Just like with beer or coffee, every one is the penultimate.
I wanted to do a couple things with this one. First, experiment with 5.3 oz/yard hybrid cuben fiber. Second, fix the mistakes/things I didn’t like about this pack. To whit; a too-short torso length (you’d think I would know better), less than ideal shoulder straps, a bit too little space. Third, build with the minimal feature set I thought would do the job for, well, everything.
36″ circumference up to the shoulder taper, 40″ above it. 36″ tall along the back with the roll top completely undone. 11″ wide on the back, 10″ on the front. Tall and skinny packs are cool, but I’m finally moving away from them for bushwacking. Weight as shown, with stay, doubled ridgerest in the pad sleeve, and modified Gossamer Gear belt, is just a shade over 2 pounds.
The bottom and bottom of the pockets are VX42. I also used a double layer patch of VX42 inside the bag as reinforcements where I attached the upper compression strap. The outer layer of the pad sleeve, and the very top of the rolltop, are 300D diamond ripstop from Rockywoods. I hoped it would be a lower-cost alternative to Thru Hikers 210D gripstop, but it is not as tough, and has a shiny sheen I do not like. Not a bad fabric, but not great. The upper part of the side pockets is said gripstop; everything else is hybrid cuben. Which was very easy to work with, by the way. I felled most seams, and will add some seam sealant to the bottom seams for durability. I’m interested to see how it holds up.
The feature set amounts to one hanging inner pocket accessed via a #8 zipper on the outside, one daisy chain of 3/8″ webbing bartacked into the already felled seam, two large side pockets with paracord cinches, and two compression straps. The zippered pocket is new for me, but after the Grand Canyon trip I really wanted my next pack to have something comparable. The side pockets are a bit high for super easy access while walking, but I wanted them big enough to really expand the capacity (a whole hare in game bag fits easily), and high enough to not scrape along and get trashed. Seek Outside made me a convert to the static cord arrangement, which can be manipulated while walking and allows you to lock the pocket shut when bushwacking. The daisy chain and straps should carry anything from an ice axe and crampons to skis to a PFD with minimal fuss. In theory, the compression straps will allow the pack to get small while keeping the pockets handy.
Lastly, I put an adjustable buckle on the rolltop closure. The Grand Canyon showed me that this, along with plastic stiffeners in both sides of the closure, helps a lot when trying to cram a full pack shut.
As ever, I will report back.