Future Of Backpacks

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Tom_H
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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by Tom_H » Thu May 17, 2018 9:32 pm

I believe you resupplied, but had longer training expeditions than we did. We didn't resupply. On our 19 day staff training expeditions, our packs regularly weighed in right at 90 on the first day. Stronger people often took a bit of weight from those who were not as strong. I knew a NOLS summer instructor who spent the regular school year teaching at the Marin Headlands Institute. I took my class there every year for 3 days. He was the size of a college linebacker and told me he started off at 90 on his NOLS training expeditions. You are petite; he was about 6'-4" and 240 lb or so. On my first staff training trip, I believe my pack was about 86. When I later became an instructor trainer and trained new instructors myself, it went above 90, well over that when new trainees were struggling and needed relief.

These days, I'd almost fit into that group you referred to as "disabled." Part of me would love to have a mule or robot carry a mattress and my CPAP machine for me, but OTOH there's part of me that feel like if I can't do it myself, I don't deserve to be there.








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Harlen
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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by Harlen » Thu May 17, 2018 11:30 pm

Wildhiker wrote:
Here is a picture of my homemade "balance pack" from 1984. The front "load" is my 6 month old son. Total weight front and back was about 65 pounds on my then-140 pound frame. It was doable, but I never wanted to carry that much weight again! We also had our 5 year old and 4 year old daughters with us. They were good walkers, but my wife and I had to carry all the food and equipment for everyone for a 3 night trip.
What a great load Phil! We also recall those "heavy trips" only too well... Lizzie carried our youngest a lot, and me everything else. I'd like a dollar for all the times our oldest decided he'd like a free ride too- up on my shoulders he went, and in the later years, that made my total a crazy weight of 100 lbs. plus! (Heavy for a honky anyway.)

I am going to try to find a big external frame pack to use this summer- I also think they carry weight great.

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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri May 18, 2018 8:28 am

Tom, of course you "deserve to be there"! If it takes some help, so be it. Go for it, when the technology becomes available.

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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by Tom_H » Fri May 18, 2018 5:39 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:Tom, of course you "deserve to be there"! If it takes some help, so be it. Go for it, when the technology becomes available.
That's kind of you, WD. I don't want to wander too far from the thread topic, but I think this goes to that recent thread about wilderness and the number of people allowed in. I do think the most pristine of wilderness should be preserved as much as possible and that only pure backpackers should be allowed in...no pack animals, no robots, no rich people getting flown from prime campsite to prime campsite by helicopter. There are beautiful places with highways and forest service roads that my Sportsmobile will take me once it gets built.

SUL gear in itself is allowing more people than before to access the deep backcountry. Since frameless cuben fiber packs are already so lite, I think it goes to the future of all SUL gear, not just packs, in that a fit day hiker can access the backcountry without having to develop the strength, calluses, tough hips, patience to break in heavy new boots, etc. the way we had to in the old days. This thread ties in with that other thread because the new gear enables more people access to wilderness. I had many years of great reward backpacking. I have no regrets about not being able to be there any more. I'm not sure I want to depend on sherpas, llamas, mules, or machines to get me there. It still wouldn't feel the same as it did when I could carry that pack all day and still feel strong like I did as a twenty-something. Michael Jordan retired three times. He would have done better to have done it once with grace and style.

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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri May 18, 2018 8:02 pm

The permit system, not elitism, is the means to regulate use. I would hate to see the day when you have to live up to someone's list of "qualifications" before you are "allowed" in the wilderness. Access should be equal to all, limited only to what is already written in the Wilderness Act.

I do not feel competitive in the wilderness. I hope to toddle in, when I am in my 80's, maybe even 90's. I do not care if takes me all day to go two miles. I have used horse packers in the past when needed (when children were small) and am not in the least guilty about doing so. My permit to go in a short distance at half a mile an hour is just as valid as someone's permit for the JMT.

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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by Tom_H » Fri May 18, 2018 11:04 pm

And I completely respect that for you. I speak for myself only when I take myself out of the equation. What is already written into the wilderness act does preclude pack animals and mechanical assistance for the most part. I do not support making remote wilderness places wheelchair accessible, other than highways that already transect them. And I DO hope you are still out there toddling along in your 80s and 90s! In fact, I look forward with great anticipation to seeing those trip reports! ;) :clapper

We should get back to the future of packs, although I hope Mav doesn't mind the inclusion of how all SUL gear is interrelated with that.

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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat May 19, 2018 8:30 am

Yes, back to the initial subject. We have to be careful with technology- gizmos break. Simple designs with few if any moving parts are more reliable even if less efficient. Also, do backpackers really want the gizmos? Not sure if that is the case, but I see that a lot of those Big Agnes tents with the built in LED lights are often on sale. Even on sale, I certainly do not want one!

Most backpackers nowadays have never used an external frame pack and have the impression that they are unwieldly. Not necessarily the case. They are amazingly versatile. Weight is the main problem, and if that can be reduced, I really see a comeback. I can visualize an custom fit external frame, with a clip-on mix-and-match component system to attach what is needed, be it a bear can, climbing gear, food sack, water bladder or camping gear. Add an extension bar and more components for a long trip; strip down to minimal components for an overnight. There is a light titanium external frame pack on the market now, but it is pretty low-tech; boxy and does not contour well to the body. But it is a start.

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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by Harlen » Sat May 19, 2018 11:51 pm

Hey WD, et al., I am driving over the hill tomorrow to check out three or four external frame packs I found on on craigslist. They are Jansport, Kelty, Camp Trails, and Northface brands. I wonder if they will be significantly heavier than some of the modern EF packs I checked out online. The new packs were in the 4 lbs. 11 oz. to 5 lbs. 9 o z. range. WD, You mention weight being a problem with the older ET packs, and also the need for better fit. Does anyone know if I will be able to custom bend the aluminum frames? I don't want to ruin them, but am interested in creating custom fit to accommodate my curved upper back? I would put them in a vice and bend them slowly, looking for cracking as I go??? What can one do with aluminum? I am really looking forward to using a EF pack again.

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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by Tom_H » Sun May 20, 2018 1:40 am

There are different grades and alloys of Aluminum. Al can be cast or forged. The flat stays in an internal frame pack are designed for flex and adjustment. External frames are typically made from tubular Al bent on a special tool and then welded together at the joints. My own fear of putting it in a vice and bending it is multifold. 1) The cylindrical shape could flatten, severely weakening the metal. 2) Depending upon the alloy, the aluminum could actually crack. 3) If you don't get the bend perfect the first time, it can be crazy hard to redo the bend. 4) Without proper tools, tubular Al tends to bend at a single point, not along a sweeping curve. Also, I believe the flat stays in an IF pack are forged and have a better temper, while I think the tubing on an EF pack is cast and more brittle. I could easily be wrong on that, but I think it's correct.

NOLS and CHA both started out using big Kelty frames, refitted with a massive oversized single compartment bag made by Paul Petzoldt Inc. (Paul Petzoldt was the founder of NOLS, but also had a company which made and sold expedition quality pack bags, gaiters, parkas, food bags, rain tarps, etc. The company is long defunct.) We did carry a huge amount of gear in (as well as strapped to) that pack. I believe WD stated that she used the Kelty frame, but chose a different bag (perhaps the std. Kelty bag).

I am not sure if the grade of Al used in external frames has changed or not, but I would advise caution. That's an expensive piece of equipment to be doing science experiments on.

Hey, I just thought of something. About two years ago, the last guy to run our Eastern Division in the Appalachians was trying to liquidate all the old gear from way back when. Our eastern division used only EF packs because of the heat and humidity. That little gap between the back of the person and the back of the pack allowed for air flow. If you want, I could put you in touch with him to see if he still has gear on hand vs. getting it all sold off. I think all the packs were Kelty with the Petzoldt expedition sized bags.

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Re: Future Of Backpacks

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sun May 20, 2018 10:32 am

I bought a used Kelty pack at the REI garage sale for $20 a few years back. I ditched the bag and now use that frame, rather than my original 1967 Kelty frame. The new frame IS lighter (thinner tube).

External frame packs are made with components. I ditched the Kelty hip belt and arm straps and bought a newer lighter ones. I then sewed my own bag, out of lighter material. The original Kelty bags were indestructible, but heavy. I see no need for pack cloth on the part of the bag that faces the frame. It will never get poked by a stick because it sits against your back. I added some light straps on the extension bar to hold my bear can. My "homemade" pack now weighs 3 pounds 8 oz. including all straps, extender bar, and a light Granite Gear stuff for the sleeping bag. The only problem is that the frame is a medium, which is too big for me. Unfortunately you cannot attach extension bars to the kids frames (which are much lighter). Kelty has never made an appropriate size frame for smaller women. But I find that the sizing is not as critical with an external frame as it is with an internal frame pack. Even though my frame does not technically fit, it still is quite comfortable.

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