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Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this?
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rick .
(overheadview) - F

Locale: NYC
Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/06/2014 17:56:58 MST Print View Cool. "for people who are dropping their packs out of humvees or helecopters..." clearly! I like it a lot though, for what it is, it just ain't worth much short of helecopter drops. That, and it would carry half an Elk like a dream I bet (ok, 1/4 elk).

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/06/2014 20:47:42 MST Print View

In theory it sounds good. But as Dave pointed out, it would be hard to actually save weight.

After a while you would probably find the "fiddle factor" would make you inefficient in packing as someone also pointed out.

The old external packs (3/4 bag) required a separate stuff sack for the sleeping bag (like my Kelty D4). Some full bags had a separate zippered compartment for the sleeping bag at the bottom(early Kelty Serac) and some had a zipper above the sleeping bag compartment to turn the zippered compartment into a full bag (Kelty Serac Expedition). All had external side pockets. My D4 and Serac have 4 pockets, the Serac Expedition has 6. The bottom two are good for water bottles. Both Seracs have a front flap pocket. To be honest, the extra pockets didn't do much to organize things and just took extra time instead of just throwing everything into the main bag. How much stuff do you need during the day? Usually some food, a map, and your compass.

How many Ziploc and ditty bags to you need? My stove kit is in a cuben sack. My FAk in a Ziploc. Another Ziploc for all other small items -- none of which I need during the day, except for water purification tablets. In the morning I place the amount of tablets I need in a clothing pocket. Food in a cuben sack. That's it. I pack the backpack in layers as I need them. FAK at the bottom -- I never need it. Then sleeping bag and groundsheet, air mattress if used, shelter/stakes. Then rain gear -- if a chance of rain it goes on top. Next goes stove and food except snacks. Snacks on the very top in a Ziploc. Then insulation layers. That's it. Water bottles on the outside. During the day the only time I open my pack is to get snacks, which are at the very top. Compass and map are usually in my pants or shirt pocket. If I take a camera it is in my pants or shirt pocket too.

When I pack up in the morning, there isn't a lot of fiddling. Just stuff everything in order in the bag. Easier to stuff and fill voids on one big bag than a bunch of little ones with odd shapes.

I guess you will have to try it to see if it works for you.

rick .
(overheadview) - F

Locale: NYC
Re: Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/06/2014 22:54:40 MST Print View

>How many Ziploc and ditty bags to you need?

The paragraph following this sentence could have been written by me. Those are the bags I'd attach to the outside. I think that's my list (though ziplocs not cuben)

I don't even think there's a problem to solve here, I'm just considering a possible approach to the pack. The goal would be instead of pulling out one of those bags, then opening it up, you could just open it up right on the pack. Take the item out and close it back up. I admit it is pretty trivial most of the time.

If that could be done with neutral weight, or even a handful of ounces, that would be worth looking at.

Times when you don't take as much you don't need to compress down empty pack fabric. Everything is frame-out, not bag-in.

Its not even so much about rooting into the pack for the small stuff. Those go in bags, then in an outside mesh pocket anyway. Stove/fuel fits in mug, fits in quart ziploc, rides with my food in the bearbag usually up top. Hip pockets hold things I need while moving. It works ok.

I heavy-hauled a kelty internal bag for years, and grew up with an external. The ultralight pack with just one big compartment and a mesh sleeve or two, is new to me. The various external closed pockets let me get to stuff behind one zipper. I used less or no 'ditty' sacks then, even with lots of other gadgets I laugh at now, because the pack had them built in. I guess I'm circling back around to missing that (though not 5-6lb empty).

In a perfect world a pack would have that immediacy and still be light, I realize that's not trivial.

I get the weight critique from all the extra attachment, that's the major hurdle anyway. But I think that having no main compartment fabric could mostly offset that. Again, really just spitballing and do like to see a lot of others' thoughts on this come out to play!

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/06/2014 23:02:03 MST Print View

IMO and experience, things hanging out in the open are subject to shrubs, branches, tree limbs, boulders, cacti, and all sorts of mean nasty stuff just waiting to grab your gear and rip it apart.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/07/2014 04:55:13 MST Print View

I believe this is a good idea from an organizational point of view. Steal a thought from LuxuryLite and make some front opening pouches. This will make stuff a little easier to get at.

But a rough weight calculation is likely in oder before you do anything.
I have seen some fairly good frames at about 6oz. With strapping for mounts this will add another couple ounces so figure about 8oz.
Each section will need a seperate bag. Roughly 3-4oz each for four bags, or, about 16oz.
Some easy grab pockets would also be needed, for drinks, snacks, etc., maybe 2oz.

So, the general weight is already looking like it is about 26oz if you keep things ultra-light. I consider 16oz about the max for a pack. Example: Gossamer Gear offers three in this range: Murmur(10.5oz), Kumo(15oz) and Gorilla (~15oz plus hip belt or 22oz)

Soo the weight penalty for a modular pack would only be about 4-5oz. Not real bad for the convenience of multiple bags. You would need to design these to be individualy removable. Example: food bag doubles as bear bag so some sort of attachment is needed for waterproofing and clipping to a line.

I usually carry three bags anyway. One larger compression/dry bag for my bag/sleeping cloths. (A real usefull addition as I found out on the NPT in 12 days of rain.) Another dry bag for my food. (It is necessary to keep stuff dry to avoid having a zillion ziplocks, just a few for bulk carries.) And one small ditty bag/rock sack for odds & ends, and, to set my bear bag. The fourth bag I mentioned would hold kitchen gear and tarp(stove, fuel, pots, lid, windscreen, spoon, tarp & stakes)

Like Nick was saying, it would all need to be rather firmly mounted, and free of snags.

rick .
(overheadview) - F

Locale: NYC
Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/07/2014 06:15:14 MST Print View

I'll put some pen to paper. But James, the weights you listed seem high. Using 15L drybags at 1-1.5oz each makes it hard to get up to your 4oz for bags. Thats S-to-s ultrasil weight as a rough start. If its the same cuben everyone else makes packs out of its less than an ounce for all 4 smallish bags, not 16oz.

And you need to remember to add the weight of any sacks you do carry now to the pack weight.

Id be happy to be at the smd swift weight (or slightly higher) I have now for weekend summer loads 15oz, 18 with hipbelt empty, and gain some gear pockets over a single main rucksack.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/07/2014 06:54:12 MST Print View

Well, I was assuming some good pack cloth, maybe PU coated. Of course this would be worst case. I am sure you could do better...

John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
Time on 03/07/2014 08:07:33 MST Print View

Rick said: John,

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!

The issue is the attachment method that I've gone with for ~90% of my gear. Items I need during the day (lunch and afternoon snacks excepted; I pull both of those at lunch time) are located in easy-to-access points (I have a mil surplus MOLLE sustainment pouch on my left hip and a mil surplus water bottle holder with a pocket on it on my right hip; my poncho and any possibles clothing go on some shock cord I've woven through the top three PALS array rows on the back panel). However, if I need something from in a sack (like my lunch), I have to loosen the straps holding the sack to the back panel. This takes a bit of time to do, but more to reverse, as the weight distribution needs to be correct and the straps have to be tight to prevent slippage (and possible loss of gear!).

The morning pack routine goes like this: pull the pack and ditty bag off of the hammock suspension, grab my food bag from the nearby tree, detach my poncho from the hammock (if I'm using it as my undercover), skin the hammock and insulation, roll up and skin the tarp, and detach everything from the trees. Now I've got a pile of gear. If I was using a single-bag solution, it'd be simplicity itself to just stuff everything in there (done it). However, I've got my DIY pack, which requires a bit more work. My skinned hammock and tarp go on the bottom of the back panel; this requires threading my tree straps through two PALS columns, then placing the hammock on the panel, tightening the center strap (which isn't a tree strap, but I've found helpful in stabilizing the load), placing the tarp on top of the hammock, and tightening the tree straps at the outside left and right. Then I need to place my food bag on the panel and tighten those straps down. Then I need to place my ditty bag and poncho on the panel and tighten those straps down (though, if it looks like rain, the poncho goes under the shock cord at the top of the panel for easy access). Then any clothing that I feel I might need during the day goes under the shock cord at the top of the panel.

It sounds easy, but fiddling with slippery silnylon sacks and polyester strapping when you're half-awake Before Coffee is more difficult than it sounds. So, it takes me ~15 to 20 minutes more than it would with a single-bag solution. YMMV there, though.

Also, I agree that you're going to gain pack weight with a modular system. The majority of a pack's weight isn't in the fabric that it's made out of; at most, you're looking at ~1 square yard of fabric. The difference between 30d sil and 1,000d CORDURA is going to be ~9.4 oz at that amount. The real killers on pack weight are all of the accoutrements associated with it: the foam in the waist belt and shoulder straps, the extra webbing for attachment points, heavier buckles, a frame, zippers, closure methods, etc., etc., etc. So, the attachments that you're looking at for this one might add a significant fraction of the total pack's weight, when it comes on down to it.

If that's worth it to you, then go for it! I'm pretty happy with my pack for heavier/bulkier loads, but I've finally gotten my 3-season gear down to where a week will fit in a ~40L pack with no real concerns, and my base weight is under 9 lbs before the pack. So, I can now design a pack around the idea of one big pocket for the majority of my stuff and a couple of smaller attachment points for immediate-need items. It'll save me time and hassle on-trail, which is really important to me on longer days--I'm not a particularly fast hiker, so efficiency trumps everything else.

Edited by FLRider on 03/07/2014 08:13:45 MST.

William Chilton
(WilliamC3) - MLife

Locale: Antakya
Wanderlust Orbiter on 03/07/2014 08:24:58 MST Print View

This thread reminded me of the Orbiter pack I came across recently from Wanderlust Equipment:

rick .
(overheadview) - F

Locale: NYC
Re: Wanderlust Orbiter on 03/07/2014 09:31:55 MST Print View

Thanks, that thing is awesome. Now to see if I can scrounge up 29,800 yen somewhere! ha. ($300... so yeah, thanks but no)

That's one approach to the idea, and I like it. I'd prob want a flap at the bottom to support the pack liner from sliding out. And it is a 2-trick pony, but looks like it does those tricks pretty well.

William F

Locale: PNW
Zimmerbuilt on 03/07/2014 12:43:30 MST Print View

Here's a Zimmerbuilt pack that you might find interesting, I have a Dana Designs (now Mystery Ranch I believe) pack that was very similar but had two vertical long pockets on the front of the pack. I'm really uptight about weight distribution and getting things to just sit sturdy and right on my back so it isn't my favorite in general. I could see it being applicable in certain situations though. I've also seen old external frames packed up in a modular way too.

Jon Holthaus
(t25hatch) - M
I Thought I've seen something like this... on 03/07/2014 13:11:54 MST Print View

I thought I've seen this before, about 1/4 of the page down "Debbie" is wearing something like you're talking about.

Edited by t25hatch on 03/07/2014 13:12:24 MST.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: I Thought I've seen something like this... on 03/07/2014 14:44:40 MST Print View

Yep, that's a Luxurylite. A similar, more minimalist approach is Daryl Daryl's MYOG pack frame, though he uses a large very light bag to hang off the frame and contain the gear:

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this?" on 03/08/2014 14:17:08 MST Print View

If you plan to hang dry sacks of the S2S type from a frame I see at least two problems there.
First , with the content bouncing up and down as you walk there will be a lot of stress put on the roll top part and the bottom stitching (I see a trail of gear bits behind you...)
Second , the weight you might save will be negated by extra energy needed to compensate for the bags jiggling about.
Another problem is that if you are not extra careful with packing any sharpish object will work its way through the fabric. (again to do with rubbing ,kinetic energy and all of that)
Now if you secure the bags (via straps) so that they don't move, you end up with a similar weight to a conventional LW main pack compartment and slower to use too because of doing/undoing those straps.
Now Rick, your challenge is to prove me wrong.
That last comment was meant as an incentive for you to make it work

Edited by Franco on 03/08/2014 16:02:39 MST.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this? on 03/09/2014 22:48:56 MDT Print View


This pack has a "partially modular" feel to it.


Edited by lyrad1 on 03/09/2014 22:57:57 MDT.

rick .
(overheadview) - F

Locale: NYC
Re: Modular Pack idea, anyone seen anything like this?" on 03/10/2014 10:39:41 MDT Print View

Franco: that's the hope anyway (to prove you wrong, but not for the sake of it!). Your critique of the idea is mine as well right now.

Daryl: I'd seen that, I think following it helped get some of my gears spinning on this idea. In fact, I think I watched that video, then started hacking up a camelbak (see OP).

I don't see mesh and twist-ties being a long-lasting endeavor or the approach I'd take for more than a few pounds (I get he did 4,000 miles with his, I don't often go out with a few pounds max load). It's an interesting fastpacking rig though.

Joe Cameron
(DocOnes6005) - MLife

Locale: Southeast U.S.
'Already been done', but an UL system would be awesome!! on 03/10/2014 23:32:38 MDT Print View

Rick, your idea is a good one, but it has been done by at least 2 major manufacturers. Granted, they are military systems and designed for abuse (so they are heavy). I have done three tours overseas and seen many modular systems (which is essentially what you are referring to). On my last tour I had 14 different pouches or bags that got swapped out onto 1 'load bearing system' depending on the mission. I have seen many molle variants that do this, but molle is hard to work with for the normal backpacker (but it is what most militaries use, they just swap pouches on the outsides of a bag).

The 2 major brands for this kind of system are Kifaru and Granite Gear (which surprises me that you haven't mentioned their system since they are also an ultralight manufacturer). If you want examples of pouches or attachment systems I would suggest you go to an Army or Marine base and find the bar that the SF operators hang out at and ask them to show you their bags. They are normally gear junkies / geardo's / or gear queers (so am I, though) and will probably offer assistance. (the internal pouch system on this bag would contain excellent ideas for you) (they don't offer exactly the same system as kifaru or granite gear, but I have seen there bags have up to 3 additional bags oriented on them in a very secure manner.)

The molle mac pack looks ridiculous in comparison to the equipment I have carried, so I wouldn't suggest it.

The Nice system from Mystery Ranch is a good frame (especially for wearing ballistic vests) but I don't think their system will accommodate what you are looking for and I wasn't impressed with the modularity compared to some of the other systems mentioned above.

These systems are incredibly expensive, but that is because they are incredibly durable and only intended for military use. Don't let their price discourage you, use the design's to guide you.

Franco, you are wrong, these systems are incredibly secure, user friendly (with the right molle attachment device), easily compressed, easily balanced, and can be protective of the bag they are carrying. The two systems mentioned above and several variants are used by U.S. SF/Recon/SEALs operators all over the world in extreme situations and environments.

Joe at zpacks is making me a pouch to fit some of my molle equipment now, for a mission. He is using grosgrain as the PALS webbing. I will let you know if it is effective. If it is I would use a seamstress company like his to give advice on making the design lightweight and durable.

I would recommend granite gears compressible dry bags as they are incredibly durable and light. I had a couple on my last tour and they held up fine (which means they will be able to handle anything you do with them on the outside of a pack).

I have only gotten into ultralight in the last year. I did because I carry all of the equipment for my wife, daughter and I when we go backpacking. This includes 2 packrafts, 3 life vests, 2 paddles, a 70 m climbing rope, 3 harnesses, anchor equipment, fishing poles and gear, general camping supplies, and the cloudburst tarptent for a total of only 55 lbs (including 3 days of food and fuel). This weight used to be around 100 lbs, (judging by my old gear lists as I swapped equipment). So I greatly appreciate what backpacking light has taught me to do. I hope this information serves you well and if you do come up with a light weight modular system, let me know as I would be intrigued.

Joe Cameron
(DocOnes6005) - MLife

Locale: Southeast U.S.
Similar idea on Kickstarter on 03/11/2014 11:58:42 MDT Print View

I had also run across this in the past and managed to find it again this morning. It seems similar to your desire, but has some good methods for attching the equipment.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: 'Already been done', but an UL system would be awesome!! on 03/11/2014 15:10:41 MDT Print View


You deserve the "best supporting poster" statue for your response. Makes me want to post something and just ask for your response.

Joe Cameron
(DocOnes6005) - MLife

Locale: Southeast U.S.
Daryl on 03/11/2014 22:32:38 MDT Print View

Daryl, I'm just getting used to recognizing people who post on here, so I'm not sure if your being sarcastic or appreciative? But, I'll take it as supportive.

I meant my suggestions and response to be completely supportive, expecially because with all of my varied equipment, it would be nice to be able to use a lightweight system similar to the one I had overseas. So I don't have to dig out components when I won't need them. In fact, I have been looking at packs for a while because I haven't replaced my 12 y/o Gregory Reality yet and it is 5 lbs of my weight.

I wouldn't want my comments on just anything, though. I tend to read these late at night and loose any sense of., well... 'gentleness'. Not to mention my experience is not in the ultralight world, although I do have considerable 'survival' training/experience.

Also, I remembered that I saw another system that might be useful in your designs. It is a frame with interchangeable bags. Quite impressive actually. You may be able to use some of their concepts as well. It is the Bootlegger system from Boreas Gear.

I truly meant the info as supportive and really do wish you the best of luck. Nothing I have meantioned wouuld be eeasily used or converted by ultralighters, but the concepts and attachments systems seem golden. Good luck.