Paradox Unaweep by the numbers

Disclaimer: as an ambassador for Seek Outside I got this pack for free.


A few months ago I was chatting with Seek Outside/Paradox Pack’s Kevin Timm about, among other things, becoming an ambassador and working with them on product development. Kevin mentioned that they were thinking about making a pack which would integrate the Paradox Evo frame into a pack bag, at which point I had to wander over to the kitchen and hit myself in the forehead with a skillet, so obvious was the idea. The frame plus bag plus compression panel concept which is so in vogue in the hunting world at the moment is without question the utmost in versatility, it adds weight and complexity in the service of function very few people will probably ever need. And with obsessive desire to have the cleanest pack possible, the idea of a more streamlined Paradox was even more appealing. Kevin and I threw a few ideas around, and look what showed up in the mail this afternoon.


This is the 3900 size Paradox Unaweep, done entirely in VX-42 because I like to break things. The frame threads through the webbing loops low in each side seam, behind the padded bit in the middle, and into the hypalon slots near the top.


Harness adjustment occurs just like on the regular Paradox; 1″ webbing from the harness goes done through a metal loop buckled (hidden behind the padding) and then up to buckles near the load lifters.  Torso length adjustment is as easy as it gets.

The frame is the same as on the regular Paradox, though a lightweight (thinner wall) version is available.  The upper encasement is not adjustable, and the Unaweep comes standard with a 26″ tall frame.  For me (21″ torso) this is an ideal balance; tall enough for shoulder lift under bone crunching load, and short enough to not hang up on crap or feel odd when the pack is lightly loaded.


The hipbelt and harness are bomber.

The bag has a circumference of 36 inches throughout, and a height of 38 inches when completely unrolled.  The bag, with all the encasement stuff and side and bottom compression straps, weighs 22 ounces.  Add the harness, belt, and frame, and the pack as shown here is 46 ounces.  Take away 2 ounces for the heavy plastic ITW cobra buckle I’ve got on the hipbelt, and from the factory the Unaweep would be 44 ounces as shown here.  Remarkable, if I may say so, for so burly a fabric, so much volume, and a suspension system which will carry anything you can lift.


Shown here is the VX-22 base talon I used with the Paradox Evolution.  Not shown is a 3/4″ buckle sewn into the center of the front of the bag, which works with the two buckles right above the load lifters to provide a y-strap over the top for tying down additional stuff.


It’s a big 3900 cubic inches.


The Paradox frame is 14 inches wide at the base, narrowing to about 8 at the top.  The back panel follows this taper, while the front panel remains the same width, and the side panels get wider towards the top.  The result is that the bag is wide and narrow at the bottom, and gets deeper and more cylindrical as the shoulder and above.  The way this bag shape tends to distribute weight is awesome.  Overall, I could not be more excited about this pack.  It’s a hair smaller than the similar bag I built for my Grand Canyon trip back in March, but in a fabric and with a slightly altered feature set which makes it more suitable for year-round use up here in Montana.

Let the fun begin.



20 responses to “Paradox Unaweep by the numbers”

  1. What could be more fun than a new pack to play with! How much less does this weigh than a comparable non-integrated Paradox pack? About a pound?

    1. A bit less than a pound.

  2. That’s an impressive weight for something that can carry such heavy loads. I have an old over-engineered internal frame pack that weighs double that and I had considered replacing it with an Evolution pack which could then be used for hiking and hunting. Is there any way that the pack bag can be removed from the Unaweep if a person was wanting to carry out moose quarters or the like?

    1. No, though you could put nothing in the bag (or very little) and use the bottom load shelf and compression straps and/or Talon panel to carry a big load which would not fit in the bag.

  3. In your opinion ,the new cordura hipbelt is a upgrade or old packcloth hip belt is strong enought?
    and the UL frame is stong enought for 80 pounds (if accidently drop the pack on hard surface) or the standard frame worth the 3 onces more?


    1. Cordura is an upgrade in tear strength and abrasion resistance in theory, but I can’t imagine a scenario where you’d actually need either. My belt is the OG packcloth and I’ve had no complaints.

      The only concern I have about the UL frame is bashing the bottom corners against rocks and denting it, i.e. exactly the scenario you outline. I would tend towards the thicker frame just out of conservatism, but that concern probably isn’t warranted. My frame has a ton of scratches on the corners after that Grand Canyon trip, but nothing came close to doing anything but cosmetic damage.

  4. So the primary differences between this and the Evo are non-adjustable frame height and non-swappable packbag. A secondary difference is the option of a thinner-wall frame. Right? Just wanting to make sure I understand correctly.

  5. Having the frame fixed to the bag is the main difference. There is limited adjustability in frame height, which just results in the bag sitting a bit higher or lower. The bottom straps which hold the frame in place have plenty of slack. The UL frame comes standard with the Unaweep, and is an option for the standard Evo.

    Frame heights with the Paradox system aren’t directly analogous with stay lengths from other manufacturers, because the way the belt bolts to the frame has the frame sitting lower, probably 2-3 inches below most folks illiac crest. So a 26″ frame (this pack) is analogous to a 23.5″ torso length. This provides great shoulder lift for me. I used the 24″ frame in the Grand Canyon, and that only felt a bit short the one time I went close to 50 pounds total pack weight on a big water carry. I’m confident 26 will be good for anything my legs will stand.

  6. akismet-09f8d55a728e62442cf267fa544cc929 Avatar

    Can you easily reach the water bottle pockets with the pack on?

    1. Yes. It being relatively low helps enormously.

  7. This pack, and the standard Evo, interest me greatly as a packrafting/winter gear hauler. I borrowed a ULA Epic pack for a year and loved it’s modularity with different dry bag sizes. I had a lot of joy carrying my Denali Llama, folded into a rectangle and compressed between the harness and the bag. Unfortunately I had to return the ULA to it’s owner and have been looking for a replacement ever since. Can I carry a rolled up raft on this ‘load shelf’, without the centre of gravity of the whole load being dragged down below the hips, my only gripe with the ULA?

  8. Can the water bottle pocket cinch down over the shoulder of a Nalgene to prevent it from slipping out?

    1. Yes. The non-stretch drawcord is a bit less fast than shockcord, but very secure.

  9. […] though terms such as obsession or problem would not be entirely amiss.  This being the case, the Paradox Unaweep I’ve been using for not quite three months now presents a serious […]

  10. […] pack, along with the Unaweep, forms a quiver of two packs for just about all of my needs.  In theory a ~50 liter lightly framed […]

  11. […] variety of things this summer put it in my head that I’d need a bigger pack than the 3900 Unaweep. I can do a week-long, unsupported summer packrafting trip out of the Unaweep, with nothing but my […]

  12. […] Divide addresses a number of small quarrels I had with the original Unaweep.  The most obvious is the bottom panel, which is tapered both in and up.  This will be much less […]

  13. […] Very tall versions of the above, as well as hunters and people who will be carrying awkward things on a semi-regular basis should get the Unaweep. […]

  14. […] Outside has made a bunch of bags, and I’ve made a lot for their system, since the original Unaweep 3900, which I received in May of 2014.  The Divide side pockets are better, the Revolution is far more […]

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