floppy top on G4 pack
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Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
floppy top on G4 pack on 07/19/2012 12:53:00 MDT Print View

I've been using a Gossamer Gear G4 for several years now, and have been fairly happy with it. But there's a problem that keeps coming up now and then, which is that the extension collar flops over. Sometimes it flops to the side, more often backward. When it bends backward, it makes it really miserable to hike with it, because gravity makes a ton of torque on it, and my shoulders get pulled on really hard.

AFAIK the standard advice about UL packs is that if they're not rigid enough, you try to increase the volume of the stuff inside, e.g., by leaving your sleeping bag out of its stuff sack. However, I seem to be getting the problem when the pack is crammed full anyway.

One expedient that seems to help a little is to take a short cord and tie it with a tautline hitch from the drawstring that closes the top hole running down to the buckle inside the haul strap. This may help a little, but doesn't entirely fix the problem. I doubt that the top lashing strap would help, although maybe I should try it and see.

The usual arrangement of my stuff is that my Garcia bear canister is upright on the bottom, with clothes and tarp crammed in next to it. On top of that I have other clothes, ditty bags, and my sleeping bag. On hikes where the Garcia is needed, everything is typically so tight that even with the sleeping bag in its stuff sack, I can just barely cram everything in.

Putting the sleeping bag in vertically does seem to help a little bit, but not enough; it mainly seems to make the extension collar more likely to flop to the side rather than to the back. I've also experimented with putting the sleeping bag horizontally at the very top, or horizontally lower down.

Any suggestions?

It's enough of a pain that I'm considering getting a Mariposa, or modifying the G4 to accept some kind of stays. However, when it's behaving well, I really love the pack, so I'd prefer to find a solution that would simply keep it from misbehaving.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: floppy top on G4 pack on 07/19/2012 13:25:59 MDT Print View

Yeah, my daughters G5 does the same thing. Real close to the same pack, just different materials.

We tried several solutions, but what stands out the most is a tall slim roll of most everything in your pack. The bear ball (bear conister, sorry, we have been laughing at them for too long, I guess,) goes in the bottom with the tarp tightly rolled along side it. On the other side the sleeping bag, again as tightly rolled as possible. Again, this should extend to near the top, a full 24" anyway. The pad of course, goes into the pad pockets, but some arrow shafts fitted into each side makes it all work. The top section cannot be overloaded. If you have loose gear, or stuff sacks up there it will flop...sideways or back as you describe. Her pack typically carries about 10-12 pounds of gear but looks about 1/2 full.

Second best is using a semi-inflatable pad and sitlite. The semi-inflatable is rolled into the pack, first. Again, weight at the bottom, taller thin rolls extending up, and, arrow shafts. She did this on her last trip out with me, but had the pad IN the external pockets...not real great on the trail the first day. I reminded her about pad inside, but we were not carrying the bear ball.

Third was to simply take some arrow shafts and put them in the edges of the external pad pouch with some duct tape. This sort of works with heavier loads (~15 pounds.) But, she has the silnylon version which doesn't really like the duct tape. I thought about mentioning some cross grain Load Lifter straps from the top of her shoulder harness and about half way up the unsupported top section. Never tried that one, soo if you do, please let me know. TIA!

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
canister on top? on 07/19/2012 14:10:43 MDT Print View

Thanks for the reply, James. I'm not quite following everything you're saying, though.

A Garcia is only 12" tall, and the pack is more like 24"+ tall, so if a rolled-up sleeping bag or a rolled-up tarp was to reach to the top, it would have to have 12" of itself sticking up stiffly past the top of the Garcia -- would those materials really have any stiffness at that length?

The external pad pouch only comes up as far as the shoulders, so wouldn't stays inserted in the pad pouch fail to stiffen the extension collar?

It occurs to me now that maybe it would work if I put the Garcia in vertically, but much higher in the pack, so that maybe 6" of it was sticking up above the shoulders and 6" below. The G4's user manual does suggest putting food on top, although they're probably not describing a bear canister. The only thing is that I'd need to put 12" of stuff below the Garcia to get it up that high, and I don't know if I have that much stuff that I'd want to have down there, inaccessible, and that could stand being crushed.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: canister on top? on 07/19/2012 17:02:12 MDT Print View

"A Garcia is only 12" tall, and the pack is more like 24"+ tall, so if a rolled-up sleeping bag or a rolled-up tarp was to reach to the top, it would have to have 12" of itself sticking up stiffly past the top of the Garcia -- would those materials really have any stiffness at that length?"

Yes and no. It depends on how tightly rolled you make it. The tarp gets rolled fairly tight then wrapped with the guy lines. It holds pretty well considering that it is a fabric, not a structural material. It rolls up to about 25-26" long about 1-1/2" in diameter. It started as a 9x11 tarp. The sleeping bag requires more work sice it IS down. I start rolling the foot box, then up the length, unfolded. It is about 26-28 inches long when I am done. I slip two air ties around it to hold it and suff the bottom in, down around the bear ball. That is usually sufficient. Ranjacket get rolled and stuffed, sleeves in. Again a hair tie holds it. My insulating layers get rolled (about 18" for the shirt and about 10" for the pants and hair tied. The pot, stove, cup and spoon all get put in one pocket with the other carrying the water. It works. Any other clothing(say for cold conditions) gets rolled and added similarly. I tried loose stuffing the bag in the bottom, but that didn't work with the bear ball. It got compressed and fell into the bag. The other thing, I forgot to mention, was compression cords. These will reduce the overall volume and tighten your load. All this stuff sounds like a lot of fussing, but it's fairly simple and keeps things pretty well organized. It might take an extra 3-5 minutes to roll the stuff as oposed to just tossing it in, certanly no harder than in a stuff sack. BTW, this is all done in a liner bag soo things don't get wet. Hmmm, the Garcia's I am familiar with are all about 9" in diameter.

"The external pad pouch only comes up as far as the shoulders, so wouldn't stays inserted in the pad pouch fail to stiffen the extension collar?"
Yes. But by having the stays they act like a "frame", stiffening the whole 22", Note that the extension collar, usually where the flopping occurs, is actually another 10" more, for a total of 32" overfull. The 10" is likely a bit too much. I think I would have shortened the collar to about 6", but that's me, not Glen. Anyway, the normal full height is 22". With everything rolled up below that and extending into the extension collar a 2-4 inches, it does stiffen it. It prevents the looseness at that boundary point, most often the trouble spot responsible for the flopping. Generally I have found you cannot load anything of significant weight in the extension collar area, as is. Note that the Load Lifters attached at about 4-5" will alleviate the flopping, but, again, I have not tried that. My G5 died last year, or I would.