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Lumbar Pack/Marmot Highlander?
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Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
Lumbar Pack/Marmot Highlander? on 04/07/2006 11:33:19 MDT Print View

For weekend SUL trips in agreeable weather, has anoyone found a workable lumbar pack? I saw this in store and was intrigued (but mortified by the weight):

Like many, I lose a lot of fluid through my back and shoulders in any weather. A lightweight Lumbar pack, if workable, could possibly mitigate my leakage issue. I tried this thing in a store and was intrigued, but I don't know if the volume would be workable or if this type of pack would handle 10-12 lbs as well as a real pack.

Does your SUL gear fit in 1000 cubic inches, not including water and something fluffy strapped to the top?

Any insight would be much appreciated!


John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Lumbar Pack/Marmot Highlander? on 04/09/2006 20:12:01 MDT Print View

I think those lumbar packs with the shoulder straps look cool. Wish somebody would make one of silnylon.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Lumbar Pack/Marmot Highlander? on 04/09/2006 22:55:20 MDT Print View

Miltary desingers have been doing this for decades. Hand grenades are about 14oz each and loaded M-16 magazines are 17oz each, so it wouldn't take long to exceed the load that a SUL would be looking to haul. And of course the miltary gear is extremely overbuilt for hiking purposes.

But the picture should get your attention. Imagine all the UL pack building techniques applied to such a rig. I'd go for a couple packbags on the back, both built like roll-top waterproof bags-- one for a sleeping bag, the other for clothing and food. A tall verticle cook kit like the Fosters/Esbit would work well on a belt like this. Add water containers (duhhhh canteens) and a couple more pockets for essentials and snacks and you have a system. Nice when you want ot day hike as you can just take off the modules you don't want to use.

The lower center of gravity would be a plus, but all the stuff sticking out on the sides would restrict arm swing.

Your upper body may still perspire, but at least it would be ventilated. I'm trying to imagine the best alternative for hauling a sleeping pad.

Edited by dwambaugh on 04/09/2006 23:05:44 MDT.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Lumbar Pack/Marmot Highlander? on 04/10/2006 02:40:12 MDT Print View

Dale, Let's take this one step further. I have a hunter's lumbar pack similar to the one you have pictured in your post. It's NOT military in nature, but has a large rear pocket and two smaller pockets on each side. Even without the detachable shoulder straps it's over a pound. So, I have approx 1100 cu in of storage.

The next logical step is mentioned below. Really can't say if I saw or read about the following idea long ago and remembered it, or if I thought it up me-self. I'll opt for the first if it's a good idea, and the second if it's a dumb idea. [Note: I intended the order of my statements to be as written - self-denegrating, besides I don't think that anyone can claim uniqueness with an idea like this - someone probably did this hundreds of years ago too.]

I couple this pack with, get this,...

a pair of thigh or leg packs positioned on the outside of each thigh like a western style holster, but much larger. They are approx 900-1000 cu in each. Years ago I made this arrangement from some hunting day packs. These packs had their own hip-belt and shoulder straps, but I've attached them to the lumbar pack hip-belt. To the bottom of each pack webbing was attached to allow it to be afixed to my lower thighs, just above my knees - sort'a western gun-slinger style.

When scrambling or traversing some very steep rocky terrain, it makes one very mobile keeping all of the weight around the body's natural CG. One can lean out to grab branches or rocks, sometimes with just the toes locked in a crevice and NOT have all the weight of the pack acting on the back and upper back region making this manuever more difficult.

Nearly all of my gear is pretty handy - a nice feature. Have used it on warm, dry weekends before starting to go UL. Even back then, before going UL, I would just use a bivy and a poncho for rain gear (NOT pitched as a tarp - never occurred to me to sew tie-outs to the poncho for use as a tarp - obviously, not too bright on my part).

The major drawback is the weight of the system (it's NOT Lightweight) and it's difficult to stuff a colder weather synthetic sleeping bag into any of the three large pockets in the system. I also feel that sometimes, if I overstuff the leg packs, that they get in the way squeezing through tight spaces - can turn sideways, but the 900-1000 cu in large lumbar pocket is back there giving one a large "caboose". I probably should have used smaller packs.

If I could still sew a bit, I would probably see about retrofiting the entire system with lighter-off-the-shelf packs (never sewed well enough to make a complete system from scratch) by cannabalizing them and retrofiting the system.

I was surprised to see not that long ago that Cabelas had packs (both lumbar and leg packs) similar (though NOT identical) to the one's I made some years ago. I thought that it might be a dumb idea since I have taken so much flak from friends when I have used this gear. Overall, I liked it though, with one major exception (see below) and never really minded their ribbing.

Personally, I don't like a lot of weight on my thighs either - this is my major "crab" coupled with some bulk out to the sides of the thighs and no pocket large enough for a cooler weather synth. sleeping bag. Maybe other's will feel differently or have a way to make it work.

I might have to revisit this idea again now that all my gear is UL and also pay someone to make a new system out of silNylon, spinnaker, or cuben (if it's appropriate for a system like this).

Edited by pj on 04/10/2006 03:01:25 MDT.

Mark Larson
(mlarson) - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: Re: Re: Lumbar Pack/Marmot Highlander? on 04/10/2006 06:47:04 MDT Print View

An SUL application of these ideas could be cool. I think the solution for the sleeping pad would either be to use a small inflatable [BMW, POE], or to use a hammock with highly compactable quilts.

Keeping your water bottles on the shoulderstraps could free up a good bit of volume around the waist. Paul, interesting idea with the 'holsters,' hadn't come across that before. I wonder about volume, sweat/heat retention, trekking pole compatibility, and of course the weight there, but it could be a place for the slimmer, lighter pieces of gear. First aid, stakes, LED, etc. Or just use trim legwear with cargo pockets.

The only other question that comes up is, what do I use the pack for when I'm sleeping? Looking for multiple-use applications... I wouldn't have much of a pad for my legs anymore, nor an ad hoc half-bivy. But, I admit this really isn't the right gear for a 'comfortable camping' trip anyway. More of an action piece. Intriguing, nonetheless.

Michael Wands
(walksoftly) - F

Locale: Piney Woods
Re: Lumbar Pack/Marmot Highlander? on 04/10/2006 06:55:34 MDT Print View

I have used a small Lowe Alpine fanny pack in fair weather. Just enough to carry food, wind shells and poncho for overnight. I also carry a water bota during these trips.

The LA fanny pack is only 500 ci. This has been more than adequate with proper planning.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
re: SUL lumbar packs on 04/10/2006 08:03:25 MDT Print View

As with any other UL gear development, this sort of system suffers from complexity. I can't see this sort of system ever reaching the weights that have been attained with back packs. The minute you step beyond one bag and a couple straps, the weight goes up.

A system with a ~1000CI lumbar bag, a couple holsters for water bottles and perhaps two small pouches is about as far as you could take this without running up the weight.

I have mentioned using a haversack with SUL loads too, and I think the appeal is in simple, compact methods of carrying gear that allow your upper body freedom of movement and ventilation. You gotta keep it simple, or pay the price of weight.