by Will Rietveld | 2005-08-05 03:00:00-06
The Integral Designs Silcoat Backpack, as the name implies, is made of silnylon. The backpanel is 200d polyurethane-coated nylon packcloth, and the shoulder straps and waistbelt are polyester webbing. It has a volume of 1526 cubic inches (25 L) and weighs 4.6 ounces (my measurement). The Silcoat Backpack has a very simple design and can serve as a lightweight pack for dayhikes from camp, bear hang, pillow, stuff sack, and dry bag.
All of the webbing straps are much heavier than they need to be. I removed the webbing waistbelt and the attached stuff sack, which reduced the weight to 3.5 ounces. The weight could be reduced more if lighter webbing (or other material) were used for the shoulder straps.
I carried the Silcoat Backpack on four backpacking trips in the southern Rockies, and tested it as a daypack, stuff sack, dry bag, bear hang, and pillow.
It works great as an ultralight pack for dayhikes or forays from camp. I initially used the pack with its waistbelt, but the pack rode too low on my back (photo) in order to get the waistbelt down near my waist. After I removed the waistbelt I found the fit much more to my liking, with the pack riding higher on my back. Simply adjust the shoulder strap length to find the “sweet spot” where the pack feels comfortable but does not slide off your shoulders.
The pack has enough volume to carry dayhike essentials for two people under summertime conditions, and will carry about 10 pounds with no discomfort. Since there was no padded backpanel to keep hard objects from poking me in the back, I had to create my own with a sleeping pad or clothing. I typically packed clothing against my back, water bottles on the bottom, and lunch food on top.
For use as a stuff sack/dry bag, the Silcoat Backpack should be seam sealed using Silicone II or Silnet diluted with mineral spirits. It’s not a true dry bag because it has a flap and drawcord rather than a rolltop closure. The pack had plenty of room for both my lightweight sleeping bag and insulated jacket, and could have taken other clothing too, but I didn’t want to overstuff. Placed in the bottom of my pack, it was good insurance to keep my insulation dry.
Using the Silcoat Backpack as a bear hang or a pillow is an either/or situation when food is hung overnight, but it can be used for day-hanging food and as a pillow overnight. As a bear hang, it worked great, with good outside attachment points to tie a cord to. I always sealed food in another plastic bag inside the pack, to reduce smells and make sure it stayed dry.
Used as a pillow with clothing stuffed inside, the Silcoat Backpack was a luxury!
At this point many of our readers of the ultralight persuasion are probably thinking “hey, this is something I can live without”! But gear like this has its place. It fits in well with a lightweight backpacker’s gear list. And even us ultralight fanatics will find it very useful on family outings.
"Integral Designs Silcoat Backpack SPOTLITE REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/integral_designs_silcoat_backpack_spotlite_review.html, 2005-08-05 03:00:00-06.