Forum Index » GEAR » Front Loading UL pack?


Display Avatars Sort By:
Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Re: Lunar Solo on 01/26/2006 13:13:46 MST Print View

Hmmm... I just might have to get on the waiting list for the next production batch.

Robert Miller
(procab) - F
Re: New Additions to the SMD Essence Review on 01/26/2006 13:47:59 MST Print View

I received my Essence pack today. It weighs 369g (13.01 oz) as advertised.

I won't even attempt the voluminous treatise of pj but will refer to some of the points he made.

1) extension collar cord lock slippage - mine slips too. I thought perhaps the cord was too smooth for the cord lock to grip. I tried braided masons line that was somewhat coarser that slightly improved the grip. I then tried a light weight
round
cord used in mini-blinds thinking the round cross section might help. It didn't, perhaps because of its fine finish. Note that the cord lock used in the compression system is identical and holds well on a larger diameter round cord with a somewhat coarser finish.

I don't believe this is as big an issue as pj because there won't be much tension on this cord lock when the compression system is in place.

This cord lock may be the lightest I've ever seen. It weighs 1g and I cannot see the steel spring contained in a typical cord lock.

2) The top pocket is way cool! Without removing your pack you can easily undo the zipper behind your head and access an area that can easily hold my wadded up rain gear, my insulation layer and wind shell. I chill easily, so frequently I start the day wearing my insulation layer then once I warm up l need to remove my pack to stash it inside. With the Essence I can easily stash it in the top pocket without taking it off.

3) belt pockets - I have one minor issue with the zipper on the left belt pocket. When trying to zip it closed after being unzipped to its fullest extent it binds. My preliminary assessment is this because the zipper is going around the outside corner of the pocket and traveling back towards the belt, almost as if the zipper is 1/2" too long. The zipper on the right side pocket ends at the corner and works easily with one hand.

Ron, congratulations on selling out your first shipment of packs, you got a lot of convenience designed into 13 oz.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Lunar Solo on 01/26/2006 14:13:14 MST Print View

Mike, Since my memory already failed me once today, even though I was very confident of my answer this time, I wanted to actually check - just in case I was getting confused with another shelter.

Ok. The SMD Lunar Solo 'e' fits no problem at all either inside the pack or in the tall side pocket. Also, the original HS Squall which packs both narrower and much taller even fits. The ID eVENT Unishelter fits easily. I've placed its sectioned hoop pole between fold of the GG Nightlight torso pad to further support the v-frame. I'll be taking the 'Uni' just in case I bivy overnight in the nearby State Park.

I've loaded the pack up with winter gear (what little I actually have) and more water than I need. Weighed the pack at 20lb.

The pack is stuffed. Could fit only a bit more in it based upon how extended the storm flap retaining/compression straps are. However, I don't have a down winter sleeping bag yet. Temps may dip into the teens, so the WM Highlite won't do. What's adding weight and VOLUME to the pack is a MtnHW Trekker (short) 20deg 3D bag at 44oz. Guess it's simulating some food volume and a bit of weight over a 20deg winter down bag. The BMW Cocoon and Montbell Thermawrap pants and some down socks should easily get me into the teens even though I'm a cold sleeper.

Pack carries real nice and feels comfortable. Really need 12-14 hrs on the trail to find out though.

I added a second cord lock to the ext. collar cord. Both combined hold real well. I'll probably just remove the original one even though it's very small and light and leave the second.

I found one minor issue now that I've loaded up the belt pockets. The outer surface of the web pocket was accidently stitched to the back of the pocket where the additional rectangular piece of belt material is stitched furthest from the pack bag. I just snipped the thread. The thread holes in the silnylon of the belt pocket are virtually invisible and are not facing upwards. It shouldn't be too difficult to seal with some seam sealer for silnyon.

I've "popped" more of the buckles, once retensioning the pad in position after inserted the "Uni" poles. It is still intact and functioning perfectly, as is one of the five outer buckles that "popped" open (no...not the bottom one again). I've been paying more attention to how hard I pull on them and didn't think that I was over doing it, but apparently I was. Three times now with no damage to the buckles. They continue to hold well even after being over tensioned.

Edited by pj on 01/26/2006 14:24:49 MST.

Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Popped Buckles on 01/26/2006 16:44:18 MST Print View

>> I've "popped" more of the buckles, once retensioning the pad <<

It may seem that the buckles are an item that needs to be scrutinized. Not having seen them, I wonder if getting a different (more reliable?) buckle would be more advantageous when considering the difference in overall weight.

I have already placed my order for the next production. I hope these items that have been revealed will be addressed by then. I have the SMD Lunar Solo-e and like the product, with one exception and that is how the velcro closure of the vestibule is positioned, but that is easy to live with.

Edited by mikes on 01/26/2006 16:47:24 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Popped Buckles on 01/26/2006 18:20:44 MST Print View

Mike, Check out the SMD website for the Lunar Solo 'e'. Here is an excerpt:

* New for 06 Zipper Vestibule Closure makes opening and closing the vestibule a snap.
* New for 06 Single Piece Bathtub Floor makes a more watertight floor.

As far as the buckles, maybe it's just me - pulling too hard. The buckles don't break and still function fine.

Edited by pj on 01/26/2006 18:21:39 MST.

Robert Miller
(procab) - F
Re: Re: Popped Buckles on 01/27/2006 01:23:52 MST Print View

I too had a buckle pop. In fact the same pad buckle popped on three consecutive attempts to tension it.

After some tinkering I have been able to replicate the unfastening by slightly loading the male half of the buckle to one side. While holding this position the unloaded opposite side male barb will pop loose if moderately tensioned.

When the buckle is placed in tension squarely (i.e. as designed) it holds more than adequately.

Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Re: Re: Popped Buckles on 01/27/2006 12:09:41 MST Print View

>>> * New for 06 Zipper Vestibule Closure makes opening and closing the vestibule a snap.
* New for 06 Single Piece Bathtub Floor makes a more watertight floor. <<<

I already have the Lunar Solo-e and I like it. I can deal with the vestibule velco closure without the need to purchase the new version. Hmmm... $245 for new tent or $2.45 for new zipper. No offense intended, but I think that one's a no brainer.

As far as the buckles go, closer scrutiny can also include how you deal with them when used. Although if it were necessary to replace them, I would like to be able to do so without having to re do a large portion of the bag.

Edited by mikes on 01/27/2006 12:12:50 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Popped Buckles on 01/27/2006 12:16:51 MST Print View

>>"When the buckle is placed in tension squarely (i.e. as designed) it holds more than adequately."

Robert, Thanks. I'll keep that in mind

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Popped Buckles on 01/27/2006 12:19:11 MST Print View

>>"no brainer."

Mike, Agreed. My intent was to point out that your idea was a good one and was incorporated in the '06 model. I too will not be purchasing a new one just because of a zipper.

Robert Miller
(procab) - F
Essence Pack - heavy weight field test on 01/29/2006 20:39:12 MST Print View

Six Moon Designs, Essence Pack, First Production Run, 1/2006

- The test -

Starting weight including food and water 29 lbs.
Trailhead 2200 ft, camp 10 miles away at 5664 ft.
Estimated weight upon arrival at camp 24+ lbs.
Estimated weight upon departure from camp 16 lbs. (dumped nearly 1 gallon of water)
Finish weight 11+ lbs.

----- Initial concerns

I did not experience any buckles popping loose once I started pulling on them squarely. Its disconcerting when they do pop loose and I would recommend SMD consider using a more tolerant design.

The cord lock on the extension collar never slipped in use.

----- What I like:

- Shoulder straps -

Very well designed. I never had a desire for a sternum strap. Several times I had the straps so loose the pack body was away from my shoulder blades 2" and they stayed put.

- Hip belt -

Worked well. At one point I had a little chafing caused by a large wrinkle in my base layer. I slipped my fingers beneath the belt and smoothed it out and had no other problems with it.

- Hip pockets -

I fit a cellphone, gps, headlamp, first aid kit, some TP and a box of matches in one pocket! Needless to say they are great. The previously mentioned zipper issue disappeared if the pocket was full and reappeared when less then full.

- Front loading -

The SMD suspension system was made for a front loading pack. It would be a major hassle to strap the pad in to a top loading pack.

- The suspension -

You really have to try it to believe it. Solid and secure. It followed my torsos every move. You can easily loosen the shoulder straps to allow venting of the majority of your back while on the move. Note: I used a GG ThinLight 3/8" four layers thick.

----- What I didn't like:

SMD claims "One Size Fits Torsos 17 to 22 inches." I have a 21" torso and this pack is two inches too short for me. Measuring from the bottom of the hip belt to the top attachment point of the shoulder straps yields a dimension of 19". Loaded I think the hip belt would deflect 1/2" ~ 1" further diminising that dimension.

To be fair to SMD let me point out a few of the things that were working to aggravate the situation.

1) the pad I used is 5/8" shorter than the recommended 20".
2) fixed length poles forced me to reach higher (pulling on the straps) when climbing than if they were adjustable length.
3) In the days before poles you would lean forward to counter a heavier than normal pack but with fixed length poles ones range of posture is limited to a more upright position.
4) the uphill section also coincided with the heaviest weights carried.

----- Who is going to like this pack?

Clearly the Essence is aimed directly at mainstream UL hikers.

Those who will be especially attracted to it are those who are looking carry a more weight than the average UL pack will allow.

1) Thru hikers stretching out food drops.
2) Photographers
3) Hikers that need to carry lots of water. (For this foray I started with 2 gallons)

Ron, If you ever decide to make a tall version I'm first in line!

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
Essense's Dimensions??? on 02/01/2006 11:49:01 MST Print View

What are the approximate dimensions of the main pack body (excluding the top lid pocket and "extension collar")? How tall is the top lid (appears to be 4-5" tall)?

I'd guess the main pack is only 20" tall (pad width) and maybe 8" thick? But I can't judge the width? 10"? 12"?

Ron Moak
(rmoak) - F
Re: Essense's Dimensions??? on 02/01/2006 18:25:18 MST Print View

Tony, the basic demensions for the pack body is 20" X 11" X 9" for Height, width and depth.

Ron

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
Essense's Dimensions??? on 02/02/2006 07:15:19 MST Print View

Thanks. So, the top lid (more like an external stuff sack), is roughly 4"x11"x9", correct?

Ron Moak
(rmoak) - F
Re: Essense's Dimensions??? on 02/02/2006 08:17:35 MST Print View

That's correct.

Ron

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
Essense's "Big" side pocket? on 02/02/2006 09:07:18 MST Print View

What's the deal with the "Big" side pocket (I believe all SMD packs have one)? I've never really understood its need. Bladder?

I'm not saying "its wrong" or "its stupid", I'm just curious as to its intended purpose.

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Essense's "Big" side pocket? on 02/02/2006 09:29:40 MST Print View

I carry my shelter in the big side pocket. It can dry a bit in the sun during the day. Your shelter does not get your other gear wet when it is wet. I like to pack my shelter last and set it first thing when I stop for the night.

The side mesh pocket is not good for mountaineering, but for long trail hiking it is wonderful.

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
Essense's pad access... on 02/02/2006 14:43:06 MST Print View

From PJ's write-up...
"A second "crab", for me at least, is the inaccessibility of the pad for use as a sit-pad during the day at rest stops. An external pad pocket would have been my preference. However, having said that, the ease of loading/unloading and the accessibility provide by this front-loader, might (???) cause me to fetch the pad from the inner recesses of the pack for use if the rest stop was to be of an extended nature. I would never do this with a top-loader that didn't have an ext. pad pocket."

I have found I take fewer breaks (a bad thing) when I don't have access to pad. Given the panel load design, and a healthy use of stuff sacks, access the pad in the Essense should be a fairly quick, and painless(?), process compared to rucksack packs. I'll be interested in seeing how pad access plays out with this pack.

I also think this particular pack lends itself to placing very little inside main body. Which ought to make for unloading/loading it far more easy than a top loader.

Thinking/dreaming out loud...
* insulation layer, hat, gloves, glasses in top lid
* rain jacket under flap or side pocket.
* wind shirt in side pocket (or top lid until I get it all sweaty)
* lunch in side pocket.
* fuel in side pocket.
* TP/gell in side pocket.
* water in side pocket.
* compass, map, camera, journal, pen, snacks, AM in hipbelt pockets.

Which leaves, "evening pouch" (headlamp, 1st aid, fire starter, etc.), other food, stove/pot, bag and shelter inside. Or if I go tarp the shelter outside. Either way that's only 3-4 small-medium SS on the inside on "top" of the pad.


It also seems a bit odd that in Ron's crazy mind didn't come up with a means to provide access. Maybe a Essense mets Starlite type thing??

Edited by tlbj6142 on 02/02/2006 14:53:33 MST.

Ron Moak
(rmoak) - F
Re: Essense's pad access... on 02/02/2006 15:19:10 MST Print View

Tony,

I looked at a lot of ideas for the Essence, including a Starlight style rear pad pocket. While the pad pocket does work, it has significant restriction with regard to pack sizing.

People have already requested taller versions of the Essence along with support for shorter torsos. The short torso version is fairly easy to do and will be taken care of in future versions.

To do a taller version is a bit problematic. While I can stretch the height of the pack, I have no control over the length of the pad.

I'm working on a removable frame sheet for the pack that would replace the use of your pad as structure. This would make using inflatable pads more effective, provide additional load carrying (subject to the limitations of a non-padded hip belt) and provide additional storage.

So much to do so little time!

Ron

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
Essense's pad access... on 02/02/2006 17:20:11 MST Print View

"I'm working on a removable frame sheet for the pack that would replace the use of your pad as structure"

Not to mention allowing padless hammock campers the ability to use the pack.

Robert Miller
(procab) - F
Potential Essense long pad ideas on 02/02/2006 19:25:58 MST Print View

Ron,

I was anticipating your response of -

To do a taller version is a bit problematic. While I can stretch the height of the pack, I have no control over the length of the pad.


For a closed cell foam pad consider this idea:

potential pad solution

The black lines are cut through. The green and red lines are scored on opposite sides. Folded on the red line first, then the green line will yield a pad 10" x 23 1/2". The same folded size can be obtained by Exped short pads when folded in a similar manner. Pacific Outdoors shorts are close enough (48") that I think they would fit. The ProLite short would require a slightly different folding pattern to accomodate the tapered shape.

Potentially a full length (72") pad could be folded twice across its length to get a 24" height.

What do you think?

Robert

Edited by procab on 02/02/2006 22:10:57 MST.