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Possible Backpack- Feedback Wanted
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Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Possible Backpack- Feedback Wanted on 03/07/2012 00:07:41 MST Print View

Thanks for all the awesome feedback in the other thread.. I figured I would start a new one since the topic is a bit different.

I have been thinking of adding actual gear to my lineup like packs, shelter, and bags. I have been working on several pack designs for a while now and would love to get people's input on how to make this particular pack better..

The current pack still needs some design tweaks before I start producing and selling it, but its about 90% there. The pack is 40+ Liters, uses Xpac throughout (70d on body and 200d on bottom), has a removable closed cell foam "frame sheet", spacer mesh back-panel, an oversized winged hip-belt, load lifters, Durastretch front and side pockets, side and top compression straps, and I am sure a few other things I can't remember off hand.. In it's current configuration, the pack weighs 19oz (Large Torso) with the 1.5oz removable closed cell foam "frame sheet" in, so the pack would weigh 17.5oz without it..

With that said, I have been thinking of further reducing the weight but the only three major places I can think to change would be to remove the winged hip belt in exchange for just webbing or make the wings smaller. The other place to reduce weight would be to eliminate the spacer mesh back panel but I love that stuff.. Last but not least, I was thinking of reducing the height on the Durastretch front panel by a few inches. So with that said, I would love to hear peoples thoughts on this as well as the overall design..

More info on Sizing....
Back-panel/Torso: 21.5" (bottom of shoulder straps to bottom of hip belt)
Width: Variable (11.5" widest point, 10" narrowest point)
Depth: Variable (7" widest point, 6" narrowest point)
Height: In photo, 25" which is about max fill height


As you can see from the photos, the pack is contoured so it really fits your back well.

Pack is almost fully loaded.



Pack is less loaded with top rolled down.


Edited by Mountainfitter on 03/07/2012 09:45:48 MST.

Stephan Doyle
Re: Possible Backpack- Feedback Wanted on 03/07/2012 02:20:27 MST Print View

Lawson, this looks really sleek.

A couple things are jumping out at me:
––Those load lifters look killer! Nice work
––The hipbelt wings are massive. Probably overkill, IMO, but others will like them.
––The shoulder straps could use more daisy chain points. Sternum straps can be moved around, bottle/camera pockets attached. Three would be plenty.
––What's your experience with the Durastretch? It looks like some sort of compromise between Zpacks and MLD in terms of durability? I think a solid fabric kangaroo pocket is underappreciateed… I found GG's mesh to not meet the task, Zpacks' scared me too much, and MLD's has been great. What you're using looks a little suspect, at first glance. Maybe an option to order without the pocket(s) would make everyone happy.
––The compression straps could probably hold trekking poles, but there's no way to attach an ice axe. Maybe not the most important thing, but that means PCT and CDT hikers will have to look elsewhere

Overall, I really like this pack. It's tall and thin, hugging the body. Well thought out with some nice features, and I'm more than comfortable with your craftsmanship. The colors are nice, too.

21.5" is tall, no? Having just that one pack size will alienate a large part of your customer base.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Possible Backpack- Feedback Wanted on 03/07/2012 04:59:35 MST Print View

The last thing we need is another mediocre pack. So, design light and sturdy.

1) Gossamer Gear uses a "pad pocket" to reduce overall weight and provide good frame support. Skip the contouring. It should contour to the person using it. I would recommend dropping the CCF as a frame sheet and simply adding a similar feature.

2) The hip belt should be wide. But the strapping reinforcement need not me super heavy duty. To pieces of 1/2" or 3/4" light crossgrain will work. Hip pockets are wanted also. These can be incorporated into the existing belt. Clips need to be checked for burrs and sharp edges, of course.

3) The side pouches need to be larger. An inch or so taller, I would guess, at a minimum. I often add my rolled tarp to one side and a fishing rod (in a light plastic tube) to the other. Again, this stiffens the entire pack a bit.

4) The compression straps are useful, but they are really too big for what you are doing. These (again) should be lighter 1/2". I like the loops to thread heavy duty elastic cord through. With cord locks, these maintain a good tension. All tension points, except the belt, should be at 90 degree “locking”.

5) The closure seems a bit weak. Some sort of cover over the top will help to keep things out of the pack and prevent too much water from entering. Less full, it would be better. Again, heavy duty straps?

6) An internal sleeve of light silnylon will work for "flat" stuff and stakes. About 3/4 length of the pack body works. You might consider a size to incorporate a cone unrolled flat as a frame stiffener. I really miss this when it is not present, even though I don't use a bladder. Some people do, though.

7) Several people like a lower ice axe loop. While I don't get out in the winter anymore, it is useful for hauling the pack around.

8) A small pouch should be added for trash. Everyone forgets this. It should be durable enough to handle melted aluminum, plastic, and other bits of trash generated along the trail or picked up as you go.

9) Not real sure about the pouch and pocket material. Make sure it does not snag and catch on anything. Some grabs little sticks, etc after it "fuzzes" from use. I have rough hands after a few days out, some materials will catch on my hands. Not a good choice in that case.

Hardware should be minimized, but you need some sort of torso strap. It only holds the straps on, on a well set-up pack. But they are necessary. Overall the pack should weigh about 1 pound give or take an ounce or two. The material needs to be strong enough to be good with field use, but light enough to not have issues with durability. So, you are right there with weight! Mostly good durability is attention to detail, good sewing, hot knife material edging(melted), accurate placement of all seams. It will likely take 3-4 prototypes to iron out all the details, stress points, usability necessities(nice-essities.)

As always, a few thoughts…

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 03/07/2012 05:32:05 MST Print View


Edited by rOg_w on 05/28/2012 17:39:29 MDT.

Douglas Ray

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Thoughts on the Pack... on 03/07/2012 08:00:56 MST Print View

My first response looking at this was that it might be an ideal pack for summer alpine climbing and winter mountaineering day-use, with a couple of minor changes. I like the trend of simple, light, tough packs that can survive harder use. It looks like the way it is it would make a very good bushwhacking pack for off-trail hiking in Washington where I live. Your pack looks a bit like the ones I use, which are more mainstream packs with a lot of stuff removed. Comments:

The contoured cut looks good and it makes a difference for those of us who scramble and climb with our packs on. I'd definitely say keep it.

I like sturdy shoulder straps. Carrying packs like this for me ends up with weight on the shoulders, so while it looks like you could narrow them a bit I'd say try not to over-do it, and keep the load-lifters.

A tight-fitting, correctly-sized, stiffer-than-normal piece of foam can be an excellent suspension system that allows some flex. This feature is part of what I find appealing in this pack. There are a lot of light packs that try to use a sleeping pad to accomplish this, but none of the sleeping pads I own are wide enough to make a pack frame for my longer torso, so a dedicated piece of foam, particularly a stiff one, makes a huge difference for me.

I like the simple top closure. I have removed the top pocket from all of my packs and I like the draw-cord and strap so you can stuff the pack very full and still get it closed. Strap over the top is key.

I like the load-lifters and well-padded shoulder straps

What I would change:

Much less hip-belt. Probably just 1.5in webbing would be fine, maybe small wings.

For bushwhacking the pocket set-up would probably be OK, but for mountaineering I'd want to loose the large back pocket and instead have either two daisy-chains down the side or a handful of lashing points. I like to be able to strap a sleeping pad on vertically to the front. Although carrying ice-tools doesn't require dedicated attachments not everyone knows that it seems, so you might want to include them. Personally I think my first choice would just be two daisy-chains so I could add straps and bits of cord as I wanted to.

I'd leave the side-pockets off entirely, but put patches of the heavier fabric in there place to protect the pack. Of course most people like side pockets a lot, so you probably need to leave them on and let strange people like me just cut them off.

The spacer mesh is nice in the summer, but it tends to build up ice sometimes in the winter, so I'd vote for all-fabric suspension.

Daisy chains on the shoulder straps would be nice since I like to put water bottles there.

You could go lighter on the compression straps, but not to much lighter. I'd want to be able to lash serious stuff on.

Nice looking pack. I'll be curious to see what it turns into.

tyler marlow

Locale: UTAH
Nice pack on 03/07/2012 08:35:57 MST Print View


Great looking pack! From your description it sounded like it would be hard to differientiate from the Zimmerbuilt packs but your pictures show that you've done it.

I think you've got a design that fixes a big problem with many frameless packs, your packbody actually matches the human back. A countored pack with a stiff but flexible pad sounds comfy.

I would push lighter hardware a far as you can go. Three sets of thin grosgrain compression points for dyneema cord arrangements to suit different configurations and LL3 load lifters.

A nice hipbelt is great but I find only works if it's anchored a few inches in towards the middle. A second vote for good hipbelt pockets.

Make it bear cannister compatible.

Allow for custom options.

Looks like a great pack, keep up the good work!

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Wow on 03/07/2012 09:12:59 MST Print View

Thanks for all the feedback.. I am pretty sure I need to explain the pack further since some of the concerns are addressed. Oh also I want to point out this pack is designed to be "basic" with very few bells and whistles since I want it to be lightweight and I want it to hit a more affordable price point.

Since I am still trying to dial in the pack shape, I have been leaving off some of the smaller features like ice ax loops, sternum strap, extra shoulder strap daisy chains, etc in the last few prototypes.. because I get to impatient with the anticipation of the new shape but I have added the material it would take to make these features to the weight, so while they might not be pictured, they are apart of the overall weight.. Basically they are there in spirit. haha..

>Durastretch/Spandura: This material is the same stuff Granite Gear, Osprey, GoLite and every other big name manufacturer use in their pack pockets and I find it to be the most bomber material around. Its also called Spandura.. Basically its a combination of nylon and spandex woven in a Cordura weave.. Much better then open mesh that can get hung up on everything in sight..

>Pack sizes: I will most like start off with 2 sizes. Maybe 19.5" and 21.5" and then if the pack sells well, I will also offer a 17.5" model..

>Contouring: I am not sure this is the correct term, but the back-panel is not flat like a board.. Your back is curved, so the pack is designed to work with the natural curves of your back which makes it ride closer... I see this problem with so many frameless cottage packs. The packs have a huge gap between the top of the back and the point right below the shoulder straps. Its a big triangle type space and it shouldn't be there and the only way to get rid of it, is by designing the pack with a curved back-panel. It also allows the pack to carry heavier loads with more comfort.. Might not make sense in the pictures or how I am writing it but it makes sense when you put it on.. Its a difference you can feel..

>Webbing: The compression straps are 5/8", The shoulder strap webbing is 3/4", and The hip belt webbing is 1.5" which really could be 1" since its quite heavy and not needed on a pack of this size.

>Hip Belt: Its 6" wide where it meets the backpanel of the pack. If I decide to keep it, I really think it could be reduced to 4-5" and there would be no decrease in comfort or usability.. Or I could get rid of it all together and exchange it for 1"-1.5" webbing. This would reduce the pack by at-least 2oz.

>Shoulder Straps: They are 3" wide at the top and are no bigger then any other pack. The reason they look big is probally due to the fact that I used 3/8" foam. I plan to keep them the same width in the production model but I might step down to 1/4" foam instead.

>Side Pouches: I was thinking of going taller as well but I didn't want them to go under the bottom compression strap. They are about 6" deep in the front and 7" in the rear and will easily hold a Nalgene. More feedback wanted on this..

>Front Pocket: Any thoughts on reducing the size. Maybe decreasing the height by a few inches. In its current form its 14" tall x 11" wide. I was thinking maybe going 12" tall? More feedback wanted.

>Closure System: Simple drawcord type with a compression strap going over the top. Same as used in most lightweight simple packs..You can roll the top down and compress for added rain resistance.. I could get fancier and do a full rolltop but it seems as if most people prefer the drawcord top. I could be wrong and would love to hear peoples feedback on this.

>Bladder Pouch: None Existent.. It seems like the target customer would cut it out anyway so why even bother putting one in? I could be wrong here since I myself do not use a bladder and think they make no sense at all. The idea of putting water inside your pack is crazy.. But, I would love to hear feedback on this as well.

>Backpanel: Woven Fabric vs. Spacer Mesh. What do most people prefer?

>More Thoughts: Hmmm.. I forgot them now.. Let me think about this and see if there are any more comments. Thanks again for all the feedback. Its great..

Edited by Mountainfitter on 03/07/2012 09:20:17 MST.

Stephan Doyle
Round 2 on 03/07/2012 11:05:23 MST Print View

I'll trust on the Durastretch. I'm skeptical of the pictures, but your recommendation makes me feel more confident.

The back panel being contoured is great! Like you say, the cottage folks skip this, but all the main lightweight packs have it. It helps!

Re: hip belt I think you should keep a similar design to what you have, though slimming it down a little. I think 1.5" would be fine with the 4" wings. It helps give the impression this is a BOMBER pack, I think, along with the heavy duty compression straps.

For that same reason, I like the shoulder pads. A tiny more weight for more comfort, and again give the feeling of a heavy-duty pack.

If the side pockets will hold a nalgene, powerade bottle, gatorade bottle (WIDE), then I think you're good. You can go too tall with something like this.

I can't be of any help of the front pocket size, I'd need to have the pack in front of me and fiddle around with it a little.

You have a simple drawcord system. No complaints about that. The current trend is the roll-top, because then you also have a dry bag (and x-pac is 100% waterproof, so if you taped the seams that could be another point of differentiation). I prefer the drawstring as it's more simple and requires less hardware.

Bladder pouch is nice for internal organization… If you can put it in for cheap, it's not a bad thing, as it's easy to cut and the pack is MUCH easier to use for those who do use bladders.

Spacer mesh on the back panel is another one of those ways for you to differentiate the pack and have it look more like the big boys. I think it's more comfortable, too.

Douglas Ray

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Like simple and inexpensive... on 03/07/2012 11:10:38 MST Print View

I appreciate your interest in building a pack that is simple and not terribly expensive. I see a lot of cottage industry packs that have many features I wouldn't want and cost accordingly.

Do keep the contour cut, it sets your pack apart from many others. BTW this is one of the secretes of Cold Cold World packs (, which people have been carrying around with a lot more weight than usually considered appropriate in a frame-less pack for a long time now.

So your pocket material is actually sturdy enough to be a reinforcement it sounds like? That would imply this is one tough little pack. It is starting to sound quite appealing.

John West
(skyzo) - M

Locale: Borah Gear
Re: Round 2 on 03/07/2012 11:53:15 MST Print View

Looks like an awesome pack.

I agree with Stephan in that you should keep the large hip-belt (maybe a tiny bit smaller). The small weight increase is well worth the comfort, and will appeal to a much larger crown then if you just use webbing.

Love the load-lifters. Like the others have said, this looks like it would be an awesome climbing pack, and gives a nice(lighter) alternative to the CCW packs.
I have been in the market for a nice climbing pack, and if this one is marketed at a fair price point, I will definitely consider it. The contoured back panel is what really sets it apart

Tyler Barcelli

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Round 2 on 03/07/2012 15:56:45 MST Print View

I agree about keeping the large hipbelt and shoulder straps. The hipbelt could be scaled back maybe, but I find that I will pay the price in weight for a well padded hipbelt and shoulder straps. This is me but I hate carrying weight on my shoulders and a webbing belt is not something I enjoy. I like the closure no need to do anything fancy there. I am really interested in how the contoured back feels. In regards to internal storage, I say its unnecessary. Most people cut out that stuff anyway. I know I have taken most everything off of my ULA Ohm and did the same with my GG Gorilla. I love my Ohm but I occasionally find myself wanting some more padding. I like how this pack seems to fit really close to the body as pack sway is very annoying when you're scrambling or just moving at a fast clip. Any chance we could see some pictures with somebody wearing to get an idea off how the hipbelt wraps around and to see the contour?

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Great Feedback on 03/08/2012 09:48:51 MST Print View

Thanks for all the great feedback.

John West
(skyzo) - M

Locale: Borah Gear
Re: Great Feedback on 03/08/2012 10:26:21 MST Print View

+1 for a picture of someone wearing it, that would be great. I'm curious to see how the contoured back and hip-belt look while wearing it.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
More feedback on 03/08/2012 11:47:26 MST Print View

Looks like a great pack! I like the contour and the load lifters!


- I'd probably shorten the front pocket an inch or two.
- Straps: Replace straps with 3 mm cord, using the line lock thingies seen on some Granite Gear and Gossamer Gear packs. (You sell them or used to!)
- Add an ice axe loop for PCT.
- Belt: if you have a real hip belt, do something like the ULA double strap system; it's amazingly comfortable! You can also use much narrower straps.
- Not everyone will want this, but for some of us with back issues who must get maximum weight off the shoulders and onto the hips, have some kind of optional weight transferring stiffener available - framesheet, struts, etc.

lifters on 03/08/2012 18:24:25 MST Print View

Load lifters need something to pull against to work.

The problem with many UL frameless packs w/o stays, In my experience , is there is nothing.

If you pack the pack tight enough for load lifters to work, it becomes hard and uncomfortable and odd shaped and doesnt conform to back.

A folded CCF pad could work in my experience , but often the pad is 20" wide, and the load lifters are located at 24"-25" to be a couple inches above the shoulder straps., so the pad isnt tall enough when inserted to the pack bottom for the load lifters to pull against the stiffness of the pad

Ive been waiting for someone to come up with a way to fix this, maybe you can

kevin timm
(ktimm) - MLife

Locale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
I like it on 03/08/2012 19:15:00 MST Print View

Hi Lawson

I like it. I am probably in disagreement with most of the posters here, because I would trade 6 ounces for a lot more flexibility and load capacity.

Here are my observations:
- I like the hipbelt
- I like the load lifters, although I would like to see them an inch higher and I would make a little pocket inside and stick some CF or aluminum tubing for when I needed to carry a bigger load.
- Instead of the mesh back pocket more of a beavertail for carrying odd things such as snow shoes.

I've been experimenting with adding framing to frameless packs and have had good luck with comfort and load ability, but I can not get functional load lifters without modification, nor can I get I get a working hipbelt on them without modification. Most are simply not built for those mods.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Possible Backpack- Feedback Wanted on 03/08/2012 19:34:02 MST Print View


Just some "devil advocate" comments to think about:

Is there a market for yet another UL pack?

What will your packs do that differentiate you from the market?

Can you get enough volume to automate/reduce manufacturing costs?

Packs seem pretty labor intensive to me. If you have to make them yourself, you might just be buying yourself another job as a seamstress. However, selling gear and accessories allows you to let your money work for you other than the time spent marketing, ordering, stocking, shipping and following up. You have to do these things for manufactured products too.

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Re: on 03/09/2012 19:04:10 MST Print View

I think there is always a market for a better product. Especially a backpack that is lightweight, durable and carries well.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Backpack on 03/09/2012 21:31:31 MST Print View

For me a back pocket is often used for tent storage, so I like it either tall, or shorter but with a higher strap to secure taller items that protrude (tent, avy shovel etc). My tent goes here when I can't fit it in my pack, or when it's a really rainy morning and I want to close up my pack before leaving my shelter.

At the same time, you can't please everyone and you really need to stick to the packs core vision. Don't try to make it a jack of all trades, as can happen if you try to please all the feedback. Lots of people use tarps or shelters small enough to store in a side pocket (using the compression straps too) so they wouldn't need the taller pocket.

One idea is to shorten the back pocket, but then design the upper compression straps so they can also be clipped to each other across the back of the pack and thus form a strap above the back pocket to secure taller items if needed. If my pack is full enough that the tent is on the outside, then I probably don't need to use the upper compression straps as compression straps.

I really like the materials you are using. Nice durability choices. Only suggestion here is that a fully waterproof material (ie. nylon/cuben hybrid) is pretty darn nice since it solves the pack liner/pack cover hassles.

I personally don't need a haul strap on my packs (shoulder straps should be on there robustly enough to handle this for a UL load) but I realize it probably only weighs 3 grams and some people prefer it and those who don't can cut it off.

There seems to be a slight identity crisis with regards to the CCF foam sheet, generous hipbelt and load lifters. I'm not sure how stiff your foam sheet is, but it seems like it probably isn't stiff enough to warrant that generous of a hipbelt and the load lifters. Adding a removable light plastic framesheet or stays could turn this into a capable bigger load hauler.

With frameless packs, I don't like much in the way of hipbelts and sometimes none at all (just a sternum strap) because if my load is sub 25 lbs then I prefer to just carry it on my shoulders and avoid the constriction, heat and chaffing of a hipbelt. If I'm going heavier than that, I'll likely want at least frame stays.

So I'd think about going more to one side or the other (or offering two versions). Going lighter, you could delete the load lifters and go to a webbing hipbelt, or going to a higher load capacity you could add a plastic frame sheet or curved stays. The latter would be quite appealing if it they were either quite light or removable.

Ben F
(tekhna) - F
top on 03/09/2012 22:06:38 MST Print View

Personally I'm a fan of roll tops over draw cords!