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How to pack the HMG Porter pack?
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Curtis B.
(rutilate) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
The HMG Porter pack: water resistance, pockets, and packing? on 07/14/2013 17:19:35 MDT Print View

Folks,
I'm wondering how you are packing your HMG Porter packs? I have had mine for about a year and I've done a number of summer and winter trips with it. I'm curious about how you pack your stuff in general (in hopes that some of your ideas might inspire me) and especially how you pack your bladder and account for a lack of pockets.

How much does the bladder tube coming out through the corner of the mouth compromise water resistance? It seems to allow direct entry to the bag. I'm not PLANNING on swimming in my pack, but one of the reasons I bought this was for the water resistance that enables me to ditch the pack liner and cover, even with anticipated heavy rain and frequent river crossings. I've tried hanging my Platypus on the outside from the velcro loop and strapping it in with the bungee cords, but it inevitably sags down and squishes out the bottom if the pack isn't completely stuffed. As well, the full bladder on the back does tend to overbalance the load.

How are you compensating for the lack of pockets? I need easy access to at the very least a map and compass, granola bar or two, and ideally a very small first aid kit and some mosquito repellant. I see that the new packs come with a zippered floppy pouch sewn into the top interior to carry the small stuff that inevitably ends up in the bottom of the pack, as well as hip belt pockets. Are these hip pockets something that can be purchased from HMG and added on or are there aftermarket pockets that can be used?

Also, when the pack is very full, do you get the sense that it is too round and pulls the pack strap attachment points far away from your shoulders?

And for the packing:
I put my down quilt in the bottom, followed by some bulky items so as to get heavy items up closer to my shoulder blades. I'll put my night clothes, rolled up thermarest neoair and my Jetboil Sol Ti down, followed by a cuben bear bag stuff sack (8-10" diameter tube) in the center. I'll put my tent to one side, miscellaneous on the other side of the bear bag, and stuff fleece/down in any nook and cranny, with rain gear on the very top. Without pockets, I have a Zimmerbuilt fanny pack that I put in last with all my first aid, dinky stuff, and repair kit.

I have a quick-release on the bladder tube so that I can attach my sawyer squeeze directly to the bladder tube and refill without having to unpack my entire pack to pull out, fill, and replace the bladder. It works pretty well. I'd love to find a quick-release disconnect with a shut-off so a very tightly packed pack doesn't expel all my freshly-filtered water in the process of disconnecting the Sawyer and reconnecting the bite valve section!

How do you pack yours?

Edited by rutilate on 07/14/2013 17:21:45 MDT.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: The HMG Porter pack: water resistance, pockets, and packing? on 07/14/2013 18:53:26 MDT Print View

The Porter 3400 I have doesn't have a hydration port, and admittedly may be on of the older versions. However, if the hydration port on your pack is similar or the same as the Windrider models, I can't see how rain would get in. I haven't ever had rain come in a hydration port hole. I agree on what hydration bags can do to the back panel of a pack. It is one of the reasons I don't use a hydration bag.

I have a Porter front pocket which is, of course, removable. I also have pockets on the hipbelt and I had Mike Fogarty (on these forums) make me two water bottle holsters that attach nicely on each side of the Porter. Might be worth it to give him a contact.

"Are these hip pockets something that can be purchased from HMG and added on or are there aftermarket pockets that can be used?" Any hipbelt pocket that will work with molle type attachment should work just fine. Maybe Granite Gear, Gossamer Gear, Zpacks, etc.

"Also, when the pack is very full, do you get the sense that it is too round and pulls the pack strap attachment points far away from your shoulders?" I don't but part of the issue may be the hydration bag you are using. Alternatively, when the pack is full, lay it on the ground and push into it a bit to 'break up' the load. Works for me.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: The HMG Porter pack: water resistance, pockets, and packing? on 07/14/2013 19:20:24 MDT Print View

I often take all the pockets off my packs. If I need to carry more than one liter of water, I really like water bottle pockets at the bottom on the outside of my pack. My pockets can hold a 2 liter Gatorade bottle. I hate carrying water inside my pack, although sometimes it cannot be avoided in deserts.

Hip and shoulder strap pockets can be extremely convenient.

I am used to carrying most of the stuff I need frequently during the day in the pockets of my shorts/pants or shirt. This is how I have done it for a very long time. When I buy shorts or trousers I look for deep and spacious pockets, which is one of the reasons I like Ptagonia Baggies and Eco Mesh trousers. These clothing items become part of my overall system.

Stopping once an hour to get something out of my pack is not a big deal to me. As posted earlier there are plenty of companies that sell add-on pockets if you manufacturer doesn't make them.

I wouldn't trust any pack to be waterproof in heavy rain or river crossings. A liner is good insurance, especially if there is down clothing or sleeping gear inside.

Distributing gear is about the same in any pack. Heavy stuff close to the back and up high, of course this assumes a proper frame for the load carried.

You have really pointed out an important part of considering any pack -- how convenient is it to live out of. I owned two packs from a well known and respected cottage company. I hated both of them because it was hard for me to live out of them. This was a function of how I hike, not the quality of the pack.

Curtis B.
(rutilate) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: The HMG Porter pack: water resistance, pockets, and packing? on 07/15/2013 16:33:02 MDT Print View

Davey, Nick, thanks for the comments.

I'm still figuring out what works for me. I used to carry a ton of stuff in cargo pockets in my shorts and in my craze to go lighter ended up wearing super light shorts without pockets on my last 60 mile hike. Big mistake for me. Sure, it was light, but completely non-functional! I hardly took any pics because the camera was too hard to get out of my pack.

It turns out that HMG will sew pockets on the pack for me. Debating whether or not to make it permanent vs. using a temporary like from Zimmer. They can also create an hydration port, but if having the tube coming out through the roll top will diminish waterproofness, having a hydration port seems like it'll only make it more so! I guess I could always patch the hole with cuben tape if it becomes an issue.

I'm curious as to how people manage to reach big water bottles on the sides of their packs without taking them off. People must just be far more flexible than I as I can touch but can't lift, let alone spread the elastic to fit it back in!

Nick, you're right in that the core issue in pack/tent choice is how convenient it is to live out of!! Far more important than weight/fabric. I could never use the duomid-style tents with my wife, as she keeps warm by crowding me off my mat, and the center tent pole would make her stop coming with me!

Nick, how about a practical article on identifying your style first, then choosing gear to fit? This might be a real winner.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: The HMG Porter pack: water resistance, pockets, and packing? on 07/15/2013 17:22:47 MDT Print View

Some other thoughts.

What I carry in pockets:

Compact camera in one pocket.

Chap stick in the other pocket. Maybe a couple candy bars in the chap stick pocket. Trash also goes in the chap stick pocket. If I need to frequently check map and compass I will put them in a trouser/shorts or shirt pocket. Sometimes I will keep my map and compass in a water bottle pocket; I swing the pack off and hold it in one arm, grab what I need, put pack bak on, check map, swing pack again and put it back in the water pocket. Sometimes I do all of this while walking.

I really like to take a 5 minute break every hour or two, and this is when I do "administrative stuff." If it isn't very hot I will hike for 2 hours at a time and then take a water/snack break. Hot weather means more frequent stops.

So basically I just walk for an hour or two and never stop unless I want to take a picture. And to be honest, half the time I don't bring a camera or only take a couple pictures a day. For someone who is photo-centric, they may operate differently. I typically don't drink water while walking either. That is part of my one/two hour stop.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Packing the HMG Porter on 07/15/2013 17:41:12 MDT Print View

Here's how I pack my Porter:
Air pad gets folded up and placed inside the pack against the back panel. Quilt, any insulation pieces and anything else I only use in camp goes in the bottom of the pack in a thin packliner. Then I stuff in my shelter (usually loose), stakes, pot/stove, repair/first aid/toiletry stuff sack and food bag/bear can. On the very top goes things I might need or want during the day- rain jacket, head lamp, mid layer, etc.

I've been going back and forth about whether food, which is by far my heaviest item packed should sit a little higher or lower in the pack for the best carrying comfort. No definitive conclusions yet though.

I have a host of removable pockets that I can add or remove from the outside of the pack to carry water, camera equipment, snacks, and other items I might want to access during the hike without stopping to dig into the pack. These include hipbelt pockets from Zpacks, water bottle/wand pockets from Cilo Gear and Zimmerbuilt, the HMG stuff pocket and the Zpacks Multipack (which I wear across the chest like a camera bag). Some trips I find myself using several of these options to carry water and camera equipment (most typically); other times I strip the pack down to maybe a bottle pocket and the multipack.



For water, I use a bottle holder (like what's shown in the photo) to carry a 1L gatorade bottle. Usually I just have one and can carry additional water, if needed, in a bladder stored either inside the pack (on top) or in the stuff pocket on the back. I use the bladder to refill my bottle or to haul cooking water to a dry camp.

scree ride
(scree)
Packing the HMG Porter on 07/16/2013 07:46:18 MDT Print View

Between the back padding and the compression straps, I experience very little ballooning. I'm still using an old NF Hot Tamale bag that squeezes tightly in the bottom of my 4400 that sort of sets the shape as well.

I really want a quilt, which I'll probably roll up wide to do the same thing.

Hydration bag is hung low on the back, wrapped and supported by my groundcloth and doesn't sag or effect balance. I opted out of a port.

Never could reach the water bottle pockets on other packs, so I figured, why have them? Pointless.

Heavy stuff in the middle, wrapped in clothing. Gloves hats, daytime accessories and snacks on top. Not much in my pant pockets.

I do have a small inside pocket, but use a small stuff sack for small stuff as well.

When I had a lot of pockets, I really wasn't very organized. I was always looking for stuff in the wrong pocket. Most pockets don't have a reason for being where they are other than they fit on the pack. To me they only add more confusion and more weight.

It's snowing ash right now, dang it.

Slaton Whatley
(AlpinistoOutdoors)

Locale: Catalinas, Saguaro, Grand Canyon
Nico's Setup on 07/16/2013 09:55:28 MDT Print View

Nico, that's an awesome set up you for the porter there. Awesome to see how many ways you can customize this pack. I did have a quick question about the Cilogear side pockets you have on the pack. How do they attach? Seems like a perfect solution for someone like me who does like to drink throughout the day and doesn't stop often enough to have the water stashed in my pack.

I was going to get some of the Zpacks pouches for my shoulder straps but the set up you have is much more my style.

Thanks for the photo! Trying to get may pack set up for a 5 day 4 night trip in the San Juans next month.

Alex Wallace
(FeetFirst) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Nico's Setup on 07/16/2013 10:58:00 MDT Print View

I too am intrigued by the Cilogear pockets. I actually use a Cilogear 45L Worksack on most of my trips, but decided to get some Zimmerbuilts for the side pockets after seeing what he made for a Porter. They're awesome, actually beautiful, but I'm still curious about how the Cilogear pockets.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Bottle Pockets on 07/16/2013 11:07:56 MDT Print View

Hi Slaton,

The Cilo Gear wand pockets have webbing loops on them, so I just used some short loops of shockcord with mini cordlocks on them to attach the pockets to the daisy chains on the pack. It works okay, but the pockets sag a little because of how large and spacious the webbing loops are on the wand pockets.

My more current bottle pocket solution is my custom made Zimmerbuilt pockets. They are easier to attach/remove, they don't sag and they lie flat(ter) against the pack when not in use. I don't have any good photos handy of them in use but here's the photos Chris Zimmer took of them before mailing them to me. They work great and I've been very happy with them.

pockets1

pockets2

pockets3

I still keep the Cilo gear ones around in case I need to carry larger bottles (like a 2L gatorade bottle) but I find for most trips I prefer the Zimmerbuilt ones.

EDIT: Since it's come up on here a couple of times, I'll note that I have no problem reaching back and grabbing a bottle out of either style of pocket while walking. I'm not sure if its a function of the pack width, bottle location, arm flexibility or whatever, but I can reach my bottles just fine without taking the pack off. YMMV.

Edited by NickB on 07/16/2013 11:23:40 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Packing the HMG Porter on 07/16/2013 11:20:21 MDT Print View

"Never could reach the water bottle pockets on other packs, so I figured, why have them? Pointless."

I couldn't reach them either.

But with removable pockets I can have a smaller pack and then add extra capacity for water if needed.

I find that a gallon of water between my 2 pockets carries really nice and close to my hips. Both of my go to packs can handle a 64 ounce Gatorade bottle in the water pockets. Also easy to access even though it is too difficult to reach back and grab while walking. This works for me, may not be a solution for others.

Curtis B.
(rutilate) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: The HMG Porter pack: water resistance, pockets, and packing? on 07/16/2013 19:46:26 MDT Print View

Nico, what are “wand pockets”? Are they simply used to carry hiking sticks?

Scree: “When I had a lot of pockets, I really wasn't very organized. I was always looking for stuff in the wrong pocket. Most pockets don't have a reason for being where they are other than they fit on the pack. To me they only add more confusion”
Nick: “I swing the pack off and hold it in one arm, grab what I need, put pack back on, check map, swing pack again and put it back in the water pocket. Sometimes I do all of this while walking.”

Very good point. I’ve done the same. This is somewhat mind-blowing in that tradition doesn’t have to be. I don’t think I’ve ever taken my pack off, gathered something out of it, and put it back on while walking. This is a hold-over from heavier pack days when you needed something out of your pack you almost needed help getting it off. My base weight is 13 lbs when carrying double quilt and 2-person tent (anything to make it a good experience for my wife to join me!). I could easily do this now.


Nico: “other times I strip the pack down to maybe a bottle pocket and the multipack.”
Nick: “But with removable pockets I can have a smaller pack and then add extra capacity for water if needed.”

So here’s the question. For the Porter, is it better to get the Zimmerbuilt removable hib belt pockets for increased flexibility or to send it back to HMG and have the hip belt pockets sewn on for greater durability?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: The HMG Porter pack: water resistance, pockets, and packing? on 07/16/2013 19:50:32 MDT Print View

I like removable pockets. If you don't need them on a particular trip you can take them off and save weight.

Last week I checked my McHale. Took off the pockets and stored them in the pack. The baggage apes would have ripped them off :)