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Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this?
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rick .

Locale: NYC
Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/05/2014 21:58:37 MST Print View

Imagine a pack without any main compartment, just many smaller compartments attached to a framesheet. You'll say its weight-inefficient due to extra fabric, but you don't use any stuffsacks, dittysacks, bearhang sacks, first aid/repair bag, stove bag. All of those various bags get attached to a framesheet.

The sum of all of those little bags (most of us carry a few at least, even if its a ziploc) plus the harness they go on, is the weight of the bag. Nothing is "inside" your pack. It's modular: not bringing your stove? Don't attach the stove compartment. You save the weight of the Cubic inches that stove takes up too.

I'm just spitballing. This would probably be 100% MYOG, custom size pouch for each personal item. But it could incorporate a few purchased drybags, one for quilt, one for clothes, etc.

You'd probably want to add an empty bag (on-trail water grabs, resupply, worn clothes).

I think water in something like the Nalgene canteens fastened directly to the framesheet would carry very well, close to your spine and vertical.

What got me thinking this direction (very related but separate concept)

I recently hacked up an old camelbak into a minimal harness. The concept is to attach drybags for as a quick modular day-pack. The harness is 6oz so a bit heavy for this concept, but it carries well enough with a 20L bag/10lb test load (jacket, pants, lunch and 3L water, upper limit for sure).

Inherently waterproof. Rolltop closure bag clips into the top of the harness (supports all weight right at base of spine onto shoulders). Then I used the sternum strap to wrap around the bottom of the drybag (compression/stops swaying). I'd compare it to the Gossamer Gear Riksak in function (though 2x the weight), but likely way more comfortable in the 3-10lb range. Again, its a concept (hacked up camelbak) that I'd like to make from scratch closer to 3oz.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Maybe this on 03/05/2014 22:08:56 MST Print View

The closet I've heard of is the Luxerylite packs. Not my cup of tea but an interesting idea.

Mitchell Ebbott
(mebbott) - M

Locale: SoCal
Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/06/2014 00:28:47 MST Print View

If you make this, your biggest problem is going to be creating an even load distribution and keeping the weight stable as the pack gets bounced around. A bunch of bags swinging from carabiners is going to make for a very uncomfortable hike compared to a pack with compression straps.

rick .

Locale: NYC
swinging on 03/06/2014 04:26:38 MST Print View

Who said anything about carabiners?

But I agree its a problem that needs thought. Things would attach more positively than one point. Think a grid of horizontal straps on frame and vertical loops on bags. That, and maybe a dash of Velcro.

How do you get even distribution now? You get close and it works out. Remember, if it isn't right you can rearrange items, nothing needs to have a fixed location. You do this now with any bag.

Ernie Fuentes
(askernie) - F
Rick...Im glad you brought this up on 03/06/2014 06:21:48 MST Print View

I have been pondering this for about two years now and have seen a few people that have tried it pretty successfully on the net, but I have yet to see a manufacturer ( other than Luxurylite) make one.

Here is a lady with similar idea.....

I have also looked at several types of harnesses such as the old German Army Harness for ideas such as this.....

It is a viable idea that if looked into and manufactured correctly would have a huge market. Lets face it, who likes digging into thier backpack for anything?

Maybe i'll re-visit this idea and start working on it again.


ernie the eyeball

And E
(LunchANDYnner) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
dry bag hauler on 03/06/2014 07:20:29 MST Print View

Couldn't you make a dry bag hauler with a frame sheet/stays and a more substantial compression system? Instead of loading in one large dry bag, you can stack in several Smalley ones as needed. Like, one for sleeping bag at bottom, then a bear canister with food on top of that, then shelter, then clothes, etc. Or use one big one when no bear canister is needed, etc.

Kind of like this but with many more compression straps along the side:

Also have the compression straps on side release buckles so you can undo whichever one you need and slide out a bad in the center/bottom, etc.

I was actually thinking about exactly that the other day. After making my first pack, I'm going to start making one for my fiance and brainstorming for my second pack.

Edited by LunchANDYnner on 03/06/2014 07:28:45 MST.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/06/2014 08:31:52 MST Print View

I don't have time to look it up, but Mac (from makes the mollymacpack. Heavier, but the concept is there.

rick .

Locale: NYC
Re: Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/06/2014 08:51:42 MST Print View

Wow. That is definitely a similar concept! Much more bomber than I imagined it (he is strapping up multiple axes, something most of us don't consider normal use)


John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
Good Points and Bad on 03/06/2014 08:58:38 MST Print View

As with any pack, this has its good points and its bad ones. I made a DIY Molly Mac Pack a ways back, which is similar to your idea.

It's good for adjusting the load size to the trip; no worries about minimum or maximum capacity. It also allows me to dual-use my straps as tree straps (but, if you don't use an hammock, that's a wash). It also requires me to have everything when I leave camp (since I can see if something is missing).

However, it isn't anywhere near as convenient to pack/unpack as a conventional pack. I've gotten my gear to the point where there's little variation in loadouts between trips (more or less clothing, insulation, food, or water, and not an whole heckofalot else), which means that moving over to a single-bag solution is probably in my near future. (I'll retain the current pack for heavyweight trips of just a few miles, or if I bring along an hiking partner who doesn't have their own gear and needs help carrying.) The weight savings over my current pack will be moderate (if I save 8 oz, I'll be happy, given the type of pack I'm likely to build), but the time savings will be wonderful.

On my Foothills Trail thru last October, I could've saved ~15 minutes to ~20 minutes of time each morning and the same each evening, working out to an extra 1 to 2 miles of actual travel per day, if I'd gone with a single-bag solution. That doesn't sound like much, but it could also be an extra 40 to 60 minutes in the morning for "coffee" to wake up or a slightly slower pace on-trail, which might've helped with my knees.

So, yes, your idea can work. Just be aware of the potential drawbacks to it; weight and complexity are the main ones.

Hope it helps!

rick .

Locale: NYC
Re: dry bag hauler on 03/06/2014 09:10:25 MST Print View


Yeah- that's the idea, your first paragraph is the idea I described, written another way. I might need to draw some sketches, or even mock one up, tough to paint a picture with a few paragraphs.

I'm thinking about a pair of huge daisy-chain loops, relax the loops, slide in the gear bag, tighten the loop. You only take your tent/pad/bag out once/day usually so those get looped up in a set.

Smaller bags (gallon ziploc size) for ditty/firstaid/etc (not sure what ditty is, but I know WHAT it is, you know?) would attach via another method, say a substantial amount of velcro surface area.

I like the zimmerbuilt drybag hauler for a trip with guaranteed submersion. The intended use of my smaller drybag hauler is in and out of a canoe all day, with exploring gear: map/compass/survival/gps/camera/lunch securely on your person. Land the boat, take a walk around, summit a rise to get a better lookaround, get back in the boat and always have your critical things.

(I know they're two separate ideas, but it is the same concept at two different scales/capacities)

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/06/2014 09:23:41 MST Print View


I've experimented with this a lot. I started off with a bunch of separate bags but eventually ended up with only 3 separately attached bags.

(1) Tent/camp bag that quickly detaches from the pack when I get to camp and want to set things up.

(2) Things I need on the trail (front bag) always available for convenience.

(3) Conventional large back bag for everything else.

When I carry bear spray and a monocular I buckle them on the outside too.... for quick access.

rick .

Locale: NYC
Re: Good Points and Bad on 03/06/2014 09:24:41 MST Print View


Thanks for the actual experience, that's great! I'm curious how it actually takes substantially longer, just getting everything fastened in? Hell, if you could get it dialed in you could pack into the bag without disassembling.

I wonder if time was saved throughout the day not rooting around the pack (this can be minimized but sometimes you want that sweater you didn't think to keep handy)

A lot of things already get stuffed into a sack. So that time is a wash, the fastening those sacks (or pouring them into a packbag) is the variable. I think that's where the key lies anyway, it's easy to overdo that and make a frame/harness/strap system that is heavier than one with just an actual bag!

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/06/2014 09:52:20 MST Print View

I was thinking of the exact same thing about a year ago! I guess my thoughts were more about myog-ing a custom foam pad that folds up and "becomes the pack frame".

A foam pad, wrapped around a bunch of waterproof gear bags, with reinforced locations for shoulder straps and a hip belt to both weave through and compress the whole "burrito". Made with some webbing and netting on the sides to keep things from slipping out.

I just know that I am usually not carrying a backpack while sleeping, so I figured the foam pad would become the full pack frame and "bag", so to speak.


rick .

Locale: NYC
Re: Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/06/2014 10:17:51 MST Print View

Daryl and Matt,

two additional thoughts, thanks! I like the interest this is getting and the additional ideas. We're all coming at this from a different idea/history etc which gives it some depth.

I'll have to get making on this, or drawing sketches at least

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
MOLLE on 03/06/2014 10:37:42 MST Print View

Many people who took "jaunts" over in the mountains of Afghanistan use a modular pack...

Rather heavy, but that is the MOLLE pack idea.

If you'd rather not have an all-expense paid trip to Afghanistan, you can hit up many surplus stores for this modular, if rather heavy, pack.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/06/2014 10:53:48 MST Print View

I think you'd have a hard time making it as light as a comparabley capable traditional pack, due to the need for whatever attachment method you use to be reinforced. Smaller area of stitching requires heavier stitching which requires heavier fabric to not rip out. Then there is the issue of having to use heavier drybags (or what not) for durability because they're exposed.

Every drybag hauler and modular pack system I've used just reminds of the utility of a simple bag of whatever size is required.

alex hansen
the flash cradle on 03/06/2014 11:15:17 MST Print View

heres my modular concept which i am still working on. it is a modified flash 45 turned into a drybag cradle. my goal was to create a pack that i could carry different sized loads in depending on length of trip. it is holding a 35L S2S dry bag in the picture, and could carry more for sure.bag cradlecradle 2

Edited by holden425 on 03/06/2014 11:17:01 MST.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/06/2014 11:38:39 MST Print View


You're almost describing a Moonbow Gearskin.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Re: Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/06/2014 13:04:12 MST Print View

Yeah, I guess I am...

Except for the actual Gearskin portion of the pack. Seems redundant if I can simply create a modded Ridgerest with reinforced slits where I can slip through the shoulder harness and hip belt. So the Ridgerest only provides the containment, but the harness actually provides the needed pressure to keep the various objects within the Ridgerest "container".

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/06/2014 14:35:08 MST Print View

Watch the Mystery Ranch "Nice Frame" videos on Vimeo. The system is heavy as hell but the modularity gets major kudos. Not exactly what the O.P. is asking about but gets the creative juices flowing along the same vein.