I needed a new pack. I always needed a new pack. The original 610 was a great size, but the torso was a bit too short, and I wanted more flexibility with regards to load size, features, and suspension.
I weighed the Tamarisk the other week, and was surprised that even with all that burly fabric, aluminum stay, foam pad, and a lid I’ve since built (which includes 3 ITW g-hooks), the whole mess weighs 33 ounces. This reinforced my conviction that light fabrics are not the best way to make light packs. By all means, use the most appropriate fabric for the job, but realize that the difference between a 1.3 oz/yard silnylon pack and an 8oz/yard 500D cordura pack is, all other things equal, likely less than 6 ounces.
The place to save weight is in minimizing features, webbing, buckles, and layers of fabric. The design brief for a light pack should thus start with how to get the most function out of the least materials.
The suspension I used on the Tamarisk goes a long way here. It was copied almost exactly. The bulk of the pack was made from VX-07. It’s a bit cheaper and lighter than VX-21, costs a hair less, and I’d never used it before. 210D dyneema gripstop formed the pockets and back panel. Before hybrid cuben became the flavor of the month, this fabric got more credit than it deserved, but the fact remains that the stuff Thru-Hiker sells has a great tight weave and provides good abrasion resistance for the weight and cost, without the unpliable bulk of cordura. Bottom is WX-40, about the lightest fabric I’ll use for a single layer pack bottom.
The main compartment is 9″ wide and 6″ deep below the side panel contours. Functional height once the rolltop is cinched is a bit more than 27″, which happens to be the length of the long shaft section of my Werner Shuna.
The back pocket is meant to function like a whole ‘nother pack: it’s 6″ by 8.5″ by 21″. In theory, when food and other dense goods fill the main compartment at the start of a trip, all my clothes and most of my summer sleep system can fit in this pocket, and be transferred back inside as food gets eaten. The 3/4″ quick release straps are big enough for something like snowshoes to be strapped on top of a full pocket.
Very top of the roll sleeve is TX-07, to save weight and bulk. Roll tops are the most weight in-efficient closures. To be done well they need a fairly substantial stiffener on at least one side, and they eat a lot of material (6″ of the throat in this case). They are the simplest of the truly waterproof options if you want to avoid zippers.
On these last few packs my sewing is finally to the point where I can make things as I want them to be made.
Hipbelt shown is not a permanent solution.
Interior detail. The white scrim of the VX-series is a great feature. Given the roll top, I’ll probably seal all the interior seams. As an experiment if nothing else.
All this weighs 28 ounces, including that too-heavy experimental belt. A very satisfactory figure, given the quality of suspension and profusion of features.
Nothing is for certain, but this should be the pack I use for almost everything in 2014.