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How do you pack a frameless pack?
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Jang-Tian Shieh
(syoten) - MLife

Locale: Taiwan
How do you pack a frameless pack? on 06/08/2009 05:07:18 MDT Print View

I know this topic has already discussed, but I still want to know more tips. This time I took pictures to describe my process. Please give me some comment, and share your methods.

I typically use several plastic water bottles to solidate the virtual frame.
Though the casual plastic bottle is a little heavier than platypus bottles ,I prefer to use it since two of my platypus leaked.

When water bottle is necessary thing for me, I think it is good to multifunction it to make the pack frame.

Following is how I usually pack my pack.

First of all, It is important to choose a pack of suitable size which won't have too many extra room after every thing will be carried packed in.

1.using a folded pad into the innerpad sleeves to be the basic frame
It also avoid the discomfort resulted from irregular shaped gears in the pack.

2. using my montbell 7oz bivy as the liner bag
And than put the sleeping bag into it first without bag sack.
There is an advantage to do that since the bag will fill the space between kinds of stuffs.

puting things won't be used before camping.
I use to put tent or tarp outside the bivy, since sometimes they may be wet.
Heavy things should be put close to our back.
Remember to put those you don't want it to be wet during the trail into bivy. (extra clothes, food, etc.)

5. puting bottle or pot in the middle position of pack near back.
I used to make the flat bottom of pot depend on the pad to offer the flat back panel.
Sometimes I put a bottle sidelong.
Both bottle and pot can avoid the bend along the major axis of the pack. (avoid the pack to be like a vertical log)

6. putting things which will be used during the hiking

7. vertically put bottles into two sides of the pack
I found it's easier to plug the bottle with its mouth down.
The two bottles make sure that the pack won't bend along shorter axis.

8. puting fleece or insulation top on the top of the pack
It's convenient to put it on when I taking a rest.

9. putting things which can not be pressed

something like sun glasses, bread, etc.

10. putting other things which might be frequently or instantly needed in the outside pocket
like water bottle, rain gear, food etc.

11. closing the pack and compressed bascially
If you don't think it inconvenient to put out the water from the main body of the pack every time when you take a break, the bottle filled with the water you will drink during the walking can also be put sidelong between pack and fleece. It can offer additional rigidity of the virtual frame.

12. final compression step
I put the pack on the ground with the frame upward, and pull both of the shoulder straps with two hands when my knee on the pack to make the pack bend like our back.
Finally, tighten the compression straps of the pack with my knee still on the pack.

After those steps, the pack become very solid.
Sometimes I just feel that it is an internal frame backpack!

It is notable that if the pack lack of compression straps, we should compress stuffs and plug them forcefully when we put evry thing into the pack.

You can also see the pictures here.

Edited by syoten on 06/08/2009 18:27:14 MDT.

Eric Beaudry
(EricBeaudry) - F
Packing frameless. on 06/08/2009 07:55:35 MDT Print View

Nice tutorial.

Curious what pack that is? Looking for a new small volume ruck....


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: How do you pack a frameless pack? on 06/08/2009 10:05:42 MDT Print View

When I have a base weight under 10lbs, I pack in the order I need items. Not worried about heavier items at the top, because there are no heavy items, other than water and food.

All my UL packs have some sort of a sleeve or straps to hold the pad, which is my frame.

I always have two water bottles (Platys) in the side pockets. They have never leaked. If I was worried about leaking, then I would use an Aquafina or Gatoraide bottle.

If no chance of rain, poncho/tarp and food not needed for the day go in the bottom. A two litle Platy goes in next. Then I put my quilt in. If it is really hot, the Platy goes on top of the quilt. I do not use a pack liner. The quilt goes in a large Cuben Fiber suff sack. If I am going to need the 2 liter Platy, it goes on top of the quilt.

I would not buy a pack without some sort of compression system.

Jang-Tian Shieh
(syoten) - MLife

Locale: Taiwan
Re: How do you pack a frameless pack?" on 06/08/2009 18:47:23 MDT Print View

This pack is made by Rodney Liwanag.
You may find some information about him in internet.

I agree with you that when the base weight is low down to a level, there is nothing heavy to be worried about where to put. But as you mentioned, food and water should be considered. Though my base weight is always below 8lbs, but the total weight is not very light because I used to drink a lot of water carried from home for a weekend trip. That's why I used to pack my pack carefully to provide rigid virtual frame.

I also prefer to have sleeves or straps to hold the pad. I think this way is better than using a wrapped pad.
However, I haven't tried a pack with pad sleeves outside it like every GG's pack. I'm wondering if it works as well as those inside the pack. Load lifter is also important for me when I use hipbelt since I don't like the pack hangs back off my shoulders at a bad angle even when the pack is very light.

For a pack without compression system, I think the size is even more important. Not being able to be filled with stuffs may not only cause the pack difficult to have a rigid virtual frame but also easily shock during the hike, but I think this issue can be resolved by high loft stuffs like sleeping bag or insulation clothes. Therefore, I'm planing to buy a ultralight pack without any compression system like Zpacks zero to reduce my base weight. I've already own a golite ion, but it's too small, and I don't like its zipper closure.

Edited by syoten on 06/08/2009 19:26:45 MDT.

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
How to pack a frameless on 06/08/2009 20:01:30 MDT Print View

4 section Z-rest sit pad goes in first against the back-panel. then quilt and extra clothing inside a GG pack-liner,then tarp, bivy,sleeping pad, cook-set, rain-suit and MB Therma-wrap jacket or parka, depending on the temps.
Food in last on top of everything and as close to my back as possible, along with water filter. TP kit,cordage,personal kit,fire-starter kit,extra 1.8 liter platy(empty) and a warm beanie hat and gloves in front mesh outer pocket. (if temps require)
Two .9 liter platy's, one in each mesh side pocket. Head lamp, pinch-light, small knife, chap-stick ,handkerchief, 2 balance bars, and 2 packs of sport beans in the hip-belt pockets.

Edited by mfog1 on 06/08/2009 20:06:36 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: How do you pack a frameless pack?" on 06/08/2009 20:15:22 MDT Print View


I like the GG packs with the outside sleeves. This way, the pad is always tight in the sleeves providing some support no matter what is inside the pack bag. You just need to make sure the pad is sized to the GG sleeves. I use a GG Nightlight torso pad, a GG 3/8" pad cut to 30" long and a BPL Torsolight pad, and they all fit nice and snug. I have a ULA Conduit and there are straps inside to somewhat secure the pad, but is is not secure unless the pack is full and tight with the compression straps. The straps do not work as well as the sleeve for me.

I have been very comfortable with my GG Murmur with up to 17lbs total weight, packing it as I described earlier. It is just about the least expensive pack I have ever purchased and has become my absolute favorite. There are times when I need to go heavier, then I switch to another pack. My next sized pack is a ULA Conduit. I really like the Conduit, but the short side pockets are problematic for me. I like to carry two 1 liter Plays in my side pockets, and they are too big to stay secure, so I have to use a sports drink bottle. That is becoming a deal-breaker for me. I also have a ULA Ohm, but am thinking about replacing it with a GG Mariposa Plus, given what I like about the Murmur.

But what works for me, may not work for others.

Jang-Tian Shieh
(syoten) - MLife

Locale: Taiwan
Re: How do you pack a frameless pack? on 06/08/2009 20:54:12 MDT Print View

My name is Jang-Tian. Shieh is my family name. Maybe next time I have to change it to be Jangtian or choose an English name to avoid confusions.

I really want to try a GG pack in the future not only because of the outside sleeves but also many removable options. I prefer the size of Murmur, but I'm affraid the spinnaker is too fragile. I haven't seen this fabric before, and cannot figure out how its durability is from the threads in the community. Maybe Miniposa is another option for me.

Actually, I still not used to a pack without loadlifters, so I even add it on my golite ion. Without load lifters, do any one no how to prevent the angled shoulder strap when using a hipbelt?

Edited by syoten on 06/08/2009 21:00:04 MDT.


Locale: South West US
Re: Re: How do you pack a frameless pack? on 06/08/2009 21:45:07 MDT Print View

Personally I don’t like a pack that’s rigid. I find that it doesn’t conform to my back quite so well and reduces the overall carry comfort. I use ULA Conduit and recently switched to a new packing method, which I lifted from Ray Jardine’s site. I used to pack much like those above but this new way feels much better to me. To each their own of course.

Keep in mind that a bear can is required where I do most of my backpacking (Sierras). I use a bare boxer, which is excellent for the weekend warrior like myself. If a bear can weren’t required this method would still work.

The general idea is food at the bottom, soft stuff in the middle, other items on top and stuff I might need through out the day in outside pockets. No real need to open the main pack bag at all during the day.

Now for specifics:
Against my back is a folded downmat 7 (love this pad).

At the bottom I put the pump sack for the downmat for padding

Next I put in the Bare Boxer

On top of that goes my sleeping quilt and extra clothing in separate stuff sacks sitting vertically next to each other

Next on top are my shelter, pot and stove. (I close up the main pack at this point)

In the outside front pocket is my essentials stuff sack, water filter and food for the day.

Side pockets have water bottles and an umbrella

Hip belt pockets have map compass, sunglasses, sunscreen etc.

If I were using even the small bearvault I’d have to pack it higher up as it simply wouldn’t fit at the bottom of the Conduit. The amount of food I can carry this way is limited to about four days. This is fine though as my schedule doesn’t allow me any longer trips

Edited by oiboyroi on 06/08/2009 23:50:03 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: How do you pack a frameless pack? on 06/08/2009 22:44:11 MDT Print View


I apoligize for the improper use of your name. Now you taught me something.

The spinnaker material is pretty tough. But not good for abrasive surfaces, such as dragging it across rocks. A few weeks ago I got into some thick brush, and ended up with a small tear on the side. I was my fault, not the pack's. The more I use this pack, the more impressed I am with it.

With light loads you do not need load lifters or even a waist belt. Sometimes I remove the waist belt from my Murmur. If I am carrying more than 2 liters of water, then I put the waist belt back on the pack. That is the benefit of ultralight packs, you don't need all the extra stuff to handle weight, because there is so little weight to handle.

Sometimes I hike in the desert with little water available and need to carry 8 or more liters of water. In this situation I carry a heavy pack with a waist belt, load lifters, an internal or even extral frame. The conditions dictate what pack I need to use to carry my stuff.

There is no "correct" way to pack a frameless pack. What works for each person is the best way. Of course sometimes people do things in a manner that one may not have thought of trying and it may or may not work better for that person. This is what is great about BPL, lots of people sharing their ideas, gear, and techniques.

The Miniposa is a good pack too. It is much bigger than the Murmur and weighs twice as much.

Jang-Tian Shieh
(syoten) - MLife

Locale: Taiwan
Re: Re: How do you pack a frameless pack? on 06/09/2009 00:47:16 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the opinions and sharing so far.

Thanks for your opinion about rigid pack. Maybe I'm still new to ul backpacking so it's difficult for me to imagine carrying a pack without rigid frame. I'll try kinds of different pack and packing method to feel the comfort.

It's ok. I know my name is difficult to be recognize by foreigners.
Thanks for your advice. I think the reason why I feel load lifters are necessary may be that I used to pack the pack very tight and use hipbelt. I even ordered a MLD 2009 revelation with adding load lifters, wing belts and pad sleeves. It's a little difficult to change the way I accustomed to. But I'll try other ways you share in the future.
I agree with you that "There is no "correct" way to pack a frameless pack. What works for each person is the best way". I found there are so many ideas, gears, and techniques I haven't try or event thought before. BPL is so interesting.
Quilt is also one thing I want to try on the next step.

My another larger pack is SMD comet. I altered it a little and add upper pad sleeve to be able to insert pad as long as the pack body. I found this pack is far more long than my other packs. It cause the frame easily deformed if I don't use the Al stays. So I alway let the stays in it. With the two al stays, it's very comfortable and can carry a lot. I usually use this pack when I go hiking with my girl friend because I have to carry almost all of the stuffs of both of us. I think may be she is the one go SUL.

I like the large mesh pocket of comet pack. But for some of my trip, there are no trail and thorns everywhere. For situation like that, I think I need a dyneema ripstop pack without mesh pocket outside.


Locale: South West US
Re: Re: Re: How do you pack a frameless pack? on 06/10/2009 18:16:23 MDT Print View


Thank you for bring this topic up. It does receive little attention, perhaps because its sort of a personal preference thing. There is certainly no "right" way to pack. I do appreciate seeing how others do it cause it may open my eyes to a new technique.