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Help Me Design the Ultimate Pack
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Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Help Me Design the Ultimate Pack on 12/26/2011 18:30:27 MST Print View

Okay my Christmas present this year was a yard of Dyneema gridstop fabric, 2 ft. of 3D mesh and an alumaninum pack stay from Gossamer Gear. My challenge is to design the perfect UL pack from these. All ideas appreciated.

Here are my needs.
I need to be able to carry an average of 15-20 pounds but up to 35. I mostly do weekend trips but occasionally up to 5 days. I never use bear caninisters but do us sythetic insulation so about 1800-2500 cubic inces is the size I'm looking for.

I'm thinking of a pack bag similar to the Burn with the following improvements over that design.
1. The hipbelt will be mounted close to the center of the pack so it will wrap around my wasit better.
2. I will add a better compression system so I don't have the sloppyiness of my Burn.
3. I will probabably add an internal frame to improve fit and load bearing.

Frameless packs I've done before. Adding the frame is where life gets complcated. I want to do it right because in my opinion a poorly done frame isn't going to make things much better than a frameless pack. Heres how I think I will go about it.
1. I will sew the two side "wings" of the hipbelt on near the center of the pack.
2. I will add webbing sleaves on the inside of the pack. The frame stay will slide into these. I will have thes sewn on directly opposite the spot where the hipbelt wings are sewn on. The idea is to have as little sag as possible between the hipbelt and the frame.
3. I will add a center pad between the two sides of the hipbelt.

Thats the best system I can come up with at the moment. I really like the way the hipbelt on the Absaroka attaches directly to the frame stays but that design is pretty complicated to put together.

Fire away with ideas!

Edited by Cameron on 12/26/2011 18:35:58 MST.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Help Me Design the Ultimate Pack on 12/26/2011 18:51:39 MST Print View

Everyone has a different vision of what the perfect pack means.
I designed the perfect pack for my specific demands in 1996.

I have made 3 versions, small, medium, and large, all for personal use only.
I tend to use the medium pack the most.

my medium pack
1. about 2200 ci capacity
2. weight = 419 grams (14.7oz).
the only reason it is this heavy is because it was reenforced to carry up to 35 lbs of climbing/mountaineering gear. it could be made lighter.
3. it rides very comfortably up to 35 lbs (to me) without stays or any frame at all, internal or external, as long as you pack it properly.
4. I have also carried as little as 7-8 lbs in it no problem.
5. it can be condensed pretty small by cinching down 4 cinch straps (2 on each side).
6. it can carry 1 ice axe.

I have done serious alpine climbing, approach hikes, fastpacking, and even trail running with this pack.

Edited by asandh on 12/26/2011 18:56:05 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Pictures on 12/26/2011 19:20:49 MST Print View

Any pictures of that Art?

James Byrnes
(backfeets1) - M

Locale: Midwest.... Missouri
Re: Help Me Design the Ultimate Pack on 12/26/2011 19:46:30 MST Print View

make the "pad" between the hip wings a zippered pocket for socks etc.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Pictures on 12/26/2011 19:51:54 MST Print View

if I can figure out how to post a picture I will (never done it before).

My specific needs/demands

1. simple (very important to me)
2. light weight
3. secure and hug my back

1. simple
it is bascially a tall narrow bullet shaped duffle bag. since it was for climbing I wanted no outside pockets to snag on rocks or bushes, and no outside mesh pockets for things to fall out of. you can slide a pouch onto the waist belt if you need an outside pocket while hiking.
This narrow bullet design means you can pump your elbows all the way backwards and they will not touch the pack, great range of motion. the tallnes of the pack distributes the weight the entire length of your back, from butt to neck and helps it carry better while doing serious movement.
it closes at the top with a draw string, but also has a cinch strap that comes over the top for extra security, and to hold down a rope or jacket on the top of the outside for easy access.
there is a small daisy chain sewed to the back that you can clip things onto if you must carry stuff on the outside.

2. light weight
there was no high tech fabric in 1996. it is made of light weight pack cloth, with the bottom 20% covered with a second layer of medium pack cloth to protect from rock abrasion while climbing.
no zippers, no mesh, no extraneous pockets - this keeps weight down.

3. secure and hug my back
the key here is that the shoulder straps do not attach to the waist belt or waist belt area. they come all the way behind the waist belt and attach at the outside back of the very bottom of the pack.
this design feature causes the downward gravity force of the packs weight to actually pull the pack tighter in to your lower back. hugs very nice and prevents most side to side movement when climbing or running.
it also has a sternum strap.

Edited by asandh on 12/27/2011 07:31:57 MST.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Perfect Pack on 12/26/2011 20:14:39 MST Print View

"Everyone has a different vision of what the perfect pack means."

For sure.

As further evidence of that, mine (vision, that is) has:
1. Jackpack suspension - more comfy than a buckled hipbelt
2. Panel load with top supported - better access
3. Top Shelf - To keep things separate (food in griz country - wet tent elsewhere)
4. Waterproof - no cover needed
5. Full suspended mesh backpanel - nothing solid touches back
6. Pocket for water carrier(s) is behind head - to keep center of gravity forward
7. Inside drop pocket for small gear items under top shelf - convenience, less loss
8. All items that may be needed while hiking are accessible without
unpacking or removing attached gear.
9. Under 2 lbs.
10.Capacity for at least 1 week's trek. (not winter)

Should have one done sometime in February, and will post it here
for those who are interested.
Made one in 2005 that meets all but #9, which, unfortunately, is the most
essential of the lot.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
Re: Help Me Design the Ultimate Pack on 12/27/2011 07:45:34 MST Print View

Luke, I'm not sure if I'm reading your description correctly. It seems to me that you will have a hipbelt that emerges from around the center of the backpanel, to enable better hip wrap, and that you'll be using the hoop frame on the side of the pack. This part I get. Here are where my questions start. Will the sides of the hoop frame be positioned in the interior of the pack so that they are outside of where the hipbelt emerges from the pack center? Most likely, so I'm wondering how will you prevent your back from feeling the aluminum stay? If you use a center pad between the two sides of the hipbelt (if I'm reading this correctly, this will be a vertical pad mainly right down the center spine) it won't cover the aluminum stays. Or were you thinking more in terms of a gossamer gear sitlight pad (e.g. mariposa plus), but with a inverted U-notch cut out in the bottom center for the hipbelt to emerge, but still covering the stays?

Please exuse my lackluster MS paint mockup :D

So the gray part would be the cut out foam, with the notch. The black line that is in the shape of an upside down "U" represents the hoop frames positioning on the interior of your pack, and the ovals coming out from the center of the pack would be the hipbelt wings. This is what I have in mind when I read your description. Was this what you were thinking? If not, I hope this helps!!

Edited by Konrad1013 on 12/27/2011 07:53:54 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Konrad on 12/27/2011 07:51:01 MST Print View

Konrad I'm using an inverted U shaped Gossamer Gear stay. My plan is to have the two sides of the hipbelt attached on either side of the stay or stays. The other pad will be a lumber pad (just remembered the name) in the center. I might add padding in the shoulder areas as well but I haven't decided.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
gossamer gear on 12/27/2011 07:56:18 MST Print View

Hi Luke,
Ok, gotcha. I also just did a quick mockup (but it looks to be in a different direction then you planned, since my mockup doesn't have the hipbelt wings directly connected to the stay. How you plan on not feeling the aluminum stay's side bars? Just a center pad that's wide enough to cover the bars? Or will it cover the entire backpanel? I think it needs to cover the entire backpanel so that it feels balanced.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
Load transfer on 12/27/2011 08:10:35 MST Print View

Also I agree, direct stay to hipbelt connection is crucial to actual load transfer. The best pack I ever used for load hauling was a 6lb Kifaru. They have an amazing transfer system. Maybe you can borrow from them to get ideas.

I'll try my best to explain what they do through some images sourced from the net.

Kifaru used 2 aluminum bar stays that are inserted in from OUTSIDE the pack, which is very non traditional. The stays slide into sleeves that are hidden behind the main shoulder padding.

Look at this pic, see where there is webbing below each shoulder blade's padding, above the lumbar pad? These are the webbing pockets where you slide each stay in:

kifaru back

The thick lumbar pad actually flips down (see that it's connected on each side with metal triglides; this allows it to be unclipped and flipped down)

Once the lumbar pad is flipped down, you can see the hipbelt. In this pic, the hipbelt is taken off and upside down, but you can see that kifaru actually uses thick rubber pockets to hold the stays. So each stay is directly connected into the hipbelt and transfers the load into each rubber pocket.


So in application, you would slide each aluminum stay into the webbing pocket, slide the belt onto the stays by connecting the stay to each rubber pocket, and then flip up the lumbar pad to hold the belt in place. It's a beautiful system. I can't remember how they do the pack connection to the top of each stay, but it's something to keep in mind as that will affect how efficient your load transfer is as well.

If you could mimic this on a smaller scale, you would have a very nice framed UL pack. It also demonstrates that if the lumbar and shoulder pad is thick enough (as in raised off the surface of the pack fabric) you can afford to not have the entire backpanel covered in padding. I still own my kifaru, and its extremely comfortable. I can't tell that there are pockets of nothing in between each respective shoulder and lumbar pad. If you click on my Recent MYOG thread about the REI flash 30, you can see that REI uses a similar shoulder blade and lumbar pad layout as the kifaru. Oddly, I found the lumbar pad on my flash 30 too stiff, and uncomfortable though...I think the foam they utilize is too firm. I removed all the padding though as it served no purpose without a frame to pad my back against.

Edited by Konrad1013 on 12/30/2011 16:47:30 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Cool Idea on 12/27/2011 08:33:39 MST Print View

Thanks Konrad. The hipbelt/lumber pad layout of you pack is about what I was thinking of. I had thought about putting the frame sleaes on in a similar way but on the inside. Now that I look at your pack I think that might work better. The hipbelt attachment is really ingenious and simple. Thanks.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
hip belts and stays on 12/30/2011 16:29:36 MST Print View

Luke, as others have said I think you're on the right track. The Kifaru design looks really good, you'd just need a pretty beefy lumbar pad to make sure the U stay doesn't dig into your back. Also make sure your hipbelt has enough structure (stiff foam). If the frame is strong and the connection of the belt to the pack sturdy, but the belt itself is floppy, you'll introduce sag in the belt itself. Most foams available to consumers are not stiff enough.

The concern I'd have is that (if I read GGs website specs right) the U is over 6 inches wide. In my experience that is a bit further apart than is optimal for the two halves of the hipbelt to be. Obviously that will depend on user dimensions.

Good luck.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Thanks Dave on 12/30/2011 19:37:14 MST Print View

Thanks Dave. I agree the hipbelt is crucial. I looked at the hipbelt on my Absaroka pack and noticed something new. The hipbelt actually fits around the bottom of the stay (similar to the pack pictured). The part of the hipbelt that attaches to the frame is made from folded over webbing thats sewn to the rest of the hipbelt. Its very stiff and theres not much twist epecially compared to my MYOG gear hipbelts. I think I'll try something like that. Hopefully I can get this going soon. At the moment I don't have space to spread out a sewing machine but hopefully that will change soon.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
check out lowe alpine on 12/31/2011 15:51:37 MST Print View

The 'ultimate pack' descriptions fit the new Lowe Alpine Zepton type packs almost perfectly, you might take a close look at how they built them. The only main difference is they use a wire, steel u frame, which is very light and incredibly strong, I had to stand on it to alter the bend even slightly. But everything else in terms of the basic structure is exactly as described. They use a stiff but shape holding plastic plate on the hip belt, and also in the pack itself, with a roll of padding on the top part of the hip belt to fit your body's bend, and only 3d mesh, about 1/8 inch, on the rest of the hipbelt, and that's totally comfortable. Now I see why they did that pack the way they did, they were trying for something very close to what is being described here as desirable features of an 'ultimate pack'.

Lowe Alpine by the way has also used that same double aluminum stay, external, that the above pack shows, in two channels, big lumbar pad, etc. That design really works, but I think their new one is even cleaner, not sure on the durability so far of course, only time will tell.

This thread, coupled with my zepton's living examples which will be easy to copy and use as templates, is helpful to decide on my own first pack design, which will be frameless and smaller (don't need another 35 pound 50 liter capacity pack, the zepton already does that fine, at 2lbs without top, 2.5 pounds with).

I'd add to the ultimate pack list, if it wasn't already mentioned, the main drawback of the zepton, side pockets that are too small, in terms of how wide they open. So I'd make at least one side fit one or two full either nalgene or platypus type liter bottles, and using solid fabrics, not mesh, like ula very wisely just switched to. No snags from brush etc.

And I'd make the compression cords go under the pocket, and add a cinching cord or strap over the pocket to hold smaller stuff in snugly. Still can't decide on a top pocket, for easy construction, using a roll top is a no brainer, but I'm not sold on it being the best solution, so I might add straps for a top and decide after, or make it removable.

Oh, and more attachment points, grossgrain loops etc, than the zepton, especially on the straps / belts and back panel, it doesn't have enough, I find that limiting. And a rear net / mesh pocket (can't get used to calling the rear pocket the front pocket, heh.., it's in the rear, not the front). Maybe removable, that might be slick, or not.

Edited by hhope on 12/31/2011 15:56:11 MST.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Help Me Design the Ultimate Pack on 12/31/2011 16:47:38 MST Print View

This is what I do, which I think is fairly easy and works very well. My stays sit in webbing pockets that are sewn to the pack body right behind the hipbelt attachment, with the bottoms of the pocket right at the bottom of the hipbelt attachment. the hibelt is curved (conically cut), so that the attachment of the hipbelt is sort of a trapezoid but the top and bottom are slightly curved rather than being straight lines. I have also done the same thing using a lumbar pad. At the tops of the stays, a webbing strap with velcro comes over the top of the stay and keeps it in its sleeve. The "lifter straps" - which I consider essential - are attached right at the top of the stays.
This arrangement gives very positive transfer from the stays to the belt. here's a photo of the bottoms of the stays on the inside of the pack. You can see that I put a reinforcing piece of fabric on the inside of the pack and sew the hipbelt on through that so thae stiching sandwiches the fabric of the pack body.
stay bottoms

Here's one of the top of the stays, again from the inside of the of stays

This method is adapted for individual stays, which I prefer. You would have to adjust somewhat to use a single u-shaped stay if you want to go that way.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Help Me Design the Ultimate Pack on 12/31/2011 17:02:56 MST Print View

The way Paul did it can also be used with a shock corded tent pole.