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Ron Stoecklein
(rs7trout) - F
Front Loading UL pack? on 01/25/2006 10:12:05 MST Print View

I'm currently using the GG Mariposa and really like it.

I'm trying to put a system together whereby I can carry my 4x5 setup--I could do it with the Mariposa--but it would not be as convenient to get to equipment.

Just wondering if anyone is familiar with a front loading pack that is at least sub 2 lbs. that might work?

thanks
Ron

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Front Loading UL pack? on 01/25/2006 10:27:09 MST Print View

I've been on a similar search, as I much prefer front (panel) loading. Until just recently, it seems like all UL/frameless packs are toploaders, as it is lighter to cinch up the top with a piece of cord and cordlock than using zippers.

However, Ron Moak of Six Moon Designs recently came out with the Essence Pack, which boasts front loading and weighs just 13oz!

Edited by ben2world on 01/25/2006 10:33:10 MST.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
front loading ul pack on 01/25/2006 10:27:11 MST Print View

Take a look at the new 6 Moons Design "Essence". I would be careful about high density loads w/ such a light pack,however.

Edited by kdesign on 01/25/2006 10:28:21 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Front Loading UL pack? on 01/25/2006 11:37:16 MST Print View

The SMD Essence pack ordered ~3 wks ago arrived today. A "ReaderReview" is in progress at this time and will be updated for some days to come as time permits and more experienced is gained with the SMD Essence pack.

Here is a link to a ReaderReview for the SMD Essence Pack

In case my poorly written review creates more questions than it answers, feel free to post back here and I will attempt to concisely answer any questions posted. Please, feel free to point out any errors in my review, or ways to improve it. Many thanks, pj

Edited by pj on 01/25/2006 11:50:44 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Front Loading UL pack? on 01/25/2006 12:03:01 MST Print View

Hi Paul:

Thanks for the quick write up of your initial impressions of this pack. Can you post a few pics? I am especially intrigued about this pack's front loading and would like to see how it all works.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Front Loading UL pack? on 01/25/2006 12:19:25 MST Print View

Ben,

I'm sorry. I've never owned a camera, film or digital.

Once either Franco, or Rick Dreher adopt me and I move in, I should have access to plenty of camera equipment.

All I can say is that the pics of the Essence pack on the SMD website don't do it justice. I wish that the original pics of the pack which were removed from the webpage two or three weeks ago, IIRC, were still present. There were blue hyperlinks and one provided an excellent view of the ext. collar and storm flap. Of course, one of those pics was of the initial design for securing the pad in place.

Edited by pj on 01/25/2006 15:07:00 MST.

Ron Moak
(rmoak) - F
Re: Re: Re: Front Loading UL pack? on 01/25/2006 13:02:27 MST Print View

Paul,

Thanks for the in depth comments. Just to correct a note of confusion in your posting. The only places grosgrain webbing is used in the pack are in the haul loop and the ice axe loop. All other webbing used through out the pack is standard Nylon webbing. While heaver than grosgrain it has the best wear life available. The webbing in the hip belt is 1.5 inch wide.

As to the buckles, they are something we are monitoring. The longest delay in bringing the pack to production was in trying to secure small light buckles. I spent over 6 months looking at suppliers around the globe and couldn’t find exactly what I’m looking for. We’re still looking at different options for future production. Needless to say if problems with existing buckles arise in the field we’ll quickly address any problems.

I hope to get better photos of the pack on the website. I only had the production prototype a couple of hours before needing to send it back. Plus my photography skills are somewhat lacking. There’s only so many hat’s I can wear well. Anyway I’ve got a professional photographer lined up and we’ll try to get more photos up on the web. Don’t have an exact date but bear with us.

Ron

David Wiesenfeld
(davidwiesenfeld) - F
Re: Front Loading UL Pack on 01/25/2006 13:18:06 MST Print View

Paul-

I noticed in your description of the Essence pack that you didn't mention anything about hipbelt padding. Does this indicate that the hipbelt doesn't have any padding? If not, are the 8-9" of the back padding material that connect the webbing to the pack wider than 2" webbing, creating unpadded, wide "wings" like Golite has on a couple of their packs (dawn, gust, jam)?

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Front Loading UL pack? on 01/25/2006 13:19:14 MST Print View

Mr. Moak,

Just finished firing off an email to you & I decide to check back here and found your post waiting. Many thanks for the clarification. I really never knew the difference between plain webbing and grosgrain. I'm still not sure that I got it down. I will update the Review using your guidelines. If I still get it wrong, please let me know again.

BTW, the pack looks great. "WOW" was all I could keep on saying to myself. You and Six Moon Designs sure do NOT disappoint. I should have expected such an excellent product with such a high level of design and construction after using your Lunar Solo 'e' tent. Can't wait to get the Essence pack out on the trail and put it through its paces.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Front Loading UL Pack on 01/25/2006 13:22:13 MST Print View

David,

Correct, no padding in the hip-belt. Yes - it's wider than the webbing portion of the hip-belt.

Here's the dimensions:
1) those "rectangles" of additional connecting/support material = 4" wide x ~4.5" long.
2) the super-"wings"/non-webbing portion of the hip-belt: 5.5" wide near the pack-bag tapering down to 3.5" wide where the webbing initally attaches. It's also 9" long (lucky guess on my part).

I should add that the non-webbing portion of the hip-belt (i.e., the super-"wings") also function as the back of the hip-belt pockets.


The GoLite Gust and Jam have mini-wings which seem to do an adequate job for the pack weights they are intended to carry. The SMD Essence pack's "wings" (if I may call them that, for lack of a better term, they are really much more than wings) are really much more substantial and "wings" (???) is probably NOT the proper term to use to describe them.

I'll update the Review tomorrow afternoon (EST) after I load the pack up and jog up and down some stairs for 5 or 10 minutes with ~20lbs in the pack.

Edited by pj on 01/25/2006 13:40:36 MST.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Re: Re: Front Loading UL Pack on 01/25/2006 15:08:31 MST Print View

Last night I took a long hard look at my first ul pack, a gregory advent pro, and decided, I was going to cut it up :-). I never use it, it was 2lbs 10oz in size large, so I cut off basicaly everything except the side pockets, now the weight is 2lbs.
sadly, I will still never use it and now cant sell it. oh well, mabey for an expedition snow shoeing trip in the future I will need the volume? but for even a week, I dont need more than 2200cu in.

any way, it is a good front loader for a lightweight backpacker, but 1000 cu in too large for me. :-)

Mark W Heninger
(heninger) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Front Loading UL pack? on 01/25/2006 15:36:57 MST Print View

I got my pack today, so I'll post some picts tonight hopefully.

As an aside, I am quite impressed with the pack. Its quite a beautiful thing to look at and I've already learned a few things from its contruction that I'm going to apply to a pack I'm sewing for SUL stuff (6 oz pack).

My only concern is that the way the shoulder strap is attached to the pack at the shoulder. It does not seem to have the same reinforcement I've seen in other UL packs. Maybe they'll hold just fine, and I have no doubt SMD will stand behind it under normal usage, but something I'm going to really watch.

I'm going to go on a 4 day trip next week, where this pack will serve duty and I'll write a review on my return.

Edited by heninger on 01/25/2006 15:45:45 MST.

Ron Moak
(rmoak) - F
Re: Re: Re: Front Loading UL pack? on 01/25/2006 16:15:22 MST Print View

I'd have to say the response for the Essence was extremely overwhelming. We sold out the first production run in under two weeks. There are a number of people on this site who’ve ordered packs but will need to wait until the next production run to receive them. I’ve still got a few packs left to ship, if you didn’t get in the initial run, you’ll be notified individually.

However, the speed of the sales has caught me in a bit of a bind. Normally it takes quite sometime to sale that many packs. As a result, I’ve got time to clear the cobwebs of the first design and factor in feed back from users before starting the next production run. As many of you are well aware of, I’m very receptive to design enhancements and to making changes that will make the packs better.

I’m holding back the start of the next production run for about 30 days in order to gather feedback and resolve any unforeseen issues. If we uncover any problems affecting the initial production run, of course we’ll correct them. So for those of you lucky enough to get yours first let me know what works and what doesn’t. Those who follow will be sincerely appreciative.

Ron

Ron Stoecklein
(rs7trout) - F
Essence on 01/25/2006 21:09:55 MST Print View

Thanks for all the input with regard to my original post---The Essence pack sounds precisely what I am looking for--in fact I would have to say at 13oz. it exceeds what I thought might be avaiable in a front loading pack..

I'm only sad that its not available until March now--but intend to get on Ron Moak's list!

Thanks Paul for your detailed review!

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
New Additions to the SMD Essence Review on 01/26/2006 03:01:36 MST Print View

OK. Who can sleep when they've just gotten a new pack? Certainly, not me.

Here is a link to a ReaderReview for the SMD Essence Pack

To find the new info, scroll down to the bold heading: Wednesday Evening GMT-5:00, 25jan2006 for the new info.

Only minor spelling, grammar, and wording changes have been made to the previous info.

Edited by pj on 01/26/2006 03:13:15 MST.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
SMD review on 01/26/2006 10:47:29 MST Print View

When's the book coming out? ;-)>
Looking forward to your field tests.

You should consider getting involved in the Backpackgeartest.org circuit.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: SMD review on 01/26/2006 12:16:56 MST Print View

Kevin,

Sorry 'bout the length. Maybe I'm just kidding myself, but I felt that since I couldn't post photos since I don't own a camera that the thousand words would, in some small part, make up for no photos. I sure hope someone else can post some photos. It's really quite an impressive looking pack.

I'll keep the field test shorter.


>>"You should consider getting involved in the Backpackgeartest.org circuit."

Nah. I'm a hack.

Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Re: Re: SMD review on 01/26/2006 12:40:00 MST Print View

Paul,

Does the SMD Solo Lunar fit in the Essence pack well or should it fit outside?

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Lunar Solo on 01/26/2006 13:02:45 MST Print View

It is a perfect fit in the long mesh pocket of the Essence.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: SMD review on 01/26/2006 13:04:21 MST Print View

Mike, Haven't tried. It's packed away for the winter. I'll dig it out and post back later - prob. this weekend. I'll make a new post so that it shows up on your "New Posts" listing.