together in my design (5.5" center to center), which provides for a more freedom of movement and a better carry when doing things like skiing.

I do wish that the straps were about a half inch longer, that would put the load lifter attachment point a bit more forward which would be best.

I forgot to add the weight earlier. 34 oz. That hipbelt was heavy.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
ch-ch-ch-anges... on 07/28/2010 09:57:01 MDT Print View

This is the final update, for real!


Lengthened the shoulder straps with the yoke shown above, and changed the hipbelt (again). As David noted a little while ago, the straps were indeed too short. They are much more comfy now, and the pack fits like a glove. The Mountainsmith hipbelt was ok, but I decided it was overkill. These changes necessitated a new piece of fabric for the backpanel.


I also changed the shape of the pack subtly. It's a bit narrower at the bottom, and a bit wider at the top. This seems to agree with my center of gravity best. Spring skiing and overnight packrafting trips have borne this out.

To make this version really permanent, I aquasealed the bottom seams. No going back now! (As if..)

Long term report: yoga mat makes for very effective shoulder strap padding. It has proven very durable, and doesn't absorb water.

Joe Cangelosi
(JoeFish) - F

Locale: All Over California
Re: ch-ch-ch-anges... on 07/28/2010 10:58:55 MDT Print View

Looks good, and I completely agree with your observations about strap attachments. I've been thinking of modding my jam with this exact setup.

Thanks for sharing!

Kyle Caminita
(giant_kyle) - F
pattern? on 08/17/2010 09:23:59 MDT Print View

Disregard, i just saw your link to the details.....

Nice pack!!! I plan to make a larger version maybe this weekend.

Edited by giant_kyle on 08/17/2010 10:46:20 MDT.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
the story of the pack on 08/17/2010 18:25:29 MDT Print View

Thanks for your interest Kyle. Between that and the fact that a surprisingly large number of hits to my blog come from this thread, I thought I'd post an update. The pack has gotten a lot of use this summer.

The basic design of clean tough bag with beavertail and minimal harness is very applicable to a wide range of activities. The beavertail pocket (much respect to Dana Gleason!) is useful for all sorts of things; I can't imagine building a pack without one.

With all the backpacking and packrafting I've been doing this summer, I do find myself wanting side pockets for water bottle access. However, I'll soon be building a bigger pack which will have easy-access side pockets (and really be the culmination of the design and experimentation process this pack started), and the pack of side pockets makes bushwacking, skiing and climbing much better.

In short, I occasionally wish for more/different features, but those ends are better served by a different pack.

Feel free to continue to ask questions here or via PM.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
update again on 11/10/2010 22:27:56 MST Print View

The process never stops.

After building the North Fork pack and being very happy with the functionality of the side pockets ( I had to extend that to my smaller, tougher, do it all pack.

all pack v4

Details at the new (!) blog:

Edited by DaveC on 11/10/2010 23:25:27 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
re on 11/11/2010 07:05:15 MST Print View

I have that disease too

Making ever evolving models of packs, and other stuff

How much does it weigh?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
pack weight on 11/11/2010 07:23:28 MST Print View

Not sure on the weight. We moved a month ago, and the scale must still be in one of the unpacked boxes. Will advise.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: pack weight on 11/11/2010 20:19:31 MST Print View

You did a really nice job on those packs. I envy your skill!