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modular everything pack - SUH
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David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
modular everything pack - SUH on 05/31/2011 17:46:27 MDT Print View

Disclaimer: I know this is an ultra light site; I've had a subscription for a few years.

I own an ultra light, and a medium weight pack. I also own an osprey crescent 75 - which tore me up last year. My goal was to borrow ideas from many commercial packs and make an "everything" modular pack that I could take on various SAR missions. I could have the modules pre-packed and just zip them in and go. I wanted the pack to be no higher than the middle of my noggin' and ride better on my hips than an internal. I used inspiration from the Mystery Ranch - "crew cab"; the Eberlestock - "just one"; and a friend's custom military style bush pack. (my cost was about 1/5th as much)

I used a kelty cache hauler frame - cut and modified - and made zip-together modules with modified molle webbing. There are 6 one inch buckles that can be used for compression straps or other packbag attachments (I intend to make a flatbed in the future)

My pack came out weighing 1 Lb 3 Oz less than the osprey (in the 3 tube configuration) and a hell of a lot more comfortable to carry.

Three tubes plus small daysearch pack in inner cavity:

3 tube config with small daysearch pack in center cavity

started here:

ketly cache hauler

two tube:

two tube

Two tube + 50 L dry bag:

2 tube + 50L

2 tube + double tube:

2 tube + double tube

2 tube + double on outer zipper:

2 tube + couble on outer zip

Base pack:

base pack -components


side view:

side view - 3 tube

This is my prototype, please shoot me your ideas. I've had it in the field on one SAR and I am very happy with the performance



Edited by dmgoody on 05/31/2011 17:53:11 MDT.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
modular everything pack - SUH on 05/31/2011 18:23:04 MDT Print View

Interesting. I'm unfamiliar with the Osprey you used so can you clarify the total weight of your new rig? There may be some legacy aluminum frames out there from the 70's that may enable you to go lighter on that part of the pack .I notice the frame you are using has a big hinged shelf. Do you meed that or could you lose it?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: modular everything pack - SUH on 05/31/2011 18:27:08 MDT Print View

Looks awfully heavy. But then, the heaviest backpack that I have used in a while goes slightly under one pound empty.


David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
weights on 05/31/2011 19:43:30 MDT Print View


I should have posted weights. Yes, I ditched the shelf, striped the fabric, cut off the top and replaced the rickety pins with alum bolts. Hardware was chosen to be durable as I mainly bushwhack off trail.

The frame is made to handle lots of weight, so I can use it for many scenarios.

The 2 tube system = 5 1bs
The 3 tube system = 5 lbs 10 oz
The 2 + double tube = 5lbs 13 oz

The Osprey = 6lbs 13 oz - so in theory - I did lighten my load and added versatility and comfort. The Osprey has such a heavy framesheet to handle big loads - I see some new designs have a hybrid suspension to deal with the bigger loads - alum or carbon fiber U-channels. Looks like things are going full circle: ie back to the framed packs.

I realize this is "heavy", but it carries well and feels like nothing.

Thanks for the input


Edited by dmgoody on 05/31/2011 19:49:09 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: modular everything pack - SUH on 05/31/2011 19:46:31 MDT Print View

Pretty cool David. What kinds of weight are you carrying with this?

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
modular everything pack - SUH on 05/31/2011 19:53:45 MDT Print View

Very good for what you are doing. Take a look at the external frame in my avatar. A 70's Universal. Very similar to Alpenlites that still turn up on E-bay. They kick -out the frames bottom to allow them to be freestanding and better yet allow total cooling of your back and shoulders. There is even lighter PVC stuff out there from back then if you are interested. Nice job. What goes in that Drybag?

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
weights on 05/31/2011 19:56:07 MDT Print View

The SAR I just went on I carried 32 lbs. It was a dry SAR, so we had to hump in our own water. After we determine the search area, we set up a base camp and carry a daypack with rain gear and ER pack while we grid search. These are cold case searches, so we don't need as much gear.

I can put the shelf on and make a beaver-tail, if we need to haul in odd gear.



David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
dry bag on 05/31/2011 20:03:53 MDT Print View

I find the 3 tube system with the daypack adequate for now. I would use the dry bag in the winter to keep layers dry - or you could have your base gear in it and haul it up a tree and go search. It is used now just for illustration of the size and versatility of the packs capacity.
The beauty of the tubes is simplicity. You don't have to dump your packs contents to get to your gear. Rain - open a tube. Set up shelter - open a tube.



Edited by dmgoody on 05/31/2011 20:05:04 MDT.

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
modular everything pack-suh on 05/31/2011 20:04:18 MDT Print View

You did a really nice job on a purpose built pack that will work great for backpacking and search and rescue like I see you do from the patch on the pack. You came out lighter than the Mystery Ranch - "crew cab that weighs 7lbs 11oz. What's also cool if you get to a bear can area you could get some granite gear bear hugger bags and it will fit perfect in the center. I own a mystery ranch big sky for when I need to haul heavy loads with lots of water I love my pack for heavy days.

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
re on 05/31/2011 20:27:28 MDT Print View

Thanks for the kind words everyone. I thought I would get flamed posting a 5lb pack here. who knows it may inspire an ultralight tube pack.


I looked hard at the Mystery Ranch packs, but by the time I added all of the accessories - ouch the bill was $650 and heavy heavy. I love the innovation and flex frame idea. I also liked the granite gear flatbed and may modify that idea for this frame.

I agree, with a load - it is nice to have a proper fitting pack and not have bruised hips and cut shoulders.



Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
I love modular on 05/31/2011 21:50:16 MDT Print View


Thanks for posting. I love modular! Weight reduction can (but doesn't even have to) happen later if it is of interest to you.


David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
Season end report on 10/26/2011 07:31:28 MDT Print View

Here are some observations and impressions after one season of SAR use.

Time Frame: one 3-5 day cold case SAR per month. (May - Oct)

Temp range: 29 F - 95 F.

Weather: Clear to violent thunderstorms.

Terrain: Tag elder swamps - woodland (thick underbrush) - old growth ridges.(Anywhere the original search teams could not go)

Favorite configuration: 2 tubes plus dry bag. I started with 2 tubes and a daypack, but found that when zipped up the two-tube pack was more comfortable than the daypack. It was also easier to pack - as I would just run the food bag and dry bag up a tree at whatever base camp we chose. - No need to repack the daypack.

Ease of movement: the low military style pack moved thru the most challenging bush with ease.

Versatility: Since this pack was robust, I was chosen as the water mule when we needed to hump 40lbs of water to set up a base camp. I also loved the ventilated back panel in 95 degree heat.

Durability: No signs of wear yet. This is surprising since I did not sew the greatest seams and I chose a basic packcloth as the fabric. ($4/yd)

Add-ons: The mesh front pocket add-on was invaluable. Not only did I have access to all of my search items, It acted as a counterbalance and made my pack system carry better - kind of like an AARN pack.

Future Improvements: Front mesh pocket system - This was cobbled together using existing military pouches for testing and speed of assembly. I will remake this system using lighter materials and easier access pockets - too many buckles and snaps. I will also add a dashboard system to hold my GPS and compass in a horizontal, easy to read on the move system.( this was tested by another member)

My advice: You can do MYOG. I had no sewing experience. Don't get caught up in the numbers. Lightweight can be a 5# external pack. I had a painful 7 lb internal.



mesh front pack

Mesh pocket system

water mule

Water mule

base camp

Base camp

Edited by dmgoody on 10/26/2011 08:40:05 MDT.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
Awesome on 10/27/2011 00:07:07 MDT Print View

killer job. The pics make me miss SAR, can't wait to be done with school so I can start going out again. Only now I'll be able to throw tubes! :D

The last pic made me think of what a bear dreams of as a christmas tree :P

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
updated with x-pack - one piece design on 09/14/2015 19:40:08 MDT Print View

same frame, but I updated the fabric and design to meet my needs after two years of testing in the field.

paracord pack

paracord pack w top/bottom

one piece of fabric folded to make 4 tubes
one piece of fabric

front view

front pouch system


in service

Edited by dmgoody on 09/25/2015 08:38:36 MDT.

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
"Last" mod on 09/15/2015 06:02:38 MDT Print View

I replaced the bottom flap with a sewn in bottom that is sized to the max expansion of the pack after a 9 day search in the Canadian wilderness. The bottom collected so much forest duff (pine needles, bark, leaves) that I felt like I was carrying 2 extra pounds :) not to mention the rain trapping problem.

I think I'm done modding this pack - for now :) final weight with all pouches empty is 5.5lbs. x-pack is pretty tough.

I'll never go back to an internal frame.