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new backpack

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Re: new backpack

Postby maverick » Sat Dec 05, 2009 2:12 pm

Hi Paul

I would be interested in asking you, since you worked in the industry, and you make
your own packs, what was the norm weight to pack ratio before this ultra-light weight
boom started?
For example what did a pack weight back 10 years ago on an average, with a 30 lb
max, as opposed to today?
And as someone who makes his own packs, what is the weight average of your packs?
Also, are we looking for something that does not exsist because of the current trends
unless we go the McHale route, or do you also offer these services? Thanks
Last edited by maverick on Sat Dec 05, 2009 4:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Re: new backpack

Postby markskor » Sat Dec 05, 2009 3:51 pm

“BTW, I carry my Bearikades vertically (both sizes), and I find it much more comfortable that way - but it sounds like you like the canister lower in the pack than I do”...Mav.

Indeed, I like having a bladder accessible and thus, carrying the can inside, horizontally lower in the pack, (usually just atop my sleeping bag); this lowers the COG and works well for me but as always, HYOH.

Mav, I too have lowered my base weight to something manageable, but 5 pounds, that’s amazing…solo…How?

2- pound WM bag, 1 pound Prolite 4, 2 pounds of fishing crapola, another 2 for stove, fuel, and cooking paraphernalia, ~2 pounds for a Bearikade…add in some fleece, clothes, long pants, socks, and a waterproof lightweight shell, (another 2 pounds), TT Rainbow and a book, maybe another 1 pound for misc whatever…all up (without pack) = ~14 - 17 pounds. With a 4-pound pack (hopefully) and perhaps some medicinal alcohol added, I thought I was doing great at under 21 pounds without food. For 10-12 days (my usual type trip), I am all up and usually under 37 fully loaded…plus whatever water is carried.

Most of these newer packs will not carry 35 pounds comfortably (with a bear can), or, if they do, that is their absolute comfort limit, and at that, they are seemingly only designed for 2 years of regular, hard trail use.

Paul – I second what Mav asked about pack manufacturers.
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Re: new backpack

Postby hikerduane » Sat Dec 05, 2009 5:12 pm

Correction on my Starlite weight, I had 5 on my brain, the pack alone weighs 25 oz. not 1 lb. 5 oz.

So much of the Starlite's capacity is in outside pockets I had to really change my ways of packing. I know what you mean about not wanting expensive gear on the outside. This type of pack is a first for me.
Piece of cake.
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Re: new backpack - packs and manufacturers

Postby paul » Sat Dec 05, 2009 6:06 pm

well... historical pack weights are pretty damn variable. I still have an external frame pack - Trailwise frame circa 1972 or 3, with a packbag of my own make on it. Weighs about 3 lbs 10 oz., have used it up to 14 days without resupply. With the original packbag (also my own make) it weighed about 4 1/2 lbs. and had Gargantuan capacity, substantially more than a Kelty tioga, about on a par with the old Kelty BB5 (now we're going back aways!).
Back on the learly 80's was the first round of "ultralight" packs and gear. Sierra West had a pack about 2 or 2 1/2 lbs, if I recall correctly, that you could use up to probably 35 lbs. I had a Marmot pack for a while back then, weighed about 3 1/2 lbs and was very comfy up into the 50's of pack weight. A friend still has that pack. I believe that was designed by the guy behind Dana Designs and Mystery Ranch. That has a single stay and a framesheet, and pretty simple bag. They only made those packs for a year or so - I was told quality control issues shot down the line.
The early Gregory packs were for me the beginning of the big and heavy trend. Before they came out, the Lowe packs that led the trend to internal frames were pretty simple and light (4 lbs or less) - designed by mountaineers who just want a sack that carries well.
Wayne Gregory never saw a feature he didn't like, and those packs were so comfy they sold really well despite the weight, so everybody went that way. Features tend to sell stuff, was my experience in retail. It's one of the problems with selling ultralight gear. To make it light, you gotta leave off all the features.
My own packs? for the summer, my pack is 16 oz empty, with internal frame and hipbelt. other versions of that pack, same size but with fabric variations and a little wider hipbelt, have been 18 1/2 oz and 21 oz. I've carried up to about 40 lbs in the last one, which is pushing it. Up to 30 it's great, and I can get the big Bearikade in there. For ski trips, the pack I use weighs 38.5 oz - but it should have been a little smaller than it is. I could get up to about 14 days in there for a spring ski trip, maybe even more, but I'm not sure I'd want to carry more than a 10-day load, which for me would be about 40 lbs that pack is pretty comfy at 40 lbs, but usually I have to put skis and often boots as well on the pack for a few miles to reach the snowline at the start of a trip, and that's another 10 lbs - which puts it at pretty much the max for that unit.
When I llok at the packs on the market, nobody makes it the way I think it ought to be - which is why I keep making my own. Some of the ULA packs look fairly good, the ones with stays - though I've never tried one on. I ama frim beeliver in stays rather than a frameles design with some sort of pad stiffener - I've made all the variations, from no frame at all to foam pads, framesheets, and stays, and the stays do the job best. I like a hipbelt from about 10lbs on up, and I like lifter straps, and neither works well without stays in my experience.
I've actually thought about going into the pack business - my friends whom I've made packs for really like them - but it just doesn't look like I'd be able to make a living that way.
As to whether you are looking for something that doesn't exist other than the Mchale option, maybe. I don't make packs for sale, but if I was going to make a pack to fit your needs, I'm guessing it could weigh under 3 lbs and still be a rugged unit that carries up to 45 lbs comfortably. You get that by keeping it really simple and using light fabrics. But with the light fabrics available like Dyneema, you don't have to sacrifice durability if you are willing to spend the simoleons. There may be a ready-made pack out there that will come close to that, but I can't point you to one. I'd bet that McHale could make you that pack though you may have to persuade him to go lighter than he thinks you ought to, judging from the general tone of his website - and it'll cost ya, as they say. But probably worth it, for the comfort on the trail.
Teh thing is, it's a lot easier to make pack that feels good in the store and has features on it if you make weight the last priority. If you make weight the first priority, then you really have to refine the design to make it work well with less. It's harder to do - and it's harder to sell to the masses. So the big boys won't do it, because they sell more packs the other way.
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Re: new backpack

Postby maverick » Sat Dec 05, 2009 7:00 pm

Hey Paul

Are you firm about not making a pack for sale, a 45 pound limit at even 3lbs would
be ideal.
Think about it, you could fill a small niche in the market helping out fellow hardcore
backpackers who need a specialized pack maker, and making a profitable side business
of it at the same time!
Last edited by maverick on Sat Dec 05, 2009 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: new backpack

Postby markskor » Sat Dec 05, 2009 7:08 pm

Agreed, we need someone. And if you can keep the price near $300 for a good basic, solid pack, with adequate bear can room, and weight and suspension features as noted above, I am sold!
If interested Paul, PM me.
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Re: new backpack

Postby cmon4day » Sun Dec 06, 2009 12:21 pm

Let me ask you guys. I'm not a real big weight weenie, I enjoy some comfort and not afraid to carry in extra items (beer, etc). My trips are typically 7 - 10 days and I usually start out between 40 -50 lbs. But does 1 lb in pack weight really make that big a difference? If a pack weighs 1 maybe 2 lbs more than another but yet has comfort and useable features why would't you go with that one??
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Re: new backpack

Postby rlown » Sun Dec 06, 2009 12:49 pm

Figured i'd chime in as i'm bored and it's slow out here lately.

$300 for a pack? Like cmon4day, i'm not against the features i want for a little more weight.

I had an old camptrails 3800 that actually still works well, but after 30 years, i upgraded to a Kelty Tioga 5500. I can do anything with these packs from weekend trips to 12 day trips. More about what i want or need to carry. Granted, 5500 sounds large, but i can put my bear can anywhere i choose, and the rest is usually fleece, stove, fuel, etc. The 5500 has two compartments, which can fold to one if you need to carry in/out strange shaped things. It has a great hip belt, and all the adjustments you would want. Sleeping bag straps to the bottom. Tent, if necessary, goes on the top. Pack seems infinitely adjustable. $170

My trips have been anything from the average 40lb up to 75lbs. I prefer the framed packs for those weights.

My bearikade is not the expedition nor the weekender. They made me a 12" can, as that fits most of the food for a 9 day trip. Fit's perfectly in the bottom area. I prefer my layering clothes and lunch in the top so i can deal with what comes along on the trail.

I'm not critizing the need to reduce weight, but I want a pack on my back that's not going to rip/tear and leave me in the lurch 10 miles in.
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Re: new backpack

Postby maverick » Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:36 pm

It is more about getting enough room in a pack, but at the same time not getting something
made of paper.
I am a weight fanatic to a point, but I will not cut off handles or zippers to get ounces of
weight savings.
I just want a 4500 cu pack that does not weigh 5-6 lbs., just to get it to last more than
1-2 years, and pay $200-300 for it, laden with the flimsy features I will never use, and which
adds dead weight.
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Re: new backpack

Postby markskor » Sun Dec 06, 2009 2:30 pm

"I just want a 4500 cu pack that does not weigh 5-6 lbs., just to get it to last more than
1-2 years, and pay $200-300 for it, laden with the flimsy features I will never use, and which
adds dead weight."
+1
EXACTLY...(I would even settle for less than 4 pounds, 4200 ci, bear can room, great suspension, and built to last...hence the extra cost for quality materials and workmanship.)
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Re: new backpack

Postby paul » Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:11 pm

maverick wrote:you could fill a small niche in the market helping out fellow hardcore
backpackers who need a specialized pack maker, and making a profitable side business
of it at the same time!


Ah, there's the rub. Profitable it ain't. When I have made packs for friends and family, I kept track once and found I almost could have made minimum wage if I was selling the pack. Now, if I were a single guy with lots of free time I might go for it anyway. But free time is something I don't have much of.
I have a better idea - why don't you guys make your own? It's not that hard! I could help with design, might even be able to provide patterns if I can figure out how to transmit them to you (I draw my patterns in AutoCad).
I guess it says something about the packs available on the market when you guys would be interested in a pack you've never seen made by some guy you've never met.
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Re: new backpack

Postby rlown » Sun Dec 06, 2009 7:52 pm

paul wrote:I have a better idea - why don't you guys make your own? It's not that hard! I could help with design, might even be able to provide patterns if I can figure out how to transmit them to you (I draw my patterns in AutoCad).

What type of equipment (eg, sewing machine, tools) does it take to build a pack? I'm thinking a standard sewing machine won't handle the thread required for a 35lb pack, but that's why i'm asking.

I'm guessing there would have to be some sizing prior to building as i would think most of these packs aren't entirely adjustable.
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