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Pack Compression Systems: Web straps vs. Single Cord
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Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Pack Compression Systems: Web straps vs. Single Cord on 06/13/2013 19:47:41 MDT Print View

I'm thinking of having a custom made pack modded to use a cord compression system - single cord on each side, rather than the standard system of independent web straps - 3 on each side. Any thoughts on the relative advantages of this type of compression system for lightweight loads - not necessarily SUL.

I don't have any experience with direct comparisons, so I'm just trying to use logic here. I'm guessing cord systems are lighter, simpler and work best with light gear or gear that is not going to shift around too much, and the perhaps web strap systems are better with heavy and/or lumpier gear. Am I'm guessing this at all right? Would I be better off with a independent strap system for something like a bear can sitting on the top of my pack? Would I be crazy to consider this if the default is already a nice systems of web straps? Since I know it depends, I will say that versatility is more important than a few ounces for this particular pack. Since I know you are going to ask, the pack is an Elemental Horizons Kalais.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Pack Compression Systems: Web straps vs. Single Cord on 06/13/2013 23:00:14 MDT Print View

I would say web straps are a lot easier to adjust, but they weigh more. This is especially true if the straps have buckles. I have straps like that on my day pack, and really like the speed and flexibility. But when I'm counting ounces, like on a backpack, I prefer cord.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Pack Compression Systems: Web straps vs. Single Cord on 06/13/2013 23:25:22 MDT Print View

Vaude has used this system on many of their Rock Ultralight packs. I like the system and had no problems.

Granite Gear is using line for compression straps on a number of their newer designs. Speaking of Granite Gear, they are also using 11m webbing on some of their other packs, which is a good compromise of you want something tougher.

You save weight on webbing and hardware both, as the hardware gets smaller and lighter along with the line. You might ask for a few spare bits of hardware so you can have identical replacements in the future.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
compression systems on 06/14/2013 08:46:18 MDT Print View

Mark, I'd say your analysis is dead on. Cord compression can work ok with traditional thruhiking type loads. If it's one single cord unit there can be a tendency for all the slack (and thus the load itself) to migrate down.

I prefer traditional webbing compression straps, but if you're not likely to be hauling weird shaped stuff like skis or snowshoes, and unlikely to need your pack compressed down a lot, cord will work.

John Holmes

Locale: SouthEastern US
Granite Gear cords compression on 06/17/2013 13:09:06 MDT Print View

I have 2 GG packs, a Blaze AC 60 and a Crown VC. Both use cordage for the compression straps. If you honor the advised total weight limits (35lbs and 25lbs respectively) they work great.

I too would question how well they would work on anything other than a lightweight or ultralight pack.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Hybrid: Web straps and Single Cord on 06/17/2013 23:50:31 MDT Print View

I can't recall where I've seen the mod, but instead of a single cord on each side, why not 2-3 cords plus linelocs, set up like web straps. Light, simple, fine-tunable compression control.

OTOH, I find most compression straps useless for compression. My pack volume is relatively constant – full. As I eat food, my sleeping bag expands to fill the space. The best side straps are the ones I can hang gear from, one on each side.

-- Rex

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: compression systems on 06/18/2013 05:01:23 MDT Print View

+1 to what Dave said. I have used both and prefer the straps to the cord, easier to adjust. I think Will Reitveld said he prefers 3 straps to 2.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
straps preferred on 06/18/2013 09:12:01 MDT Print View

The cord systems I have seen are one cord on each side in a 'z' pattern... one pull, one cord. Which means... you can't compress the top and bottom of the pack differently if you want.

With straps you can customize the compression, the straps being separate.

I prefer the straps. Plus... so me of the cord attachments on some packs look suspect... not sure I'd want to really cinch them down with force...


John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
Mchale on 06/18/2013 18:23:48 MDT Print View

The mchale website says that zig-zagging cord all the way up the side of a standard size pack is heavier than 2 pieces of webbing and plastic tighteners - and doesn't synch / control the load as well. So my guess is the weight savings is small on an UL pack.

I personally find straps with quick releases to be the minimal level of convenience I want. Try strapping snowshoes, or a foam pad or a rain jacket, or a fleece, or a wet tent under a zigzag cord and then decide if the extra ounce or two for buckles is worth carrying :)