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Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
What pack features do you like? on 11/20/2011 15:58:01 MST Print View

I made a SUL pack very similar to the Murmur about five months ago. Because of some design flaws and rough use, it is time for a new pack. I have some ideas on how I want to make it, but I feel like I can get a bit close minded on what works best and miss over great features. So what features does everyone like the best in their UL packs? Which closure, pocket, compression, shoulder straps, belts, or other assorted doodad do you think works best for you? I know each person has their own thoughts on this, and I'm really curious to hear what everyone else thinks.

As far as the use for the pack I plan to make, if it matters at all to anyone: mostly shorter trips, 3 days tops, able to use it even for short winter trips, so about 35 liters probably. I'm not thinking this one necessarily needs to be SUL but definitely UL and work as a good all around go to bag.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: What pack features do you like? on 11/20/2011 16:29:10 MST Print View

I like big side pockets for ~2 liter gatorade bottles. I don't really care for the compression webbing that most UL packs have across the front pocket. I'd rather that they use the same type of criss-cross webbing on the side panels, but in such a way that the side pockets aren't hindered.

Pete Wilson
(Muddy-Pete) - F

Locale: east coast
What pack features do you like? on 11/20/2011 16:32:24 MST Print View

Organizer pockets inside for smaller items.

Dan Durston
(dandydan)

Locale: Cascadia
Features on 11/20/2011 16:35:44 MST Print View

I like:

- Roll top
- Waterproof fabric (ie. 1.5oz cuben or that 2.9oz nylon/cuben hybrid fabric)
- Sternum strap
- No waist belt, compression system, haul loop, hipbelt pkts
- Pocket: two side pockets and a rear mesh center pocket

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: What pack features do you like? on 11/20/2011 16:37:13 MST Print View

First a front scoop pocket for sandals if I'm visiting a hot spring or lake. Second, a daisy chain on top to lash a shelter, for extra capacity (like packs but trying to get away from the "arsenal") and if raining, I'm not exposed the inside of my pack to rain while taking out the shelter, stakes, etc... Third a lid with a pocket somewhere easy to get to for allergy meds.

Winter? Still lightweight, but maybe add a large pocket for more shell layers,big gaiters, maybe some other pockets for gear to deal with sudden wind-blown snow. It all needs to be secured in case I biff it on a snow-covered hill, that way equipment is not rolling downhill. Now, stop this thread: I don't want to add more packs -- honestly, really, no lie...

(ed: add)

Edited by hknewman on 11/20/2011 18:01:10 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Features on 11/20/2011 16:56:52 MST Print View

No pockets - extra weight, complexity, path for water to enter, weakens pack, not needed

Hip belt - currently I've been using a hip belt that weighs a couple ounces that I think I like

Waterproof - it just seems like a pack cover or internal plastic bag is just a kludge to make up for a deficient pack - I use silnylon and coat it inside-out with mineral spirits/silicone, but I think Cuben would be better.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: What pack features do you like? on 11/20/2011 17:45:48 MST Print View

For SUL? I want it wider than is typical, so the center of gravity is closer to my body, a mesh pocket on each side that will handle one liter bottles, and a back pocket for a pad. A roll top would go with the wider pack body.

For heavier loads, all the above and add a frame or stays for true weigh transfer, a hip belt with large pockets, and a "stuff it" panel on the front to carry rain gear or extras.

Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
Re: What pack features do you like? on 11/20/2011 18:16:54 MST Print View

Sorry about that. This hypothetical pack DOESN'T need to be SUL. I'm sure some of that info I posted seemed a bit contradictory to saying it should be SUL.

Yeah, I am trying to get away from having an arsenal of packs as well. My girlfriend has limited me to having 6 at any given time. So with the retirement of my SUL pack, I have space for one new one and want to make it good for most situations. I have a few others I should probably sell to lessen the clutter as well. Sorry HK for adding the pressure.

Does anyone make a waterproof pack? With taped seams or sealed seams like Jerry's? Besides dry bag haulers of course.

So many different thoughts. I love how many different ways there are to pack gear. Keep'em coming.

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: What pack features do you like? on 11/20/2011 18:25:14 MST Print View

Something that Dan McHale does that is applicable to SUL...and it's just fantastic to me...he uses a piece of webbing between the top of the should strap and the pack body. It lets the straps twist and pivot to conform to your shoulder angle. For extra magic, use slippery fabric on the shoulder straps like he does.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Pack features on 11/20/2011 21:24:19 MST Print View

Despite what our Commonwealth friends will say I like side pockets for holding water bottles. Stopping all the time to drop your pack and open it to get your water is a PITA, and I have a general dislike of hydration bladders since it is hard to track your water consumption. (thus a hydration pocket is useless to me, as well.) Side pockets just seem like a useful common-sense thing to me and I don't understand my some people (ahem) get so religious about not wanting them- kinda like the trek pole debate. HYOH, people. Alternatively, I guess you could carry bottles on your shoulder straps.

I like roll closure- simple, rugged.

I used to think that waist-belt pockets were a waste, but I have since changed my mind. Carrying little things in your pockets is annoying and at times uncomfortable, and I hate to get several miles into a hike and find my chapstick eroding a hole in my thigh. So a waist-belt or shoulder strap pouch to hold snacks and the little knicknacks that you need through the day is nice. But if the side-pockets are easily accessible without taking the pack off they would work for this function. Oddly, I find that the Osprey Exos side pockets are excellent. But, again, this is an issue that some people will get religious about.

I'm not one of those fanatics who cuts off the waist belt, obviously. If you are then that would of course disqualify the waist-belt pockets.

I can't say I've ever had a vital use for a front pocket, though. If it's mesh sometimes they are nice for drying off a tent or clothes while you hike, but that's about it. And if there is not front pocket that leaves space to easily place a couple of daisy-chains, which are probably more useful.

I have enough packs of differing sizes that compression systems are kinda pointless.

Whatever the denier of Dyneema X that MLD uses for their packs seems a useful tradeoff of weight and durability.

Daryl Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: What pack features do you like? on 11/20/2011 22:40:22 MST Print View

At least 50 liters volume.

Weight less than 1 pound.

Front bag for balance.

Comfortable waist belt.

Non-waterproof washable fabric.

Frame that transfers all of the weight to my waist.

Bag height is adjustable on frame.

Quick release buckles everywhere.

Bags easily removable from frame.

Can be used to carry as little as 5 lbs without things jiggling around.

Can carry up to 40 pounds comfortably.

No pockets.

Easy open and close

Opening holds open for ease of throwing items into pack.

Joslyn Bloodworth
(JoslynB) - F

Locale: Southwest
Re: What pack features do you like? on 11/20/2011 22:43:12 MST Print View

I love hip belt pockets. I gotta have a hip belt and I like eating my lunch while walking and I like keeping my food in the hip pockets so I don't have to put up my trekking poles. I also like a sternum strap because I can never seem to keep my shoulder straps in place.

The one thing I really hate is side pockets, I always feel off balance no matter what I do.

Dan Durston
(dandydan)

Locale: Cascadia
McHale on 11/20/2011 22:54:45 MST Print View

"Something that Dan McHale does that is applicable to SUL...and it's just fantastic to me...he uses a piece of webbing between the top of the should strap and the pack body. "

Zpacks is now doing this with their Zero packs (and maybe others?). I have one and I think it's good. The downside is that the shoulder strap can easily twist as you put the pack on, so you often need to flip it. But on the upside it seems to carry well and it saves a it of weight since the padded portion of the shoulder strap is shorter.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: What pack features do you like? on 11/20/2011 22:58:55 MST Print View

I love hip belt pockets. I gotta have a hip belt and I like eating my lunch while walking and I like keeping my food in the hip pockets so I don't have to put up my trekking poles.

Yeah, I like that when a pack has a full hipbelt. The only thing is that I wish the pockets were bigger than any integrated hip belt pocket I've come across. I'd like to be able to fit a full quart size freezer bag in there.

sandy boyd
(sandylwes) - F

Locale: eastern washington
hip pockets on 11/21/2011 06:16:40 MST Print View

I just had Chris Zimmer make me some BIG hipbelt pockets! Havent tried them on a hike yet, but they look like they will be great, they are at least twice the size of MLD"s hip pockets!
sandy boyd

Ismail Faruqi
(ismailfaruqi) - F
suspension on 11/21/2011 06:30:09 MST Print View

I like suspension like Aarn auto mould frame. It is pretty simple and lightweight, does a very good job transferring load to my hip, and best of all: my body is free to move while the pack sticking into my back.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
What pack features do you like? on 11/21/2011 07:36:47 MST Print View

Like Daryl, I prefer a pack around 2800-3000ci (45L-50L.)
This is about where we start differing, though.

It should be frameless for UL packing, but also have the ability for stiffening of some sort for long trips with a lot of food, water and fuel. Since, I have been out for up to two weeks with less than 30lb (and more than two thirds of that in food for the 14 days,) It should carry comfortably at 30lb. Or on UL trips with 11 pounds including food, fuel and water. Sleeves for your pad will help, also, maybe a couple arrow shafts. GG's older Miniposa used to build them into the pack, although removable for short trips.

Side pockets are a must. one for the stove/fuel/kitchen stuff, one on the other side for water bottles (2-gatoraid bottles.) Over the course of a 20mi day, the balance will change a bit, but not too bad if the center and front pouch are well loaded. I notice it more with light loads than 20lb loads. The compass and map go in my pocket or are around my neck. There is really no need for a third pouch, though it comes in handy to collect trail garbage.

A "hydration" sleeve is nice for flat stuff: spoon, tarp stakes, aluminum foil lids, etc... I never use a bladder, though. After all the pipes & valves, they are no lighter, and they require more fussing. Anyway, over the years, I have decided that I actually like the sleeves, though not for the intended purpose.

I prefer an external pad sleeve, like GG packs have, letting the pad do double duty as a frame for the pack.

A mesh front pouch for holding rain gear, a removable fleece jacket and tarp pretty much rounds out the pack, itself.

Hip belt pockets are handy, but, not necessary. Again, a couple bars can be put in a pocket for the day's hike. They are also handy for a camera, should I bring one.

Shoulder pouches and bottle holders don't work for me. I have problems with a vertibra/disks in my lower neck and anything that puts a lot of strain on my shoulders can be painfull, especially at night. I made a couple smaller ones but quickly found they didn't work for me.

As you can see, weight transfer to my hips, and, weight off my shoulders are important. Soo, a GOOD hip belt is needed. ~5-9lb is about all I can do for any length of time on my shoulders. Short periods of a lot more weight are OK, though. So, padding becomes important with a full pack. A wider belt helps too.

Compression is not that important, but makes it easy with small loads. A couple loops of elastic is all it takes, though one of my packs uses straps...it works, though because it is a solid pull it bent the Caldera cone, one time.

The weight of a pack is quite important. It needs to be less than 1 pound. I think the older Miniposa said 14oz, but mine currently weighs 16-1/4oz with two additional belt pouches and several patches. The G5 was patched to beat hell, but was retired this season after it slid down some rocks (me with it. Hmmm...they call them slides for a reason, right?)

Anyway, I am starting to keep track again, looking for a sub 8oz pack with all of the above... Oh yeah... It *must* fit. And be a bit more durable than the venerable G5-Spinnaker I used for so many years. Oh, yeah...it must fit a bear ball...

Reading carefully . . .

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Pack features on 11/21/2011 08:45:34 MST Print View

"Despite what our Commonwealth friends will say I like side pockets for holding water bottles."

I realize I'm a "Don Quixote tilting at windmills" but there's no reason to constantly drink water. Once an hour stop and take a bite of food and a drink of water is fine. It takes a few seconds to remove pack and get to water. It stays cooler in your pack.

If you have a pocket, it's difficult to reach the water and food without removing your pack. And if you can, they'll probably fall out when you don't want them too. I prefer pack to be one solid package. With pockets, the stuff flaps around as you walk.

I'm into simplicity. Remove anything that's not necesary.

Okay, get off soap box now...

Kyle Meyer
(kylemeyer) - M

Locale: Portland, OR
Re: Re: Pack features on 11/21/2011 08:57:34 MST Print View


If you have a pocket, it's difficult to reach the water and food without removing your pack. And if you can, they'll probably fall out when you don't want them too. I prefer pack to be one solid package. With pockets, the stuff flaps around as you walk.


I don't find that to be the case at all. With my Ohm, I can easily grab a water bottle from my side pockets, take a drink while walking, and put it back with ease. And when I stop and stretch or bend over to tie my shoe or get water, I've honestly never had anything fall out of a side pocket.

Maybe you've just had crappy side pockets on backpacks before. They add maybe an ounce to a pack and allow you to keep moving while hydrating.

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Pack features on 11/21/2011 09:05:19 MST Print View

"I can't say I've ever had a vital use for a front pocket, though."

I like to carry my lunch in the front pocket so I don't have to dig into the main bag. I also like carrying my wind jacket and poncho there for the same reasons. Quick and easy to get to.

Re side pockets, I'm with you there. I carry a water bottle on one side and my Steripen, stove fuel and toilet tissue in the other. Things could be disastrous for me having to dig through my main pack fumbling for toilet tissue!