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

Locale: The WOODS
Thanks David on 02/17/2014 05:37:09 MST Print View

Yes that was a misspell, its VX42. Probably go with that then. Which one do you think has better stitch retention? We'll probably order a yard of VX 42 and a yard of 500 cordura (for the hipbelt) so we could go with either for the inside part.

I just had an idea to put a very short "top" on the pocket. If the frame channel ever wears out I could switch to using a frame sheet inside the pocket.

I've had about 4 inches of spacing on my last couple packs. I must have a thick neck. My old Jam2 caused soreness on my neck, must have been too narrow.

The slot is supposed to be on the back of the hipbelt just like yours, I'll make sure Chris understands. If its not clear to you it might not be clear to him.

Hopefully this all works out. I wish I had the time to make my own packs like I used to.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Spinal Tap Single Stay on 02/17/2014 08:29:07 MST Print View

I tried a single stay pack from REI several years ago. Can't recall brand.

Bottom of single stay soon started rubbing the base of my spine. Deal breaker. Gave it away.

Design of the stay bottom and attachment to pack is, as others have said, crucial!

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Thanks David on 02/17/2014 09:04:32 MST Print View

Stitch retention on both VX-42 and 500d is pretty darn high. 500 is probably better, but we're talking gradations that don't make much functional difference.

FWIW, I've been doing training walks around town with the Tamarisk pack (above) and a 55 pound load of water and climbing hardware. Once I got the stay bent just perfectly load transfer has been excellent. The foliage hipbelt shown above is a hacked down Kifaru Wraptech Plus. 500d on inner and outer, and a single payer of dense but pliable 3/8" CCF. Hipbelt is not a limiting factor at 55 pounds. I'm coming to believe that any plastic nonsense in a belt is indicative of a design shortcoming elsewhere.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
thoughts on 02/17/2014 09:32:08 MST Print View

At the weight range that you are aiming for - in the 40's - I have come to the conclusion that sewing the hipbelt directly to the bag is not the best way to do it. I have a pack I made about 30 years ago on which I used three velcro straps to attach the belt - two at the bottom of the stays (strap sewn to the belt, looped through a looploc and velcro to the belt) and one at center top of the belt. That pack is more comfortable once the weight gets up than any of my sewn-on belts. All belts are conically cut.
My guess as to why this works better is that you maintain a very direct connection of the belt to the base of the stays - for excellent weight transfer - and yet you have more flexibility in the connection. I do have sidepull straps running from near teh belt buckle back to the lower corners of the pack, which I will tighten when I'm skiing downhill to keep the pack under more control - I put those on any pack I plan to ski with.

As to stays wearing through the pockets - I've had to do a number of repairs on that pack over the years but no issues at all with the stay sleeves. The two stays are 1/2" wide by 1/8" thick aluminum; the bottoms of the sleeves are 1" wide nylon webbing; the ends of the stays were eased with a file and wrapped with a couple layers of electrical tape. The pack has seen a lot of use by myself and my son, with many loads over 40 lbs at the start of ski trips

Also - I would strongly recommend a crossbar at the top of the stay or stays to help avoid the pack rounding out. Keeps the load closer to the body. And with a single stay pack, it gives you a place to attach lifter straps that has some connection to the frame so they will work much better. I have used both flat bar stock and aluminum tent pole tubing as crossbars on my packs - both work.

Nick Smolinske
(Smo) - F

Locale: Rogue Panda Designs
500d versus 1000d on 02/17/2014 18:49:28 MST Print View

So if durability is a huge concern, you should think about 1000d cordura as well. Seems crazy, 1000 is twice as big a number as 500! But the difference in weight is 8 oz/yd for 500d versus 10.8 oz/yd for 1000d. A pack uses a yard, plus or minus half. So if it's a small pack you could be talking 2 oz difference in weight, for double the tear strength.

See for strength info.

1000d is still probably overkill for you, but I just wanted to point out it's not as heavy as people think, compared to 500d. I make my bikepacking gear out of 1000d because all of my gear uses just a couple of yards, and the strength is worth it for that application.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Just About There on 02/17/2014 19:00:33 MST Print View

Paul I agree, maybe it wasn't clear in the pictures but the belt is going to attach to the bottom of the stay via a pocket the stay fits into.

Nicholas I noticed 1000 Cordura is only a bit heavier. If I was going the Cordura route I just might try it. But my hiking is going to be split between short West Texas trips on longer summer trips in the Rockies so I'll be going with VX 42 for water resistance and quick drying. I think the VX 42 will be tough enough for the limited desert us it will get (I'm not scraping through slot canyons).

My project for tonight is to draw up a final sketch for Chris and get things rolling.

Nick Smolinske
(Smo) - F

Locale: Rogue Panda Designs
Nice on 02/17/2014 19:31:45 MST Print View

I think that's the right decision - I just made a pack with VX-21 and it's pretty darn strong - the 42 must be awesome. Eventually I'd like to rebuild my bikepacking panniers out of that stuff.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Update on 02/17/2014 20:55:51 MST Print View

Making what I hope will be final sketches tonight.

To test the concept I took my Exped Lighting and flipped the Velcro lumbar pad down then with straps I secured a folded blue pad to the outside of the pack to replace the lumbar pad. It roughly approximated the pad set up in David's pack. I like the feel a lot. I also liked how the pad "stuck" to my back since the foam was right on my back not slippery nylon.

It got me thinking... how about a piece of cordura for just the back piece (the rest will be VX42). I'm thinking the roughness of the cordura might be a good thing. Any thoughts?

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Update on 02/17/2014 23:09:18 MST Print View

cordura against the back: good way to go, that's what I do on my packs. But you don't need the 500d here, get some 330 or 160, it will be plenty tough.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Update on 02/18/2014 07:21:50 MST Print View

How about 3D mesh against your back? Reasonable texture against back. Provides some form to the pack.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Updates on 02/18/2014 08:38:30 MST Print View

I might do that, less likely to wear out a raincoat for example.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Re Re Updates on 02/18/2014 09:37:44 MST Print View

3D mesh will hold water, though.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Kalais on 02/18/2014 11:03:22 MST Print View

Luke, I am looking forward to what you come up with. I almost contacted Chris to build nearly a similar pack for desert use but was not sure that I could communicate the frame and other things I wanted well and then looked closer at the Kalais and had Matthew build me one out of all Dyneema. Just finished a 7 day walk in Big Bend and it worked great both in durability and comfort. Most loads were below 30# but I did and have carried 40+ in it with good comfort, still need to dial in the bend in the frame a bit but not a lot. Great hip belt and the V shaped frame does work with the hip belt well. Came in at 35oz. with a hipbelt pocket.

Interested in why you have decided against Dyneema. Cordura against the back would stick well but also be sweaty when it's hot to. I like the spacer mesh on the Kalais and SMD packs that I have used for that reason.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Its Happening on 02/20/2014 22:59:09 MST Print View

Well here is the final design

Side View


Looks like we'll be going with VX42 for the body, Dyneema X for the collar and red cordura for the hipbelt and lumbar area. I'm not using 3D mesh here because it soaks up water, picks up debris and (on the hipbelt) is too stretchy.

I'm skipping pockets for weight and cost savings. Also it seems silly to have a bomb proof pack with a mesh pocket on the back. I'll probably make my own removable pockets that I'll us at times.

I'm going with a doubled hipbelt buckle on the theory that this will help it wrap my hips better (especially with a softer hipbelt).

Here is a view of the shoulder strap area. If all works out it should be very well reinforced.

Shoulder Strap Area

Any last minute suggestions better chime in. I did get some good ideas from ya'll which I appreciate. I'll post some pictures once its ready.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Pack is Done! on 03/04/2014 18:48:39 MST Print View

The pack is made, Chris just sent me pictures. I've very excited about the way it turned out. I posted pictures here

Thank you all for your input.